Transformation happens here …
Yvens C., 26, attended church during his youth but, when he moved to Orlando 10 years ago, he quit going.
At his mother’s persistent urging, this February Yvens accompanied her to the River of Life Christian Center. “From the first service, I felt the message resonated with me,” he said. “I really like the music and Pastor J relates what he teaches to a younger audience. During that first sermon, he professed that someone in the church was going to get a new job. I felt like he was telling me to claim that blessing.” Unemployed at the time, Yvens left the service and began applying for jobs. He landed not one, but two.
“Since going to River of Life, I’ve felt God’s presence in my life. For example, I pass a car dealership on my way to church every Sunday and had been unsuccessful in buying a new car elsewhere, but I decided to try again. I was able to buy a car and, had I not been going to church, I never would have passed by there. I feel like God is connecting the dots in my life.” Yvens faithfully attends church every Sunday and recently completed the instruction required for new members. “I pray more, read my Bible more, tithe more. There’s a great atmosphere at the River of Life. It’s the only church in Orlando I’ve attended that makes me feel as if I belong there.”
Before Chana T. and her family attended the River of Life, she watched the church’s TV broadcasts in the morning.
“I was a longtime member of another church, but would get up early to watch Pastor Marvin,” Chana said. “After visiting The River, we started attending fulltime in 2008. Since then, my whole view of the Word has changed. My relationships with my family and children have improved. My finances are better. My whole life has been impacted through their ministries.
“Even though it’s a large church, I feel very connected. I used to sing in the choir (but am taking a break to finish school), and people come up to me all the time and say they miss me. And I love how the pastors are so approachable—in person, through email or Facebook. If I ever have a problem or need to ask a question, they are never too busy. Pastor Deborah is like a spiritual mom to me and will pray with me or offer the perfect scripture to get me through a problem.”
Chana’s oldest child is away at college but her two younger children enjoy attending The River. “My teenager is involved with the youth and has a great relationship with God. She reads her Bible, listens to Christian music and is a lot more focused on what matters. My youngest (who is 5) loves church, too.
“I can’t say enough great things about the church. My husband is involved in the men’s group and has male friends he connects with. He’s said he’s grown a lot since attending The River. We both relate to Pastor Marvin’s messages, and he gets a lot of encouragement from the way Pastor Marvin puts his personal stories into the messages. He can take the Word of God—that can seem complicated—and simplify it so anyone can understand, while presenting the Bible in ways that make it applicable to our lives so we can build on it. He’s extremely real.”
When Andrew B., 30, started attending River of Life with his parents, he was a college student, working three jobs to pay for his education.
Unsure of a career direction, Andrew began praying and asking God for clarity. Not long after, he learned of an opportunity to become an air traffic controller but felt he didn’t qualify for the position. Despite initial doubts, he applied and was invited to take a test in California for initial qualification into the field. “During the testing, there were questions that were over my head and I thought for sure I’d failed it,” he said. “Weeks later, I found out I’d passed.” He was then selected for further testing as well as an interview in Jacksonville to later qualify for initial training in Oklahoma. After extensive training in Oklahoma he was assigned a facility in Bangor, Maine.
He had never been outside of Florida for an extended period of time, except for training. There were many days he wanted to pack up and leave due to the constant whispers that he couldn’t do it or he didn’t have what it took to become a controller. But the Holy Spirit taught him to focus on the promises of God and to endure. During this trial, his mother kept him connected with Pastor Jackson’s messages on faith. “She called me every Sunday after church and relayed the sermons, and then sent me CDs every week. I also traded emails with Pastor J, who encouraged me to walk in faith.” Andrew made it through a lot of adversity to finally certify as an air traffic tower controller while in Maine. “I prayed many nights for God to open another door so I could be closer to home.” Today, he is back home at Orlando Executive Airport and is qualified to train new air traffic controllers. “I have truly seen what God has done for me and how he elevated me to this level. I am grateful for my family, my pastor, all the prayers, and the River of Life ministry!”