Doris Machin: "It is not one’s gender but one’s heart that defines one’s work in the Lord"
Doris Machin has sung before many different audiences in the United States, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.
This conversation was conducted by Jaime Lázaro in Spanish and translated to English. Read it in Spanish.
Her parents were from Cuba, though she was born in West New York on the other side of the Hudson. Her background in choral music for four years helped her cultivate a love for this art, which was the same medium that God used to win her over.
This is how it happened: Doris Machin accepted the Lord when she was listening to a song. Her first congregation opened the door for her to develop her talent.
In 1999 she founded Glory Worship Institute, a center for musical and ministerial training in South Florida. Its purpose is to edify and form the character of God in each musician called to ministry.
While she shared through her music and preaching, she wrote her first book, Apostolic Worship, which narrates the experience of a journey traveled as minister of praise and worship, while holding on to Jesus’ hand.
In 2004, she began a new stage in her life as pastor of The Worship Tabernacle.
I have a few questions which might inspire reflection:
- Doris Machin explains that when you worship there comes a point at which you don’t know who’s singing—it is like you have fused with God. Is this a new perspective, seeing a God that is so close that he partakes actively in worship among and through us?
- For Doris, many Latinos visualize God as Santa Claus—an old man sitting and receiving requests. Could it be that many Latinos still keep the inheritance of other religious traditions, or have we been taught wrong?
- When we talk to Doris about machismo in the Hispanic community, she explains that it is not one’s gender but one’s heart that determines one’s work in the Lord. Could the leaders and pastors who continue to hold a cultural form of machismo understand this?
Where were you born?
I was born in New Jersey, the daughter of Cuban parents. I was born on February 27, 1967.
Did you study there?
Yes, elementary school and high school. When I was in my first year of University, studying pre-law, because I was going to be a lawyer, I focused on my father's business (he had a furniture store his whole life). I went to work with him at his furniture store. After that I went to Virginia with the intention of studying, but I returned home two years later and three months after that I met the Lord. At 21 years of age I gave my life to the Lord, which was in 1988.
What influenced you in your conversion?
My older sister had already found the Lord. She began to evangelize to me but I wouldn't pay attention. I didn't want to know anything, but one day she came home with music. Music was my language in everything. I always tell people that I was born singing. I think I didn't cry; instead I sang a note when the doctor spanked me. My sister brought some music. And through that music I received the Lord in the living room of my home, declaring "Jesus, Jesus is my Savior." My sister was with a friend on a street corner evangelizing, and I was somewhere else, alone with my music, listening to the young man that sang. It wasn't even anyone known; it was a recording from a church service. I was paused in the recording, in the choruses that were missing, what I would do, etc. I was singing choruses to the young man; he would sing one thing, and I would respond. The chorus that I would sing was: "Jesus, Jesus is my Savior." In the midst of all this I went up to a register that was not mine (soprano-soprano). I realized that it wasn't me, but something spiritual. I fell to my knees and began to weep. I felt as though God was offering me a new opportunity, erasing and starting anew. My sister was new to the Lord; she didn't know what was happening to me. She called her mentor and put her on the phone, and she would say, "confess this," but I had already confessed. I was repeating just for repeating. After that I locked myself in my room, alone, and I began to sing a new song to the Lord. I would tell the Lord all the things I wanted to do. I didn't know anything, but in that song I told him that I wanted to go to the nations to tell them everything he had done for me; it was a very intimate thing between God and me, something tremendous.
Did you sing during that time?
I sang in the choir all four years of high school. That's where I received more instruction about music, about harmonies. I sang since I was a girl, but nothing formal; everything was self-learned.
What marked you to say, "I want to serve the Lord in this way?"
It was simply the thankfulness in that moment of conversion, when I felt God himself speak to my heart saying: "Today I offer you a clean slate." The Bible says that he for whom much has been forgiven also loves much. That was me, because despite the fact that I was only 21 years old, my life had become very disastrous. I was a girl that at some point had wanted to be a doctor. That didn't work out because I was badly influenced by a teacher who planted in me some disheartening thoughts. I wanted to be a lawyer. It was my passion, but because of my father's business, my gaze turned to the easiest option. I didn't need anything because financially we had everything we needed. But there was a great emptiness in my heart, so my life was derailed by rebellion. I was very rebellious, very terrible. So, when the Lord offered me that clean slate, it was exactly what I needed because my life had reached such a disastrous moment that I actually tried to take my life three times. I said, "This is what I need. I need to cling to He who is forgiving me, He who loves me, who is offering me a new opportunity." And I did so singing. That was a Wednesday. On Thursday I went to an Evangelical church for the first time in my life, my sister's church. And as soon as I entered, I saw the musical group, the girls singing, and I felt like I could relate. The idea of sacred music was what I was used to as a Catholic. In other words, an organ, sit down, kneel, stand, that was my concept. Once inside the temple I said to my sister, "One day I will be up there singing." A few months later that day arrived when my pastor found out that I could sing and gave me the opportunity. I not only got a chance to sing, but I also became the director of the praise group in a very short time. All that happened in the first year.
Aside from your conversion, what has been the biggest spiritual experience that you've had?
I had special moments in that same church, in that first love. I began to write songs to the Lord. My sister would play the piano and we would both sit there and start making music. In those first times in the church when we would sing a song, whatever it was, to see how God impacted a life, as He had done with me, it marked me. I remember one time in the Church, when I was singing "La Via Dolorosa" with a recording, and when—at a certain moment—the climax of the song arrived, the entire church got on their feet and people were crying. I was ministering. I was declaring what I had experienced, but not in spite of what had happened to me through the presence of God and was happening with other people. It was something that marked me. And God, ever since I began singing to Him, He always said, "Never take for granted the time that I give you in front of my people; it is not a time for you; it is a time for me. Don't misuse it because I've placed in you something they need." I didn't understand anything. I just knew that God was speaking to me and was teaching me how to be in front of his people and what to do. It wasn't just singing a song for their enjoyment, but the reason for my being there was an eternal, divine purpose. The reason for my being in front of His people was because God had chosen me to deposit in them something which I did not understand, but He knew.
What was the first song that God inspired in you?
I think it was a theme that I never recorded. It's called "Heavenly Father." It was a declaration of who He was in me as a Father. I think I sung it once on a Father's Day. The chorus said, "Oh Heavenly Father, how great is thy love…Oh my Lord it is because of that great love that you gave your life on the cross…"
Do you have an idea of how many songs you've written?
I would say hundreds.
What has been the song to bless you the most? Not the one that has sold the most.
Each song, whether recorded or not—and there are many that are half-written—is like a baby. There is no song that is more than another. I remember that in the year 1991, late in the evening, the Lord gave me the theme, "More than a Victor." That song, the Lord gave to me with drama. I would show it to people and they wouldn't understand it. They would say I was crazy. I showed it to my mom and she said that it seemed to her as though the song was not finished. And it was because it had a lot of drama around it. I would say what is going on and people wouldn't understand it. It was a dramatization of Daniel in the lions' den. The Lord told me that the song would travel to nations and that it would be a blessing and have an impact. And today, 21 years later, the song is still being listened to for the glory of the Lord. It has been one of the most productive songs, most effective with the people. People know it as "The Lions." Another special song has been "The Good Shepherd," which is a song very much from the perspective of a sheep to a shepherd.
How many records have you recorded?
Have you seen your life 20 years from now?
(Sighs) This is not a good question to ask me today, because of everything I am going through, because of the surgery that I just underwent. But I know that we'll be doing what we're doing. I know we'll be from Glory to Glory. I think in the next few years we'll restart the Institute. Not just musically, but more so as a Bible School, with all the ministerial formation, including art. In our church, the vision is evangelization through art. And one of my dreams is to build a theatre, so that people can come and receive the gospel through the arts: drama, acting, dance, pantomime, paint, artistic expression, etc. I believe that in the next 20 years we'll be accomplishing that goal.
In the life of the Latin Church, music has been classified as Worship and Praise. How do you define the two?
Worship and and praise has nothing to do with the rhythm of the music. There are those that would define praise as fast songs and worship as slow songs. That has nothing to do with anything. Praise, by its very definition, is to speak well of someone. It has to do with songs that speak of Him. In other words, every time I sing something that exalts Him, that describes Him, that defines Him, I am praising Him. Worship is not just a song to Him but about Him. By the same definition of worship, it is to enter a more intimate, more personal love. It is no longer something about Him; I am singing to Him. Worship has two phases: One is what I sing to Him and the other one is what I sing with Him, where He sings to me. As Zephaniah says, “He will sing about me.” Then, worship becomes something much more intimate, more personal, more between Him and me. The recording "Alone with You", is a project that was in me for 12 years. With this production, from beginning to end, it has been my desire to take the person to an experience of entering His presence and then exiting. There are people that talk about entering the Holy of Holies, but what people don't understand is that if you enter, you must come out. There are people that are at the gates still, that need to receive what you received in the Holy of Holies. This project, "Alone with You", was conceived with that goal. From the first song, taking you to that intimacy, where you are not only singing to Him, but when you get to a moment when you no longer know who is singing. As in Song of Songs, when you're reading it and you ask yourself whether she's singing to her lover or vice versa. There comes a moment where they're both lost.
So you fuse with the Lord during the time of worship and you become an amalgamation?
Yes, I think so. Remember that there is private worship, which is your personal worship, and we're not talking about music, but of a moment alone with Him, wherever you may be. This is different from congregational worship, where you are with everybody else. I have experimented during the personal worship moment, where one is singing or crying or completely submerged in the presence and there are no words. There are times when one says nothing because there's nothing more to say, nothing more to ask. At that moment, there is a fusion. In fact, I believe that congregationally it's felt the same way. Perhaps not at that level of intimacy, but in the congregation there are similar moments, as there are moments where one perceives that it's time to shut up, be still, and recognize that He's the Lord. He who doesn't recognize that special time with the Lord, then fills it with words.
What do you believe is the role of praise and worship in the life of the church?
I believe that God created music to reach a place where words by themselves cannot. For Latinos, music is a language, it moves them, inspires them, and motivates them. An Anglo sees a Latino and quickly sees a spark, a fire. I had a vocal teacher several years ago that instructed me quite a bit. He wasn't Christian, but knew a lot about sacred music. I had only known the Lord for a couple years. He asked me what singer I liked in terms of how she sang. Back then, Sandi Patty was someone whom I wanted to imitate. And I wasn't a soprano, so it was like a goal. He said to me, "You have something that Sandi Patty will never have." He left me thinking about that. He added, "You have that Latino flavor that she will never have." He was telling me that I had that spark, that fire, that passion, that "we have because we are not Anglos." I never understood until I saw the difference. I was born in New Jersey, daughter of Cuban parents, but I was a "gringa" to my understanding. However, as I kept on growing in the Lord, the Latino side of me kept on growing, because God was calling me to the Hispanic church.
Was there ever a moment in which you didn't speak Spanish?
Well, the Spanish I spoke was horrible. I spoke with my dad in English and Spanish with my mom. But my Spanish was horrible, not even close to the Spanish we're now speaking. I would speak and almost no one understood me. My dad would spend his entire life correcting me. Despite that, God was calling me to the Latin Church. My first Bible was in English, the second was bilingual, and after a lot of confusion I bought one in Spanish.
Who would you say is a worshiper?
Simply a person that lives at the feet of the Lord, who is thankful, indebted, passionate, and clinging exclusively to the Lord. That passion for Him, that relationship with Him, produces other things. For example, King David from a young age was a musician, a composer, but all of that stemmed from his passion and his clinging to God from a young age. For me, to be a worshiper you have to start from within and work your way out. Your relationship, your passion, your commitment—all of that produces the rest.
Do you think we have all been called to be worshipers?
Yes, I think so. When the Bible says sing a new song, it's not just saying it to the musicians; that Psalm is speaking to all the people. We are all composers, we are all singers, some are on key and others are not. There are singers for the public and there are singers for the shower. But we have all been prepared by God. We were created with internal instruments to praise Him.
Do you think that being a worshiper is a basic condition to carry out any other ministry?
Definitely. Because worship starts from a relationship. You cannot preach, you can't even be a missionary, if you're not a worshiper. I was talking to a person that shared with me some statistics about a missionary school. The students were asked how much time they spent with the Lord that particular week. The answer was that they didn't have time because they had to study. To me, that's incoherent, in that you prepare for missions, but you don't spend time with Him who called you to missions.
How much does worship influence discipleship?
Worship directly influences discipleship. If I'm a mentor, and I don't have a basic, key, and fundamental relationship with the Lord, I have nothing to give, I have nothing to teach. I can give information, but I'm not going to teach through experience or life lessons. I will never be an example. So I am just going to teach people how to have a lot of information, memorize the Bible and all the rest, but I won't give life.
For you, has the culture of praise and worship changed?
Yes. I have spent 20 years in the ministry. I have seen different trends and stages. At the beginning of my walk, I think there was an awakening. I know that Marcos Witt was one of the fathers of the awakening, as well as Juan Carlos Alvarado, Sigueme, etc. All of that musical movement generated an awakening among Latinos. The mentality changed. When I came to the Lord, I knew nothing about that. I was completely foreign to that movement. After two and half years, God launched me into ministry and I was still on cloud nine. I only knew that Marcos Witt and some other ministers organized congresses, but I never assisted. I always watched from a distance. What was said was that, "Now that Marcos is coming to put on a congress you're going to learn." That created in the metropolitan area of New York some anger, because we had people such as the "Lady of Song" Carmen Virginia Sanabria, we had ministers like Jose Flores, and others that had spent years singing, with records and everything. They felt offended, and they would say, "Now this young guy arrives and is going to teach me to do something I've been doing for years." It was very controversial in the metropolitan area. But I began to see something. I was able to see a lot of religiousness, many religious minds even in what was music. It was all very standard, very ritualistic and at the same time informal, especially in the Latin Charismatic or Pentecostal Churches. The Baptists were much more in-line. In the Pentecostal church, when they would sing, the one directing would begin in one key and the music in another, until they met at some point. Thank God my church was not that way. I learned from my pastor. He was not a singer, but he was a worshiper. In our church we sang hymns, but at the end of the hymn, something would happen that my pastor would continue to flow and flow. That taught me what it was to flow in the Spirit, or what a new song was. And God, through all of this, was teaching me. Many times the Lord would tell me, "Listen, observe." Sometimes he would invite me to other churches to sing. And, even in devotionals, the Lord would tell me, "Look at what happened there." That was teaching me, molding me. That's the tendency that we've observed throughout the years, good and bad. The Holy Spirit was removing the religious bandages. He has taken the church musically, thematically, from seeking anointment to seeking glory. And at the same time, He has taken her to seek Him.
For many years I would arrive at church and the Lord would say to me, "Listen to what they say." I'm talking about 15 years ago. The songs were "I", "I need." Everything had to do with "give me." That's okay and has its place; I call those "songs of requests." But that's not worship. They're not songs of love towards Him but instead are songs to request from Him. All of that began to change. Songs like "Shout to the Lord," are simply declaring who He is and declaring to the entire world, "Shout to the Lord all of creation." They were songs that began to mark something new. People began to leave a bit of the "give me, give me," to begin to declare who He was. The most anointed and powerful songs—congregationally—are the songs that do not ask; they are the songs that declare. Then in the last few years—sadly—I have seen new ministries seeking formulas. I will never forget my first recording in a studio. A very well-known person in those days walked in and said, "Now let's record praise and worship, because that's what sells." It made me nauseous, because that's not my school of training; it was never what I thought. And still today I reject it. But in the last few years I see that new singers have emerged with significant revelation. At the same time, I see singers that are seeking revelation from others. Brazilian music has emerged. I am fascinated by music from Brazil because of all the melodies and because of the lyrics that have a meaning. They are not just lyrics of "I love you, I love you, I love you," but instead begin to talk about the why. They have content, they have weight. In the last few years we have seen that songs are losing their substance. They are repeating the same, making something that sells.
Have you seen a difference in the praise and worship of the music for youth and adults?
In this area there's a difference. We see it in the congregation. For us, even though we're a Latin congregation, our music is not Caribbean. Our music is more rock-pop, because of my influence as a musician. A congregation whose pastor is a musician sings the music that the pastor likes. Even though I sing salsa, I'm not salsera; it's not one of the rhythms to which I'm predisposed. If we see the difference among the youth, they're more inclined toward rock, like Jesus Culture, Hillsong United. They have those tendencies.
Why is worship important?
Because music is the universal language. Doing it in church, along with the lyrics, connects you in a very quick way. It's a point of encounter; it’s a form of teaching to worship, especially for those who have never held a Bible. There is power in listening, confessing or declaring what a song says, even without knowing what the Bible says. For example, when I say, "God is good," even to the most uninitiated, the music of praise and worship connects them instantaneously.
How do you think Latinos imagine God?
I say this with all honesty. And it's not that I imagine Him this way. Not at all! To me, I sometimes think that Latinos visualize a God like Santa Claus: An old man who is sitting there and constantly being asked for things. There are some Latinos that refer to him as "old man" or as "little God." Sometimes I think Latinos tend to be very egocentric. "This is about me" or "God has to resolve my problem" because that's what God is for. You know that type of arrogance. But I'm a Caribbean-Latina. Central Americans tend to be much more humble in that respect. But the Caribbean, and especially Cubans, tend to be very arrogant, much more conceited, and more proud. I think many times we're not humble enough. Pride is such that, as Latinos—many times—we don't know how to ask forgiveness. We justify everything. “Hey, Jaime, you got me in trouble!”
How do you see the Latin Church in the United States in a few years?
I see it strong. Because I think there is something happening in the church and I believe its identity. Historically, Latinos in the United State have not had identity; they have always compared themselves to the "gringo." The Anglo has been up here and the Latino down below. I will never forget, I was at the church, "Jesus the King," in Miami with Pastor Maldonado. He never had that problem and that's how we can see how things are going for him. He always said, "Why is it that being a Latino makes us have such a low image of ourselves; why not have the image that God has given us? If God promised everything to us, why not achieve it all?" And you can see the fruit of one person who has always had an identity. This is an indicator of what is happening generally. Christian Latinos have found an identity. Discovering that God called them with a purpose in this country.
I think in the next few years we are going to see more Latino churches emerging, growing, and being effective and productive. It will be one church, solid in its teaching, in the word. The Latino church for many years was closed off in legalism and religiosity. But in the coming years we are going to see more churches emerging out of the religiosity and entering the Kingdom. That's going to make a difference because Latinos in the United States have become the majority of the minorities, allowing Latino churches to also grow because of the constant influx of immigrants. Many years ago I set up a service in English here at the church. A pastor friend told me, "If God told you to do it, then Amen. But I think that the main need is the Latino community, because Latinos are arriving all the time. And statistics show that Hispanic churches are going to be full from all the people that are arriving." So I think that this is what we're going to start seeing: more Hispanic churches with identity, with purpose, raising themselves and being effective in what is the mentality of the Kingdom.
With regards to the content of the songs, do you think that the way in which God is presented has changed?
Perhaps. I haven't thought about this. I have seen a difference in the "Give me, Give me" songs and the "Face to Face" songs. I think that every song marks a different face of the Lord. I wouldn't say that I see a tendency in that we are now showing a different God. I see that the lyrics of each song serve to show you a different face of the Lord. I can see how older songs showed a more distant God; there has definitely been an evolution. For example, in the times of the hymnal we sang lyrics that were powerful, but I feel that perhaps people were singing to a more distant God. And today—perhaps due to the way in which we worship or give way to a new song—God is much more accessible.
How is it that you tend to describe the presence of God?
The presence of God is so great that it cannot be understood. At the same time, it is so personal that you cannot stop feeling it. The presence of God hugs you, smothers you, and transforms you. It's personal and at the same time is much larger than you.
What is the influence that you long to be in the life of the believer?
On the day that I'm no longer here, I want them to think about the way in which I taught. What I wanted to impart was that they would become passionate to be with God. It moves me, emotionally, but I always go to the examples of Bartimaeus, the woman with the flow of blood, of the desperation that those people had for a touch, for a change, for an experience. Bartimaeus was asked to be quiet but kept on yelling and would not stop. I imagine him, standing next to the road by himself with the confusion and hope that something has to change. And he started to yell; they told him not to do it but he wouldn't be quiet and kept on yelling. That moves me. If there is something that I'm passionate about and I want to leave, as a legacy in my life, is that people become passionate about God, that they are not silenced, that they keep on yelling passionately for the Lord in their daily lives. In the services, I want each person, each musician to become passionate about their instrument. That, as Bartimaeus, they yell through their guitar, their piano and their voice. I want them to draw attention. That the Master will stop and say, "Bring him to me." The story of Bartimaeus fascinates me because of everything it produces. The fact that Jesus was in the midst of a multitude of people, and it was the yell of one person that caught His attention and captivated Him. And those that sent to silence him later had to go looking for him. At the end we know he received his miracle. I want to leave that in people.
Have you ever suffered from the Latino Machista culture…have you ever been discriminated against?
Many times. But God is such a God, and His grace so powerful, that it blinds people. In Spain, for example, God has put me in the good graces of the Philadelphia Ministry, a ministry for gypsies in that country. In that culture they don't believe in a ministry for women. Women can't preach. Moreover, women sing seated. They almost can't participate. In some groups they allow women to pray, but that's about it. I've entered there. I have not preached an entire message, but I have sung and imparted the word. I have encountered the rejection of the macho, in that you simply can't because you're a woman. Preaching is the same in that from time to time we have people who come to the church questioning what a woman is doing preaching, and even more so a single woman. Within the ministry, as a worshiper, it has been the same. For many years—and I don't say this with a wounded heart because I know who I am and what my name is to the Lord—I have seen traditional ministries having just men in the lineup. The actual event, just men, and the actual conference, just men. In fact, when I recorded "Your Word I Will Keep," that was the first successful production of Praise and Worship by a woman. There were women that had already done so, but with little success. They were recognized in their congregations, but nobody else knew of them. When the album "Grace and Mercy" began to move, people would say, "It's a woman, and she's leading Praise and Worship; what's going on here." That's where we started to make something new. The path began to open for different people, even for Ingrid, who was working more in English. All of a sudden the doors opened for her to do it in Spanish. Praise God for that, because it is a tremendous gift. So we have seen across the years, machismo—and I'm not sure whether that's what it should be called—but, in the sense of not seeing women as potential leaders.
I think that it's Machismo when you don't give them the same preference you give a man; it's Machismo when you give him 1,000 and her 200. Its Machismo when having the same qualities and abilities than a man; a woman is relegated to second place.
Yes. We have lived through all of that. There have even been concerts in which we've arrived with all of our musicians and at the end they've said, "Sorry, there's no money." And I don't want it for me, but for all those musicians that have families they need to support. We've had all that happen to us. I think because I'm a woman.
But I think you haven't allowed yourself to get taken advantage of.
Well yes, but sometimes because of the Lord, one has to be silent and forgive.
Do you think that your music, your presence or your participation defies the Machista mentality?
Definitely. I think of everything you just mentioned. Presence, because it doesn't have to do with me, it has to do with God. Anointment, changes and transforms. My person, because I'm docile and easy going, even though I'm so in the Spirit. But I do believe that my presence defies, because they don't know what to do with me. It's like, "Yes, she is a woman, but she's so important that we don't know how to silence her, how to marginalize her."
What do you think God thinks of you?
I think He thinks I'm brave, that I have been able to face adverse situations, that I'm faithful. That I'm not perfect and He knows that, because He sent His son to the cross for me. I think He thinks I'm useful to Him, and that's what's most important to me.
Have you seen that more art is being incorporated into worship?
It's my longing. We have tried more each time. Dance is something that has existed in the Latino church, but is now proliferating more, because the religious mentality is being broken and more people are being exposed to more art that they did not understand before. Music was the primary art that they wouldn't understand; they tried to limit it to a piano and an acoustic guitar. When the religious mentality began to break and they said, "Ok, let's throw in an amplifier, let's connect it," that began breaking it and now there is more exposure to the arts.
How has the Latino community responded to this?
Well, I think they have understood. What is more, they like it. Of course, older people don't understand, the elderly resist change a little bit, but in general, the Latino church has received it well. It has understood that, aside from being a tool to connect with God, it's also a tool to connect with people, because music is a universal language. It is also a hook for people to come and want to be in the congregation. One person that doesn't know the Lord but likes the music, is going to come and stay, because there is music in the church.
And are you willing to make changes even if the type of music may not be something you like?
Yes. I'm open to do it for His cause. The only thing I wouldn't do would be to jeopardize the Word or biblical principles. But we have to be open to changes in methodology, because times change.
Can you give me names of songs that have stayed in your heart?
Classically, "How Great Thou Art." A song that fascinates me from Marcos Witt is one called "Your Sight." There are so many songs; Rene Gonzalez has a pair of songs that I love. A person that has ministered to me in a great way is a pastor in Brazil; her name is Alda Celia. She has a record called "Songs from the Holy Spirit." The whole project has songs either from the Holy Spirit or to the Holy Spirit. That project, from beginning to end, I can listen to all day, and every day it ministers to me.
Have you seen patterns or dynamics of globalization and how cultures share their music and lyrics?
With Brazil, lately, it has been seen quite a bit. Our cover is from Brazil, so we sing many themes with Brazilian origins. My pastor, who is from there, is a singer; she has recorded my songs and I've recorded some from her. "The Glory of the Lord" is one of the songs that I've recorded; "Hunger for you" are others that we've recorded and are currently recording. In the album "Alone with You" I recorded the song "God of Promises," which is from a church in Brazil. Therefore, we're seeing that music is shared, aside from the classic which are songs in English, recorded in Spanish.
Why do you think that the majority of Hispanic worshipers that have been successful have come from outside?
I think that perhaps because those that are from here stay in the American church; they stay singing in English. In my case, my parents are Cuban, I was born here, but I converted to the Hispanic church. Had I attended an American church, I would be singing in English and this interview would be completely different. I think that the men that become singers in the United States come to identify more with the American church.
What do you think of the rhythms that are used in the Latino Church?
I think they are tools and languages.
Does it matter to you?
Yes. Rhythm has nothing to do with whether it is from God or not. What determines a song is really the message. The rhythm is simply the cultural language. For example, I identify quite a bit with the regional music of Mexico. It's not the type of music I like; however, I understand that there are churches in Mexico, in Texas and on the borders that use that type of music to reach that type of people. They're tools. I think God is the creator of music, so he will utilize it to reach the deeper part of your being. I'm not Hebrew, but I still recognize that Hebrew music is what reaches the heart of a Jewish person.
I imagine that you recognize the ministry of the woman. Right?
(Laughs) I think the question is sad because I think the same question was posed to Jesus when talking about heaven and whether this woman should marry this man… He said no, they are not to be given for marriage. Heaven doesn't have that type of arrangement. In other words, there is gender; it's not because you're a man or a woman. Therefore, for the Kingdom, God is looking for a willing heart; he's not looking to see if you're a man or a woman. Your gender serves its purpose on earth as a father, mother, husband, and wife. But your gender does not determine your work for the Lord. Your work in the Lord is determined by a willing heart and your response to his calling. So yes, I believe in the ministry of the woman.
Why do you think that worshipers end up being pastors?
It's a question I've asked myself because I never thought in my lifetime God would call me to be a pastor. Never. If ten years ago you would have asked me whether one day I would be a pastor I would have said NO. Especially after having met so many pastors and seen so many issues and a bunch of other things. But I believe that David began in a field, dealing with lions and bears, composing songs for the Lord, in love with and passionate for Him. He then rose up as a warrior to defend his cause. I identify with him because we go through the same thing. As worshipers, we begin with our first love, writing songs and in those songs, battling with the lions and the bears. We rise as warriors, defending the cause of the Kingdom, working in the ministry, waging war against the doings of the enemy and then God lifts you to pastor, to teach others, so that you may leave a legacy. I think the worshiper becomes a pastor because he needs to leave a legacy of worshiper on earth. One of the reasons why He brought me to pastoring was for a condition that I could see in Miami: a church with many musicians playing, on salary, but that did not have a pastor. They were musicians that loved the Lord, but were frustrated. What do we do with those that are not being pastored? I began to pray and ask the Lord what we could do with these people that love him, love music, but that had no one to pastor them. I'm not saying that my church is full of musicians, but that was the seed that God used to turn my heart from one of evangelizing in the ministry to that of a pastor that wants to heal, restore, and lend a hand to the sheep. I want to make a difference in a person, I don't simply want to spread the seed, but instead I want to be used to transform lives, I want to leave a legacy. I think that's the reason why many worshipers end up pastoring. Because pastoring guarantees that you've gone up against all the lions and bears with which you fought, it is validating.