Long Island Calling
Onetime concierge and teacher pursues God's call to plant New York church.New Yorker Marlon A. Rodriguez planted Nueva Esperanza Centro de Adoracion on Long Island less than three years ago while working bivocationally. But Rodriguez has left his job in the corporate world to devote himself to full-time ministry.
As Rodriguez prepared to start the church, he worked as a concierge in a building in Manhattan. But when he launched the congregation, he decided to move to a job as an assistant teacher in Long Island in order to be part of the community where the church is located. During school hours he helped students, and he spent the rest of the day working to grow the church and disciple its members.
Rodriguez and his wife, Rosally, worked with a team of five others to find a site. After knocking on the doors of myriad potential buildings and open schools, Jacob Abraham, pastor of an Indian Pentecostal church, allowed Rodriguez to use a meeting space at no charge.
Nueva Esperanza Centro de Adoracion grew slowly but steadily and Rodriguez started teaching leadership development based on materials from the Church Multiplication Network website.
“I started educating myself with whatever free resources I could find,” Rodriguez says.
During this season, Rodriguez found it difficult to find time to fit in meetings with staff, disciple members, work at the school, and spend time with his wife and their three children: Nadine, 15; Natalie, 13; and Noah, 9. On many occasions from midnight to 3 a.m., he studied for sermons and the credentialing courses in which he is enrolled through the Spanish Eastern District School of Ministry. He realized the frantic schedule strained relations with his wife and children.
“I could not save the church and lose my family,” says Rodriguez, noting that Nadine is autistic and requires extra care. “I want my children to love the church.”
Ricardo Ayala, a board member at Nueva Esperanza Centro de Adoracion, also recognized the dilemma.
“It was difficult because we didn’t have enough money to pay the pastor, but as soon as we grew we wanted to pay him,” Ayala says. “So we started to give him something after a year and a half, even though it wasn’t full salary.”
Two years after opening, the church outgrew its space and relocated. The board also made an important decision to attend a seminar with the Spanish Eastern District on how to create a salary package for the pastor. Although lower than what he earned as a teaching assistant, Rodriguez and his wife trusted that God would provide for all their needs.
“God called me, so I knew He would back me up,” Rodriguez says. “We didn’t do it for the money.”
Rodriguez appreciates that he now has sufficient time to prepare relevant sermons.
“When you are full time, you can focus on the vision and the plan that God has given,” he says.