9754 Grosalia Avenue, La Mesa
Pastor: Walter Frank
Born: San Diego
Formation: Pastoral training in Korea
Ordained: 14 years
San Diego Reader: Can you think of a sermon that flopped?
PF: It was July about two years ago…. The air conditioner didn’t work and I had chosen to read a few passages as part of the sermon. I realized that they were too long and it was too hot — it must have been in the 90s in the church that day. I realized I had to just stop it right then. It was too uncomfortable and people were getting too drowsy, so I thought, Let’s do something else. I quickly summarized the last 15 minutes of the sermon. That one flopped; that’s for sure. But I learned my lesson, too. Number one — fix the AC, and number two — be flexible.
SDR: What is the most prevalent sin you observe or hear about from your congregation?
PF: I’d say there are two challenges to this congregation…. Husbands and wives stop trying to love each other, be romantic, or really enjoy each other’s company. Then with teenagers, it’s the opposite. Teenagers are really anxious to be in love and have a sexual understanding of things. So I always say I spend half my time getting the adult married members of the congregation to touch each other and the other half getting the teenagers to keep their hands off each other.
SDR: What made you decide to become a pastor in the first place?
PF: I was always searching for love, and I wanted to live with people who loved me. When I grew up, I was a victim of some racial problems. I grew up in the ’50s when people could be really mean to people of my background — I’m Native American and Mexican Indian…. I felt society was rejecting me. Also, my parents divorced when I was a kid, so I didn’t have a family. So I would pursue deep hours of prayer and study. I was an odd kid — I would go to the library and read books to find out what the universe was about. I would try to join various clubs — including the Communist Party of San Diego when I was 18! Then I was meditating one day and praying, and I had a powerful experience with Jesus Christ who witnessed to me in spirit, and I felt called and a deep desire to pursue that relationship.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PF: Of course, Jesus teaches about heaven and hell….There are many levels to the spiritual world and you go to those levels based upon the level of relationship you’ve reached in this world. For example, if you can have a good relationship with other people — that’s the kind of place you’ll go to in heaven; but if you don’t have good relationships, we think that’s a description of hell. For example, if you’re always hating people, your level of growth will lead you to a place in the spirit world where people are always hating people. We also believe that Jesus’ sacrifice is so powerful that God can allow for redemption even from hell — ‘the gates of hell will not prevail over the Kingdom of Heaven.’ Eventually, God will save everyone; He can find a way out for even the worst of people.”