Hector Gonzalez: NAC 2012 Sunday Evening Speaker

 In All Church of God, NAC: North American Convention


By Carl Stagner

Nueva vida means “new life.” It’s the name of the church Hector Gonzalez planted and has pastored for thirty-four years. It’s also what drives him to keep serving the Lord through changing seasons and circumstances. His relationship with Christ and his ministry experiences have shaped him into a dynamic Christian leader whom God has used to reach souls beyond cultural and ethnic boundaries. For Gonzalez, new life means growing in the likeness of Christ. This enthusiasm for discipleship is nothing short of contagious. Your opportunity to be inspired and glean from the wisdom of this pastor from Glendale, Arizona, is coming at 7 PM EDT on Sunday, June 24, during NAC 2012.

Hector Gonzalez grew up attending the Spanish-speaking Church of God in Corpus Christi, Texas. It was there that he first met Susan, the girl who would later become his wife. In 1978, he planted Nueva Vida Church of God, now a flourishing oasis in the heart of the Phoenix suburb.

Early in the ministry, the church was experiencing tremendous growth, fueled by spiritual fervor and new converts. Gonzalez explains, “I remember when our church first started growing, new people were coming, and there was an excitement in the air. Yet I didn’t feel good about it because we weren’t discipling them. In my heart, God had called us to start a church that would produce disciples of Jesus Christ. And I didn’t know how I could disciple all the new people by myself.” It was not enough for Gonzalez to get them in the door, lead them to Christ, and celebrate their salvation with baptism. He knew there had to be spiritual growth if the congregation was truly going to be a church of disciples.

“That’s when we started small groups to help us in making disciples,” Gonzalez recalls. Following Jethro’s wise counsel to Moses in Exodus 18, Hector Gonzalez delegated responsibility and implemented a now popular discipleship ministry structure. As a result, he has maintained a healthy balance of life and ministry and has achieved longevity serving just one congregation. He has also served on the Ministries Council of the Church of God and provided much leadership in the Arizona Association of the Church of God and the Concilio.

Hector Gonzalez is scheduled to address the theme “Refreshing Our Relationship with Christ.” As he looks forward to delivering the Sunday evening message, he hopes “to convey that Jesus wants to have a relationship with us, not just to make us nice Christian people, but to transform us and empower us for his honor and glory.” Gonzalez continues, “As we refresh our relationship with Christ, we will also renew our relationship and our identity as brothers and sisters in Christ and as members responsible for one another in the body of Christ. We will no longer focus on ourselves and what we want, but we will once again remember our mission and place our eyes on the world around us.”

The opportunity to return to Anderson, Indiana, for the North American Convention this year is inspiring for Gonzalez. “I have not been able to attend as often as I would like, but the times I’ve attended have been some of the highlights of my life. Just the sheer sense of being in a place where almost everyone you see or meet is a part of the very same Church of God. And in a very real sense, you become aware of the greatness and the beauty of being a part of something that is bigger than the whole world.”

One memory in particular of NAC sticks out clear in Gonzalez’s mind: “In the early ’70s, I was a part of a gospel group that was invited to sing at Anderson Camp Meeting. I remember traveling from Corpus Christi, Texas, in a rented RV with six or seven other members of our gospel group. I’ll never forget that time; it was so special!”

An unforgettable experience can be yours, too, this June 22–27. Make your plans today to attend NAC 2012 by visiting www.chog.org/NAC, or by calling 800-848-2464, ext. 2130.

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