"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb? Psalm 139:13
I was born in the year 1974 in the beautiful Island of Puerto Rico. My Christian journey began at the age of five when my mother walk with me to the nearest Evangelical Church and left me there to enjoy my very first Vacation Bible School! Some years later thanks to a childhood friend of mine who invited me to attend the children ministries at The Salvation Army I became involve with the Organization!
One Sunday morning I attended my first Sunday Holiness Meeting at the Salvation Army. That was the day my life change forever! I knelt at the altar and the lady Officer prayed for me. Jesus came into my heart! I knew something change inside me and I felt a different child that day! I was only nine years old!
We believe in the Salvation Army that at the point we receive Jesus as our Savior we begin a Holy journey no matter how young or old we are! We believe the Spirit of God that now lives in us helps us to become more like Jesus in this life today!
Due to my parent's separation when I was 12 years old I experience many difficult situations as a teenager. But I trusted Jesus to guide me during those years. I saw my father sank in alcoholism. I saw how my mother suffered from domestic violence abuse. But I always found time to be at The Salvation Army and through the guidance of good Christian leaders and mentors I overcame what could seem impossible.
At a Salvation Army Youth camp in Puerto Rico I was called by God to preach the gospel and to become a Salvation Army Officer/Pastor! I didn't hear God's audible voice but I knew I had to make a life changing decision that morning during that altar call. So I made a full time commitment to serve Christ my Lord and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ!
A soldier/ sister in Christ at my home Corps/Church in Ponce, PR gave me a scripture verse to confirm this calling. She handed me a small piece of paper with this scripture verse: "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation" Mark 16:15
So I began my training as an Officer in the year 1994. I felt in love with Jesus and also with whom is today my loving husband James Stephenson! We were both studying at the Salvation Army Seminary in Suffern, New York when God brought us together! I am from the Island and he is from Brooklyn! We make a very interesting pair! We have two beautiful teenage children now! Our handsome son was born in Plainfield, New Jersey while my husband and I Pastor our first Corps/ Church together. Later in Tampa, FL our daughter was born. Our Southern girly girl! My husband and I took an eight year break from the ministry as Officers in The Salvation Army and began an eight year exile in the land of Tampa/Clearwater Area. Long but good story!
It was in Florida that I began pursuing acting as a business. God bless me with many talents in my youth so I put them to good use while I was in exile. Those experiences in the entertainment industry help shape the person I am today too! In the process of auditioning for films and television shows there is so much rejection day in and day out. The experience will either make you or break you as a professional actor and as a person! Thank God the experience built me up in so many ways! I thank Jesus!
Today I pastor with my husband James at the Salvation Army at the Newark Westside location in New Jersey.
Friends God knows us even before we were even born! He has a plan for you and for me! His plan is real good! The word says in Jeremiah 1:5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."
I believe all our sins can be forgiven when we believe in Jesus and we give our lives to Him. All we need to do is believe in Jesus and ask Him to forgive all of our sins. He will do it!
I promise you God have a great plan for your life right now and a great future too!
In Christ Service,
Captain Maria Stephenson
New Alumna of The Lancaster Bible College!