“I think the reason you sat here was just to tell me about Jesus.” Five years after leading a Southwest Airlines flight attendant to the Lord, evangelist Valentino Ciccarelli (Pastoral Ministries; History ’12) still keeps in contact with him. For this grad, seeing a life transformed is something he never gets over.
From the age of 11, Valentino knew he was to surrender to do whatever God had for him, not knowing what that meant for his future. “I didn’t know what I’d be called to do, but I was finally able to grab hold of the fact that there would always be more joy and fulfillment doing what God wants me to do instead of seeking out my own plans,” he said.
For three summers as a college student, Valentino served as a counselor at the Bill Rice Ranch alongside seasoned evangelists. “Aside from counseling and leading children to Christ, I learned that all the work that went into making camp happen was, in fact, ministry,” Valentino said. “So cleaning the campgrounds, being a lifeguard, cooking dozens of steaks at a time for the cookouts, officiating a game, picking up trash, and doing yard work was all, indeed, ministry. Not just the preaching and counseling part.” These experiences cemented his commitment to the Lord.
In the pastoral ministries program at Pensacola Christian College, Valentino learned to be a lifelong student. Coming in, he didn’t realize how much his public education had been influenced by secular philosophy. “Going to PCC and hearing the Bible spoken and taught from every day transformed my life, corrected my thinking, and helped me be led by biblical principle,” he said. Studying Greek shaped how he studied the Bible and understood it. But his most treasured aspect of being an undergrad was Ministerial Seminar. Listening to guest preachers each week made him aware that there will constantly be areas to improve and learn from other preachers and ministries. Developing messages to practice among his peers gave him practical experience to apply to his own ministry.
Upon graduating, Valentino served as a PCC rep. He learned early on that ministry is focusing as a team on the purpose beyond each meeting or project—a vision he has brought into his own ministry, Pronouncing Christ.
As an evangelist, he travels across the country to aid churches spiritually and practically. Depending on the day, Valentino can be found preaching, praying with pastors, or making phone calls and visiting door-to-door. He also assists with graphic design and organizing events and outreaches at churches or schools. Working closely with church or school leaders gives Valentino insight into what challenges they face without having all their resources; this teaches him to fill in how and when he is needed.
Valentino Ciccarelli remembers fondly his first revival meeting six years ago. Two struggling churches, which had been merged, met together every night for a week, literally and figuratively divided in the middle by the center aisle. All week he preached from the Word and stayed each night for a fellowship organized by the women. Little did he know that the people that lingered to visit had not fellowshipped with each other for years. God used him to unite these people.
Throughout this year, Pronouncing Christ has been working hand in hand with a church to reorganize their outreach. Valentino helped plan their second large event which doubled in size from the one they had last year. “Getting the community involved has really exploded the potential for this event,” Valentino said about Freedom Sunday, a day celebrating freedom from addictions.
A bank, utility company, and other businesses participated by advertising for it and local restaurants set up 500 table tents on the big day. The sheriff, state representative, and first responders were present as well. From a weekly average of 300 people, 623 individuals attended, making it the largest service the church ever had. The pastor preached a message of hope to those with current addictions and proclaimed Jesus as the ultimate deliverer from sin. “We zeroed in on those who have overcome addictions and those who took part in and were impacted by the recovery process,” Valentino said.
“Without thinking twice, I’d say my greatest fulfillment comes from what I do as an evangelist,” he said. “It is seeing the change and transformation in people’s lives.
However he can meet a need, whether preaching at a meeting, working on a project, or witnessing to a flight attendant during his travels, Valentino Ciccarelli knows that what he does has a greater impact than what he can see.
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