Samuel Rodriguez, Jr. is an American Christian evangelist born to Puerto Rican parents in the United States in 1969. At age 16, Rodriguez delivered his first sermon and quickly grew to be a leading and acclaimed evangelical preacher. In 1992, he became an ordained minister in the Assemblies of God denomination. In 2000, he founded and is currently the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC/CONEL), the largest Hispanic Christian (i.e., Evangelical/Pentecostal) organization in the world. With over 40,000 Latino Evangelical churches as members, NHCLC/CONEL helps to cultivate a network of Latino leaders in the Christian community.
In an April 2013 issue of Time Magazine, the cover story entitled “The Latino Reformation” included a quote by Rodriguez that claimed, “We are in the first generation of the Hispanic Protestant Reformation.” In 2015, Pastor Samuel Rodriguez was named as one of Newsmax’s “Top 100 Christian Leaders in America.”
As a spokesperson for Hispanic Evangelicals, Rodriguez often meets with lawmakers and provides input on policy decisions. Rodriguez has been a featured speaker in White House and Congressional meetings on Hispanic American issues and justice concerns. He is a member of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships initiative and the President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (both under President Barack Obama). He currently serves on the board of directors for the National Association of Evangelicals.
Rodriguez was invited to offer readings and deliver an invocation at the 58th U.S. presidential inauguration on January 20, 2017. In his remarks, Rodriguez read from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5. On Inauguration Day, Rodriguez sat down for an interview with CNN and explained why he decided to speak at the Inauguration of President Trump.
Rodriguez has had several meetings with Trump administration officials to discuss comprehensive immigration reform, which includes both securing the border and providing a path to citizenship for current immigrants. Rodriguez has expressed hope and optimism about working with Trump to find solutions that will have a positive impact on the Hispanic community as well as satisfy Trump's supporters.
In a letter acquired by Politico in January 2017, Sam Rodriguez was one of several evangelical leaders that pressed President Trump to reconsider the suspension of the refugee resettlement program that temporarily prevented refugees from several countries from emigrating to the U.S. The letter argued that the program provided a lifeline to many oppressed individuals and an opportunity for churches to minister to them.
On January 25, 2017, Rodriguez issued a statement indicating he agreed with President Trump that securing the U.S/Mexico border was vital for the safety of the U.S., and he agreed that the rule of law needed to be respected and that America reserves the right to determine who is allowed to enter the country. But Rodriguez also stated that he believes the President needs to build bridges with the Latino community in America. He likewise stated emphatically that he is opposed to forcibly removing the millions of undocumented individuals and families already in America with the exception of criminals and drug dealers.
In June 2016, Rodriguez’s book, Be Light, was featured #1 on the LA Times Bestsellers List.