Remaining Faithful to God Through 26 Moves

How many times have you moved? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American moves 11.7 times in their lifetime. Now, what if you had to move 26 times in six years? That’s a lot of packing and unpacking! Yet, this was the reality for a pastor and his wife in a small community in Cuba. Through each move, they remained committed to God’s calling to serve in that community.

Pastor moves 26 times

Pastor Diumar Enrique Alcantara Del Rio and his wife Dianelis Cobas began serving God in several other capacities before working to establish a church in their community. Diumar and his wife served and pastored in a church that is still active and remains in the community today. He served as a musician, worship leader, and official preacher. Dianelis held many roles, including secretary, president of dance, official member of praise, and pastor. Working in different areas of the church helped both of them learn many things, but what Diumar and Dianelis appreciated most was the privilege of serving God.  

A church had never been established in Poblado El Caney before Diumar and Dianelis arrived over six years ago. Many people had separated from the Gospel and did not want to listen to the Word of God. However, Diumar and Dianelis were ready to face the challenge. After all, their calling from God was to establish a church in that particular community. They began pastoring their church, which they called Maranatha, which means Christ is coming soon. Being new to the area, they rented a place to stay. Unfortunately, after some time had passed, the owners asked them to move. Diumar and Dianelis didn’t want to relocate to another town because their calling was for that community. So, they looked for another house in town to keep ministering to their congregation. They would find a place to rent for a while and eventually get asked to move again. Sometimes, they were the only ones renting a home; other times, they lived with people who rented other rooms in the same home. Sometimes, the other renters didn’t believe in God, and there were times when other renters stole from them or worse. Through it all, they kept vigilant on their mission to be a light for God in this community.

Not only was renting challenging, but most of their salary went towards rent, and what little was left over was used to purchase food. There were times when Diumar and Dianelis had no food or place to stay, and they went without basic comforts like a bed. For one year, they didn’t receive a salary at all because the church didn’t have the money to pay them. Diumar and Dianelis sold sandwiches and other items to pay rent. Unfortunately, people in the town judged them because, as pastors, they had to do other work to survive. But through it all, they were deeply grateful to their pastors and local and national churches, who supported and helped them in their livelihood and those who remained in the ministry.  

While it was the most sacrificing season of their lives and challenged their faith and God’s calling, they never expected anything in return or considered giving up. What kept them going was their assurance of God’s calling. It anchored them throughout their journey and goal to reach souls for Christ in their community.

Where they worshiped changed as they moved from one place to the next. Sometimes, they worshiped in a backyard or where they rented. They would gain new worshipers with every move, and when the time came to move again, they lost some worshipers. Those new in their faith perceived the frequent moves as a bad sign, so they decided not to continue their walk with Jesus. Then, some people moved to another church they felt was more stable because Diumar and Dianelis didn’t have a permanent place to live. For Dianelis, especially, this was painful to witness. She would hide her tears and pain from Diumar so he wouldn’t get discouraged. Through her sadness and stress, the emotional toil impacted her health sometimes with what appeared as ulcers in her mouth, spots on her skin, and itchy areas on her skin. Dianelis continued to ask God when this season in their life would end, and they would have a permanent home. Each time, she saw the faithfulness of the Lord, and He encouraged them and lifted them up.

Even early in their marriage and ministry, Diumar and Dianelis served God together, a commitment that endures today. Within the church, people recognize how they work in harmony and admire the couple for their pastoral roles and the exemplary partnership they exhibit. Even those who don’t believe in God are moved by the unity and strength of their bond, a testament to their impact on the community. Dianelis supports the ministry with her involvement in the children’s programs, teacher training, preaching, and other areas. Diumar is thankful to God for Dianelis as a wife and for her dedication to their ministry.

Dianelis stated, “I am like a complement to my husband, and we work together in anything we do. For me, it’s a pleasure to be the one who’s always with him, helping him.”

Today, Diumar and Dianelis’ ministry includes programs for children, youth, and women alongside a dedicated worship team. Future goals include a men’s ministry with a service team, a sports ministry to reach more people for Christ, and a marriage ministry for those whose spouses do not attend church. While about 50-60 people gather to worship together on a typical Sunday, about 100 people are in their congregation.

After 26 moves, they will soon have a place to call home. Diumar and Dianelis have been faithful, and God has provided them with a permanent residence. Their denomination is in the final steps of purchasing a house. A permanent home will provide security for their growing congregation. Also, having all of their belongings in one place will eliminate the stress of moving and rebuilding their ministry. During a recent mission trip, the Atulado family equipped Diumar and Dianelis with resources to get their first double bed after 7 years of marriage, a refrigerator, microwave, wall fan, and a pot for their new home. Providing these necessities will give them much-needed peace of mind and help them continue building God’s Kingdom in Cuba.

Diumar and Dianelis shared three Bible verses that encouraged them through their journey.

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, stand firm and constant, always growing in the work of the Lord, knowing that your work in the Lord is not in vain.”

1 Corinthians 15:58

“I will make you understand, and teach you the way in which you should walk; I will fix my eyes on you.”

Psalms 32:8

His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; You have been faithful over a few, I will make you ruler over many things; enter into the joy of your Lord.”

Matthews 25:23

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