Christina and Edgar ChocIf you have the chance to sit down and talk with Christina and Edgar Choc, it wouldn’t be unusual for the topic of your conversation to involve a discussion of cell groups, cell growth, structure and division. But, while Christina is a nurse, they are most likely not talking about biology. Christina and Edgar are leaders in cell group ministry, a small groups approach to ministry based on friendship evangelism.
The couple met and became friends while both were students in the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary on the campus of Andrew University. As their relationship grew, so did the couple’s interest and involvement in small group ministries.
While attending Andrews had always been a goal for Edgar, his original plan was to attend business school, not the Seminary. At the age of 18, Edgar left his native Guatemala to attend college for two years in Costa Rica. Wanting to learn English, Edgar left Costa Rica to attend Northern Caribbean University in Jamaica, where he majored in theology and minored in psychology. After graduation, Edgar moved to Chicago where he served as an associate pastor for a year. It was during that year that Edgar first learned about cell group ministries and his interest in an MBA was exchanged for an MDiv.
His interest piqued, Edgar desired to learn more about small groups and cell group ministry when he came to Andrews in 2001, but there wasn’t a lot of cell group activity on campus at the time. Don James, assistant professor of small group evangelism, taught a class on small groups, but there was actually only one active cell group. When a new group began in late 2002, Edgar joined, listening, observing, and learning how they worked for one year. In 2004, Edgar started his own group, and since then the number of cell groups has multiplied and grown rapidly.
Christina did not catch on to the idea of cell groups quite as quickly. She first attended cell because of Edgar. She was skeptical about the concept and doubtful about their success. For the first six months, she really didn’t like it very much, but continued to attend to show support for Edgar. In December of 2003, Edgar and Christina got married and soon after became pregnant. Christina began to notice a consistency with the people in her cell group. They had become like a family and were the ones who were there when she needed them. Her connection to the group and her belief in the ministry grew.
Christina is a nurse by profession. Born in New York City to Ecuadorian parents, the family moved to Grand Rapids, Mich. when Christina was in her pre-teens. Christina got her associate’s degree in nursing from a local community college and was exploring employment opportunities outside the state when her mom got sick. Not wanting to leave her mom, Christina took the advice of friends and enrolled in one class in the Andrews nursing department. Christina liked the program and its combination of education and spirituality and she eventually made the decision to move to the area and enroll in the program. She graduated with her bachelor’s in nursing in 2002.
Knowing that a master’s degree was in her future, Christina decided to apply to Loma Linda University. However, after several failed attempts at a campus visit, she began to think that this was not the path that God had for her life. When she heard about family life classes available through the Seminary, she decided to take some summer intensive courses to check them out. Christina discovered that she was more interested than she’d originally intended, so she enrolled in a couple basic classes to continue testing the waters. She found herself drawn to this new realm of possibility, though she didn’t want to be a pastor. While trying to follow other paths, she’d encountered obstacles, but with her studies in the Seminary, she felt a peace.
Now married with a beautiful baby girl, Christina and Edgar are currently active leaders in ministry in the Andrews community and plan to incorporate small groups into their future work, hoping to start church plants based on cells. Christina will continue on in her work as a nurse, and Edgar plans to work as a hospital chaplain.
“We have seen how cell groups have changed people, have led them to find Jesus and a family,” explains Edgar. “We plan to reach out for Christ by providing a family environment where people can meet Jesus, and then later reach out to others."