In his two-plus years as general treasurer for the Assemblies of God, Wilfredo “Choco” De Jesús has truly embraced his role as the chief stewardship officer, encouraging all departments at the national office in Springfield, Missouri, to exercise prudence with a mindset of doing more with less.
“We’ve created an efficiency mindset within the building of thinking twice before spending,” De Jesús says. “I don’t want us to become complacent when it’s not our lights, it’s not our gas, it’s not our money.”
His commitment to stewardship came in handy with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, when thousands of AG churches closed for months and traditional revenue streams slowed to a trickle. The economic uncertainty impacted the national office because of decreased product purchases.
But the financial crunch didn’t rattle De Jesús, who in 19 years as senior pastor of New Life Covenant, a Chicago megachurch, regularly ministered to those in crisis: the homeless, prostitutes, drug addicts, victims of violence.
“This is just another crisis,” De Jesús says of the ongoing coronavirus fallout. “You just can’t cry about spilled milk; you’ve got to clean it up and move forward as a leader. We’re back in a recovery. We’re healthy today, we’re breathing well.”
De Jesús has taken his stewardship principles campaign on the road, with members of the Division of Treasury conducting intense one-day conferences in six locations for AG church treasurers. Four more are planned for next year, in California, Washington, Tennessee, and North Carolina.
“We want to train treasurers, whether they are in a church of 50 or 500, to be good accountants,” De Jesús says. “They need these tools, because they often feel like they are on their own.”
ENGAGING THE CULTURE
As one of the six members of the Springfield-based AG Executive Leadership Team, De Jesús isn’t limiting his role to economic issues. In the past year, he has spearheaded national summits on human trafficking, foster care, and disaster relief. De Jesús sees it as a natural response to the needs he saw as pastor in Chicago.
“The Assemblies of God needs to be the tip of the spear when it comes to these social issues in culture,” says De Jesús, who is the first Hispanic member to ever serve on the ELT.
That concern will continue in the next couple of years, thanks to a $150,000 donation. The General Treasurer’s Office, in conjunction with AG U.S. Missions will conduct four three-day evangelism outreach campaigns in urban areas that mobilize church volunteers, F.R.E.E. International staff, Chi Alpha Campus Ministries team members, Youth Alive missionaries, and Convoy of Hope workers. The outreaches will be held in Yuma, Arizona, next March and in Chicago next May. In 2023, similar efforts will be conducted in Detroit and Newark, New Jersey.
The ministry plans have the backing of AG General Superintendent Doug Clay.
“Choco is a soul winner who brings a passion to see our Church stay aggressive in evangelism and love people into the Kingdom,” says Clay. “He has been a source of strength and a true servant to me.”
De Jesús, 57, first took office in 2019, appointed by the 21-member Executive Presbytery. In August, he won reelection to the post for a four-year term.
Although he lived all his life in America’s third largest city before moving to Missouri, he has adjusted.
“Springfield is a great place of solitude and quietness,” De Jesús says. He and his wife, Elizabeth, attend Central Assembly of God in Springfield.