Four Pearls of Wisdom from a Longtime Presidential Faith Advisor
In 2017, Sam Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Leadership Conference and pastor of a megachurch in California, was the first Hispanic evangelical to deliver a prayer at a presidential inauguration. For that, many people called him a traitor. In their eyes, he was the Latino praying for someone who had slandered the Hispanic community, someone who had an aggressive plan to deport immigrants who had come to America illegally (many of whom were Latino).
But Rodriguez’s prayer wasn’t an endorsement of Trump’s valuation of the Latino community, nor was it an endorsement of the President’s approach to immigration. It was a foot in the door. Now, as part of the president’s faith advisory, a station he’s held for the past three presidential administrations, he’s planting seeds for better immigration reform policies.
Today he helped plant seeds for the future of Gordon as part of Work Ahead: Ready for 2030 initiative, and in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Here are the four ways, according to Rodriguez, that Gordon and the Christian community at large can, in the present, prepare for the year 2030:
When trying to engage a multicultural and ethnically diverse audience, don’t suffer from myopia. “The demographic in the Church is shifting,” says Rodriguez. “Do not believe that Hispanics or African Americans or non-whites live exclusively in urban centers, because that’s not true. The Hispanic-American middle class is the fastest-growing middle class in America.”
Converse respectfully with people you may disagree with, even when it comes to politics. “Even with this current president, who I agree with on many issues including life and religious liberty, I disagree with him on his tweets and rhetoric regarding immigrants and other things. I get asked, especially with this president, [why I’m a faith advisor to the president]. [People say,] ‘If you’re there, you’re endorsing those tweets and comments, [as] a Latino.’ But, conversation can change everything. Maybe one day the Holy Spirit may use me to convict the heart of the president and shift him on a policy, which has happened before,” says Rodriguez.
Religious liberty should be a priority for the emerging generation. Rodriguez says, “The lack of religious liberty leads to secular totalitarianism. In the Middle East, it could lead to religious totalitarianism.”
Christians are called to love God and their neighbors; it’s not wise to pick one over the other. “In 21st-century America, Christians can be defined as either a vertical Christian or a horizontal Christian,” explains Rodriguez. “You’re either a righteousness believer or a justice believer. We need to prepare young men and women who come out at the nexus. Where the vertical and the horizontal intersect. Where orthodoxy and orthopraxy meet.”
Stay tuned for more Work Ahead: Ready for 2030 events and recaps.