The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez: The Rising Hispanic Church
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CBN.com THE GROWING CHURCH
The Wall Street Journal has named the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez as one of America’s Seven Most Influential Hispanic Leaders. He is the only religious leader that made the list. Today he stands as the voice for Hispanic Christianity; he is part of an organization that represents over 25,000 churches.
According to Barna and other research sources, Hispanic evangelicals are the fastest growing religious group, and that by 2050 the majority of born-again Christians in America will be of Hispanic descent. They are open to the Holy Spirit and seeker-friendly.
The Rev. Rodriguez says the Hispanic evangelical community serves as a bridge between cultures. Hispanics believe in righteousness () and justice (Matthew 25) at the same time. This will help renew Christianity in America.
Three of the key things that the Rev. Rodriguez has seen with the Hispanic church:
1. It is moving in the “prophetical” – it will help bring revival and renewal to the American Church
2. It will help usher in Kingdom culture
3. It is a firewall against the spread of Islam. In places where Islam tried to infiltrate the Hispanic community, it was not successful. The Hispanic evangelicals stood up/pushed back totalitarism.
Some of the prayer points for the Hispanic church are for a greater sense of commitment to responsibilities as the church; focus on Christ; God’s agenda in the church; immigration reform; reconciliation; and the high number abortions in the Hispanic community to diminish (Planned Parenthood – Houston, TX wants to build one of the biggest abortion clinics in an area with one of the largest Hispanic populations).
Though the Rev. Rodriguez does a lot of his work with the Hispanic community, he believes in the church as a whole to be multiethnic, not multicultural. He ultimately believes in God’s Kingdom culture and wants to reach out to everyone. He is excited for the future of the Church in America and the next generation. For his own children, he hopes they will be healthy and know God’s love.
LIVING A LIFE OF MIRACLES
The Rev. Rodriguez’s life has been filled with miracles, and he says God knows what you are missing and what you need. One of the key principles is to recognize that we have vertical and horizontal lives and the balance of these two lives is the key to success. The vertical life is Godly living – a person’s integrity and righteousness – living a life that is based on Godly principles in a way that connects heaven with earth. The horizontal life is how we live with those around us. If we are living vertically, then we need to evaluate how we are living horizontally. The vertical life affects the horizontal life.
Even Jesus’ life was affected by the horizontal life. Jesus was surrounded by disciples that personified different traits. Peter represented fear and denial. John represented faith/faithfulness. Andrew displayed loyalty. Judas showed betrayal. The Rev. Rodriguez says an important relationship to explore is the one between fear and faith. You can’t experience the fullness of faith without having some kind of fear confrontation. Fear and faith need each other – one can’t succeed without the other.
AN EARLY CALLING
The Rev. Rodriguez grew up in Pennsylvania. His grandfather was an Assemblies of God minister and a devout student of the Bible. When young Samuel was five, he already had an unusually strong connection to God as he was devoted to prayer. It was so unusual that his mother thought he might have psychological problems, because most five-year-olds are not lying on the floor praying. He heard the call of God on his life to preach when he was 14 as he was watching a televangelist and Martin Luther King, Jr., on TV and he heard a small voice telling him that he was going to be a preacher. But he ignored it.
Having an aptitude for math, he wanted to be a computer engineer at IBM and live the American dream of affluence. He didn’t tell anyone about his “TV epiphany” but strange things began to happen. He went to a service at his church and the guest speaker, who was there for the first time, was singing a song with the worship team. He stopped the music and said, “There is a Samuel in here.” That day he was the only Samuel in the service and everyone pointed at him. The speaker had a word from God for Samuel that God would place him on a platform. It was going to be for God’s glory, and He had a great destiny for him. God said Samuel would touch many lives and help heal people of their physical, spiritual, and emotional ailments. He was going to be used to restore lives, broken dreams, and to inspire people. Also, God was going to make him a leader among his people.
The Rev. Rodriguez began preaching at 14, but didn’t understand God’s Kingdom principles until later. When he did discover them, his life changed. His father shared with him that before Samuel was born, a visiting speaker gave a prophecy to his father that out of his loins would come a voice that God would send for His glory. The Rev. Rodriguez’s father didn’t understand that prophecy until he saw his son speak for the first time.
FROM PASTOR TO PRESIDENT
In 2000, he was a featured speaker at the world gathering of the Assemblies of God. That took his ministry to a global platform. However, he says that all hell broke lose in the church he had planted in New York City. He wanted to appoint his sister as senior pastor and he would be the overseer. He did everything according to protocol, but there were others around him in leadership that thought that they should be head pastor. As a result, his reputation and integrity were questioned. Eventually, people apologized, but it was still a very difficult time for him and his family. However, this time became one of the greatest wake-up calls in his life – the fear of God was instilled in him in great magnitude. He realized that he had made the ministry more important than his wife and family. He resigned from the church in New York City. It was a season where God emptied him before He filled him.
The chairman of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) heard what had happened. He saw this as an opportunity to provide national leadership to Hispanic born-again Christians in America, and he thought the Rev. Rodriguez was the one to lead them. Not only does he serve 16 million Hispanic born-again Christians through the organization, he also serves as an advocate for 45 million Hispanics in respect to family, political, spiritual and socio-economic empowerment.
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