Pastor Luis Rivera was born in Puerto Rico and moved to New York City with his family at the tender age of one and grew up in the Chelsea area of Manhattan. Luis knew what it was to fear God, but didn't have a strong relationship with Christ as a boy and teenager. After completing high school, he joined the US Air Force where he really got away from the things of God. Upon his return from the Air Force he reconnected with some childhood friends who had found Christ. Eager to share their faith, they reached out to Luis and on one New Year's Eve, Jesus, by way of a friend, made Himself real in Luis's life once again. Luis gave his heart to the Lord, fully surrendering this time. He met his wife Deborah and married in 1976. He graduated college and went on to become a New York City school teacher. He also taught at Spofford Juvenile Center in the Bronx where he began to feel God’s calling on his life.
Deborah grew up between the South Bronx and Spring Valley, NY. She was the oldest child of an evangelist and first female NY Prison Chaplain, Rev. Aimee Garcia Cortese. She grew up in a musical family. Both of Debbie's parents lives were immersed in spreading the Gospel. As a family, they sang and preached throughout the United States and several Latin American countries.
In 1983, Luis and Debbie along with her mother, Pastor Aimee Cortese Garcia and father Joseph Cortese, helped pioneer Crossroads Tabernacle. They served there for 5 years. In 1989, Luis and Deborah were asked by their overseer, Pastor Jim Cymbala of the Brooklyn Tabernacle to take over a small, struggling church, on the upper west side of Manhattan and God began something wonderful. Now 32 years later, the Lord still is using this couple to lead Manhattan Grace Tabernacle. No strangers to almost every area in Manhattan, they've been planting seeds in the Spanish Harlem area since 2007 and are looking forward to what God has in store, and it is their desire to help folks reach their full potential in Jesus Christ.
Pastor Luis and his wife Deborah, are the proud parents of 3 children: Nina, Luis, and Alexis, and have 8 grandchildren: Audrey, Amaya, Kalina, Thomas, Jayden, Sofía, Emma and Mateo.