It was 2009, and New Jersey native Philip Rizzo was attending the New England Baptist College in Southington, Conn., when he saw the light.
“I knew God was burdening me to start a church in Hoboken,” Rizzo says. “I went to Villanova, and a lot of Villanova grads get jobs in the city and move to Hoboken.”
Rizzo currently lives in Sparta with his wife, Jennifer, and four kids, ages 5 to 10. But, he says, “I became a Christian in 2000, and I used to go to Hoboken a lot of times to talk with friends about the Bible.”
He’d attended a Catholic high school in Morris County. His senior year in college his parents’ pastor asked him if he was 100 percent sure that he would go to heaven. “Nobody had ever asked me that before,” Rizzo says. “I was 22 years old, and I realized how many hours I spent planning things in my life, and I’d made no plans for eternity. It was like going to Europe without looking at a map. I didn’t know how to answer the question.”
But soon the answer would come. “A year and a half later, I finally realized that I needed Jesus as my savior because my good works could never add up to God’s standards,” Rizzo says. “In 2009 God confirmed that there needed to be another strong witness in Hoboken.”
The result? City Baptist Church. At press time, Rizzo was in negotiation to acquire a building for this ministry. Eventually, he wants to live and work fulltime as a pastor in Hoboken, but until that happens, he has to continue to work in real estate.
Rizzo has been in real estate development for 12 years. “I come out of a real estate background, and I worked hard to make a lot of money,” he says, “but the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is not what it’s cracked up to be. God blessed me financially but that doesn’t generate happiness. Real joy comes from being a Christian and living in obedience to God.”
In the meantime, he holds Sunday night Bible classes on Jefferson Street. “The Bible is the best-selling book of all time,” Rizzo says. “It wasn’t until I was 22 years old that I had the courage to open the Bible and look at it for myself.” He believes that every word in the Bible is true. Rizzo says, “The Bible is God’s map to get to Him.”—07030
City Baptist Church Bible classes
726 Jefferson Street
Bible study and prayer