By Chrissy Cifuentes
For many around the world, the New Year is a time for new beginnings. Women promise to make healthier choices, while men ignite passions for their futures. For the first few months, these commitments are strong and steadfast; however, many fall short of their goals. The late-night workouts, relationship issues and financial struggles make it harder to strive for excellence, and renewal seems impossible. But for our cover story subject, change was essential for survival. Not only was he physically awakened, but also he was spiritually charged. This rebirth gave him a new life which propelled him into his God-given purpose.
Andy “Rebirth” Pellerano is a New Orleans pastor, Gospel rap artist and street evangelist. He carries the title of devoted father, loving husband, and he seeks to instill the hope of God in every individual he meets. He is the founder of One Accord Ministries and travels across the country spreading the Gospel to those who are lost in addiction, oppression and depression. He was recently named Gospel Rap Artist of the year and was featured on television’s TBN Salsa program. His story of transformation is inspirational and is a tool to encourage those battling addiction, generational strongholds and immense bondage.
In his teenage years, Pellerano was a frequent resident in New Orleans’ prisons. Although he was raised in a religious household and attended Catholic schools, God was not his top priority. “I was facing my first felony at 13 years old,” said Pellerano. “I was in gangs, mixed up in drugs, and so much more. I found my identity in the streets.” Year after year, Pellerano found himself back in the jail cells after making terribly poor decisions. Little did he know that while he was running the streets, his grandmother was running to the throne of God. “My grandmother was a saint,” stated Pellerano. “She prayed for me and even told me that she had a dream of me preaching on a platform. When she told me this, I thought it was the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. How could I preach after all of the horrible things I’ve done?”
According to Pellerano, his decision to change for the better did not occur over night. Every mistake and life-changing act brought him closer and closer to choosing righteousness. One particular event resonated in his mind. This experience was when his little-girl made a visit to see her father in a prison cell. “I was shackled by my feet and my hands were handcuffed while my sweet baby girl sat on my lap,” said Pellerano. “I will never forget her looking at me, and she told me that I looked stuck. That night I cried and cried, because she was right.” This event ignited a spark in Pellerano to be there for his children. He had many sleepless nights reflecting on his young daughter and older son who did not have their father in their lives due to overwhelming circumstances.
When Pellerano was released, he met the love of his life, Ashlie. Unlike other women, she had a special presence. “There was something about her that was so different,” he said. “I loved her.” His admiration for Ashlie continued to grow, and she soon found out that she was pregnant with their first child together. Pellerano made a vow that it he would be the father that this child deserved. “I knew I was going to be there for this baby,” said Pellerano. “It would be different this time.”
Unfortunately, addiction was still prevalent in his life. Once again, a moment of weakness led him back into prison. This time, he was facing a life changing sentence and prayers were released unlike never before. He called out to God and his prayers were miraculously answered. “Ashlie started going to church and took me with her,” he said. “God provided a way for me to enroll in White Dove Fellowship’s Civic Outreach Center. This is where God changed my life.”
It was in this Civic Outreach Center that Pellerano found his purpose. His grandmother’s vision for his life became a reality, and it did not take long for him to trade in his street creds for favor with God. “I was reading the Bible, and it became a reality for me. It wasn’t just a story book anymore,” he said. “I had to go to rock bottom to get out, but thank God that I did.”
After years of wishing for a rescue, Pellerano decided to take the steps to change. Just hours after being released from prison, he married the love of his life. “I was not going to take anything for granted and mess this up. God rescued me and revealed himself to me. I had to commit my life to being faithful to Him and marrying the woman I loved.” Pellerano left the world of secular rap and replaced his vulgar lyrics with words of encouragement, love and Gospel truths. He said goodbye to the worldly connections which brought death and destruction, and he opened the door to opportunities that changed his world forever. “I surrounded myself with men of God who kept me accountable,” he said. “It is so important to have other men around you to speak life into you when you are ready to live for a greater purpose.”
According to Pellerano, he was being called back into the streets from which he came. But this time, it was to bring light into the darkness. “I wanted to let them all know about what God did for me. They needed to know that their identity is not in those streets.” He and Ashlie prayed about the possibility of full-time ministry and started to hold gatherings in their home. It did not take very long for their small, intimate group meetings to out-grow their living room. Shortly after their initial meetings, One Accord Church was opened and now welcomes everyone to worship with them each Sunday. “If you want a new life, you can not take the past with you,” said Pellerano. “We just purchased our new building, and we are ready for the next step on what God has for us.”
A new church building is only one exciting aspect of the pastor’s life. He also welcomed a new baby boy into his family and is fulfilling the role of father the way that God intended. “It is time for men to step up and become great fathers and husbands,” he said. “Men can’t find their identity in the world. They have to look to God.”
Ministry is a monumental aspect of his life, but marriage comes first. For those who want a renewal in their marriages, Pellerano shares that one needs to keep the spark alive. “Marriage takes work. Honor your wife or your husband. Never take them for granted. Relationship is so vital. You need to make yourself transparent.”
When it comes to business and leadership, Pellerano offers his wisdom and insight to professionals throughout the New Orleans region. He preaches that those in leadership roles should always remember where they came from and pour into those who need guidance. “Don’t forget where you come from, and never compare yourself,” he said. “Comparison is the thief of joy. Look at what God has for you, not others.”
As for those who are trying to be a better version of themselves within this new year, Pastor Rebirth leads by example. His inspiring journey of purpose has shaken the hearts of his congregations, but his one instruction is simple. Ask God who you are. “Winning starts within. You give power to what you agree with,” he said. “Agree that there is more and start to push forward with God’s purpose.”