Updated: Aug 21, 2018
Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us today. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, where you grew up, where you live now, maybe some things you enjoy in life?
I grew up in New York City, my parents and relatives are from the island of Puerto Rico. As you can imagine, since the hurricanes last year, the island has undergone extreme devastation. Many are still without power or clean water. It has been hard on my beloved family and my heart aches for the people on the island. Some which have experienced tremendous hardship.. My husband is from Puerto Rico and also has family and friends in the island. There has been much suffering which much of the media is not covering. Some people have left the island, but many have stayed hoping for a change. My family has had a hard time, but they are survivors. Persistent people of faith. It is very hard seeing them go through this long season of hardship. We covet your prayers.
Some things I enjoy are writing, reading a good book, and a strong cup of café con leche. Love to cook. Nothing like fellowshipping with friends and family over a meal. Live in Texas with my husband and our youngest son who recently started high school.
When I first met you, we were at a CBE conference, and I just clicked with you right away. I loved your passion and zeal for God but also the humility that came with it. Can you tell us how you became a Christian and where some of that passion comes from?
I went to a private school which taught about Jesus and the Trinity, however I did not come to faith till I was in college. It was then that I had the self awareness that I needed a personal relationship with God. It was through a close friend and an intuitive woman professor that I came to a saving knowledge of Christ. My passion comes from a strong prayer life. My paternal grandmother was a strong prayer warrior. She had a room in her small apartment that was dedicated to prayer. She even put up pictures of us to remind her to pray for us by name. Some relatives have said they came to visit her on the days she prayed and she would excuse herself and go to the room to pray and then come back and join them.
You are an ordained pastor and a sought after speaker and I have a hunch that that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Can you tell us a bit about how God uses you and the various roles you have served in. What is your main focus right now?
I have served three church plants and served behind the scenes in hispanic startups in Anglo churches. Some have been successful and others were not for various reasons. I have a strong affinity to help pastors. Their load is tough, especially if it is a church plant. Right now I help connect churches with non-profits that are doing outstanding work in the communities. I also help with leadership development with various church denominations. I am presently connecting some ministries to do work in Puerto Rico which is needing so much right now.
Being a woman of color, and an egalitarian, you can speak into some of the racial and gender issues that our society, including the Church, faces today. What is something you feel our readers could benefit from hearing and really taking hold of in regards to this sphere?
As a Latina pastor, my fervent desire is for egalitarians to address the racial issues in and outside the church. The silence is deafening in egalitarian groups when it comes to racial bias. When our conferences are monochromatic they reveal our naïve perspective as to how visuals matter to women of color. An all white panel, speakers, worship team, and a predominant white audience gives a very tangible feel of privilege and power. It gives an appearance of, “here we are to show you (WOC) how it is done.” The reality is that people of color do not just want to be a visual. We want to be respected as a credible voice that can enrich the conversation. We have a story to tell, we just need an opportunity to tell our story, to sit at the table, to engage in the conversation.
I’m curious as to what struggles you have encountered as a woman in ministry. Do any particular events or seasons come to mind? How did you handle it and continue forth?
Early on, there were few women of color that were visible. It was harder to see Latinas in positions of authority within the church. It is still challenging to be a solo pastor, but now we have more women of color who are becoming more visible. We still need more. Unfortunately, we are still a long way from having women of color represented in many of our churches and conferences. We are lacking in many areas, especially women of color writers. For me, it was a question of perseverance. I felt compelled to be present, even if I was the only woman, and many times the only person of color.
We have a lot of young women who will be reading this who are in need of encouragement. What would you say to those who maybe doubt their role in the Church or even in society as a whole. What do you think God’s heart is for women?
We need to create spaces for young women seeking paid positions within the church. Let us not exploit our young gifted and called women. Many of them leave our churches because we don’t create pathways of leadership for them. Pastors must do better in recruiting young women and seminaries must do better in creating on ramps for women of color. God’s heart has always been to affirm women in ministry. Jesus entrusted women with delivering the gospel. The Samaritan woman was the first female evangelist. A woman of color was entrusted with such a powerful transformational word that inspired her whole village to see Jesus. I would say to young women, find a woman mentor. Even if she is miles away. With social media, you can connect by twitter, facebook, and even conference call. Find women in ministry and support them. They need our support, and that includes financially. Buy their books. Listen to their sermons.
We also have men reading these interviews and I wonder what you would say to them. How do you see God bringing men and women together in this age and why do you think it’s important that we all rise up into our full potential in Christ?
We can never underestimate the power of a male egalitarian advocate. Their voices are very important in this season of #metoo #silenceisnotspiritual. We need men to advocate for a mutuality narrative and begin to dismantle a patriarchal narrative that has lead to the abuse of women worldwide. It starts in the home, at the tables of our places of influence, at the workplace, and in our family gatherings. It starts with holding leadership accountable. It starts with advocating for women at all levels of leadership. It starts with us empowering our sons and daughters.
What do you consider to be one of your strengths? Did you ever stumble or “make mistakes” when beginning to walk it out? How did God help you through the maturing process?
My sense of humor has served me well in times of great struggle and hardships. To see the sunny side of things, but it has also been my weakness. Sometimes life is hard and carries with it sorrow. Taking time to pause and be reflective is healthy. Maturity has empowered me to embrace my optimistic disposition. Maturity has also revealed to me that optimism can be offensive to those in grief. They perceive it as being insensitive. We need to mourn with those who mourn, even when that someone is you.
So here’s an open ended question- What do you want the next generation to know?
Good question! If I had a chance to counsel my younger self, I would say take the bullet train and enjoy the ride. Too many times we tell young people they have time, all the time in the world. That is a false narrative. Time waits for no one! It continues regardless of how we use it. So use your time wisely, seize opportunities because they may not present themselves again. Surround yourself with wise counsel. Be multi generational in the people you chose to get advice. I was always intrigued with people who were older sages and I still am, but I also surround myself with those young people that I can see potential. They inspire me so much. I mentor down and I seek mentors who are above me. I seek those who are innovative and tech savvy. I seek out relevant writers and speakers. They speak into my life and I speak into theirs. It is about creating a collaborative network of people and connecting them with one another. I consider myself a bridge builder.
If people want to get in touch with you or follow you on social media where can they find you?