Eric Soto is the lead pastor of Maranatha and has an extensive history in ministry and serving others. He is a native of Southern California and the eldest of our founders, Jose Luis & Alma Soto. Eric began serving in our ministry in 1996 when the main church was located in South Gate, CA. His father had started a radio and television ministry so a video production facility was opened in Santa Fe Springs, CA.
The television ministry faced many challenges as the expenses were high and the more experienced employees frequently left for higher paying positions elsewhere. Eric was hired on to direct the television program and God blessed it. The television ministry grew to become the evangelistic ministry that it is today.
In 1999 Eric faced a test of his faith that he would have never seen coming. His four-year-old daughter, Sierra Beth Soto, was murdered while playing in a playground in Costa Mesa, CA. He understood this was a personal attack from the Devil. Instead of questioning God, Eric praised God for allowing his daughter to be in the Lord’s presence and giving him that assurance. Understanding this was an attack from the Devil himself, Eric asked God to use him as an instrument to take as many people away from Satan as God would allow. This became Eric’s call to “spiritual battle” but it was very personal to him and he took it seriously.
The turning point in ministry came for him in 2003 when World Mission Maranatha opened their new facility in Bellflower, CA. The new facility created a shortage of volunteer staff personnel so Eric was brought in to lead the Sunday High School ministry. Eric noted that overall members enjoyed attending church as a social function. However, many of those lacking a desire to learn about the Bible and its teachings, especially in the youth departments. He concluded that it was leadership’s responsibility to not only focus on teaching the Word of God but to create a thirst and hunger for it as well. Eric felt from God that his calling was to do just this.
Eric became an Ordained Minister in 2004 and was the Pastor and Founder of the English department. In 2014, he was given the assignment as General Manager of the ministry that allowed him to learn about the administrative side of ministry. One summer Sunday morning during the month of August in 2015, his father retired and the Board of Directors and Deacons unanimously voted to appoint him as Senior Pastor of World Mission Maranatha.
Although Eric was brought up in a Christian home, he grew up just like any other child. He was not perfect and became rebellious and believed he could find happiness outside of God. His high school years found him frequently in the Dean’s office for misbehavior. He led a life of revelries, promiscuity & tried most other things the world had to offer, resulting in broken marriages as well. The more he experienced the world, the lonelier and emptier he felt. Eric realized that the world offered happiness but only delivered misery. Seeking to feel the joy that he had when he was walking right with God in his earlier years, he recommitted himself to Christ in 1993.
Eric has served his country in the Marine Corps Reserve and the Army National Guard and his local community as a Deputy-Sheriff. He is married to Leslie Soto and has a daughter, Tiffany Soto and his two sons. He resides in Norco, CA and looks forward to engaging the enemy in as many spiritual battles as the Lord allows him.