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When pastor Joseph Siju opened up his church nearly 10 years ago, he not only envisioned a place where people can receive salvation, but a place where people can get the right help they need to develop their personal lives. Getting yourself right with God is one thing, but having the tools to succeed here on Earth is another.

Holy Ghost Christian Center, located on South 14th Street in Newark, N.J., serves the greater North Jersey area. The church has more than one location with branches in Atlanta, Houston, London, and the main headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria. As the Christian church continues to grow it will look to find ways not just to offer the gospel of Christ, but offer other programs which can help the communities they serve.

Siju is not only a full-time pastor for the church, but he also teaches as an adjunct professor at Essex County College and The New Jersey Institute of Technology. Both duties, as a lecturer and preacher, require precious amounts of time from his personal and family life. He doesn’t complain about it, rather he enjoys impacting the lives of others and leading them on the right path to salvation.

“Being a full-time pastor requires involvement in the life of people. Being able to guide and direct them, and ultimately groom them to become better people,” Siju said. “Despite the challenges that are going on in their lives, getting the best out of them is what is important.”

Northern New Jersey and New York City combine for one of the most populous regions in the United States and also a region with the most amount of churches per square mile with the city alone having nearly 6,000 churches. Each of these churches has something unique to offer. For Holy Ghost Christian Center, they’re focused on developing the youth and children’s ministry so the younger generations are aligned on the right path.

“The gospel of Jesus was built on good news. Good news isn’t just going to heaven, but being able to be at the top of your game in every aspect of your life,” said Siju. “Having the tools to a successful career, married life and personal life, doesn’t come when you’re old. You learn them when you’re young.”

Building up the faith of the younger generation is one of the priorities for HGCC, but also making the church an interactive community is another. Some churches do not offer interactive spaces outside of the Sunday service. HGCC offers mentorship classes for young couples,

vacation bible school for children during summer break, career services division for members seeking employment and also ZUMBA fitness classes Friday mornings for members who want to get an extra sweat in. Siju just doesn’t see the church as a place where people cry about their problems, but a place where people can add value to their lives.

“The goal is to balance life. Even though our ultimate goal is to make heaven, what can I do here on Earth to help my personal development,” Siju said. “We want to give people direction. So even when life becomes frustrating, they’re equipped with the tools to overcome those obstacles.”

Siju’s vision for the church is for it to continue to grow and develop the professional and personal lives of the members and the community it serves. Currently, the church has about 1,000 members and that doesn’t count members who bring other guests to church. The congregation has grown to a point that the church has two services, at 8:30 a.m and 10:35 a.m, to accommodate all of its members. Although he knows the church congregation will continue to grow, the ministerial work never ends.

“Everything we drive here is for the future. The goal for the church is to direct and lead them on the right path,” Siju said. “We want people to become what God has ordained them to become. However we can continue to help people find their destiny, that is what we will do.”

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