As president of the Baptist women’s ministry for Western Cuba, Lyda Tellez often finds herself surrounded by young women. Her inviting smile and outgoing personality make her a walking magnet to those seeking a spiritual mentor. But Tellez was not always involved, or interested, in women’s ministry. “I did not think that work was important,” she says.
For years, she had helped her husband plant churches—by leading prayer walks, outreaches, and Bible studies. But after teaching one day, Tellez was gathering up her notes when a young lady asked, “Can you teach me to pray?” The woman had recently received Christ and was desperate to learn more. Before Tellez could answer, ten other women—all brand-new to the faith—came and said, “We want to learn, too.”
Discipling that group soon grew into a thriving ministry. Now, Tellez is passionate about training women to fulfill the Great Commission. Leading seminars and workshops at Havana’s Baptist seminary, she encourages every woman to blossom where she’s planted—whether as a missionary, layperson, or homemaker. “The role of women in the kingdom is important,” Tellez says. “We are a strength within the churches.”
In ten years, the Tellezes have raised up three new house churches, or spiritual “daughters,” from their main congregation. As gatherings multiply and move from larger buildings to homes, women have more opportunities to lead. Under Tellez’s discipleship, some housewives turn into spiritual midwives—helping to birth new gatherings. Others serve through worship, prayer, discipleship, or teaching.
Her ministry secret, Tellez confesses, has been to borrow her husband’s Life Principles Bible. It helps her prepare talking points for women’s conferences. “I look for the Life Principles,” she says, “and based on the Life Principle, I elaborate.” She has limited internet access, and few other Christian resources are available. Tellez’s longing for fresh material has increased exponentially as the number of women she disciples continues to grow.
In January, when In Touch hosted a pastors’ training conference in Havana, Tellez was given her own Life Principles Bible—as well as an electronic tablet filled with valuable discipleship resources. “It is good material for multiplication,” Tellez says with a smile, already preparing to plant new seeds—and expecting to reap far more than she sows.
Photograph by Ben Rollins