Samuel Rodriguez is senior pastor of New Season Christian Worship Center in Sacramento, California. He is the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, one of the world’s largest Christian organizations. He is the best-selling author of “Be Light” and executive producer of three films, including “Breakthrough.” Rodriguez has advised three presidents and frequently consults with members of Congress on immigration issues. He and his wife, Eva, have three children.
For those unfamiliar with your story, talk a little bit about your testimony.
Rodriguez’s parents are Puerto Rican. His dad was a truck driver and his mom a homemaker in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
“I grew up as a math nerd,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a language of God. From the age of 3, the first television program my grandmother let me watch was ‘Star Trek.’ I became enamored with science, time travel and parallel universes. That drove me. When I was in high school, a guidance counselor looked at me and said, ‘Samuel, what are you going to do with your life?’ I said, ‘I want to be a computer engineer and build robots.’ She said, ‘Nope. Let me encourage you to become an auto mechanic or a shop worker … because people like you, you’re going to do mostly well in those areas.’”
Rodgriguez’s mother later visited the guidance counselor.
“She said, ‘Sam is going to continue taking honors classes and don’t you ever again offer him a plan B.’ The rest is history. The most dangerous thing you can have in life is have a plan B. When it comes to the collective destiny and purpose of God for our lives, it’s either God or nothing.’”
Rodriguez was heavily involved in an evangelical church and committed His life to Christ at an early age, which eventually led him to shift gears in terms of career path.
“I was in my 1978 Camaro Z28. It was metallic blue with tinted windows and Eagle GT tires. It had so much Armor All in that car that if you would slide into the passenger side you would go through the driver’s side and keep on going,” Rodriguez added. “I was 19, and Dr. Jack Hayford was on the radio. There was just a strong, convicting word that filled my life and car in that moment. That was the moment of, ‘Samuel. You’re not going to be a computer engineer. You’re not going to work for IBM. I’m going to use you as a vessel for my message to be preached around the nations.’”
Talk about your upcoming book, “From Survive to Thrive.”
Rodriguez said simply surviving is not a standard God has for His followers.
“You’re either in Egypt, the desert or the Promised Land,” Rodriguez said. “I would argue about 10% step into the land of promise. Even in the desert, they’re in perpetual survival mode: ‘How do I make it through today?’ In John 10:10, Jesus flips the script. It’s the difference between the life where all you do is ask God for blessings and asking God to make you a blessing for everyone you know.”
Rodriguez said there are three types of people: failing, surviving or thriving.
“We thrive by pushing back on the fear, circumstances and not acquiescing to the valley, storm, desert or trials in life,” Rodriguez added. “We don’t go through trials, as Christians, but we grow through them.”
You have a lot on your plate. How do you manage it all?
Rodriguez wears many hats: husband, father, pastor, president of the world’s largest Hispanic Christian organization, filmmaker and author among other things.
“Just keeping the main thing the main thing,” Rodriguez said. “My commitment to my devotions and living a holy, healed, healthy, happy, humble, hungry, honoring life. Making Christ the center of it all. An amazing wife and family. Making sure things are balanced. Equilibrium. That’s what keeps me going.”
Rodriguez said though 2020 has been tough, we have nowhere to run except to God.
“It is tough in 2020, but here we are, for such a time as this,” Rodriguez added. “It’s like a Charles Dickens book. It’s the worst of times. It’s the best of times. It’s a time of pruning, inventory, of making room for what’s next. It’s like the entire world experienced a sabbatical. It’s the hard reset of humanity. Even for the church, ‘Can you be the church without the physical building?’ What a great challenge. I believe we’re not only going to survive, but thrive out of this.”