Arlene Bonilla

Arlene Bonilla was born in Brooklyn, New York. After spending her childhood there, she moved with her family to the island of Puerto Rico where she grew up into a young Christian woman with a passion for God. During the last eleven years, she has lived in Columbia, Maryland.

Arlene has the gift of being bilingual; having the ability of praising the Lord in English and Spanish. Composing and translating songs between both languages has given her the opportunity of reaching the hearts of two cultures in glorifying God. Audiences of both languages have been touched by her smooth voice and unforgettable performances.

"I've always loved music," Arlene says, "and I think that's the best way I can express myself and talk about God. If I had to preach a sermon, I would die. But if you ask me to give a concert and preach about Him that way, it's much easier for me. It's the only way I've found that I can talk about God without fear; expressing exactly what I feel; where I can appeal to a person's heart with conviction."

When Arlene first sang a solo at age 16 her encouragement came from her mother, who countered Arlene's natural shyness by saying, "You don't want to say No to God!"

"So I would reluctantly sing," says Arlene, "but I wouldn't say anything. Then I gradually got over my shyness the more I sang."

A year later, at the age of 17, Arlene made her first recording, an effort that got some airplay on the local stations in Puerto Rico, and is still played there to this day. Her singing continued when she moved back to the United States (Maryland) but it was a close encounter with illness that brought a new focus to her ministry.

"I was studying in Puerto Rico when I noticed the first symptom--extreme fatigue. Then other symptoms followed. It took the doctors nearly two months of testing before they found the cause--multiple sclerosis; MS! I was confused; not so much about the illness itself, though it was a disease I knew very little about. I was confused because this seemed to put all the plans I knew God had for me on pause. It seemed like life itself stopped--abruptly! I had always wanted to be a missionary--that's what I was studying for--and now that door seemed shut.

Arlene's MS has improved and stabilized. From a low point where she could hardly walk or do anything without help, she now runs, drives her father's five-speed pickup, holds a job, and, of course, sings!

"I always enjoyed singing and always sang to God's glory. But now God's leading through the MS experience has become my reason to sing, the driving force that has pushed me to write in two languages, to record a CD, and to become a professional singer. As it says in Second Corinthians, God has comforted me in my troubles so I can comfort others in their troubles the way that I've been comforted. That has become my favorite verse and my motto." (2 Cor. 1:3,4)

The attractive singer has dreams for her future . . . "I want to go wherever God leads me, and be sure to go the way He leads. I want my relationship with God to run deep. God is not a generic God; He's into the personal details and He shapes my life and goals to fit my needs perfectly."

Arlene currently works with her band, "Red Incense" appearing in churches and Christian coffee houses. The power that her MS experience has had in her life is transferred through the songs she chooses to sing and the spirit she sings them with.

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