After the gospel literally saved her life, Watauga woman is spending the rest of hers telling others about Jesus

Carmel Valerio

The Power of a Voice

Over the course of her 78 years, Carmel Valerio can remember so many of the voices that have spoken into her life.

She clearly remembers the voice of her abusive father, who delivered a steady barrage of insults, humiliation, and contempt. Her exposure to his voice intensified when he removed her from school from the age of 8 to help raise her siblings so her stepmother could begin working outside the home.

Filled with hatred, resentment, and immense pain from all the abuse she received, Carmel said she began to hear another voice at age 14. This voice, an evil one, said things such as, “Nobody loves you!” and “You’re worthless.” That voice even offered a solution: “Take your life.”

The more she listened to that voice, the more she was convinced that would be her escape. On the day she had decided to attempt suicide, however, she heard yet another voice. In her deepest despair, Carmel said she heard that voice repeating over and over:

“I love you. I love you. I love you.”

Carmel realized that voice—which halted her suicide attempt—was the voice of God, showing her that He had a glorious purpose to fulfill in her. In that moment, she said God began to heal her of all the bitterness, resentment, and hatred she felt for her father. Filled with new hope, she got up from the floor and ran to see herself in the mirror.

It was a milestone in her life: she had never looked at herself in a mirror before that moment, assuming there was nothing worth looking at because her father had always told her she was ugly. But that day, in front of that mirror, Carmel discovered she was a beautiful and new creation.  

“I began to feel special and light, because God had taken away my heavy burdens,” she said.  

From time to time, her grandmother would take her to church. This is where Carmel recognized who the Lord Jesus is and where she began to serve Him. “The environment I was in and my circumstances didn’t change,” she said, “but God changed me.”

One of the things God was changing was how she viewed her father—not as a man filled with hate and one to be hated, but as a man who needed Jesus. Now it was her voice that could speak into her father’s life. A year before he died, the voice of God led her to share the gospel with him and he, in tears, accepted Jesus into his life.

Elias & Carmel Valerio

Another voice would soon begin speaking into Carmel’s life. At age 16, she met her husband, Elias, at church. They were married for 58 years, most of which time he spent serving as a missionary and church planter in several towns across Texas and Mexico. Carmel and their five children were right there with him, faithfully by his side. Elias pastored a Hispanic mission church started out of First Baptist Church of Watauga before passing away at the age of 85.

God called Carmel to personal evangelism through her husband. According to Carmel, one day, as she was thanking God for the way He was using her husband to share the gospel with great results, she heard the same loving voice of the Lord that spoke to her at the time of her salvation many years before.

“And what are you doing for Me?” she felt the Lord saying to her. “You are called to do my work. I want you to speak and testify about Me.” 

Upon hearing from the Lord, Carmel said she got on her knees and asked God for forgiveness because she did not feel qualified to speak to others about Christ because she said she did not know how to speak beautifully. She admits that she would always get nervous when approached by other women who seemed to speak more eloquently.

The assuring voice of her husband, along with the nudging from the Lord, helped her begin to feel differently. “Don’t feel that way,” she remembered her husband saying to her. “The most important thing is that you love God. There are many people who know the Word of God, they are good teachers, they are good speakers, but that does not mean that they are consecrated to God. They know many things about God in mind, but not in heart.”

(Right) Carmel Valerio is seen in Leon Guanajuato and (left) with husband Elias in Mexico City. The Valerios led teams on mission helping local churches evangelize their communities in Mexico.

God doesn’t want you to speak well. He just wants you to say what He asked you to say.

From that moment on, Carmel began to understand that “God doesn’t want you to speak well. He just wants you to say what He asked you to say.”

Since that realization, she has used her God-given voice to share the gospel with hundreds of people. She has won souls for Christ by teaching English as a Second Language, sharing about Jesus in jails, public restrooms, in her neighborhood, at garage sales, in stores and malls, even among people of different nationalities. Her workplaces became mission fields, including the medical clinic where she worked as a janitor. God often allowed her to go into the rooms where medical care was being given to pray for patients and present the gospel to them. 

“The first pews in the church were filled with people I prayed for in the clinic,” Carmel said.

She saw sick people being healed through her prayers of faith and many souls being saved. She also worked as a chaplain for Marketplace Ministries where she was known as “the woman of God,” which she says is a privilege. 

Though the voice of her husband remains in her memories, she remains steadfast in her relationship with the Lord and her calling.

“Now, instead of having my husband by my side, I have my Bible, my hymnal, and I praise the Lord,” she said. 

Her desire is to help other sisters who have suffered a loss like hers, to overcome their depression through Jesus. “Illnesses are good because they make us trust in God and live happier,” she said. “For as long as God gives us life, we need to give the message of salvation to everyone who is suffering.”

A message that she, herself, once heard because she chose to listen to a still, small, and loving voice. 

Arlene Sanabria
Southern Baptist Texan
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