RBC Spotlight: Frank Cavalli, Campus Pastor

Posted On December 01, 2020

Frank Cavalli is Pastor Emeritus of St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, located in Winter Park, Fla. He is currently serving as one of the campus pastors for Reformation Bible College.

We recently sat down with Rev. Cavalli to ask him about his life, faith, and work at RBC.

When and how did you come to faith in Christ? The Lord drew me to Himself in the fall of 1986, during my junior year of college at Rutgers University. Two years prior, I almost died from health challenges

How do you serve at your local church? As Pastor Emeritus of St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, I serve in various capacities, seeking to support the pastoral staff and session. God has given me a heart for His people, so I continue to shepherd those in need or make myself available to anyone who reaches out for encouragement and counsel. In addition to leading a weekly home group on our side of town, I teach adult education classes as needed and occasionally officiate weddings and funerals.

What is your favorite book of the Bible? Who is your favorite author? My favorite book of the Bible is Romans. As a former Roman Catholic, Romans was vital to a true and life-altering understanding of justification. As I began to study Reformed theology, it was critical to my grasp of the doctrine of predestination, underscoring that salvation, is all of God’s grace. Apart from Scripture, my favorite author is John Calvin. While I have great regard for his Institutes of the Christian Religion, it is his exegetical work that has benefited me most as a pastor.

Have you traveled overseas for missions? I served long-term in the Philippines, where I met my wife, Agnes, and also in a closed country in the Middle East where we worked alongside a local pastor to help establish the first national Presbyterian church in that country. We just happened to be there when the Lord answered the prayers of countless Christians over the centuries to open doors for the gospel in that land.

What are you passionate about? It truly is a joy to work at RBC. I find myself fully aligned with the commitments, convictions, and culture of the college. Those parallel allegiances allow me to invest my energyies with freedom and enthusiasm. While I consider those mutual loyalties vital, it’s the quality of the people with whom I work and serve that provides the greatest joy. And then there are the students. When people ask me about RBC, I boast about the students. Actually, I boast in the Lord, for He is the one who has blessed us with tenderhearted men and women who are eager to learn and grow in their relationship with Jesus and one another. Perhaps it’s because I became a Christian at nineteen, but I am amazed by the spiritual maturity, respect, kindness, knowledge, and insight exhibited by our students. They are an encouragement to me, and I trust God will use them in ways we cannot begin to imagine to bring eternal blessing to His church and the world after graduation.

What aspect of working with students do you find rewarding? It is a two-way street. I am there for them; they are not there for me. Nevertheless, I continue to be inspired by their soft hearts toward God, the way they apply themselves to their studies, how they handle relational challenges, their becoming more sensitive to their brothers and sisters, and their desire to mortify sin in their lives. What I find especially rewarding is their willingness to be vulnerable with me, to trust me with their struggles, and then to see them respond in faith to the counsel I offer as I seek to draw from scriptural principles and life experience. It’s always a joy for me to preach in chapel and to give God thanks when students tell me they were edified or prompted to greater devotion and obedience as a result of the Spirit’s ministry through the preaching of the Word.

How would you describe the community at RBC? God-centered. That is a concise but apt description. The faculty, staff, and students at RBC are God-centered. They want to know God, honor God, and do the will of God. People are here because they are earnest about their relationship with God, and they want to make an eternal impact for the sake of His kingdom. In addition, I would say the culture at RBC is serious-minded, but warm; unwavering, but not pedantic; growing, but still intimate.

How have you seen students mature academically or even spiritually while attending RBC? There are many examples I could cite, but let me offer just a few. I recall an older student who was quite nervous about Greek and Hebrew when he first arrived. He couldn’t imagine his mind would retain all that information compared to the younger students. Through prayer, hard work, and a persevering spirit, not only has he come out on the other side, but he now helps tutor others in the biblical languages. Amazing! There have also been students who, for whatever reason, fell behind in their coursework and felt they weren’t cut out for the rigorous program at RBC. Thankfully, through the encouragement of faculty and staff, they stuck with it, realized there were areas where they could be more self-disciplined, and are now progressing along quite nicely. Their decision to continue has strengthened their confidence in God’s ability to help them and in their ability to do the work necessary to fulfill the Lord’s calling on their lives.

If you were not RBC staff, what would you be doing? Sitting on a beach in Hawaii, drinking a cold glass of some exotic fruit juice. Honestly, I probably would be doing more preaching and possibly be involved in a church plant to expand a Reformed witness here in Central Florida. There is much more I would like to do to facilitate global missions, specifically among unreached peoples.

What are your favorite hobbies/pastimes? My favorite pastime is taking rides and walks with my dear wife, talking about the Lord, life, family, and people in our lives we are seeking to serve. Now that we have a granddaughter, we love spending time with her. She has brought a new sense of joy and wonder into our family. Reading is certainly a favorite pastime, but I also love spending time with others and discussing the things of God. When I was ten, I taught myself to play the organ, which is one of my creative outlets, especially when I need a break. My son and I enjoy going to see worthwhile sci-fi movies in the theater and make each other laugh by quoting movie lines.

Do you have a favorite athlete or sports team? I don’t have a favorite sports team, but have enjoyed watching the NBA playoffs with my son in the past. Personally, I like playing with ideas much more than playing or watching sports.

How many children do you have? My wife and I have a 27-year-old son, who is now married and has a four-month-old daughter. He is a nurse and has worked in the ICU. His family now lives with us as he prepares to further his education to become an anesthetist.

How long have you lived in Florida? When we returned from overseas, we moved to Central Florida and have lived here for 23 years.

What activities do you enjoy doing in Florida? I enjoy taking walks and going to the beach. When my son was younger, we enjoyed going to Disney on occasion, including their water parks. My wife is from the Philippines, so she definitely appreciates the weather of the Sunshine State, as do I.