Pastor Fidel GomezAssistant Pastor
Pastor Fidel . . .
- Was born and raised in Mexicali, Mexico, as the youngest of ten
- Attended Rancho High School, Las Vegas, NV, and graduated in 1972
- Ordained to the ministry in 1988
- Married Theresa on October 20, 1973
- Has three children Gabriel, Andrea and Matthew and granddaughters, Tiana, Briana, Selah
- Planted Calvary Chapel Sunrise in 1990 and served there as senior pastor for ten years
- Has a nickname—“El Guapo”
- Likes to take a “siesta” on Sunday afternoons
- Likes to tell dumb jokes
- Likes to hide behind doors and scare people
- Tried out for the Kansas City Royals baseball team
His favorite Bible verse is 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NKJV): Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
Finding God Faithful in Challenges and in Successes
Pastor Fidel learned a couple guitar chords in the car on the way here from Las Vegas so that he could lead worship for the first Calvary Chapel service. In 28 years, a lot has changed, but he maintains that same servant’s heart toward the flock that God has gathered here.
When did you move to Las Vegas?
We moved there in 1961 because my mom’s family was there and so that my father could work. My dad started in construction and then worked at the Sands Hotel as a gardener.
Did you always want to be a pastor?
No, my dream was to play major league baseball.
What position did you play?
Shortstop. After high school I had a try out with the Kansas City Royals and even got called back a couple of times, but it wasn’t meant to be. I could play defense well enough, but I couldn’t hit the long ball. When my dream of a baseball career fizzled out, I went to work for my brother pouring concrete.
Was it heartbreaking to watch your dream die?
All through my Little League years, I was blessed to be one of the better players so when you’re told that you are not good enough or big enough, it does hurt.
Did it make it easier or harder when your son Matt faced an athletic disappointment?
I watched Matt become an incredibly gifted football player all the way through high school and even be named to the All-State defensive team. So when his dreams were not fulfilled to play college ball, because of a medical problem with his heart, I knew how he felt. He got sick the second week of practice and, after a check-up, the doctor said he couldn’t clear him to play. He was devastated. I held him and reminded him that football is not everything; Jesus is. Even while I was talking to him, another side of me remembered having that same feeling. Through that trial he kept his focus and God has blessed him. The Lord has shown him favor and given him a wonderful wife and a great ministry.
What does it do to your heart to see all three of your children loving God?
I am overwhelmed with gratitude. It is incredible that, in spite of me, God has blessed me with children that love Him.
What do you want your grandchildren to know?
The greatest thing I want them to know is that Jesus loves them.
How did you become a Christian?
It was through my brother Jesse and his wife Maria’s witness and testimony.
What is God doing here that excited you?
The growth of the ministry excites me. Here at CCFL we see many people make decisions for Jesus, and I know that this blesses the Lord.
What made you decide to come with Pastor Bob and Diane to start the church?
God confirmed it so much through His Word and in so many other ways that it was undeniable that we were to come. We thought that it would only be for six months, so we didn’t sell our house in Las Vegas. We just rented it. We thought that we would come, tell everyone that we were a Calvary Chapel, there would be a thousand people the next week and then we could go home. That’s what we saw happen in California and Nevada, but in those days very few people here in South Florida knew about Calvary Chapel. Needless to say, it didn’t happen that way.
When did you leave to plant the church in Sunrise?
July of 1990. Everything happens for me in July. It was July when we first came to Ft. Lauderdale, when I had the first service for Calvary Chapel Sunrise, and when I came back to serve at Ft. Lauderdale again. Every July Theresa gets a little nervous about what’s going to happen next.
Was it hard to leave Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale?
It was joyous and painful at the same time. Joyous because I was venturing out in faith believing that the Lord had called me to do what I had seen Pastor Bob do—start a church. It was painful because I was leaving my church home, although I was only going to the city of Sunrise. Pastor Bob had been very good to me, and he had taught me so much. And on top of that, the Lord was blessing CCFL tremendously.
As you look back do you see God’s hand in your decision to plant Calvary Sunrise?
Absolutely! There were many that came to know the Lord during those years. Many people stepped up to the spiritual plate and allowed the Lord to use them in many special ways as they volunteered. Much of the spiritual growth of my children took place at Calvary Chapel Sunrise as they matured through their youth group years.
What do you think some of those lessons were?
The Lord used that time to develop me as a Bible teacher and to teach me to have the heart of a shepherd for His people.
How would you define your role here?
My primary role, and something that brings me great joy, is to support Pastor Bob in fulfilling the vision that the Lord places on his heart. Apart from that my role is to help our church body to grow in their relationship with Jesus through the Discipleship Ministry.
Many of the associate pastors have served as senior pastors. Do you think that experience is important?
It is tremendously important, especially as we continue to grow. These men that have served as senior pastors bring years of experience in ministry, and that makes them invaluable. It is a wonderful thing to watch these men serve in the unity of the spirit.
Has your role changed through the years?
It has changed for a couple of reasons. I am almost 30 years older than when we first arrived in South Florida, so it has changed just because I am older. I am a grandpa now and loving it! It has also changed because our church body is much larger than when we first started, so the needs of our church are different.
Why did you decide to come back?
In May of 1997 our church was doing great. We were growing and looking to buy a piece of property to build a sanctuary. It was at that time that the Lord impressed it on my heart to tell Pastor Bob that when he needed me to go back and work with him at CCFL that I would be available. At that time everything was going so well at CC Sunrise that it did not make any sense.
What did you do?
Every year in July Pastor Bob, Diane, Theresa, and I would get together for an anniversary dinner to celebrate our arrival in South Florida. In July of 1997, during our celebration dinner, there was a quiet moment and Pastor Bob leaned across the table and asked me, “So when are you going to come back to CCFL?” He shocked me so much with the question that I did not know what to say. We did not know exactly what the next step would be, so we agreed that we would both pray and see what the Lord was going to do. It took three years, but the Lord was faithful to bring someone who would lead the flock at CC Sunrise, and that opened the door for me to return to CCFL.
What have you learned from your successes?
Success to me is to fulfill what God has called me to do. I have learned that the Lord will always be faithful to complete the work that He has started in your life, and He has certainly been that for me.
What have you learned from your challenges?
I’ve learned the same thing in my challenges that I’ve learned in my successes, that God is faithful. The Bible says, No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV).
What do you want people to understand about God?
First and foremost, that God loves them and that He is quick to forgive sin when you ask Him with a sincere heart. I want people to know that for God, nothing is impossible. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you know or don’t know, or whether you are highly educated or barely made it through high school. The bridge between where you are and where you can be is God and nothing else. It is not your ability that matters but God’s ability and your willingness to surrender to that. The Bible says, “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9 NKJV). I want people to be encouraged that in spite of mistakes and inconsistencies He can do amazing things in their lives. If you have a willing heart, God can take that and do miracles with it. I’m living proof of it.