Read stories and listen to testimonials of how God is transforming lives at FAC.


in the life of Jacqueline Cerami

"After about a year of bible study, Vincent and I both accepted Jesus as our savior."

I am the oldest of four children, having one sister and two brothers. We grew up and continue to live in South Jersey. I had a wonderful mother who showed me love, gave me stability, took me to church, and showed me the love of Jesus through the Catholic faith. I went to Catholic school for four years and then to Catholic religion lessons until eighth grade. Although I knew who Jesus was, I did not know him personally.

In my mid-twenties, I met Vincent, my future husband, on a blind date. After getting engaged, we met with a family priest for premarital counseling. I remember the priest asking Vincent, “Why Jacqueline? What makes her that special person you wish to marry?” His answer was simply, “Because of her loving heart, and she is bringing me back to Jesus. I now go to church with her every Sunday.” I looked over at him with a smile because I was so overwhelmed not only with his love for me, but his love for Jesus as well.

In 2006 when I was 40 years old, my beloved mother died. My reaction to my mother’s death was that I became so angry and upset with Jesus. How dare He take my beloved mother away from me and my family! I was so upset with Jesus that I stopped going to church. I told Jesus of my disgust for Him and that I no longer needed Him in my life.

My attitude continued for quite some time. When Vincent had had enough, he sat me down one night, and we talked for hours until I agreed to go back to church as well as speak with our priest. Vincent also encouraged me to go back to reading the Bible. I had started reading the Bible in my late teenage years, but I did not understand it then. I felt at this point that I needed to understand what I was reading and started looking for a Bible study. I had already been a member at five different churches. I kept changing because I never felt welcomed or comfortable. Although I was raised Catholic, I now felt I needed to look outside of my Catholic faith to find Jesus.

Driving home one night, I passed a Baptist church and thought they knew who Jesus was because of a sign in front of the church that caught my attention. I stopped in and inquired about a Bible study. As it happened, a study was beginning in a few weeks. I took the course seriously and enjoyed each lesson. I was learning a lot and started to develop a close relationship with Jesus. After about a year of Bible study, Vincent and I both accepted Jesus as our Savior. Although I was learning about Jesus and getting close to Him, I still felt like I was not home.

In April 2012, Vincent was not feeling well and asked me to take him to the Emergency Room. I rushed him over to the hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Vincent’s body was shutting down, and after several tests, the doctors did not know why. After a month in the hospital, Vincent’s doctor came in and gave us the devastating news that Vincent had a very rare form of cancer. He was the thirty-first case in the world to have this type of cancer. Vincent and I were told that there was nothing they could do to help him and that he had three weeks to live. I remember sitting there holding Vincent’s hand and staring in disbelief. I could not believe that I was going to lose my best friend, my rock, my loving husband Vincent. I remember feeling so helpless because there was nothing I could do to help him.

Because of my faith in Jesus, my reaction was so different from when my mother died. Immediately after hearing the news about Vincent, I ran right for the Bible. I needed to be strong for Vincent and help him. He needed me more now than ever. I read a lot of verses that would give him hope and truth, including 1 Corinthians 15 that talks about the new body he would get in heaven. For me, I read verses that would help me learn how to live without my Vincent, such as Romans 15:13. Sadly, on Saturday, May 19, 2012, Vincent went home to be with the Lord.

My husband’s death was very hard for me, but I know Jesus was with me all the way, picking me up every time I wanted to give up.

In November 2017, my friend Tom and I were talking, and I asked him where he went to church. He told me that he went to Fellowship Alliance Chapel in Medford and that he was very happy there. He talked about all that FAC had to offer, particularly a course called Alpha. He told me that Alpha would help me deal with my husband’s death and answer any questions I had. Interested, I asked if I might join him one Sunday for a service. On Sun., Dec. 10, 2017, Tom and I attended the 11:00 service. When I walked into FAC, I was immediately overwhelmed by Jesus’ presence. Never before had I ever felt the Lord’s presence as I did at FAC. Immediately, I knew I was finally home!

After the service, Tom took me to Guest Reception where I met Pastor Doug who helped me sign up for Alpha which was going to start in January 2018.

My life started to change for the better on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 when I walked into my first night of Alpha! I was immediately welcomed with a warm and cheerful smile by Dave Shoemaker, leader of Alpha. Alpha was truly amazing! Each week we were presented with a different topic about the Christian faith such as “Who is Jesus?” “How and why should I pray?” “How does God guide us?” and my favorite, “How can we have Faith?” The information was presented in a very relatable and engaging way that allowed us to share our stories, our life experiences, and build new friendships. Week by week, I noticed wonderful changes in my heart, my life, and my relationship with Jesus. Alpha has brought me closer to Jesus, introduced me to new friends, taught me more about my faith, and allowed me to finally accept my husband’s death. Alpha has also helped me find joy and inner peace that I had not had in a long time.

After Alpha had ended, I went to visit my brothers and noticed a book that I, too, was reading on their kitchen counter, Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. To my surprise, I found that the book belonged to my brother Frank. After asking him a few questions, I found that he was interested in learning more about Jesus and the Bible. I reminded him that I just finished Alpha and suggested he should attend the next session with me in the fall of 2018. I then suggested to Frank that we should invite our brother Ben and his girlfriend Kristen. A week later, Ben and Kristen agreed to join Frank and me at Alpha. Two weeks before Alpha started, I called all three and reminded them that their lives were about to change for the better!

On a Wednesday before Alpha was going to start, I met with Frank, Ben, and Kristen and told them to meet me at FAC for Alpha. All three said they wanted to go, but that the winter session would now work best for them. I said I’m sorry, but I already signed you up for the fall session because you told me it was a go. So now you are going to the fall session. I will see each of you next week at 6:30 p.m.

They continued to give me some resistance. but I asked them to trust me. I would never make them do something that was harmful to them. I went on to say that they only needed to attend one night. If they were not happy with Alpha, then I would not ask them to come back. I gave them my word. So on Wed., Sept. 12, 2018, I welcomed Frank, Ben, and Kristen to Alpha. When we first got to our classroom, we were asked to introduce ourselves and give a reason for attending Alpha. There were so many nice responses: “wanting to grow closer to Jesus,” “to learn how to pray,” “to find my life’s purpose.” When it came to Frank’s turn, he said, “My sister made me.” I sat there in disbelief and shook my head with a smile. Next was Ben’s turn, and his response was, “My sister made me.” I was thinking that Kristen would defend me and have a nice response. Her response? “Jacqueline made me.” I didn’t look very good at that point!

At the end of the night when everyone left, Dave and I looked at Frank, Ben, and Kristen and asked what they thought. The three looked at each other and at the same time said, “We can’t wait for next Wednesday!” Dave and I were so happy. All three of them participated, asked questions, and learned something that touched their heart and changed their life.

Alpha is a wonderful course for anyone who wants to explore the Christian faith and learn more about Jesus. Alpha has something for everyone regardless of where you are in your faith. Alpha has a very relaxing atmosphere that gives you a chance to ask questions. It allows you to share your story and connect with others in a small group setting. You can participate as much as you wish or just listen. The choice is yours. We all have questions; Alpha has the answers!

Thank you, Tom, for introducing me to Fellowship Alliance Chapel and Alpha. My life has definitely changed for the better. I now have a much closer relationship with my Savior Jesus Christ. I am happy and building my new life with Jesus by my side.
Pray about inviting your friends and family members to Alpha and attend with them! [Learn more about Alpha].