Life Comes Together After It All Falls Apart

Riva and Zachery met in church and were married at 23.  They shared a desire to win souls to Christ and ventured out to start a ministry in Orlando, Florida.  Their church, New Destiny, grew to more than 7,500 members.  When Riva discovered Zachery was having an affair, she was devastated.  “I loved my husband, and I wanted my family,” she says.  “If that meant we had to step away from the pulpit for a season, I was willing to do that.”  Zachery was reluctant but he stepped down and pursued counseling.  After three months, he resumed his ministry but Riva was surprised more by the reaction of the leaders in their church.  “I was just kind of booted out,” she says.  The church asked her to stay away.  Then Zachery dropped another bomb.  He said he had numerous affairs.  When she sought help from other high profile pastors, they basically told her to “get over it” and to think about their ministry.  By now, Riva felt abandoned by her husband and the church.  She thought, “What did I do wrong?”  It appeared to her that Zachery was being blessed and she was being rejected.  It was in this place of brokenness that Riva experienced the heart of God like never before.  “I began to see God in a whole new light,” she says.  “He was guiding me.  He was instructing me.  Althought I couldn’t hear Him clearly, His love never stopped.”  When she began to pray for her estranged husband, Riva found true forgiveness.  “When I began to pray for him, I began to see the root of his struggles and I began to feel sorry for him.”  Three years after their separation in 2009, Riva and Zachery were divorced.

Riva started her ministry at Majestic Life Church that year quietly focusing on her new life and raising their 4 children.  In 2011, Zachery was found dead in a New York City hotel. It was a shock to Riva and the entire Christian community.   “Everything surrounding his death was difficult,” says Riva. Her family was grieving but they had no say in the funeral planning.  “Sometimes we can’t see the whole picture,” says Riva.  “God doesn’t cause bad things, but He allows it.”  She says this dark time was a refining process for her.  “It was a time I developed a deeper relationship with God. The pain was excruciating, but God’s grace is sufficient.

It wasn’t easy for Riva to move past her disappointments.  “I had to stay positive to move through seven years of trials and testing,” she says.  Before those years, Riva had no idea what God had placed in her. As a single mom, she started a business and provided for her family at the level to which they had been accustomed. Riva also started Majestic Life Ministry, a non-denominational church in Orlando.  “I knew I had the ability to minister, but I didn’t know God could use me to lead a large church on my own.”  She reminds believers that God is a restorer.  “God will not only bring you out, but He’ll also bring you out better than you were before,” says Riva. “When He redeems all of your brokenness, it’s for His glory.”

Riva’s 21-year old son, Zachery Jr., suffers from the paralyzing effects of severe cerebral palsy.  He is confined to a wheelchair with 60% use of one hand and 20% in the other.  Caring for him is difficult and labor intensive.  “My love for him is greater than the hardship his care presents,” says Riva.  This puzzle piece has shown her that God can love us with all of our imperfections.  “Because that is how I love Zachery.”

Mentioned in the Video

Guest Info


Author, her latest: When It All Comes Together, Charisma House 2017

Pastor, Majestic Life Ministries, a thriving nondenominational church in Orlando since 2009

Host, The Glory of Gospel on WFCB/Star 94.FM in Orlando

Four childen


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