Influencing Culture with Amazing Faith

Pastor Wilfredo De Jesus (or “Pastor Choco” as he is affectionately called by his congregation from a childhood nickname based on his love of sweets and chocolate) has the honor of being named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People for 2013. In April, the magazine also featured him on a cover story about the new Latin churches transforming religion in America. Pastor Choco is the senior pastor of New Life Covenant Church in Chicago.  It is one of the fastest growing churches in the city.  He was elected to the position in July 2000 when his father-in-law retired.  At that time, the church had 68 weekly attendees.   Today, (13 years later) New Life Covenant Church has 4,000 local members and 14,000 globally via church plants with 135 international ministries reaching the most destitute – the homeless, prostitutes, drug addicts, gang members, etc. 

Pastor Choco has witnessed and experienced in his own life that no person is too lost, too evil, too wounded, or too hopeless for God's love to transform them.  He was one of six children raised by a single mother in an area of Chicago that showed little promise.  His life changed at age 14 when he applied for a job cleaning streets through a city program aimed at helping the youth in the city.   Instead of street cleaning, he was assigned to a little church working with the youth who loved the Lord.  Pastor Choco soon accepted Jesus himself and has stayed with the church ever since.

“Each of us has a past, but we don't have to be defined by our past anymore,” Pastor Choco says.  The forgiveness Christ offers transforms us, and we no longer have to let the past dictate our future.  Amazing faith gives us insight and courage to give away things that seem so important to the majority of people (possessions, positions, power, etc...) but ultimately, these things don't matter at all.  God fills our hearts with His love, strength, and purpose and we become complete.  A life of faith isn't easy, and it requires everything we have.  God gives us blessings far more valuable than any wealth that can be obtained if we put ourselves in God's hands without reservation.  Pastor Choco hopes people will believe big, dream big, and represent the King of kings with boldness and joy.

Going deeper in God and giving it your best are two important areas to live a life with amazing faith.  To go deeper in God, don’t settle for shallow things and don’t give up.  Every difficulty, every form of opposition and every doubt is a test to see if we’ll quit or grab God’s hand and take the next step forward.  Again, don’t let past failures determine your destiny and accept Christ’s forgiveness.  Dive in and answer Christ’s call to fish for people. 

To give it your best, give it all.  Develop a habit of being at Jesus’ feet.  Don’t wait.  When you live this kind of life you can expect criticism.  With this, delight in the love of the Lord, or enjoy Jesus’ smile.  Remember the cost that Jesus paid for us. 

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