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Rev. Wayne Cordeiro

Senior pastor, New Hope Christian Fellowship

Photo: Jimmy Forrest

Rev. Wayne Cordeiro, senior pastor of New Hope Christian Fellowship Church, may have thousands of people clamoring for his attention on any given day, but he is not above chatting with a janitor. Especially when the janitor is an eighth-grade volunteer who has sacrificed a nice summer day to shine handrails and empty wastebaskets at New Hope's Kalihi-based headquarters.

"When I see these kids, I want to invest in them, because I see me when I was their age," says Cordeiro, who was bounced around after his parents divorced. "By the time I was 19, I was kicked out of one school and then dropped out of another because of drugs and fighting. Everything was going wrong, fast."

An encounter with Jesus turned things around for Cordeiro. He enrolled in bible college, and began pastoring in Hilo by the age of 30. In 1984, Cordeiro founded New Hope Hilo, a foursquare denomination church. Eleven years later, he moved to Oahu and began New Hope Christian Fellowship, which has since grown from a few dozen members to more than 10,000 members - making it one of the nation's fastest growing churches.

"When 10,000 people gather weekly to hear one man speak, that says something. But when that man can motivate those people to better the community, that's power. Wayne has that gift," says Michael Chun, president of Kamehameha Schools and a New Hope member. "Just look at the number of community projects he's led - cleanups at Mayor Wright's housing, tutoring for low-income kids, help for inmates. His words have a direct impact on the community."

Cordeiro's community outreach is successful largely because of the overwhelming number of volunteers who donate their time to the church. A majority of the church's administration is volunteers, and several people, including Cordeiro's secretary, work for free full-time. But they also offer more than helping hands - they give with their wallets too. Contributions to the church total around $9 million annually, a sizeable fund with which to run and grow the church. And with a corporate-size budget, Cordeiro operates New Hope like a burgeoning business.

He is planning to purchase a 90,000-square-foot complex on four acres of land in Waipahu to compliment New Hope's current 40,000-square-foot ministry center in Kalihi. The church also purchased a hotel on Molokai for retreats, bought time on local TV stations to televise its message and came close to purchasing the Japanese Cultural Center in Moiliili.

New Hope recently stepped up marketing efforts: In addition to slapping its logo on everything from coffee mugs to surfboards, the church has taken out a half-page ad in the 2003 Paradise Pages. Cordeiro says this type of "organization," which you don't typically see in other churches, is necessary for New Hope to reach its ultimate goal.

"A lot of times a church is like a little cloistered entity that nobody knows about. But we feel we need to get the church into the community," says Cordeiro. "We're not a business, but we do have a bottom line. It's not profit. It's to serve God's purpose for the people of Hawaii and build a better community - particularly for our youth."

-Jacy L. Youn

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