“… for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
(Philippians 2:13)


A Life “Altered”

Damaris Delgado

As a child, my family moved often. When I was in middle school, we settled in South Jersey. I moved to Cherry Hill during my sophomore year where I met my future husband Angel at Cherry Hill West. We were high school sweethearts and married on June 16, 2012.

y parents met in a Pentecostal church, but they divorced when I was five years old. I attended church on Sundays with my dad when I visited him every other weekend. My early impression of God was that He was angry and vengeful. My dad had lots of rules that he forced upon us because of his religion: only long skirts, long hair, no jewelry, no makeup, no movie theaters, no worldly music, etc. I rebelled against the rules and who I thought God was. My early perceptions of God kept me far from an intimate relationship with Christ.

God turned this around for me a few years back. I really felt Him tugging at my heart, and I turned to a Christian co-worker who openly professed her faith. She helped me go church hunting, and I eventually ended up at her home church, FAC! It was our first year of marriage, and my husband was an agnostic at the time. It was a battle for a while, but God is so faithful. The following year was amazing! We attended Alpha, got baptized, and got connected at FAC. Then, Pastor Marty and Laurie opened up their home to meet regularly as a miniChurch with 20- to 30-year-olds. This was such a blessing to us. We ultimately joined Jason and Monique Braatz’s small group, which we’ve been attending ever since.

I must admit that I am a loner and introvert by nature and have tried living life alone on my terms. I never want to ask for help or seem weak.

This didn’t turn out so well for me, especially when trials came along. I have a chronic disease, endometriosis, which in addition to causing a lot of physical and emotional pain and suffering, has also caused infertility. We’ve been battling this difficult path for nearly four years. It has tested my faith in ways I never could have imagined. Going through the challenges of infertility can be very isolating. Everyone around seems to be expanding their family. To me, it seems as if they are wondering why we haven’t started one of our own. Here’s where my I can’ts set in. I’ve been going through the I wants and I can’ts a lot in the past few years, and it’s so tempting to fall right back into that rut when I face another setback.

I want to be like everyone else.
I want to have a child of my own to love.
I want to be healthy again.
I can’t go through this physical pain anymore.
I can’t go through another surgery just to be disappointed again.
I can’t go to another baby shower, smiling on the outside and crying so desperately on the inside.
I can’t go on.

Pastor Marty said in a recent sermon, “Where I say ‘I can’t,’ God says ‘I can.’” I was never meant to carry this heartache on my own, and He’s been putting wonderful, loving people in my life to help me carry this burden. It’s through my family, miniChurch group and small-group girlfriends that I find strength and love. They’ve cried with me; they’ve brought me meals after surgery; they’ve sent me words of encouragement through all the medical tests and doctor visits. I’ve truly never felt a love like this before.

The love of Christ shines so brightly in this church! I knew on the very first day I visited more than four years ago that this was home for me. This is my church. This is my community. This is my family. My life has forever been altered being a part of God’s Kingdom community at FAC, and I pray that I am able to touch others’ lives the way I’ve been touched by all of you. Being in the Kingdom of God means we don’t have to go through life alone. There is a strong community of Believers living life right alongside us. That’s what church really is about.

My life has truly been “altered.” I want to offer my life, my pains, my hurts, my heartache, and battle scars as a sacrifice on His altar. He’s using it all to change me for the better, for a grander purpose I still cannot see or understand. I can’t focus on just living for me anymore. There are so many others out there that I want to reach and help who are suffering too. Pastor Marty’s sermons have given me the courage to take that leap of faith and be braver in offering my story, my testimony.

I don’t quite know where God is leading me on this journey, and I’m still not over this mountain. But even if I never have my prayers answered in this lifetime, I know where I’ll end up, and I’m so grateful that God loved me so much He would send His only Son to die for me. Going through infertility really helps me understand what a great sacrifice it was and how much He really loves us…loves me. And because of that love and His never-ending faithfulness through all the trials and tribulations, I can hope beyond a doubt and know that I truly can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

I’m forever grateful to Pastor Marty and Laurie for their dedication and for letting Christ use them to do such mighty things in this community.