- Associated Press - Monday, December 8, 2014

OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) - Takeia and Nelson Alvarez Lopez came with their daughter Royalle to Alabama from New York without realizing how their lives were going to be changed.

A wedding was held for the couple Thursday evening during Harvest Evangelism’s annual Christmas party at the Harvest Thrift Super Center. Pastor Rick Hagans officiated the wedding. The wedding dress came from the Harvest Thrift Super Center, and the bride’s ring was donated.

The couple’s time in New York was difficult, according to Nelson Alvarez Lopez. “We were running around for a long time,” he said. “It was hard holding a job, so I was always trying to sell drugs.”

Takeia Alvarez Lopez said she met her husband when he was 12 and she was 15. “We both had rough pasts, so we would end up with the same group of people, she said. “We always liked each other, but we could never get that type of connection due to the things that were around us, it was always like a tug of war type of situation.” She recalled one day at Nelson’s goddaughter’s birthday party when they got together and kissed. “I have been in love with him ever since that day,” Takeia said.

Nelson Alvarez Lopez said he knew it was time for a change. “I got fed up one day while Takeia was putting some stuff away,” he said. “I made the call to the woman I call my mother at church and she gave another call to Earl Stocker, a facilities director at Times Square Church.” He said they arranged for his family to go to Alabama.

Angie Chappell, Hosanna Home director, said the couple and their daughter came in Wednesday night into the big red tent where Harvest Evangelism was preparing for their annual Thanksgiving meal.

“In New York, we were always in and out of shelters from the Bronx, from Brooklyn, to Queens and all of the other boroughs in New York,” Nelson said. “To be in Alabama is a blessing.”

Rick Hagans, founder and pastor of Harvest Evangelism is close friends with Earl Stocker and wanted to help the couple. “We’re looking at finding Nelson some construction work,” he said. “The big key is for him to get a driver’s license and learn how to drive on rural roads.”

“From the first day I walked in here, they treated me like family,” Takeia said. “I was scared, and Hosanna Home welcomed me.”

“They had been living together and all they had was each other, so it was very hard for them to live separately in Hosanna Home and His Place,” Hagans said. “We asked them if they wanted to get married, and they said yes.”

Harvest Evangelism arranged a honeymoon at a hotel for the newly married couple.

The Alvarez Lopez family will have a trailer to call their very own.

“They will continue to be a part of the ministry,” Hagans said.

“It is miraculous how God took us aside from selling drugs and not wanting to do that no more,” Nelson said. He said he used to drink alcohol and smoke. “God is powerful. When He wants you, you can’t run from Him.”

“This is a Christmas I will never forget, Takeia said. “I am happy to be with the one I love, and for God to join us together.”

___

Information from: Opelika-Auburn News, https://www.oanow.com/

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