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At the border between Hungary and Serbia, in a field with thousands of refugees

I tell my church that we have to stop seeing issues and start seeing people.

Phil Metzger
Phil Metzger

Calvary San Diego

  • Contact: 1771 East Palomar St., Chula Vista 619-421-1100 www.calvarysd.com
  • Membership: 500
  • Pastor: Phil Metzger  
  • Age: 47
  • Born: Newport Beach
  • Formation: Columbia University, NY; Golgota Teológiai Főiskola, Vajta, Hungary; Western Seminary, Portland, OR; Veritas International University, Costa Mesa
  • Years Ordained: 24

San Diego Reader: What’s your main concern as a member of the clergy?

Pastor Phil Metzger: I spent a lot of years outside this country as a missionary in Hungary, learning how to present the gospel to people who come from a different context than the U.S. Being back in America, I realize how much we need that here today, now. Many Christians are still stuck in a mindset of how things used to be but not how they are today. We’re a minority group in a sense; we don’t carry elections like we used to and we need to be OK with that. We need to remember what our calling is here as believers: we’re here to help people to know Christ and not be stuck on any other pet peeves. I want to see the church be a place that people of all persuasions would be willing to come to because they get a chance to hear about Jesus. I’m so convinced in the power of God that he will do the transformation in each one of our lives. I’m not looking to reform people but to see God do the work of transformation.

SDR: Where is the strangest place where you found God?

PM: If you remember the refugee crisis in Europe back about a decade ago. People from Syria were going to Germany. Our ministry and church was a major part of that in Hungary. At the border between Hungary and Serbia, in a field with thousands of refugees, I met God. We saw people give their lives to Christ who were fleeing. I saw Muslims giving their lives to Christ. We baptized dozens and dozens of Muslims over months of that process. The mindset is that they’re our enemy and we’re their enemy. But people are still people. I tell my church that we have to stop seeing issues and start seeing people. Let’s not see refugees – that’s an issue. Let’s see people. We talk about the LGBTQ issue. Let’s not talk about that as an issue. Let’s talk about the people – wonderful people – who need Christ just like I do. You can carry that into any area. When Christians get stuck on issues, we become harsher, and when we think of people, that’s where the Gospel can shine through. So, to be out in those fields and serving people –I saw not just their coming to Christ but I saw God showing thousands of people who thought the Christian God hated them being helped and supported by Christians all around Europe. It was a tangible expression of the presence of God.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PM: The Bible says that the person who puts faith in Christ will at death go to heaven: to be absent from the body is to be present in the Lord. I believe in the afterlife; I believe in heaven and hell. I don’t set the rules for those things. I believe in a creator who made salvation a possibility. So, when I put my faith in Jesus, he translates me from death into life. So, now, the hope of heaven is my reality. I don’t believe in hell as a punishment for bad people, but as a place for those who choose to reject God’s salvation.

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Phil Metzger
Phil Metzger

Calvary San Diego

  • Contact: 1771 East Palomar St., Chula Vista 619-421-1100 www.calvarysd.com
  • Membership: 500
  • Pastor: Phil Metzger  
  • Age: 47
  • Born: Newport Beach
  • Formation: Columbia University, NY; Golgota Teológiai Főiskola, Vajta, Hungary; Western Seminary, Portland, OR; Veritas International University, Costa Mesa
  • Years Ordained: 24

San Diego Reader: What’s your main concern as a member of the clergy?

Pastor Phil Metzger: I spent a lot of years outside this country as a missionary in Hungary, learning how to present the gospel to people who come from a different context than the U.S. Being back in America, I realize how much we need that here today, now. Many Christians are still stuck in a mindset of how things used to be but not how they are today. We’re a minority group in a sense; we don’t carry elections like we used to and we need to be OK with that. We need to remember what our calling is here as believers: we’re here to help people to know Christ and not be stuck on any other pet peeves. I want to see the church be a place that people of all persuasions would be willing to come to because they get a chance to hear about Jesus. I’m so convinced in the power of God that he will do the transformation in each one of our lives. I’m not looking to reform people but to see God do the work of transformation.

SDR: Where is the strangest place where you found God?

PM: If you remember the refugee crisis in Europe back about a decade ago. People from Syria were going to Germany. Our ministry and church was a major part of that in Hungary. At the border between Hungary and Serbia, in a field with thousands of refugees, I met God. We saw people give their lives to Christ who were fleeing. I saw Muslims giving their lives to Christ. We baptized dozens and dozens of Muslims over months of that process. The mindset is that they’re our enemy and we’re their enemy. But people are still people. I tell my church that we have to stop seeing issues and start seeing people. Let’s not see refugees – that’s an issue. Let’s see people. We talk about the LGBTQ issue. Let’s not talk about that as an issue. Let’s talk about the people – wonderful people – who need Christ just like I do. You can carry that into any area. When Christians get stuck on issues, we become harsher, and when we think of people, that’s where the Gospel can shine through. So, to be out in those fields and serving people –I saw not just their coming to Christ but I saw God showing thousands of people who thought the Christian God hated them being helped and supported by Christians all around Europe. It was a tangible expression of the presence of God.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PM: The Bible says that the person who puts faith in Christ will at death go to heaven: to be absent from the body is to be present in the Lord. I believe in the afterlife; I believe in heaven and hell. I don’t set the rules for those things. I believe in a creator who made salvation a possibility. So, when I put my faith in Jesus, he translates me from death into life. So, now, the hope of heaven is my reality. I don’t believe in hell as a punishment for bad people, but as a place for those who choose to reject God’s salvation.

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