Time magazine recently published its list of the 100 most influential people in the world, complete with brief essays on each one written by other influential people. For example: New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg wrote about hip hop artist Jay Z; Academy Award winner Jodie Foster wrote about this year’s Best Actress, Jennifer Lawrence; and Mega-Pastor Rick Warren wrote about Wilfredo De Jesús, a “transformative Christian voice.” This is what he said:
Wilfredo De Jesús, better known as Pastor Choco, embodies the true definition of what Christ said the church should be. As the senior pastor of New Life Covenant Ministries, one of the fastest-growing churches in Chicago as well as one of the largest Assemblies of God congregations in the nation, Pastor Choco encourages others to go out into the community not just with words but with his own actions. Under his leadership, New Life is reaching out to the outcasts and forgotten in our society — the homeless, women suffering with addiction and prostitution, and young people in gangs.
But his influence spreads far beyond the Chicago area as vice president of social justice for the nation’s largest Hispanic Christian organization, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. With Hispanics playing such a large role in the expansion of the evangelical church in the U.S. and their vast influence on the political landscape, Pastor Choco is and will continue to be a strong, ardent voice on the direction of our country.
What got my attention, of course, is that part where Rick Warren, arguably the most influential pastor in America, said that Wilfredo De Jesús, one of the 100 most influential people in the world, “encourages others to go out into the community not just with words but with his own actions. Under his leadership, New Life is reaching out to the outcasts and forgotten in our society—the homeless, women suffering with addiction and prostitution, and young people in gangs.”
I sometimes say, “If you’re trying to bring heaven to earth, just look around for anything that doesn’t look like heaven, and then roll up your sleeves and go to work.” It sounds as if Pastor Choco and his congregation are doing exactly that in Chicago. In their own way, the people of First Baptist Church are doing exactly that in Richmond.
And who knows what kind of influence they may have?