Bruce Feiler: Moses, An American Founding Father

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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FINDING MOSES IN AMERICAN HISTORY On a trip to visit his in-laws on Cape Cod, Bruce Feiler’s family stopped and visited Plymouth where he took a tour of the Mayflower II. One of the reenactors read a passage from Exodus 14, which tells the story of Moses and how he told the Israelites, “Hold your peace! The Lord shall fight for you.” This passage was read while the pilgrims were crossing from England to the new land. Bruce thought, 'Moses, on board the Mayflower?'  When Bruce took another trip to visit his parents in Savannah, GA, he went to his childhood synagogue. There he saw a letter that George Washington wrote a few weeks into his presidency that made reference to Moses and the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. Bruce visited his sister in Philadelphia and went to the Liberty Bell. The quote on the face of the bell is from Leviticus 25, which God gave Moses on Mount Sinai, “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” Upon more research, Bruce found that this was a common theme – various influential American historical figures comparing themselves to Moses. He found that Christopher Columbus compared himself to Moses when he sailed in 1492. The pilgrims, arriving in Massachusetts in 1620, likened themselves to the Israelites escaping slavery from Egypt, with King James as the pharaoh. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams proposed that Moses be on the seal of the United States in 1776. Harriet Tubman adopted Moses’ name on the Underground Railroad. “Go Down, Moses” became the national anthem of American slaves and the Exodus “the sound track of the Underground Railroad.” The Statue of Liberty was molded in Moses’ honor – the tablets she holds and rays of light on her crown were directly taken from Moses. Martin Luther King, Jr. likened himself to Moses in a speech he gave the night before his assassination. Even the creators of Superman modeled their superhero after Moses by having the infant Superman, whose planet is facing extinction, be transported to another place and he later uses his powers to help others. Bruce says Moses could be considered a true Founding Father of America. ABOUT BRUCE Bruce Feiler is a well known commentator and author of several New York Times best selling books. His book Abraham explores the man who is considered the founding ancestor of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Where God was Born retraces the Bible through Israel, Iran, and Iraq. And his book Walking the Bible takes readers on a journey through the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, or the Pentateuch. Just as Bruce has traveled extensively to research his other books, he has traveled across America to study firsthand how far reaching Moses’ influence is on American history. 


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