My name is Cariel Coates. I am a musician and singer. I am a 25 year old Caribbean girl who moved to the United States 4 years ago to pursue my career in music and to further my education. I come from a musical background and spiritual family. I am passionate about what I do for many reasons.  My dad is a pastor and from a young age I knew that God placed a calling on my life for music and ministry.  I know that if God gives you a gift then the best thing you can do is use it for his glory. So I am passionate to touch lives and bring people closer to God with my gift. I love hearing stories about how people were inspired and touched when I sing and minister. I am passionate about music because it’s my second love. God is my first love. It’s the place where I can unravel and be me and express my deepest thoughts; where I can pour out all my emotions, joys and sorrows and where I find my light in the darkness. It’s my safe heaven and healing place. I am passionate about music because I have a story to tell and when you have a dream, you have to be passionate to keep it alive and see it fulfilled. 

I don’t think we ever stop meeting Jesus. We get constantly reintroduced to him. We can so often forget who he is to us. I remember understanding his true love when I was at a place where I felt I had done too much wrong to receive forgiveness. He once again showed me that I will forever be his no matter how many times I’ve messed up because his grace is sufficient for me. I’ve met Jesus when I was depressed and felt unwanted in my room. I met Jesus when I felt like my own life wasn’t worth it. I met Jesus when I cried out to him to save me and he led me to be baptized. I met Jesus when he told me to trust him and move to an unfamiliar place where he would build me into what he wanted me to be. When I took a lead up faith he showed me that he always keeps his promises. I met Jesus when I felt alone and he sent me friends who turned into family to help me along the way. I met Jesus when I didn’t know where my next meal or pay check was coming from and yet he still provided. I met Jesus when I got into a car accident that could have killed me but he saved me and I came out without a scratch. I met Jesus when I had no place to live and he allowed church family to take me in. I met Jesus when he opened doors and opportunities to give me a better life. I met Jesus in the nights I stayed up crying wondering what his plan was for me, when my world was upside down. I met Jesus when after moving to the U.S.  he showed me how his hands are guiding and protecting me. I met Jesus when I finally realized that no matter what I do and where I am there was no sin I could do that would make him stop loving me. I met Jesus when I opened my heart and let him come in and realized its relationship that matters and not religion. I will continue to meet him as he reveals himself to me on this journey of faith until I one day see him face to face. 

I’ve had many challenging times in my life. I think my whole life is just a constant testimony of faith and trials. The hardest part of my challenge was right after graduating from University in Puerto Rico. I had to decide what I wanted to do. I prayed and God was leading me to come to Maryland. A place I knew nothing about.  I am not U.S citizen so it made it very hard to come to the U.S. I was here on a student visa which restricted me from working. That made it hard to pursue my dreams as an artist while having to put my energy and time into school. Since I wasn’t able to work I had to spend months depending on others to help me get by, but little did I know when I felt like I was breaking and struggling God was actually building my faith. There were times I had to stop school and go back home to my country because finance was a main struggle. I spent months without working but still having to worry about school finances. I was always an optimist so I knew there had to be a way out. As an international student there isn’t a privilege to take out loans so you have to pay out of pocket. I began to street perform to help with finances. The lord began to prove himself to me, the financial blessings from street performing is what allowed me to keep going. I was getting blessed in many ways because now people were starting to get to know me and support my music career. They had no idea that what I was doing was to keep surviving. I was singing for up to 8 hours on the street just because of my passion and desire to make it. I couldn’t do it on my own, I had to trust that God had a plan through all this. He allowed my story of persistence and bravery to be picked up by WJLA and Fox 5 news and they have helped to spread the news about my dreams and desires. I created a go fund me for people to continue to support me and now God opened up a door for me to have a job as a Spanish teacher and allowed me to get my work permit which took many years of struggle to get. It was a dark time in my life, dealing with my circumstances and other personal problems. When you move to a different country, knowing only a few people, and not having a job and having to study and survive it’s not an easy task. However, when you know that God is leading the way, you know it’s worth it to follow.  

The significant part of the story is understanding that sometimes God will lead you to do something or go somewhere that will not make sense to you. He may call you to a deserted place and in that place he will use all your struggles and your tears to tell a story to the world, it will be for his glory and he will reward you for coming out of the test triumphantly.