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The 700 Club

The Limitless Surprises of a Faithful God

Author, MOVE INTO MORE (Zondervan Publishers 2018)

Named to TIME Magazine’s 2013 list of the 100 most influential people in the world

Senior Pastor of New Life Covenant Church - largest Assemblies of God congregation in the nation, 17,000 members globally

VP of Social Justice for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

Education: B.A. Communications, Trinity International University

Masters from North Park Theological Seminary

Married to Elizabeth, Children: Alexandria, Yesenia, and Wilfredo, Jr.

They have also welcomed their first granddaughter, Charlie Grace Gomez

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Growing up, Pastor Choco says there was never enough food, money, or even time for school and work. He grew up in Humboldt Park, a notoriously tough Chicago neighborhood. He says, “I learned quickly not to want much, expect much, or hope for much.” His alcoholic dad abandoned the family leaving his mom to raise six kids on her own. He watched his brothers get consumed by gangs and other family members get consumed with addiction. At fourteen, he signed up for a summer work program and was assigned a community hub, which happened to be a church. He noticed that the people at this church had an authentic joy that seemed foreign to him. One night, he prayed and surrendered his heart to God. Immediately he experienced God’s Spirit in a supernatural and life changing way. Soon after Pastor Choco was invited to attend a youth conference. It was there a lady prayed for him. She said, “God had anointed you for amazing things, to advance His kingdom.” She continued by sharing how God had called him to be a great leader. Stay in His path and He will bless those who bless you, and He will curse those who curse you.” Twenty minutes later, Pastor Choco had gotten on the elevator when a businessman popped through the doors that were closing. He smiled and proceeded to say the exact message the lady had given him at the conference. Pastor Choco was speechless.

As a youth volunteer for the same church where he accepted Christ, Pastor Choco thought he had discovered God’s more for his life. He was promoted to regional youth leader for his denomination. Then a few years later, he began pastoring a church in Humboldt Park. God provided the property for them to build the main campus right in the middle of Humboldt Park. The next thing he knew, he was featured on the cover of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world and recognized for his leadership and influence within the Evangelical and Latino community. With each new position of influence Pastor Choco assumed that this was the promise of more in his life. He says what he has learned along the way, “God always has more. There is no ceiling on what God can do when you let Him.”

When Pastor Choco began pastoring New Life Covenant Church, which was formerly known as Palestine Christian Temple, there were only sixty-eight members. The church was started by Reverend Ignacio Marrero, who became Pastor Choco’s father-in-law. When Reverend Marrero decided to retire he passed the mantle to Pastor Choco. Over a decade later, the church grew and finally purchased a permanent location in the heart of Humboldt Park.  He didn’t know if God would allow the church to survive or thrive in Chicago’s gang-infested west side. “But if you know anything about God, you probably know what I was learning: God’s plans trump human logic every time,” shares Pastor Choco.

He continued to be obedient and seek God’s guidance. Today he is the Senior Pastor of New Life Covenant Church, one of the fastest growing churches in Chicago. Since he became Senior Pastor in 2000, New Life has grown
from a weekly attendance of 120 to 17,000 globally through church campuses, plants, and more than 110 ministries reaching the broken hearted, poor, homeless, prostitutes, drug addicts, and gang members.

In order to experience God’s more in your life Pastor Choco says you can learn some lessons from the Hall of Famers of the Old Testament:  

  • Worship like Abel – He gave his best. When you place your complete faith in God and worship Him as your number one priority, don’t expect others to understand or applaud you. Don’t limit what God is trying to do through you by trying to please everyone.
  • Develop a Walk with God like Enoch – Cultivate your relationship with Him daily. Be aware of who you are walking alongside. If they are not walking with God with the same level of trust and commitment as you are, then they may prevent you from experiencing the more that God has for you.
  • Work Hard like Noah - Stepping out and taking action is often the hardest part of obeying God.  Noah had to choose whether to be obedient to God or to follow what his senses told him. In order to receive the more that God has for you Pastor Choco says, “ You’re going to have to work. It’s not given to you.” For example, it took Pastor Choco seven years to complete his bachelor’s degree. There were many times it was inconvenient and he wanted to give up, but he refused to quit. You always face obstacles in life, but you must keep your eyes on the Lord. Do the work required just like Noah to fulfill the mission God has given you.

Another way Pastor Choco says you can experience God’s more is learning humility. Pride often stands in the way of God’s more in your life when you cling to achievements, possessions, and titles. On a mission trip to the Dominican Republic, Pastor Choco shares how one of his team members was having a hard time with her assigned task. She was married to a prominent elected official and had an impressive resume. Her skills were not needed on this trip. She had been assigned the task of cleaning a large field that had been used as a garbage dump. Her body language and attitude indicated she was not happy with her task. A while later, she saw Pastor Choco knee-deep in used diapers and other trash as he was separating the trash into a compostable landfill for the village. Toward the end of the trip, she came and apologized to Pastor Choco for her attitude. She thought when she came on the trip she would oversee the teams and utilize her administrative skills. When she saw Pastor Choco working in the landfill with everyone else, she realized that he did not think of himself as too important to do hard work. His example of humility helped her recognize her self-absorbed attitude and ask God for forgiveness. After the trip, Pastor Choco asked her to become chief of staff for him at the church. He says she remains one of the humblest people he knows.

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