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Here Am I: With Chris Sandoval

11 August, 2007

CreedorChaos presents Here Am I, a series of short interviews with a wide variety of people who have received from God an equally wide variety of gifts and callings, about their past, present, and future in the hands of their faithful savior.

phil22.jpg This time Phil interviews Rev. Chris A. Sandoval, who was born in the US to Cuban and Guatemalan parents and grew up speaking both English and Rev Chris SandovalSpanish. He received a BS in Mechanical Engineering from MIT and an MDiv from Wesminster Seminary California. He looks forward to one day having a family of his own.

Phil – What made you pick WSC as a place to train for the ministry?

Chris – I had been working as an engineer at a semiconductor company in Northern California (Silicon Valley) for two years after college when I found out about Westminster. A friend of mine told me the seminary offered a scholarship for Hispanic American students and I decided to visit for a day. I attended a couple classes and a chapel devotional and was impressed by professors’ detailed attention the Scriptures, their constant focus on Christ, and their real-life application of God’s word. I had been thinking about going to seminary for a few years, but my mind was pretty much made up after my visit to Westminster. After prayer and reflection, I decided to quit my job and attend Westminster with or without the scholarship. In God’s good providence, however, I did receive the scholarship and was able to attend seminary full time.

P – I knew you as the guy in the library who would look over my papers and who would give me a ride home from school when the library closed. You were only very recently a pretty smart guy on campus who used to mess with my computer, a seminary student like the rest of us; well, now here you are a full time pastor. How did seminary prepare you for that role?

C –Westminster California prepared me to a be minister of God’s word and grace by training me to focus on Christ. Specifically when it comes to preaching God’s word, Westminster ingrained into me the absolute necesity to preach Christ and His gospel from every Scripture text. Put bluntly, if people are going to wake up early on a Sunday morning, shower, shave, and get all dressed up to go to church, they better hear about and fall more in love with Jesus from the pulpit. At the end of a worship service, people should leave church not only desiring to obey God’s word, but with deep appreciation and profound gratitude for Christ’s obedience on their behalf.

P – Amen, brother. I’ll never forget the words of Prof Duguid (hope he doesn’t mind me quoting him) when he told me very fervently in the lunch room: “Nobody preaches Christ like Westminster.” Tell us about your current ministry. You have a very exciting story. How did it come about?

C – In July of 2006 I was called by the Presybytery of the Midwest of the Orthodox Presybyterian Church (OPC) to plant a bilingual Hispanic church in Chicago. The work is entirely from scratch, i.e. we have no core group of persons or families, no church building, and, until recently, no specific target neighborhood or town in the Chicago area. Although this is not normal church planting for the OPC, the denomination has, at every level (national, regional, and local), recognized the need to be proactive in reaching out to a large segment of the American population with the truth of the Reformed faith. I’m happy to say that after several months of prayer, research, and consultation with local pastors, we’ve decided to target the towns of Cicero and Berwyn, two towns adjacent to Chicago with huge Hispanic populations.

P – That’s wonderful news. “Warms the cockles of my heart!” as another of our professors would say. How do you explain
the Reformed tradition to Hispanics who may be entirely unfamiliar with it?

C – At its core, the Reformed tradition is the most biblical expression of the gospel this side of heaven. I firmly believe that and wouldn’t be a Reformed and Presbyterian minister if I didn’t. What Hispanics (and anyone else) unfamiliar with the Reformed faith need to know is that Reformed Christians do everything according to the Bible – our preaching, teaching, worship, and even our church government are based entirely on the whole counsel of God’s word. Words like “Reformed”, “Presbyterian”, and “Westminster Confession” are so completely foreign and outside the cultural and historical context of most Hispanics that using these terms in a conversation without a basic explanation of them would be like talking in Greek (or Hebrew) to a Hispanic. I remember I was talking with a Roman Catholic Hispanic gentleman once, and when I told him I was Presbyterian, he asked if Presbyterians were Christian. That’s how much many Hispanic know (or don’t know) about who we are. We need to start with the basics in our evangelism of Hispanics and remember that the Reformed tradition starts and ends with God’s word.

P – A hearty Amen to that my ‘long lost’ fellow seminarian. Perhaps in the next interview we can get into more detail as to just exactly how you are going about introducing the Hispanics of Cicero and Berwyn to Reformed thinking. I just have one other question: Do the Hispanics in Chicago think you have a funny accent?

C-No.

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12 Comments
  1. Michael Lynch permalink
    11 August, 2007 11:54 am

    Did my pastor mention he was single?

  2. Andrew Compton permalink
    11 August, 2007 12:07 pm

    Great interview, Phil. Thanks, Chris, for sharing the exciting work going on in Chicago!

    I am convicted here in Los Angeles that there are MANY Spanish speaking neighbors who need to hear the gospel and MANY Spanish speaking brothers and sisters in Christ who need to hear about the Reformed (read: Biblical) faith. I only wish I had taken Spanish classes more seriously and become more proficient at the language. . . what a huge need. . . HUGE!

    Blessings,

    ac

  3. 11 August, 2007 4:09 pm

    Ah Drew, with your language capacity you could be fluent in Spanish in like 6 months.
    Seriously though, I’ve also been convicted concerning the Hispanics in Cali. I think the fact that, as Chris mentions above, they’ve never been exposed to the Reformed tradition might actually be an advantage.

  4. 11 August, 2007 4:11 pm

    Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, ladies take a number cuz Reverend Chris is still single.

  5. Michael Lynch permalink
    11 August, 2007 9:57 pm

    That pic is sure to get the ladies!

  6. 12 August, 2007 2:40 pm

    not to mention his funny accent…women love that. he’s like the cuban banderas.

  7. 15 August, 2007 8:18 pm

    Great interview…I was raised Catholic and I felt the same way….are Presbyterians really Christian..praying for your ministry Chris

  8. 8 October, 2009 1:36 pm

    It was good coming across and browse through that bit of your biography. Wish you God’s blessings as you labor for Christ’s kingdom in Cicero and Berwyn areas.

    Fred Kabenge

    • 12 February, 2010 6:38 pm

      Yes, on my return to Uganda after completing my masters program at Westminster Seminary in California, i straight away begin the work of ministry.

      I do pastoral work at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Mutungo, lecture at Westminster Thelogical College & Seminary (WTC&S) in Bweya Entebbe, serve as the Student’s Dean at WTC&S, run a radio program at African Bible University, and serve as Coordinator of the Secretariat of the Presbyterian Church in Uganda.

      These many responsibilities before me are a huge challenge hence my request to you to always remember me in all your prayers.

      Grace and peace be with you in increasing abundance.

  9. 10 October, 2009 8:16 pm

    Hey Fred! I remember you. You were graduating when I was just starting my first year at sem. I enjoyed talking with you in the library.
    Hope your ministry is flourishing.
    Keep us posted on how things are going in Africa.

  10. 28 November, 2009 11:27 pm

    First of all, very neat site! I’ve appreciated the recent posts and am glad to have stumbled upon this site.

    Second of all, it is so encouraging to hear of church plants that are established among various cultures on this continent. It’s definitely good to see that our churches understand missions happen HERE too!

    Third, any update on this Rev. Sandoval…?…either on his ministry or on your obvious attempt to marry him off? (Great to have friends to propogate this Godly cause, isn’t it?)

    • 3 December, 2009 7:57 pm

      I asked him to do a follow up.

      He seems to be doing very well still. I don’t know any details. And as far as I know he’s still available, which is totally unbelievable considering what a stud he is.

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