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Rose L. Stevens had a thriving full-time business as a Gypsy (Roma) fortune-teller in Florida when something happened that shattered her world: Her husband of 28 years died of a heart attack.
Subsequently, her long resistance to Christianity and family members’ invitations to church melted, and Stevens began devouring the Bible.
Through the Global University courses, Stevens has become a certified Assemblies of God minister. And in November, 18 years after coming to faith in Christ, she became the only AG-credentialed female Gypsy evangelist.
Stevens, 63, is quick to debunk fortunetelling as fake, but her miraculous journey began after a lifetime of asking for divine help in her dubious business.
“I would pray, ‘Help me tell the right words to these people so I can steal their money,’ ” she recalls. “Then I would say things to people and they would fall off their chairs and ask me, ‘How did you know these things?’ ”
At the time, Stevens believed God gave her the inside information about her customers, but she now acknowledges, “It was the god of this world.”
As she delved deeper into Scripture, Stevens resolved to walk away from fortunetelling.
“I knew God was not pleased with it,” she says. “He was my only hope.”
Within months, her father in Phenix City, Alabama, became ill so she moved to care for him. Her parents’ home — and their fortunetelling business — was almost directly across the road from First Assembly of Phenix City.
She mustered courage one Sunday to sit in the back of the church, fearful of how congregants would accept a Gypsy ex-fortuneteller whose mom’s shingle still hung out front. Soon her fears melted.
“They were so loving, accepting of me,” Stevens says.
Barry E. Danner, 64, the Phenix City First Assembly pastor, says he had preached about the insufficiency of the fortunetelling business across the street.
“You can go to a person who is reading your palms or the one on the other side of the road with a nail print in his hand who can change your life,” says Danner, who has been pastoring for nearly 40 years. After Stevens arrived, Danner’s wife, Charlene, reached out to her, as did several others at First Assembly.
“This was a glorious conversion,” Danner says. “No one was reaching her culture. She’s reaching people with the love of God.”
Danner encouraged Stevens to focus on ministry to Roma people. He also asked her to be his Spanish interpreter on South America mission trips.
“I learned Spanish in order to steal from people in fortunetelling, and God turned around and used it for me to witness to people in Spanish,” Stevens says.
Her four children all have accepted Jesus as Savior, as have two sisters among her six siblings. Stevens’ mom, who began telling fortunes at age 15, became a Christian and got baptized at 82.
“It was a glorious day when I watched workers take down the (fortunetelling) sign,” Stevens says.
After breaking off from her former livelihood, Stevens took a job as a nanny. Her studies of Scripture deepened. Her cousins asked her to teach them the Bible. Five years ago, she began conference call Bible studies on Tuesday and Friday evenings. Now attendance for Stevens’ teachings averages 30 across the nation. Most participants had never before been in a church, Stevens says, but now they attend.
Having the AG connection broadens Stevens’ ministry in all-Roma churches, which haven’t traditionally welcomed women in the pulpit.
“When I have those credentials, when I talk to these Gypsy pastors, they’ll allow me to come into these churches to give a sermon and preach as a special guest,” Stevens says.