Gospel Story

EDGARDO & JOCELYN ROSA

Both Edgardo and Jocelyn Rosa grew up surrounded by broken relationships. At four years old, Edgardo watched his dad leave his family. Even at this age, Edgardo wondered what he had done wrong. Why had his dad stayed to see Edgardo’s older brother—at this time, eight—grow up but not him? Because of this, Edgardo viewed all relationships as conditional. "You were left to fend for yourself," Edgardo described. Once someone got too close, he would try to shut them out. The rest of Edgardo’s family moved to the United States from Puerto Rico when he was eight. His mom was remarried, Edgardo lived with step-grandparents that were hesitant to have family there, and he transitioned into American culture.

Jocelyn meanwhile always lived in Massachusetts. Her dad was in and out during her childhood, and her mom stopped going to church after their divorce. Although Jocelyn continued attending church, she struggled acting like a Christian beyond Sunday mornings. Jocelyn was prideful of her Hispanic ethnicity, but did not want to fall into the stereotype of doing poorly in school and getting pregnant.

Yet at seventeen and pregnant, Jocelyn would find herself in that exact situation.

Edgardo and Jocelyn met for the first time at Cameron Middle School in Framingham, MA. Edgardo was known as the kid who loved sports and goofing off while Jocelyn was the good student. "He was a troublemaker, hanging out with the kids who were always loud and out to make a name for themselves," Jocelyn said. They developed the same friend group through Spanish class, and Jocelyn found Edgardo funny after a while.

Even in her youth, Jocelyn found herself drawn to Edgardo’s personality. By December of their freshman year of high school, they were dating. But for Jocelyn’s mom, the decision to date Edgardo did not add up. Why was her daughter dating someone who never smiled, was disrespectful, and was known as a "lady’s man?"

While Jocelyn never drank nor did drugs in high school, Edgardo became her addiction. As a people-pleaser that lacked self-confidence, Jocelyn spent all her energy trying to win Edgardo’s approval. And Edgardo, as much as he did not want to admit it, was beginning to look like his father. "I didn’t want people to come close enough that they had a hold on me," Edgardo described. As the cycle became more damaging, Jocelyn found herself committing harder to the relationship while Edgardo became unashamedly distant, hoping that it would end.

Then at the end of junior year, Jocelyn found out she was pregnant.

"I did not know how to react," Edgardo said. "I was just in shock."

Jocelyn suspected something was wrong, because of her fatigue. She went to the nurse’s office to do a test. She and Edgardo tried to laugh off the fact that she was going in for a test, but their worst fears were realized soon after. When the test result came out pink, Jocelyn started crying. She could only think of how much this would hurt her mom. Jocelyn was fulfilling the stereotype she had tried so hard to break.

Edgardo was called out of science class and told to go to the nurse’s office. In that moment, he realized that Jocelyn must be pregnant. "I did not know how to react," Edgardo said. "I was just in shock."

On the bus ride home, the couple decided to tell their parents that afternoon. Edgardo’s mom took the news in stride, for she had suspected that Jocelyn could be pregnant. Jocelyn’s mom was upset, but even more so when she pictured Edgardo as a father to her grandchild. Jocelyn took the brunt of what was coming for her, which humbled her.

At the beginning of the pregnancy, the couple was determined to make their romance work despite their families’ disapproval. The pregnancy flipped everything for Edgardo. Now, he was determined to be there for his daughter by pursuing Jocelyn and making the relationship work. Jocelyn on the other hand wanted to focus more on the pregnancy and made that her top priority. Edgardo’s newfound determination started to diminish as he found Jocelyn focusing her attention away from him.

Edgardo continued being pushed away as Jocelyn prepared for their child’s arrival. Jocelyn chose to stay with her parents instead of move in with Edgardo, which continued the rift in their relationship. No longer was Jocelyn the girl who aimed to please Edgardo. Even though Edgardo did not understand this shift, he still wanted to be there for his daughter.

On December 27th, 2007, Yasmari was born.

In the first few years of Yasmari’s life, Jocelyn and Edgardo constantly argued. Edgardo continued in his self-centered mindset, not understanding why his daughter came before him. Jocelyn also grew more cautious after Yasmari, not being that teenage girl who would do whatever Edgardo wanted. Edgardo was not there during the sleepless nights, and only came to visit Yasmari when he was allowed by Jocelyn’s family. "He felt that I was making him into his dad," Jocelyn explained.

Over time, this bitterness brought their relationship into an unhealthy place.

At age twenty, Edgardo did not want to fight for the relationship anymore. "He wanted the title, but he wasn’t ready for the responsibility that came with it" Jocelyn said. Edgardo became someone who Jocelyn no longer recognized. He "checked out" of their relationship, acting cold and distant. He began living a double life, spending time with Jocelyn and Yasmari by day and partying or working by night.

As Jocelyn went off the college, Edgardo got a good-paying job at a restaurant and moved into his own apartment. Edgardo began acting closed off, making uncharacteristic decisions like getting a tattoo and going off to Vegas with some friends. He wanted to catch up on everything he missed by not going to college. "I didn’t care because I didn’t see [Jocelyn] loving me the way I wanted her to," Edgardo said.

As Edgardo sought for the world to meet his needs, he developed a relationship with a server at the restaurant.

Through suspicious phone calls and lack of response, Jocelyn suspected Edgardo’s infidelity. When Edgardo finally admitted the truth, they did not talk to each other for a couple of weeks. This hurt Jocelyn and she was furious. "Edgardo was my best friend. He was everything. I felt like I was being robbed of a relationship."

However, it did not take long for Jocelyn and Edgardo to fall into the same cycle as high school, where Jocelyn begged for Edgardo to come back and he kept pushing her away. It was a few months later that God changed Jocelyn for good. While visiting a friend in Puerto Rico, Jocelyn found out that Edgardo had not told her everything.

She went into the bathroom and cried out, "God, I can’t do this. Please take this from me. I can’t bear this." On the bathroom floor, her idol of Edgardo was shattered. Jocelyn asked the Lord for forgiveness for creating her own gods, and how long it took her to return to Him. A calm washed over her, and she called Edgardo with confidence she had never had before. In this phone call, Jocelyn said that their relationship was done for good. As the Holy Spirit convicted her to follow Him, she asked Edgardo to pray and go to church. "If you and I ever have a chance in the future, then this needs to happen."

For the first time in her life, Jocelyn understood that she would be okay because God was in control.

"That phone call for me was the hardest thing we had ever gone through," Edgardo said. "That is the one time I realized that I had lost Jocelyn, lost Yasmari, and become my dad." The couple lost contact with each other for months. It was during the separation that Edgardo moved back into his mom’s apartment, quit his job at the restaurant, and began going to church.

His double life vanished. The Lord continued working in Edgardo’s life without him knowing it. Although Edgardo realized that going to church was important to Jocelyn, he also began learning how joyless and empty his life was. "I have lived the life I wanted to live, and it left me empty," Edgardo said. He felt that the Lord’s response to this brokenness was, "Hey, I’m the only thing left. Try Me."

Without Jocelyn’s knowledge, Edgardo accepted Christ at an altar call after a convicting sermon. He went up to the front, where congregants hugged him and prayed with him. They told Edgardo that they knew he thought he couldn’t come to God because he wasn’t perfect. To that they responded, "But you don’t have to be. [God] knows that you will make mistakes."

Edgardo’s life changed radically.

"It was like a light switch: I understood my sins and I understood the cross." He began listening to sermon podcasts, reading his Bible, and downloading systematic theology textbooks online. His hunger to learn about the Lord became his obsession.

Meanwhile, Jocelyn also started going to church. She asked God for trust and strength, and heard one Sunday how trusting God is like being on eagle’s wings. This symbol hit hard for Jocelyn, for it taught her that the Lord would protect her and be present in her relationship with Him. After this sermon, Jocelyn confessed faith in Christ. She could not get enough of the church services on Sunday, so she went to all the Saturday services as well.

In this time, Jocelyn heard God telling her that she needed to forgive Edgardo. This was a difficult decision for Jocelyn, for she had not seen Edgardo in months and had no clue what to expect. As Jocelyn parked outside Edgardo’s house, she asked him to step outside. When he did, she saw a different Edgardo. His face looked joyful and humble, completely different than last time they saw each other. Through their changed hearts and reliance on Christ, God began reconciling their relationship. Together, Edgardo and Jocelyn went to church faithfully.

"If God is not center, it’s a matter of time before the relationship falls apart," Jocelyn said.

By September 2012, six months after they reconciled, Edgardo proposed to Jocelyn. They got married that December. No longer did Edgardo disrespect Jocelyn, or Jocelyn idolize Edgardo. Instead, they looked to Scripture as an example for their marriage. Both of them fell deeper in love with God in the process.

"If God is not center, it’s a matter of time before the relationship falls apart," Jocelyn said. "God had such grace and mercy to bring us together to understand that He is the center of our relationship." Jocelyn elaborates on how God created marriage to represent Him and the Church: not as a contract, but a covenant. That foundation is important.

Ephesians 5 has been Edgardo’s foothold as he tries to be the best leader for Jocelyn and Yasmari. This has led him to put God first, then Jocelyn, then Yasmari. "Often, the world puts the kids over the marriage than loving God first," Edgardo explained. Yasmari will only learn what a Christ-like relationship is from Edgardo and Jocelyn if Christ is the head of the marriage.

Yasmari also taught Jocelyn and Edgardo more about Christ’s love and relationship. For Edgardo, this is learning grace and mercy. Seeing her innocence and forgiveness even with their missteps as parents reveals more of God’s character. For Jocelyn, Yasmari keeps her accountable and shows how she is to love: by giving sacrificially for someone beyond herself.

Regarding their past sinfulness and pursuing each other without Christ, Jocelyn concluded, "I’m regretful, yet unashamed. We should be regretful of the things that we do, yet we should be unashamed as we bring them to Christ. Because at the end of the day, He knows that we are just sinful, that we are just dust. And in this, Christ is glorified."

Edgardo and Jocelyn continue to be committed to Christ and are incredibly grateful for their daughter, Yasmari. In 2016, Jocelyn was baptized and her public testimony to Christ has enabled a deeper relationship with her dad as he attends church. Edgardo now serves FBCS as Director of Student Ministries & Pastoral Assistant. Jocelyn enthusiastically serves alongside her husband, leading through the youth group and activities and service in the community. Through their influence, kids have learned what it means to further their own personal walks with Christ.