Vivian Padulla Cisneros should have been dead—twice. When she was 10, she was involved in an accident with a gun owned by her neighbor. Nearly dying from the incident, Vivian credits her guardian angel for saving her life. As an adult, Vivian again had a close brush with death in Peru when she and her husband, Pastor Ricardo Pablo Cisneros, were in a car accident that crushed much of the left side of Vivian’s body. Vivian again credits her angel for saving her life.
Vivian was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on April 16, 1970, into a devoutly religious family. Her mother stayed home with Vivian and her brother and sister and was, Vivian recalled with a smile, “a patient woman because we were naughty kids!”
When she was nine years old, Vivian was baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. “God touched my heart, and I listened to His voice,” she said. However, a few years later, Vivian set her sights on the world.
“When I was a teenager, I sent in a photo to be a ‘Top Model’ in Sao Paulo and was soon participating in fashion shows, television programs, and so on. These activities took me away from Jesus. I was enjoying that life—but I was blind in my spiritual life.”
Vivian’s mother continued to pray for her daughter every day, asking God to draw Vivian back to Him. After a while, Vivian began to realize the emptiness of the life she was pursuing.
“I was so sad and feeling so alone,” she recalled. “I begged the Lord for mercy, and once more He heard me and took me in His strong, loving arms. I came back to the Lord and surrendered myself to Him.”
Desiring a Christian education, Vivian enrolled at the Adventist university in Sao Paulo Centro Universitario Adventista de Sao Paulo (UNASP). During that time, Vivian told the Lord that (1) she wanted to be a missionary, and (2) because of this, she was not interested in a serious relationship or marriage.
Unbeknownst to Vivian, another university student was praying the same prayer. Ricardo Pablo Cisneros, from Peru, was on the same campus telling the Lord that he wanted to be a missionary and that because of this, he thought it would be better not to marry.
Shortly after these prayers, Vivian and Ricardo met. Vivian says, “When I heard about Ricardo’s prayer, I thought, ‘What? How could he have made the exact same request to Jesus?’”
The two began dating one month later, and before long, Vivian realized that Ricardo was the ideal man for her. They were married on January 25, 1996, in Sao Paulo.
Although Vivian and Ricardo did not cross any seas to serve as missionaries, they have served as a pastoral couple in Brazil since their marriage. Currently, Ricardo oversees a district of seven churches near the beautiful city of Jacarei, located approximately 37 miles (60 km) northeast of Sao Paulo. In addition, both Vivian and Ricardo have made frequent appearances on “Novo Tempo” and “Nuevo Tiempo,” the Portuguese and Spanish Hope TV channels that are broadcast from Jacarei.
Being able to speak Spanish (in addition to her native Portuguese) is a miracle for Vivian. “I never studied Spanish,” she states, “and when we were in that bad car accident in Peru, I was not able to communicate with the [Spanish-speaking] nurse and doctor at the hospital. So I prayed to the Lord to help me, and the next day I woke up speaking Spanish perfectly! It was a miracle, and since that time I have been able to speak Spanish.”
Vivian is currently completing a graduate degree in marriage and family counseling. She is especially grateful to one of her teachers who made accommodations for Vivian’s Sabbath observance. “I told the teacher that I’m an Adventist and that I can’t go to the university on Saturday because I don’t want to compromise my beliefs, so this teacher comes in on Mondays to give the class just for me.”
In addition to her studies, Vivian enjoys being home with their two children, Paola, 12, and Pablo, 4, and being active in her church through small-group Bible studies, singing, preaching, and making special Sabbath meals to share with others.
Although she enjoys serving others, Vivian knows that it “is difficult sometimes to be a pastor’s wife. In fact, alone it is impossible, but with Jesus it is a privilege.”
In seeking to encourage other pastoral spouses, Vivian says, “Don’t look in front of you; look up to Jesus. He knows what you and I feel, and He has promised that He will return. This shows His love for us.”
Vivian believes it is important to “be a friend of Jesus. To be a friend means reading His Holy Bible, studying His Word, and talking with Him every day. Our minds need to be connected to heaven.”