We all like security, assurance, and guarantee. But our walk of faith with God requires trust—seeing without actually seeing; taking the first step without knowing exactly where you will land.
The walk of faith defies all human comprehension. It makes no sense in the natural.
In the Bible, we read a very peculiar account in the book of Joshua. God’s orders were for the people of Israel to march around the city of Jericho for six days, once per day. On the seventh day, they were to march around the city seven times. Imagine that. No words. No singing. No dancing. Just marching around the city in silence. What could this have caused in the hearts of the people whose town was about to be conquered?
On the seventh day, the priests were to sound the shofars and the people shout as loud as they could. This is how they would conquer the city. Simple. Uncomplicated. Without human effort. Upon the blowing of the shofars, “Then the walls of the town will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the town.” (Joshua 6:5)
Weird, isn’t it? But that’s how God works so that we give Him the glory and not take credit for ourselves.
“The way we’re living, we’re going to hell!” preached Nestor to his friends/gang members after one of their usual weekend parties in the D.C. area. If you were to look at your life, you, too, may find specific instances that shed light on God’s calling in your life.
Six months after receiving Jesus as his Lord and Savior on December 4, 1990, my husband was water baptized and began preaching. We met four years later and were married in 1995. He served in various roles including youth leader, deacon, and evangelist in the Hispanic church where he was saved.
Ten years later, he sensed the call to pastor. We had been married five years. I did not welcome the idea.
Raising our family became our focus. My husband coached soccer for 14 years since Gianna, our oldest, was 4 years old. Occasionally, great opportunities emerged for my husband to increase his success in the IT field but refused them to remain present in the lives of our daughters.
Though we did not serve in full-time positions in the church, we were always heavily involved serving in various capacities.
It would take another 20 years before the Lord would open the doors for my husband to enter into full-time ministry. Imagine that. Two decades of waiting. Oh, but all the learning is priceless! Each volunteer opportunity added another layer of strength, understanding, and purpose to him and us as a family. We grew together. Our daughters grew as individuals discovering and strengthening their own walk with God.
There are three milestones that matured us in ministry and as a family.
First, is my husband’s revelation of life purpose in 2006. It became our ministry focus to stir people to discover God’s assignment for their lives, which led him to author his first book, Encounter With Your Life Purpose: Discovering Your Place in God’s Kingdom. Previously, Nestor’s teachings and sermons covered a variety of topics on spiritual growth. In his research, he discovered the field of life coaching and spent three years earning his certification. Little did we know coaching would play a key role in our parenting.
Second, is our understanding of relationship-based parenting. It resulted in us writing the curriculum, Beyond Parenting: Building a Godly Dynasty. We thought that parenting meshed with purpose and coaching would be our ministry for the rest of our lives.
Third, is our understanding of the Jewish roots of our faith. It made us feel complete. It felt as if we’d come full circle. Purpose. Family. Jewish roots. They all fit together as three key pieces of life’s puzzle interdependent of one another. We can’t raise our children without guiding and teaching them about their God-given purpose. And we can’t talk about purpose without understanding the roots of our Christian faith.
In the summer of 2019, we approached one of our dear pastors at Gateway Church about the idea of planting a church. A year later things began to unfold. On July 29, 2020, my husband spent the day at his desk writing the vision for the church. It was his birthday. He felt God downloaded the vision effortlessly.
Though he had the calling and though we waited another year until things began to move, my husband did not have a clear vision. He just knew he was being led to plant a new church.
With a clear vision and a simple plan to get started, the time felt right to move forward and take a crazy step of faith. Though we were in the middle of a pandemic and tumultuous political conditions in our nation, the timing felt just right. We had peace.
We shared our plans with our direct oversight pastors at our campus and felt their full support. We incorporated the church on Rosh Hashanah, September 18, 2020. We had information meetings in October and part of November. A day before Thanksgiving on November 25, 2020, we were blessed and prayed over by our Gateway Church NRH Campus pastor Stokes Collins and some of the members of his pastoral team.
The prayers, blessings, counsel, and encouragement we received were overwhelming. It was a bittersweet moment for our family. Gateway Church NRH had been our home for 11 and half years. Our girls grew up in Gateway. Nathalia loved and grew in Gateway Kids. Gianna sat with us during services for over a decade listening to the teachings of our pastor, Robert Morris, week after week.
When Pastor Stokes said, “We say Yes to Shalom Church! Gateway says Yes to this vision!” we felt so supported and affirmed. The prophetic words and visions shared by Ps. Stokes’ wife, Beth, Ps. Kyle Fox, and Ps. Alph Samuel were all on point. Only we knew what God had stirred in our hearts and what He had shown us. None of them could have known.
Our friend, Judith Cruz, accompanied us. Even she received prophetic words that solidified her calling and nurtured her faith.
December 4, 2020 was Nestor’s 30th spiritual birthday. We launched the first service the very next day on Saturday, December 5th in our living room. From day one, the Lord has brought wonderful people who want a deeper relationship with Jesus, a connection to the Jewish roots of the Christian faith, and a family atmosphere to do life together with other believers.
And this is how Shalom Church was born.