Gift Wrapped (Bronx Style) in Cle-Town!

My MetroAlliance Story (Imagine Big Daddy Weave – My Story Lyrics playing in the background as you read)

I came to Cleveland from, Bronx, NY in 2001 to do a 9-month internship as part of requirements towards a Master degree in Public Administration. As I was going to be in Cleveland by myself for a good deal of that time (my husband came with me but return to NY); I decided I needed to find a church to go to (So as not to get in trouble). I spoke to my brother, who is also a CMA pastor, and asked him if he had any contacts in Cleveland. He told me that he had attended a district meeting in another town and met a pastor who was going to plant a church in Cleveland. In the meantime, I was living in the downtown ‘Y’ and there had been a church flyer with a picture of a guy full of tattoos. I thought that was interesting, but at the time I didn’t realize that it was the same church my brother had told me about.

When I finally went to the church it was really different for me. I, to be honest, liked the preaching, but “hated” the worship music. (It all sounded like “blowing in the wind” music to me— aka “B-O-R-I-N-G”). But I kept coming because of the preaching and then one Sunday, before going to church, I was talking to God telling him that I really don’t know how long I can stand the music so He needed to make it clear if this is the church I should go to. As it turned out, I missed my bus and by the time I got there the music had just ended. It wasn’t until later that evening that I realized that God had answered me. So, I joined the worship team, I decided that, “if you can’t beat them, join them”.

Then Juri put “his claws on me” trying to make me accept Christ as my Savior. I was raised a Catholic but had explored many religions, I even got “saved” a couple of times so I didn’t really want to hear what he had to say – I was going to church what more did he want? One day, Juri asked me to meet with him at Starbucks for coffee near where I was staying. It was around the holidays and the store was decorated with “boxed presents”. Of course the whole intent of the meeting was to elicit my conversion. I was adamant and kept beating around the bush and was “not trying to hear him”. Then Juri grabbed one of the gift boxes and thrusted it in front of me and asked “If someone gives you a gift what do you do?’ I said ‘take it’. So, he said “that is what Jesus is asking you to do.” I was out of excuses, and realized in my heart how true that was. So I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior right then and there— for “Real” this time.

I was one of the first persons to be baptized into the Lord in the life of metroAlliance was over a decade ago at the West 32nd Street YMCA in Ohio City. The baptisms were featured in a story on the Plain Dealers Metro section, including a half page picture of me being baptized. So after I finished my internship I went back to NY to finish my degree. Afterwards, both my husband and I returned to Cleveland and began serving in the life of metroNorth.
I eventually completed another master’s degree this time in clinical counseling at Ashland Theological Seminary, and currently serve at Emerge Ministries – a Christ-centered mental health outpatient center, as a Licensed Professional Counselor. I look forward to someday being released by God to counsel in the near Westside to both English and Spanish speaking clients.

So I will have to say: “It ain’t gonna lie…it ain’t been easy” (in my, ‘in your face, head shakin’ sassy Puerto Rican Bronx accent). But accepting Christ as my personal savior, has been and continues to be the best thing I have ever done!”

Jesus Freak…for real !!!

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