Nadia Yvonne López Ayuso—best known in Mexico simply as Nadia—performed several songs at the Esperanza CDMX Festival with Franklin Graham. But in the months leading up to it, she also served as a spokesperson for the Festival, taking on many local and national in-studio and on-camera interviews in which she promoted the event, invited people to attend and shared about her own faith in Jesus Christ.
It’s a faith that has matured through the years, and because the 39-year-old is so well known in Mexico, many have seen her authentic Christian witness.
Nadia soared to fame in 2002, thanks to her performances on the musical reality show La Academia, where she placed fifth and impressed viewers and critics alike with her ability to perform in a variety of musical styles, including the traditional Mexican Ranchera style.
On the heels of that program came recording contracts, gold and platinum records, television appearances, additional success in musical competitions and awards that include an Oye Award, similar to a Grammy—which she has also been nominated for.
But inside, something was missing.
“My family and I were never very religious,” she told Decision, “although we did like to read the Bible from time to time, especially when there were problems. But I must say that we did not understand it much.”
Around 2009, Nadia’s brother, Josuè, became very sick. “He was desperate, and my mother suffered with him,” Nadia recalled. In the midst of that struggle, some friends invited them over for a meal and told them about Jesus Christ.
“My brother and mother went once to their church, and there they received Christ,” Nadia said. “It was amazing for me to see my brother, who used to drink, praying and reading his Bible instead.”
Nadia began to attend church, too, but it took her a while to understand the Good News. “They would always say, ‘If you recognize that you need forgiveness, raise your hand.’ I must have raised my hand 20 times.”
But she didn’t take the next step. One day, she began to understand something in a new way: God actually loved her.
“When I realized that, and I came to Him, I begged for forgiveness,” she said. “And He received me! He didn’t condemn me. He just loved me. What is this kind of love that doesn’t condemn me but receives me? I wondered. That’s when I started to really follow Him, because of His love.”
Jesus changed the whole way Nadia looked at life.
“At first, I wanted to break my record contracts, to throw it all away,” she said. “But my pastor said that God had put me there because He has a plan, and if He wants me to be there, then I should be strong and be a light. So I started to learn how to shine the light, how to be the same person both in private and in public. I started to grow up in faith.”
The family began to attend Bible studies at the church and to apply what they were learning. “I think the most difficult lesson is to love my enemies,” Nadia said. “To love the people who don’t like you because you have faith in God, who mock you and say all kinds of lies and evil about you. That’s painful, and to love them is like another level of obedience.”
Nadia had plenty of opportunities to apply that lesson last fall, when she became a contestant on a nationally televised cooking show in Mexico. Many of the other contestants mocked Nadia’s faith and the way she would quote Scripture and sing songs to God as she cooked.
They would call her “Miss Perfect” and talk about “Nadia’s little God,” using the Spanish word Diosito, which many young children actually use as a term of endearment for God, thus allowing the mockers to claim that they weren’t using the term in a cynical way. But their intent was unmistakable.
“I just went on the show to be myself,” Nadia said. “This is just what I am. When I have troubles, when I’m stressed out, my way of going through it is to quote the Word of God. Everyone on the show was expected to simply be who they are. So I thought, Why can’t I be who I am? And I am proud of my God.”
Christian viewers have remarked how Nadia responded to the other contestants with grace, even asking forgiveness from one after the two had disagreed about which one of them should be sent to an elimination challenge.
One contestant commented, after Nadia was eliminated from the competition, “She always has a smile for everyone. She is always in a good mood. She is always joyful.”
Nadia pointed to two key factors in being able to respond to hatred with kindness.
“First, I needed to put into practice loving my enemies, loving the persons who treat me like that,” she said. “That’s the will of God, and I wanted to honor Him. Second, I used to be just like them! I used to be that person who made fun of Christians. And look at me now.”
Today, Nadia and her family still attend the church where they met the Lord. Her brother, Josuè, now serves as the pastor.
“It’s a very small church,” she said. “We all serve there: sweeping, setting up the chairs and welcoming the people—it’s a joy.
“Jesus is my everything! The purpose of my life is no longer to be famous or to be on TV. Now I know that God wants me to share His love, wherever He wants to send me.” ©2023 BGEA
Photo: Logan Ryan/©2023 BGEA