Ashes Exchanged For Beauty

Ashes Exchanged For Beauty

WRITTEN BY: Yesenia Taveras

One of my favorite passages in the Bible comes from Isaiah 61:3 “… he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair”. To me, this means that if I give God my ashes, he exchanges them for beauty.

I want to share with you my experience with domestic violence and how it has brought me to Jesus. My desire is to give someone hope in the midst of a storm, so that at the end of their journey, they can look back and see where God had taken their ashes and made something beautiful.

In April 2020, I found The Journey online during the coronavirus pandemic. The man I was in a relationship with at the time was an atheist, and I was a Muslim. One weekend, I started watching online and immediately became intrigued. I continued to watch online gatherings each weekend and decided to visit in person once The Journey opened again for in-person gatherings. The moment I walked in I knew this church was unlike anything else I had experienced. After hearing Pastor Mark speak live, I started to feel like Jesus was calling me to ministry, but I had no idea what that would involve. I was so scared to leave Islam, and I didn’t know how my boyfriend during this time would take the news.

Over the next few months, The Journey started to feel more and more like home; a place where I could connect with believers and grow in my spiritual journey. I knew I could not continue my relationship with my boyfriend during this time, but after a conversation with him about ending the relationship, he assaulted me. A series of events followed, but the main one that stuck with me was the moment that I prayed during the assault for God to help me out of the situation and bring me closer to Jesus so that I can build my faith in him and follow him fully. Then, I heard God’s voice and he released me from my boyfriend.

I got baptized in November 2020 to publicly acknowledge my confession of faith and belief in Jesus, and to enter a community of believers. In December, I started serving on The Journey’s Production Team. I remember the first time I served because I felt like this was a perfect fit for me. The people I served with were interested in my story and wanted to help me grow spiritually. A few months went by, and I received the opportunity to step into a leadership role.

My mentor suggested that I join the Journey Leadership Institute (JLI) Evening Program.  I attended the Preview Night to learn more about it, and I was immediately hooked after learning more. I decided to join the Core Plus track, which consisted of classes on Wednesdays and serving three out of four weekends per month. The best part was being able to grow my leadership abilities with the other leaders in the program! Everyone was so supportive.

I desired to be a compassionate, connected, and loving leader who led those around me with a deep understanding of who God had made me and others to be, and JLI has helped shape me into that person. JLI has also helped me to grow spiritually, experience a sense of purpose, fulfillment and meaning.  

So, what are ashes and how do they play a role in my story?

I believe ashes are our wounds. In biblical times ashes were associated with pain, loss, and suffering. God chooses to make something more beautiful from the brokenness. He restores what is broken so that it becomes even more beautiful than before.

After graduating from the nine-month program, I now have the confidence that, regardless of the career path I take, I will thrive as a leader firmly established in God’s word and his ultimate leadership. 

How have you seen God transform the brokenness in your life into something beautiful? 

Consider JLI and I know you’ll see beauty instead of ashes.

Yesenia Taveras

Production Team Leader

The Director of Communications for Wilmington City Council (13 Elected Officials), Yesenia Taveras leads communications efforts to advance goals of the council’s public policy priorities and serves as the direct contact for constituents, media, government agencies and non-profit organizations. She found The Journey Online in April 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic and she and her daughter (Yasmeen) and son (Ziahare) have been gathering in-person since July 2020. She got baptized during Baptism Weekend on 11/7/2020. Yesenia has a passion for serving and has been serving on the Production Team since December 2020, the Online Production Team since September 2021, and led her first J-Group in February 2022. She graduated from the Journey Leadership Institute Core Plus Evening Program in June 2022. She enjoys reading, traveling, and photography.


Click here for more information about The Journey Leadership Institute.

If you or someone you know is suffering domestic abuse, please seek help immediately.

National Domestic Violence Hotline

Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence

3 Comments
  • Mike Herr
    Posted at 16:38h, 06 June Reply

    All of your fellow graduates are so proud of you Yesenia!!! 🙌🙌

  • Jayme Rollo
    Posted at 09:50h, 07 June Reply

    Wow Yesenia, you have an incredible story. I am so glad that you had the courage to share it, as I’m sure it will be a huge encouragement to so many people. I’m grateful to serve with you!

  • Alfred R Ceaser
    Posted at 16:30h, 07 June Reply

    Keep going and keep growing Yesenia!

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