But listeners tuning in one morning this past summer heard something that may have shocked them: a Puerto Rican pastor talking about Jesus. And he wasn’t joking.
The pastor was Johnny Acevedo, who leads Open Door Fellowship of East Harlem, a new Christian Reformed Home Missions-supported church in Manhattan. Through community events that the church puts on at the local East Harlem Café, Acevedo became acquainted with Cruz, whom he recognized from television shows and commercials.
“Victor told me that he thought I had a great sense of humor, so he wanted to have me on his radio show,” recalls Acevedo. “He also had some church background, so I think he was intrigued by that—the faith angle.”
Soon after the invite, Acevedo was a guest on the show on the Urban Latino Internet radio network. “I thought it would be a great opportunity to share the gospel,” Acevedo explains. During the show, listeners sent e-mails and instant messages, which Acevedo did his best to answer: “I was amazed at how well I was set up to share Jesus through the questions that either Victor or his listeners asked.”
At one point, Cruz asked Acevedo to respond to an audio excerpt from the late comedian George Carlin’s comedy routine “Religion,” a stinging critique of faith. “I did my best to respond to some of the issues Carlin raised,” says Acevedo.
Acevedo was especially interested in being on the show because Cruz typically provides insightful words about race relations in New York City, in which Acevedo is extremely interested. “We are a multicultural church that reflects the rich cultural diversity of the East Harlem community,” he says.
Acevedo says his time on the radio left him both exhilarated and exhausted, and he’s eager to return. “Victor gave me a great deal of positive feedback and invited me to come back on the air again in the future,” he says.
To listen to Johnny Acevedo on the radio show, visit the “News and Events” section of the Open Door Fellowship website, www.opendoornyc.org. Please note, the excerpt from “Religion” contains profanity.