Encanto Southern Baptist Church
- Contact: 6020 Akins Ave, San Diego 619-264-8641 www.encantosbc.com
- Membership: 300
- Pastor: Robert Pope
- Age: 69
- Born: Rocky Mount, NC
- Formation: University of District of Columbia, Washington, D.C.; University of Phoenix, Phoenix, AZ; Southern California Seminary, El Cajon
- Years Ordained: 12
San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?
Pastor Robert Pope: The work of the church. Matthew 19:28-30 talks about reaching out in faith to those who know not Jesus Christ. At the end of the day, that’s what really matters – to contact and inform people about faith and grace in Jesus Christ. There is no more important sermon than what touches on people’s ultimate destiny.
SDR: What’s your main concern as a member of the clergy?
PP: People just don’t view the word of God, the reality of God, until many times it’s too late. That’s my main concern – for folks to realize that God is real. Life is important on this side of death, but what really matters is eternity. We have a short time on this side of death – that’s just the way it is. Even if we live a hundred years, it can’t compare to eternity, and I don’t think people really get that.
SDR: Why did you become a minister?
PP: The Lord had placed a passion to change people’s lives on my heart. I had a relatively recent call to ordained ministry, but I worked in the church for well over 40 years. I retired from a federal government job, full time for 44 years, as a logistics director in the U.S. Department of Defense; and 35 years of that I was also doing ministry full time through the church. After I retired it was perfect: my pastor was working toward retirement, and I didn’t see it coming or it wasn’t something I pursued. But it was a perfect fit – so I stepped in to take the leadership of the church.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
PP: Our mission statement says we are a diverse family founded by faith in the gospel, motivated by love for God and others, to reach and teach this community. Thus our main purpose is to reach folks for Christ in this community, to teach and minister to them not only spiritually but for their physical needs as well. There are folks who are borderline poverty, so we make sure we reach them with a food distribution center we have, health fairs, and things like that. We seek to assist this community, even in this pandemic. On a monthly basis, we reach over 600 families by distributing food to them and other services like that.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PP: Anyone will spend eternity in heaven who has accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior (Romans 10:9-10). Scripture speaks very clear to the fact that we go through a phase when we’re saved, which is sanctification, and set apart to do God’s work, and the Holy Spirit is invested in us. That’s God himself. The final phase is glorification, which is when we transition from this world to eternity in heaven. When we’re glorified, we don’t experience the challenges and pain we experience on this side of death. That is heaven. Hell is the opposite – and scripture speaks to this too. It is a lake of fire in which you will be tormented for eternity. It’s not a one-time burning, but pain for eternity without God. So, really, your only shot for heaven is on this side of death.