Sammy M. Rodriguez: Discipling the Next Generation

Sammy M. Rodriguez (31) is a traveling evangelist with Circuit Riders, based in Huntington Beach, California, and also does campus outreach in the U.S. and around the world. We caught up with him to discuss what drives him and his passion for bringing young people to Christ.

What are your creative outlets and the ways that you uniquely live out your calling from God?

My personal belief is that everyone is created to be an artist. My art is storytelling and I love when people encounter the love of Jesus in a real, authentic way. Regardless of the amount of people, in front of thousands or one, I believe Jesus modeled this perfectly. My calling is to be obedient to Jesus every step of the way, and since God is the Creator I believe we have endless opportunities to tap into our creative outlets to see our calling lived out! Also golf, all day, every day.

How did you develop your passion for evangelism and campus outreach?

I had a revelation early on that I am not working for love but from love. I am not working for salvation, for that is impossible like Eph. 2:8–9 says, by grace through faith. It was from that understanding I just kept taking steps of faith. When I teach and train on evangelism I tell people it’s just like anything else. You gotta work on your muscle of evangelism. Instead of being intimidated by this, look at it as introducing everyone to your best friend, Jesus. When there is no pressure to save but to introduce, we trust Jesus in the process of every person.

As far as campus outreach, I started going when I was 20 years old because I believed and still believe my generation is hungry for something real, and although they may not know it, they have a deep hunger for truth and love. That is all found in Jesus and Jesus alone, and I decided to give my life so that my generation will know Jesus!

What is a moment that stands out in your mind as a turning point, when you really felt like you were doing what you were meant to do?

There is a lot of pressure in this time to “find” your calling. I think the most important thing you can do is follow the truths of the Word of God, Encounter the love of Jesus, love people radically and unconditionally, and press in to make Matthew 5–7 your lifestyle. Why I am saying that is because if we focus on these things our calling will work itself out. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be focused or have goals but we should never let our calling distract us from the one who called us. Our calling is to love God with all our heart, soul mind and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves. The focus may differ but the message stays the same!

How has your personal faith shaped the way that you do what you do?

My personal faith has shaped everything in my life. I am 15 years into full-time ministry and I feel I have just scratched the surface. I don’t want to be preaching something I don’t personally live and have experienced. My faith in Jesus has changed me from the inside out and I am continually being transformed! Therefore every day is an incredible opportunity to partner with Jesus in what I am called to do.

Do you have a life Bible verse or another passage of Scripture that has encouraged you along your journey? Why is that passage meaningful to you?

John 3:16–17, 1 John 3:18, Matthew 9:35–38 and Matthew 28:18–20! I know it’s a lot but I love the Bible so much! Both John scriptures show us the purpose of Jesus coming and 1 John speaks about living out our love in action. Matthew 9 speaks about compassion leading Jesus to commission us into the harvest field and Matthew 28 commissions us to make disciples of all nations! I could put so many more but these four have massively impacted my life.

How do you see your passion interacting with your sense of calling or mission from God? (i.e., how is God using you to further his kingdom through you doing what you do?)

A huge passion of mine is to see the next generation not only saved but discipled and sent into their callings. As a millennial I love my generation! I also love Gen Z and think that both are incredibly gifted and called to change the world. One of the things I had the privilege of starting with close friends is a campaign called Carry the Love. This campaign goes to universities and high schools across the globe to inspire a generation to love like Jesus. We have a tagline saying, “See The Need, Meet With Love, Repeat.” I believe that is our calling as Christians to walk out the gospel. We have had the honor of seeing countless lives impacted and we believe we are just getting started!

What’s one thing you would like say to leaders in the church who are trying to cultivate and encourage younger leaders?

Permission and coach them into greatness. It’s easy to see the lack in the youth right now but what Jesus did to his disciples was gave them a vision greater than themselves that they had to do together. I believe teamwork is what this generation loves and every great team has a great coach. If we as older leaders champion, inspire and encourage the young leaders around us I believe many more will come because they know they are loved by that older leader. Lastly, cover, don’t control and send, don’t abandon.


Jonathan Sprowl
Jonathan Sprowl

Jonathan Sprowl is co-editor of Outreach magazine.