Confessions of faith
After spending time in other churches, a news reporter finds comfort in applying the truth of the gospel to any situation.
Finding the heart of the story, and sharing it with others, comes naturally to Iris Delgado-Strickler, who works as a broadcast journalist for Telemundo in Philadelphia. From current events to weather forecasts, her reporting career has led her to a variety of interesting places and scenes. In 2013, she won an Emmy for her work on a feature that focused on the sole survivor of a massacre inside a Dominican beauty salon in Caselberry, Florida
When it comes to religion, however, Delgado-Strickler finds the heart of the story, the promise of salvation through Christ, not only to be powerful but also reassuring. “WELS is so focused on the message that Jesus came into this world and died for our sins,” she notes. “What could be greater than that?”
Coming to the United States
Delgado-Strickler was born in Puerto Rico and lived there during her early years. “I grew up as a Catholic, but it wasn’t really enforced,” she recalls. “We went to church every once in a while for big events.”
Then, when she was 15 years old, her family moved to Orlando, Florida. While living there, her family began attending a nondenominational Christian church. “I stayed there during my high school and college life,” Delgado-Strickler notes.
One of the reasons the family became involved in a nondenominational congregation rather than attending services at a Catholic church was that the nondenominational church’s views were more liberal. Also, it was easier for the family to understand the message being taught there, explains Delgado-Strickler.
After high school, Delgado-Strickler began attending a community college in the area. She also worked full time as an employee at the front desk of a hotel. While studying and working, she met another employee at the hotel, Adam, who worked full time as a server in the hotel restaurant. They both attended the same college.
“I was just a Puerto Rican learning to speak English at the time,” she says. “He was in a metal band and invited me to come to his show.”
Learning about the gospel
So she went to the show, and soon the two began dating. After some time, they were invited to attend a wedding. Adam’s sister was getting married, and the event would be held in Idaho, where Adam’s family lived.
The event came to be a turning point for Delgado-Strickler, who was nervous prior to the trip. “I’m the only Hispanic in the family,” she notes. But the family was very open and welcoming of her. Furthermore, many of their activities involved a nearby WELS congregation. “They were really focused on going to church,” she says. “I saw their enthusiasm about going to worship.”
After the wedding, the couple visited Adam’s family again in Idaho. This time the visit took place around Christmas. “We went to church on a Sunday, and then again for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day,” Delgado-Strickler remembers. She was intrigued by this emphasis on going to church regularly. “They did it so willingly and were happy about it,” she recalls. “In my culture Christmas Eve is huge, but it’s about the food and party.” The focus on Jesus being born was a new concept for her.
Following the visits to Idaho, the couple got engaged. When talking about marriage and religion, Delgado-Strickler was struck by her fiancé’s focus on the Word. “One of the things I liked about Adam was that he was serious about God and wanted to have God in his life,” she explains. “We started talking about what church we were going to go to, and he told me he wanted to keep going to his church.”
The couple had attended Risen Savior Lutheran Church in Orlando several times while dating. When they wanted to get married, “we heard you could get a discount on a license if you got marriage counseling. . . . So we went to Risen Savior to look into it.”
While there, the couple got to know the pastor, who offered to give them marriage counseling and also perform the marriage ceremony.
Becoming a member
The more Delgado-Strickler learned through attending worship and taking marriage counseling, the more she became interested in WELS. “It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve messed up as a person,” she notes. “Jesus took care of it all.” That message grew on her. She took Bible instruction classes and became a member in 2011.
After doing that, however, the road was far from easy.
“There were a lot of things changing in our lives, career wise,” says Delgado-Strickler, who was working as a news reporter at the time. Her husband was studying to become a CPA. “There was also a new marriage, a baby, and cultural differences.” The newlyweds decided to look for help. “We paid $300 for a session with a nondenominational Christian psychologist, and it didn’t turn out so well,” she says.
Then the couple turned to their congregation. They started working with one of the pastors at Risen Savior.
He was eager to help. “He always brought us to the gospel,” recalls Delgado-Strickler. The focus on God’s Word helped the couple transition to a better, peaceful situation. “It helped me be less selfish and to humble myself by seeking God first,” she says. “Pastor Sadler also gave us some greater wisdom on doing devotions together.”
In 2013, a significant job opportunity come up for Delgado-Strickler. At the time, she was working as a local reporter and as a national correspondent for Univision from the Central Florida area. She was offered a position in Philadelphia that included being a substitute for the news anchor there.
The family, who by this point had a young daughter, decided to make the move. When they arrived, they found the place lonely. They were far from the family and friends they had been close to in Florida. But when they attended a WELS congregation in the area, Peace, King of Prussia, Penn., they were welcomed with open arms. “You can see the joy the gospel has given her,” her pastor says. “She also has such a gift of encouragement that draws in others.”
Now the family feels more settled in the Philadelphia area. In late 2014, Adam passed his exams to be a CPA. Delgado-Strickler has taken to her new job as broadcast journalist. She continues to work as a news reporter and fills in as an anchor in Spanish for Telemundo 62, although you may sometimes find her doing special reports for NBC 10.
And they enjoy being involved at their church. There Delgado-Strickler has helped run a children’s program. Set up for toddlers and parents, the activities focus on combining physical movements and discussions with Bible stories and teachings.
Delgado-Strickler has also helped the congregation’s efforts in reaching the Hispanic community in the area. As her pastor says, “She has remarkable gifts and a servant’s heart to help others.”
Rachel Hartman and her husband, Missionary Michael Hartman, serve in León, Mexico.
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Author: Rachel Hartman
Volume 102, Number 3
Issue: March 2015
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