Well, my name is John Santiago. I started coming here [Grace Community Church] in November of 2010. And uh, when we first got here it was actually to see my daughter Jennifer to get baptized.
So I went to the room and I said, “mom you know, they are inviting us to Jennifer’s baptism in their church. Would you like to go?” And my mom was immediately like, “oh no no. We all have to go. Everybody’s gonna go.” We, we all came. And we were all very very impressed at what we saw when we walked inside these doors.
We are a blended family. We have six children together. John has four and I have two. We knew it was very important to model for our children what a true marriage looked like.
Well, I serve on the, on the worship team. That’s how I started serving. I was actually in a band at the time. I remember [Pastor] Jeff Dueck making a call for more musicians. And I ended up, she elbowed me, and said, “why don’t you go and talk to him.” And so I did. I started serving. And that was the beginning of my serving and then I eventually jumped into celebrate recovery.
A few months later I remember serving here going to rehearsal. That morning I was called to become a supervisor at the transit that I work for in New York City. And it was a very significant pay raise. I remember thinking, and we had talked about it, that if um, they called me I’m probably not going to be able to do church anymore. Because I would be working nights and weekends. I remember walking between my locker the staircase and I decided I’m not going to do it. So I gave up $20,000 a year and the choice was God or money. You can’t serve both so I made my choice.
That same evening Joel stops me, and he never stays that late. And he was here. And says, “don’t move I’ve been looking for you, just stay right there, I have something for you.” I said, “ok.” And he comes back, he gives me an envelope, I go in the car and um, it was the application for deacon. To become a deacon. I said, “if that’s not a sign” I never asked for a sign, but if that wasn’t a sign I was blind, deaf and dumb.
We just feel like we are so all-in right now. Like there is no turning back. My brothers, my family, like our family extended family they have noted a huge difference in us. And they know how all-in we are. They know and when they are around us they see a difference in us and how we are with one another. And just demonstrating the love of Christ. And that’s our plan is to just continue to do like everybody else just to live a Christ-like life. Yeah.
I could never have told you twenty years ago that this is, this was gonna be my life. Because I pictured my life being a whole other animal. But thank God that He stepped in before I hit the bottom of the pit. And saved me.
It’s a glorious journey. Yes, it is [laughter]. And we get to do it together, isn’t that cool? [Laughter.]