Church Highlight: Christ Our Hope

Your name: Carlos Soca Your spouse and children’s names: Wife – Madai; Children – Josh, Hannah, Avery

Name of your church: Christ Our Hope Church

Location of church: Clifton, NJ in Metro NY-NJ

Date church was planted (if your church is a plant): August 2015

HC community group

Name of partnering church(es): 

  • Open Door Church, Raleigh, NC
  • Christ Covenant Church, Raleigh, NC
  • Hermitage Baptist Church, Camden, SC
  • First Baptist Church, Tallassee, AL
  • North Conway Baptist Church, Conway, SC
  • Maranatha Grace Church, Fort Lee, NJ

What are the reasons you decided to plant a church in your city (if your church is a plant)?

In 2010, George Russ, the executive director for the Metro New York Baptist Association, visited my church at that time, Open Door Church in Raleigh. George spoke about the area, the needs and most of all the many people dead in their sins without our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That evening, the Lord reminded me of whom I was before I met Christ. I was one of them, wandering hopelessly (or with false hopes) in my sin and without a Savior. Together with my wife and fellow elders at Open Door, we committed to pray and to fast regularly for several months. After much prayer and discussion, we believed the Lord was calling us back to plant a church in Metro NY-NJ.

If you were to close your eyes and put your finger anywhere on a map of the New York Metro area, that would be a good place to plant a church. With only 3% of the population being active evangelical Christians, out of over 22 million people representing 500 people groups and speaking 800 languages, there is no doubt that this a place where many should come to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Clifton, NJ, just 12 miles west of Manhattan, is where we are planting a center of Hope that will equip believers, tell many of Christ, and send out church planting teams. A cross between the suburbs and an urban area, Clifton breathes with diversity including fast-growing populations of Spanish and Arabic speaking people. The largest ancestry groups in Clifton are Italian American, Polish American, Irish American and German American. Many Turkish, Albanian, and Ukrainian immigrants also live in Clifton. There are significant populations of Filipinos, Chinese, and Indians as well. The nations are here in the New York Metro area and we go forward, opening our mouths and telling them about our Hope, Jesus Christ.

What have you seen the Lord do in and through your church/church plant?

We have seen the Lord restore broken relationships. We have shared the gospel with strangers at street fairs, open-air preaching events and other community events. We have seen the church unite to serve the community. Recently, we have seen the Lord bring a young man to faith and be baptized. And we have seen Lord sanctifying believers through His word and the power of the Holy Spirit. There is joy and enthusiasm for the gospel work that he has brought us here for.

What do you hope to see the Lord do in and through your church in the future?

We not only want to plant a church in Metro NY-NJ, we want to be a church planting center that trains and sends church planters to other areas of Metro NY-NJ and the world. In addition to planting more churches, we also would like to start a theological training center for pastors and leaders who cannot afford to move to another state or simply don’t have the educational background to enter seminary.

What advice do you have for current or future church planters?

  • Make prayer and dependence on God a priority for every aspect of your life.
  • Care for your wife and make sure she is on board with church planting. Let her be the first to know and the first to want to follow you there. With coming back to NJ, I was not going to come here without my wife, whom makes part of our “one flesh” in marriage, wanting to do the same.
  • Find a local church and become a member there. Submit to the leadership of the pastors and serve them and the church well. I really believe if you cannot submit and follow the lead of others you will not lead well yourself.
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What else would you like to share with the readers of our blog?

The Big Apple overshadows Northeast NJ, but many people that work in NYC live in NJ (millions). Please consider partnering with us as we reach out to these souls with the gospel. Also, if you are considering planting a church, come and visit us. We’d love to show you around and pray with you.

What are your 3-4 main prayer requests?

  • We currently have 5 active small groups that enjoy great fellowship and Bible study. We are now in the process of training the small group leaders and hosts in helping their groups become missional in their respective communities. Please pray for the Lord to grow and transform these groups into missional communities. We are already seeing some fruit.
  • Winters are long here, so when Spring and Summer roll around we take advantage of the good weather to be out and about in the parks and other areas where people gather. From March through August we’ll be hosting college groups, open-air preachers and church teams which will help us serve the community and share the gospel. Please pray for our Spring and Summer church-wide outreach events.
  • The Lord is faithful and has provided for all of our needs. We pray that our good Father will continue to provide for the work of the ministry as we are in our 3rd year of planting. Please pray for continued financial provision.

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