When Jesus was found in the Monkey Place

Interview with Pastor Rob Savlato

Pastor Rob Salvato
  • Pastor Rob Salvato

Calvary Chapel, Vista

885 E. Vista Way, Vista

San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?

Pastor Rob Salvato: I love to preach about Jesus. He said in Hebrews 10:5–7 that the volume of the scriptures were written about him. What I love to do in teaching through the Bible is to point out just how everything is connected to Jesus…and allow people to see the Lord’s heart in the passage of the scriptures. Everything in our lives is meant to revolve around our relationship with Christ.

SDR: What is your main concern as a member of the clergy?

PS: We have signs on both ends of our parking lot that say, “You are now entering the mission field.” That’s what we want them to think — the mission field isn’t over in Africa, it’s down the street, in my neighborhood, where I work.

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PS: The mission statement for our church is “Simply Jesus.” It’s all about Jesus, for Jesus and to Jesus. We exist as a community of believers with a desire to exalt Jesus, to know Jesus, and to make Jesus known. The Bible teaches us that Jesus alone fulfills the longings in the human soul.

SDR: Where is the strangest place you found God?

PS: The strangest place I found God was in 1990 in Yugoslavia in this gathering area for youth called the Monkey Place. That was the nickname of this little open square that was above the mayor’s office. They called it the Monkey Place because young people in that city would go and monkey around. They would do drugs and all this stuff. We went there and saw God do an incredible move in the hearts of young people’s lives. I ended up doing Bible studies in that square. It started one day with six people, and at the end of the week it was 30. I brought a friend of mine back a couple weeks later and within weeks it grew to over 100. They met outside, had church outside, in that square for over a year. When the police wanted to shut it down, the mayor said to leave them alone. “I don’t know what they’re doing down there now; but they’re not doing what they used to be doing.” So, that probably was the strangest place — when we went over there we had no idea that God was going to work in that type of way. It was right after Communism fell there.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PS: The simple answer is that you go to either heaven or hell. If you’re a believer in Jesus and his death on the cross and his resurrection, then he’s already been judged for you. So your judgment as a Christian, when you go to heaven, is a judgment of rewards…. Unbelievers are going to be judged for rejecting God’s gift in Jesus, and the punishment for that is hell. Some will ask, “How can a loving God send people to hell?” I like to answer that he really doesn’t. People choose to go there by rejecting God’s gift of salvation given to us in Christ because Jesus was judged to pay the price for our sins, so we wouldn’t have to be. But if we reject what he did, then we will be judged.

Calvary Vista

Membership: 1800

Pastor: Rob Salvato

Age: 52

Born: Orange County

Formation: Vanguard University, Costa Mesa; Calvary Chapel-Costa Mesa

Years Ordained: 30

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