Meet Christ Our Hope Church, Clifton, New Jersey
It is our joy to introduce you to Carlos Soca and the Christ Our Hope Church family! Your name: Carlos Soca Your spouse and children’s names: Wife – Madai Children – Josh, Hannah, Avery Name of all members on your church planting team: Wesley, Zhanara, Madai, Russ, Anita, Marco, Dorca, Aldo, Yannuris, William, Tracy, Alan, Grace, Ross, Aileen, Hansel, Wanda, Meagan, Jose Name of your church plant: Christ Our Hope Church Location of church plant: Clifton, NJ – Metro NY/NJ Date church was planted: August 2015
Partnering Churches: • Open Door Church, Raleigh, NC • Christ Covenant Church, Raleigh, NC • Hermitage Baptist Church, Camden, SC • First Baptist Church, Tallassee, AL • Maranatha Grace Church, Fort Lee, NJ
What are the reasons you decided to plant a church in your city?: 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 wandering around 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, 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, send out church planting teams and be a catalyst for change in our community. 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 plant so far?: The Lord is at work in our church plant. Just in a year and a half, the Lord has allowed us to share the gospel with many people in Metro NY-NJ. He has also allowed us to be instruments in his hands by providing biblical counseling to many. In addition, he has brought great unity in our church planting team.
What do you hope to see the Lord do in and through your church plant 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 have a big dream of starting a Christian school for families who can’t afford private schools, but want their children to have an education with a Christian worldview. Also, we would like to start a theological seminary 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 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.
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.