Hi, my name is Rose. I was born in Brooklyn, New York and was raised by a very young single Mom. I was left alone at home quite a bit. I learned to read on my own and kept myself entertained by reading and listening to the radio. I dropped out of school and became a female gang member. Consequently, I ended up getting married at a very young age. It was not a happy marriage because we were both way too young to take on the responsibilities of marriage. We had three children – a girl and two boys. My husband was shot and killed in the street and I was left to raise our children alone.
In 1970, I married a man who had been in the navy and liked to travel. I knew very little about churches and had seldom attended one. My husband, however, came from a family of churchgoers I wanted to visit some churches with him, but we were busy working in New York and seldom had time to attend. We partied and danced a lot, and traveled to many places.
I eventually got my GED and even went on to get a Bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1986. I am the only college graduate in my entire family. My husband became very ill and in 1996 he passed away.
I was working at the Barnes and Noble College Book Store at Columbia University. With my husband gone, I didn’t enjoy going out any more. I still had an urge to go to church, so a friend of mine invited me to go with her to a Baptist church. It was a very cold and unfriendly church. All the rich people sat up front and we weren’t allowed to sit there. So, I contented myself by going to “television church.”
Some of the programs were good and taught the Bible while others didn’t. I would hear them explain that if I wanted my sins forgiven I should pray a simple prayer asking forgiveness. I prayed that prayer many times, but never really understood what it meant.
One day I was walking down Westchester Avenue in the Bronx and saw a sign for Commonwealth Community Baptist Church. It was meeting in a storefront at the time. I attended one of the services shortly thereafter and met Pastor Marty Silverberg. I felt very comfortable with him and his teaching from the Bible. I have been coming here ever since.
The landlady where I was living was very mean. She was always fussing at the tenants. One day she notified us of a big rent increase. It was more than I could afford, so I went to see a lawyer and found out she didn’t own the building and had no right to collect rent from anyone. When the tenets stopped paying their rent to her, she cut off the heat, the water, and the electric at various times.
Our church was in the process of building our new church building at the time. Pastor Marty and one of the builders came to my apartment and hooked up a pipe so I could have hot water. That Sunday I came home from church angry at God for allowing so many problems to come into my life with the landlady and everything else. I cried out, “Why do I have to put up with this?” I wanted God to save me from all my troubles and frustrations I was experiencing. I cried out to him for help and asked him to save me. Exhausted, I fell asleep at the table. When I woke up something was different. I had prayed the “sinner’s prayer” many times while watching television, but this time it was different. I knew God had heard me and had answered my prayer. I had assurance in my heart that he had forgiven me and would help me with all my problems. I hadn’t found God. He’d found me. He wasn’t the one who had been lost. I was the lost one, but now I’d been found.
My life has changed so much since that day. I can see life more clearly now. I don’t miss my old life at all. It holds no attraction for me. I’ve learned to be content and I have no fear of dying. I have a wonderful peace in my heart. I now have a big interest in reading my Bible, although I don’t understand it all. But I keep reading because it is a great encouragement to me and brings me peace of mind. I love to hear the Bible taught and try to be in church whenever services are held.
Commonwealth Community Baptist Church is my family. I like the fellowship here and the times of talking and sharing with each other. I especially like the way the Word of God is taught here. They make it easy to understand and encourage us to participate in the Bible studies. I don’t feel stupid or ashamed if I answer wrong. That is part of learning. If someone wants to hear the Word of God taught right and made clear, this is the church to come to.