Wilfredo De Jesus, pastor of a Chicago megachurch that oversees more than 130 ministries to the poor and disenfranchised, believes Christians in the U.S. have been playing it safe for far too long. He says many are unwilling to stick their necks out for the marginalized who are suffering in the cracks created by society’s broken systems and abusive structures.
De Jesus, pastor New Live Covenant Church, the largest Assemblies of God congregation in the U.S., says it is fear of being ridiculed or ostracized that has paralyzed some leaders and kept them confined to their churches, limiting their engagement with a world in desperate need for people willing to help bridge those gaps.
“A gap is a place of weakness, vulnerability, and danger — a place of real threats,” explains De Jesus in his new book, In the Gap. He explains in the book that while gaps can be as broad as illiteracy and human trafficking, they can be as personal as an unfaithful spouse or an abusive family member.
De Jesus, senior pastor to more than 18,000 NLCC members worldwide, believes that, just like God called on Nehemiah, Esther, Noah and others in ancient times to stand before Him in the gap as intercessors, “God is still looking for men and women to stand in the gap in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our cities and towns, in our nation, and in every corner of the world.”
De Jesus was named in 2013 as one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” and is former vice president for Social Justice for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, which represents more than 40,118 Evangelical congregations.
In a phone interview with The Christian Post, De Jesus (often referred to as Pastor Choco) discussed his reasons for writing In the Gap, what he believes are some of the defining issues of the present time, why he is a firm supporter of comprehensive immigration reform, and why he thinks the Republican Party has “lost its way.” The interview has been edited for clarity.
CP: What is it that you wanted to accomplish with writing In the Gap?
De Jesus: The whole premise of the book was that gaps have always existed in our society, but today they’re wider and with more destructive force. I’m hoping to get out of the book, that people will engage in those gaps from different levels in our society. Education, government, poverty, social justice. It is not only a Christian book. It’s a book that will provoke people to find a gap wherever they’re at, in their villages or in their community, and then do something about. That’s the idea of the book, to engage it. Then, also to reveal the broken system we have in our society. It’s only going to get wider and more destructive if the Body of Christ, first of all, and then humanity if they don’t get involved in certain issues we’re facing as a nation.
CP: There are a lot of “gap” situations we can point to right now all over the world. Overseas, there are conflicts in the Ukraine. In various countries in the Middle East, there are cases of Christian persecution. What would you say is perhaps the most significant or defining “gap” issue of our current times?
De Jesus: Here in the United States, or around the world?
CP: Whatever comes to your mind naturally.
De Jesus: What comes to mind is the situation that we’re facing in our society is that 80 percent of humanity lives on $10 a day. When you think about one billion children don’t read or write on this planet, that is just a troublesome stat. When you look every 40 seconds, someone around the world is committing suicide. These are some of the gaps that have been presented that have to be engaged. When you look at the United States, if we bring it home, the average homeless person in America is not 32 years old, it’s 9 years old. That’s the average homeless person in the U.S., and that’s just unacceptable, to have eight-year-olds and nine-year-olds and 10-year-olds sleeping in the streets of our cities.
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SOURCE: The Christian Post