Each new ministry partnership with CEP affects countless lives across America, and it is a true privilege, for us and for our investors, to play a part in their stories. Johana, Candy, Juan, and Tony are only four individuals out of hundreds who’ve been impacted by our ministry partner, Comunidad Cristiana Internacional (CCI), which translates to International Christian Community (click here to read about CCI). Whether you’ve worked with CEP for years or are just learning about us, we hope their stories inspire you as they have done for us.
Johana: “Miracle Girl”
On July 26, 2006, witnesses watched in horror as Johana Alberto’s car flipped five times. Johana broke her neck, pelvis, and left ankle, and she remembers everything. “When I was in surgery, I woke up,” she says. “The doctor said, ‘She’s gone. We lost her.’ And I thought, ‘He doesn’t know my God.’”
Johana survived the accident, but following her surgery she received the devastating news that she would never walk again. Once again, Johana believed differently. “I always said, ‘I’m going to walk, and I’m going to do everything for God,’” she says.
Although Johana accepted Christ at CCI several years prior to her accident, she stopped attending the church after receiving a job out of town. But Johana’s crash sparked an intense desire in her to go back to church, so she decided to reach out to her pastor. After months in the hospital, Johana returned to CCI in a wheelchair, and as her body recovered her faith grew also. Pastor Edson invited Johana to enroll in their Bible institute, and she later joined the missions program. “The church has helped me physically and spiritually,” says Johana. “They’re my family.”
With the aid of a cane, Johana now walks, drives, and even owns her own business. “In the hospital, they called me ‘miracle girl,’” she laughs. Today, Johana shares her testimony regularly at CCI, still marveling at all God has done. “I knew God had a plan and purpose to keep me here.”
Candy & Juan: A Marriage Restored
After 11 years of marriage, Candy and Juan separated in early 2004. Candy, who’d accepted the Lord three years earlier, immediately occupied herself with searching for a church home and quickly found CCI. But as Candy grew closer to the Lord, Juan, who was not yet a believer, stepped further away. One year passed. Then another. And another. But the Lord remained present in Juan’s life, and, in 2007, He intervened.
“The first time I met Pastor Dos Santos was because the police stopped me,” Juan says. When the police pulled Juan over, he didn’t have his driver’s license and was told he’d need someone to pick him up. “All my friends were busy, but I remembered Candy’s pastor and called him. He was really nice. I thought, ‘Why is this guy helping me? He doesn’t know me.’” Before Pastor Edson dropped Juan off, he invited him to church.
In the months that followed, Juan gradually began attending CCI, and Candy took notice. “I could see he was changing,” she says. “He was looking for the Lord.” Pastors Edson and Elizabeth poured into Juan and Candy’s lives, offering advice and encouragement. “The pastor never stopped supporting me, and he has always been there for Juan,” says Candy.
With the help of their church, Candy and Juan restored their marriage and now serve alongside each other at CCI. Candy sings often in the worship band, Juan assists from the media booth, and both are eternally grateful to their Lord and Pastor Dos Santos. “My pastor really believed in me,” says Juan. “Because of him, I know the love of Jesus Christ.”
Tony: Saved by the Radio
At age 20, Tony was sent to jail for violence and drugs. “At first, I was mad,” he says. “I thought God put me there.” But after several weeks in prison, Tony discovered some Bible study groups and experienced a change of heart. “It just strengthened me,” he says. In addition, Tony started listening to the radio and stumbled upon “Good Morning, Greenville,” a program hosted by CCI. “I looked forward to it every day,” he laughs. “Everything they said brought me closer to God.”
Tony began to send letters to the church and was shocked to receive multiple responses. Those letters from CCI, sent frequently during his 10 months in jail, were the only ones Tony received. “That made me feel like part of their family.”
When Tony’s sentence ended, he was finally able to join the CCI family in person, but his former life proved difficult to leave behind. “When I got out, the world got the best of me again,” he says. “But the church never gave up on me. They’ve always been there.”
Eventually, CCI and Pastors Edson and Elizabeth were able to lead Tony away from his destructive past, and, on March 5, 2017, they baptized him among his church family. “Now that I got baptized, I’m devoting a lot more time to the church.” In fact, Tony is preparing to join CCI’s radio program — the very same program that saved him — as a host. “If it weren’t for the radio, I probably wouldn’t have attended church,” says Tony. “I know that’s what got me here, so maybe I can reach somebody else.”