Biblical Holistic Missions

Biblical Christian Missionary Society

 

Throughout history, amidst famines, plagues and persecution, the church has been faced with many challenges. Especially when it came to managing two things, the proclamation of the gospel and helping the needy of society. These challenges in missions and ministry are not new. When the door of ministry opened to the gentiles in the book of Acts, things became even more complicated after Paul and Barnabas turned their focus to the gentiles in their mission work. It is generally true that when crossing the cultural divide, there will be challenges in Gospel proclamation and, for some, in identifying the details of the role of the church regarding societal problems and contextualization. There is no shortage of lost or suffering people around us so that certainly has not changed today.

If anything, the problem has only been compounded over the centuries as different cultural contexts continue to be penetrated with the light of the Gospel. It is beautiful and inspiring to know that the Gospel is being taken to the darkest and hardest of places, but these are real challenges to confront, along with ever-growing needs, especially when working with the poor. It can be difficult work, and in some ways it is easier to just preach than to actually get your hands dirty in serving the helpless in society on the front lines and out of your comfort zone. But not everyone’s conscience will allow them to be speakers of the Word alone when coming face to face with such great needs of fellow imagebearers. And questions about what exactly missionaries should or should not be doing have repeatedly come into the arena of debate. Therefore, this is a controversy that certainly sticks out to me. It is the seemingly never-ending debate between what is known as prioritism and holism.

Defining the terms

We must admit that the church has not always done very well at nuancing things in the past. Especially when developing a theology that properly allows for both sides of an issue such as this one. But before delving deeper into the matter at hand, perhaps we should take some time to define the terms a little better. Depending on who you talk to, people have different ideas when using the same words. What exactly is prioritism and what is holism? Are those the only two options? 

In an article from the Judson Center, Jay Flinn summarizes the history of the evangelical holistic mission debate. He writes, “In the ensuing decades, much has been written on the topic of holistic mission. Most of what has been written can be summarized into three primary positions related to the relationship of evangelism and social action in mission. One position retains the emphasis on evangelism and church planting with little regard to social action. A second position follows Stott’s model of evangelism as the primary mission with Christian social action a secondary partner. The third position considers social action as mission equally with evangelism. While there are variants to these positions and different terms may be used to describe them, the variants are ultimately defined by the relative priority and relationship of evangelism and social action to one another.”[1]

Understanding Prioritism

On one side of the issue there are those who say that the Gospel (and some include church planting with it) should always be the main thing. And they are right, it very well should be. A classic statement on prioritism by Donald McGarvan states:

“A multitude of excellent enterprises lie around us. So great is the number and so urgent the calls, that Christians can easily lose their way among them, seeing them all equally as mission. But in doing good, they can fail of the best. In winning the preliminaries, they can lose the main game. They can be treating a troublesome itch, while the patient dies of cholera. The question of priorities cannot be avoided.”[2]

He makes a valid point. Those that hold to prioritism fear that some who hold to a more holistic approach have made the Gospel a secondary matter. Although we must acknowledge this is true of some, we also must beware of overgeneralizing. Much of the confusion is due to the reinventing words to mean things other than what they originally meant. This only muddies the theological waters, causing confusion rather than bringing clarity to the issue. These days, many words like evangelism, gospel and mission can mean different things than they used to. So it is important that we examine these terms biblically, otherwise they have no limits in how they are used and can therefore lose all real meaning.

This most likely is a result, over time, of what is referred to as “mission drift.” The CEO of Edify said,

“It’s the exception that an organization stays true to its mission. The natural course- the unfortunate natural evolution of many originally Christcentered missions– is to drift.”[3]

In an issue of Evangelical Missions Quarterly there was a “symposium” published where five leaders were asked to articulate their views regarding the relationship between proclamation and social action, and only one presented a view approximating the prioritistic position.[4] (2012,264-271) This is quite unfortunate, considering that prior to the first Lausanne Congress in 1974, prioritism was the dominant view among evangelicals. To be sure, eternal matters take priority over temporal matters. The prioritists are correct in emphasizing the Gospel as the main focus of the mission. But for some on the far end of the spectrum (strict prioritists,) it has become pretty much the only thing. This is a gaping hole in their position. Due to a deficit in the theology of some, those who hold to prioritism are often accused of neglecting the commandment to love their neighbor in their attempt to be Gospelcentered. I agree that the Gospel is the priority and should be at the top of the list for all of us. Yet, ironically, many prioritists or of those who claim to be passionate about Christ can isolate themselves from the very communities they are trying to reach by showing little interest in their temporal human condition of suffering. This is interpreted by many as a lack of love, not only by the opposing perspective, but also by the lost community that is always watching. So we should not be so quick to completely dismiss the entire holistic approach to ministry. Some of the accusations toward strict prioritists are fair and should be addressed, always remembering that there do exist other, more balanced views between these two positions. Even John Stott eventually changed his views in favor of a more balanced, holistic approach to the Great Commission.

Understanding Holism

On the other side of the issue are those who do take a more holistic approach in their mission work. They claim to believe and preach the Gospel, too, which can make what they say seem contradictory.  C. Rene Padilla, who was very influential in convincing many to embrace a holistic approach to mission, said the following:

“Holistic mission is mission oriented towards the meeting of basic human needs, including the need of God, but also the need of food, love, housing, clothes, physical and mental health, and a sense of human dignity. Furthermore, this approach takes into account that people are spiritual, social, and bodily beings, made to live in relationship with God, with their neighbors, and with God’s creation. Consequently, it presupposes that it is not enough to take care of the spiritual well being of an individual without any regard for his or her personal relationships and position in society and in the world. As Jesus saw it, love for God is inseparable from love for our neighbor.”[5]

In my opinion, he isn’t wrong in saying that love for God is inseparable from love for our neighbor. Within this camp there are those who are accused of having another Gospel, a “social justice” gospel.  And to be sure, there are some in this camp who are not very Gospelcentered at all. In the worst of cases, they can be almost completely humanistic with little to no Gospel proclamation or sound Bible teaching. Some are distracted and are neglecting real biblical evangelism. However, there are some things that a strict prioritist can learn from them. They are usually very active in serving their communities, feeding the poor, defending the weak and the needy and doing good to their family of faith and their neighbors outside of the church. Although the gospel is an eternal and weightier matter, we must at least admit that these are good and important things that should not be ignored.  And not all who take a holistic approach to mission fit the description of “social justice warriors” or would not completely agree so rigidly on one category or the other. So as the debate goes on, the line continues to seem blurred for some as to how exactly these two things should fit together. 

An alternative?

We must be aware of and willing to admit the dangers of an extreme position on either side. This is simply one of the many areas of our theology, work, mission and ministry where we must learn to live in the tension and find a way to reconcile the two ideas, since both have biblical grounds. We certainly do not want to fall off either side of the horse divide. so to speak. To do so, I believe, would be to fall into one kind of error or another. We must find a more biblical balance, and this is where Carl F. H. Henry is extremely helpful.

His credentials

Carl Henry is most relevant when it comes to this for the following reasons. He himself said he was indeed a prioritist yet held to the necessity of social concern as well. Henry was one of the founding architects of the modern U.S. Evangelical movement, and has probably said and written more about the topic than anyone else, being extremely influential “calling evangelicals to differentiate themselves from separatist fundamentalism and claim a role in influencing the wider American culture. He was involved in the creation of numerous major evangelical organizations, including the National Association of Evangelicals, Fuller Theological Seminary, Evangelical Theological Society, Christianity Today magazine (of which he was the founding editor), and the Institute for Advanced Christian Studies. The Carl F. H. Henry Institute for Evangelical Engagement at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding at Trinity International University seek to carry on his legacy.”[6] His vision of the necessity of theological competence and cultural engagement remains among the more vibrant alternatives in our day. He was known for his commitment to theological rigors, his active engagement with the pressing social issues of our day, but also for having an unwavering commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His book “The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism” (1947) was a response to the separatist fundamentalist movement that inadvertently became a hindrance to its own cause of reaching the lost with the Gospel.

Henry spoke eloquently about what has long been disputed by theologians and missiologists when it comes to  Henry himself had said that “these tensions now vex the church as never before in recent history.”[7]The issue has brought much division among evangelicals, especially since the fundamentalist-modernist controversy of the early twentieth century.

In an essay about Carl Henry and his “regenerational” model of evangelism and social concern, Jerry M. Ireland writes,

“Fundamentalism responded to the human-centered social agenda of liberal theology by mostly withdrawing from cultural engagement and social action, rather than developing a more biblically balanced response to the social issues. Unfortunately, fundamentalism tended to truncate the gospel’s temporal relevance in favor of an exclusive focus on eternal matters.”[8] It is my humble suggestion that we should always do both. 

His regenerational model

There is much to be learned from Henry. As Ireland points out, Henry associates these two tasks of the church in a similar way that C. H. Dodd does, distinguishing the word didache from kerygma. In Dodd’s teachings he points out that “kerygma represents the church’s unique message of salvation”,[9] the proclamation of gospel. While didache, “refers more to the church’s teachings and Scripture’s ethical demands.”[10]

Biblical warrant

The concern is a good one, to make and keep the Gospel as the priority.  However, with a quick look at the imperatives in Scripture, the life of Christ, and  the Apostle Paul’s example, one would have a difficult time presenting the case that concern for the suffering human condition of our neighbor and generosity towards them was optional. Jesus had “compassion on the multitudes.” Paul said he was “eager to help the poor,” and there are many other examples of why we should do good to the family of faith and to our neighbor. Below are just a few from the Old and New Testaments.

Old Testament Evidence

 Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor. (Proverbs 22.9)

Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him. (Proverbs 14.31)

 Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered. (Proverbs 21.13)

Proverbs 14.21 Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.

Proverbs 29.7 A righteous man knows the rights of the poor; a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.

Proverbs 31.8-9 Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Ezekiel 16.49 Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.

(Did you catch that? The guilt of Sodom was not aiding the poor and needy!)

New Testament Evidence

Acts 20.35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Galatians 2.10  Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

Matthew 5.42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

1 John 3.17-18 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

James 1.27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction…

Luke 14.12-14 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

Luke 12.33-34 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Luke 3.11 And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”

We see the to need to bear the burden of the family of faith AND show love to our neighbor in word and in deed. The list of examples from Scripture can go on and on and on …

Historical Evidence

There is also the evidence from history to consider. The impact of the early church continues to be visible in Western civilization today. Historians note that “by the Middle Ages, Christianity transformed societies for the better and continue to influence culture wherever its teachings spread. The charity encouraged by biblical teachings (Luke 10.30-37) eventually led to the founding of hospitals, orphanages, homes for the elderly and care for the poor, the hungry and the homeless. Even many of the greatest and most prominent universities of our day were originally founded for “Christian” purposes.”[11] 

Throughout history, the tendency of the church to extend compassion to those suffering and in need around them , was simply the fruit of Christians living out a transformed, Spiritfilled life in obedience to the Scriptures. They imitated the example of Christ, motivated by love for the One who loved us first, and who sacrificially gave Himself for us. In what way would this at all be a bad thing? With Scripture and history attesting to the pattern of bold Gospel proclamation AND compassion and generosity to others, why would it be any different for the church today? 

There is no need to debate whether or not the church should be generous to the family of faith. But there are those who think that we should not be distracted by societal problems or invest too much time or money in showing compassion to imagebearers outside the church.  Henry certainly had a unique eloquence when it came to reconciling this issue. At times he spoke the language of both camps. He held to maintaining the Gospel as a priority yet maintaining social concern as something important and necessary.

It is important to note that even though Henry’s model held both views as necessary, it doesn’t mean that both were equal. Henry was critical of liberal and secular fallacies regarding the benevolence of God. In the book Controversies in Missions, Jerry M. Ireland writes that

“Henry finds a cause for concern among liberal and secular tendencies… and warns against confusing evangelism and social concern- or of reducing evangelism to merely attacking social or political evils. To do so is to commit the ultimate act of lovelessness, for it neglects humanity’s greatest need, namely personal redemption and supernatural regeneration.”[12]

Ireland also makes an important distinction when he says it is

“slightly off base to say that evangelism and social concern are two wings of the same bird, or two sides of the same coin. For even Scripture never equates these two things as in such an overtly parallel manner, even though Scripture upholds the necessity and importance of both.”[13] 

We must work out and live in the tension that exists there.

We should want more people to come to Christ. As a result of making disciples, more churches will eventually be planted. And historically, the church has been a means by which good naturally overflows to the world around it. It is a grace of God, a benefit of simply living in proximity to the people of God. Yet what happens in some churches over time is that the focus becomes much more inward, to what happens within the four walls of a building, and less time being salt and light to those around them. The evidence of this is seen in how little is designated for benevolence in the budgets of the average local church.  

Sadly, I personally know of missionaries who have realized the imbalance of the strict prioritist view and actually lost support from some churches, when due to an “uneasy conscience” of their own, as Henry would call it, they became more involved in helping meet the needs of those who they served in addition to the regular evangelism and preaching and teaching of the Word. They were rejected by some supporters who were strict prioritists when taking a more holisitic approach and becoming more involved in their communities. They were penalized for obeying God in loving their neighbor. 

When a missionary decides to obey the Scriptures in both areas in love for their neighbors, but then actually loses support from churches, this is not only tragic, it is madness! The Gospel must always remain the main thing, of course, but we must also learn to walk in the good works that we were prepared for us to do (Ephesians 2.10.) We are told to love, but not only in word, but in deed as well (1 John 3.18), and that our faith without works is dead. (James 2.26) 

Dare I say that when we justify our lack of compassion by saying that the greatest act of love is sharing the Gospel with people (which is indeed true), some may be attempting to hide some real laziness and apathy. May the Lord guard our hearts from such things and give us grace to do that which is most important without neglecting other necessary commands. 

Making evangelism a priority shouldn’t mean neglecting acts of compassion. Neither does a holistic approach have to mean the neglect of evangelism in any way.

Why not both?

The question is, why not both? Carl Henry considered himself a prioritist but clearly believed and taught that both were necessary tasks of the church. It is possible to preach a biblical Gospel, emphasizing evangelism, training leaders and discipleship, while also serving your community, showing compassion to those suffering whenever possible.  It is unfortunate when those who maintain a better balance are accused of a “social Gospel” when Gospel proclamation is not being neglected, but rather a biblical command that was missing in ministry is simply added. We are called to be salt and light, doing good works so that others may glorify our Father in heaven. After all, a genuine faith is not merely intellectual and passive, but an active working faith. And in light of the biblical and historical evidence, this does indeed seem to be a more balanced and accurate way for doing missions, and ministry in general.

Ireland makes a point worth remembering when discussing these issues. He says that

“it is important that we distinguish the Gospel itself from the demands of the Gospel and avoid equivocating the two if we are to be faithful to Scripture. When this is done, then we can advocate for both the priority of evangelism and for a robust Christian social concern.”[14]

He also uses a helpful illustration from everyday life to demonstrate this. He says, 

“Imagine if you had to go to a bank to make a deposit in order to pay your bills. Going to the bank would be the priority. Because if the paycheck is not deposited then the bills cannot be paid. Clearly one thing is a priority and must take place first, yet both remain necessary. I must deposit my check and I must pay my bills. The second thing depends on the first thing having taken place already and the priority of the first does not render the second as optional.”[15]

The same is true with evangelism and social concern, with loving your neighbor. And let us avoid seeking to justify ourselves by asking, “Who is my neighbor?”

Making evangelism a priority shouldn’t mean neglecting acts of compassion. Neither does a holistic approach mean the neglect of evangelism in any way. At this point, the terms prioritism and holism have taken on so much baggage and different meanings that they have almost been rendered useless, especially when it often cannot be agreed upon as to what they even mean. But when it comes to making Christ known through bold evangelism AND showing compassion and love to our neighbor, I say this is biblical New Testament Christianity.  So why not both?

 

ANTONIO SALGADO, JR. 

Perdonado Y Perdonando (En Español)

“Soportándose unos a otros y perdonándose unos a otros si alguno tiene agravio contra otro. Así como el Señor los perdonó, ustedes también deben perdonar ”.
Colosenses 3:13 

El evangelio no es solo para el mundo incrédulo. El Evangelio también es muy importante para los creyentes. Nunca debemos dejar de recordar. Nunca debemos dejar de predicarnos el Evangelio a nosotros mismos primero, porque de hecho somos criaturas olvidadizas. Nunca debemos dejar de mirar a la cruz con asombro, por el hecho de que nosotros mismos podemos ser perdonados.

Fue Charles Spurgeon quien dijo una vez:

“Mientras otros se felicitan a sí mismos, yo tengo que recostarme humildemente al pie de la cruz de Cristo y maravillarme de que soy salvo”.

El perdón que recibimos realmente es muy humillante, pero también muy liberador. ¿Cómo es posible te preguntas? Esta mentalidad evangélica nos libera y nos recuerda el alcance de la gracia de Dios hacia nosotros en la muerte de su Hijo en la cruz. También nos recuerda la profundidad de nuestro propio pecado y la ofensa que es para Dios. Mucho más ofensivo y perverso que cualquier pecado que alguien más haya cometido contra nosotros. Porque nuestro pecado es en, última instancia contra nuestro Creador, un Dios tan Santo, tan absolutamente apartado, y con un valor infinitamente mayor del que nosotros, como meras criaturas.

Pero cuando “captamos” el Evangelio, comprendiendo realmente por qué la muerte de Cristo fue necesaria y sus implicaciones, nos liberamos de pensar en nosotros mismos más alto de lo que deberíamos. También debemos reconocer que la falta de perdón y la amargura es un veneno que es sumamente tóxico para nuestros propios corazones. Y a menudo es nuestro orgullo el origen de todo ello. Definitivamente deberíamos sentirnos humildes por la gracia demostrada en la cruz, pero esta gracia debería permitirnos perdonar verdaderamente a los demás también. Podemos luchar a veces, cuando el dolor es profundo y la persona que nos lastimó es alguien cercano y querido. Podemos hacer las cosas mal y hacer las cosas de manera imperfecta. Pero el Espíritu de Dios en nosotros hará que deseemos perdonar y, finalmente, llegaremos a un lugar de verdadero perdón hacia los demás.

Como cristianos, deberíamos ser personas que perdonan. Predicarnos el Evangelio a nosotros mismos y meditar sobre nuestra propia posición ante Dios es de gran ayuda cuando luchamos por perdonar a los demás, ya que es un recordatorio constante de la gracia de Dios hacia nosotros y de la profundidad de nuestro propio pecado. Un pecado tan perverso y tan profundamente arraigado en nuestros propios corazones, que solo por la muerte del Hijo de Dios se podía pagar.

Y de hecho está pagado. No hay más consecuencias o ira reservadas para nosotros porque Cristo lo tomó todo sobre sí mismo. Todo ello. Por eso “no hay condenación para los que están en Cristo Jesús”. Para los que están en él. Sí, incluso a aquellos a quienes les cuesta perdonar, si son creyentes, su pecado está cubierto. Se nos ha mostrado una gracia tan maravillosa y un amor tan trascendente, tan más allá de nuestro entendimiento, que adoraremos por toda la eternidad absolutamente asombrados de haber sido perdonados.

“Pero Dios, que es rico en misericordia, por el gran amor que nos tenía, nos dio vida con Cristo aunque estábamos muertos en nuestros delitos. ¡Eres salvo por gracia! ”
Efesios 2: 4-5

Así que ora, luego sigue adelante y perdona a esa persona. No pierdas más tiempo sintiéndote amargado y abrigando esos sentimientos. Tus heridas sanarán y crecerás a partir de esta experiencia. Sean “imitadores de Dios”, mostrando gracia y perdonando.

Junto con Spurgeon, yo también debo hacerlo a menudo …

“… tengo que recostarme humildemente al pie de la cruz de Cristo y maravillarme de que soy salvo”.

Si estamos en Cristo, somos perdonados, completamente y perfectamente. Por lo tanto, una de las señales de identidad del cristiano es perdonar a los demás, como también a nosotros se nos ha perdonado.

 

 

Being Forgiven And Being Forgiving

“bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:13‬ ‭CSB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

The Gospel is not just for the unbelieving world. The Gospel is very much for us believers too. We must never stop remembering. We must never stop preaching the Gospel to ourselves first, because we are indeed forgetful creatures. We must never stop looking to the cross in awe and wonder of what God has done, at the fact that we ourselves can be forgiven.

It was Charles Spurgeon who once said,

“While others are congratulating themselves, I have to lie humbly at the foot of Christ’s cross & marvel that I am saved at all.”

The pardon we receive really is very humbling, but it is also very liberating. How so you might ask? This Gospel mentality frees us and reminds us of the extent of God´s grace towards us in the death of His Son on the cross. It also reminds us of the depth of our own sin and the offense it is to God. Far more offensive and wicked than any sin anyone else has ever committed against us. For our sin is ultimately against our Creator, a God so Holy, so absolutely set apart, and with infinitely more worth than we as mere creatures have in and of ourselves.

But when we “get” the Gospel, really grasping why the death of Christ was necessary and it´s implications, we are freed from thinking higher of ourselves than we ought to. We also must recognize that unforgiveness and bitterness is a poison that is most toxic to our own hearts. And it is often our pride that is at the root of it. We should definitely be humbled by the grace demonstrated at the cross, but this grace should enable us to truly forgive others too. We may struggle at times, when the hurt is deep and person who hurt us is someone near and dear. We may get things wrong and go about things imperfectly. But the Spirit of God in us will cause us to desire to forgive, and we will eventually come to a place of true forgiveness towards others.

As Christians, we should be a forgiving people. Preaching the Gospel to ourselves and meditating on our own standing before God is most helpful when we struggle to forgive others, for it is a constant reminder of God´s grace towards us, AND the depth of our own sin. A sin so wicked and deep rooted in our own hearts, that it was only by the death of the Son of God that it could be paid for.

And it is indeed paid for. There are no more consequences or wrath reserved for us because Christ took it all upon Himself. All of it. For this reason ” there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” For those who are in Him. Yes, even those who you are having a hard time forgiving, if they are believers, their sin is covered. We have been shown a grace so wonderful and a love so transcendent, so beyond our understanding, that we will worship for all of eternity absolutely amazed that we actually were forgiven.

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:4-5‬ ‭CSB‬‬‬‬‬‬

So pray, then go ahead and forgive that person. Don´t waste anymore time feeling bitter´and harboring such feelings. Your wounds will heal, and you will grow from this experience. Be “imitators of God,”  by showing grace and being forgiving.

Along with Spurgeon, I too must often..

“..have to lie humbly at the foot of Christ’s cross & marvel that I am saved at all.”

If we are in Christ we are forgiven, completely, fully, perfectly. Therefore, one of the distinctive marks of being a Christian, is to forgive others, just as we too have been forgiven.

Written by Antonio Salgado Jr.

Salgado DR Mission: Yeison’s story

With so much talk about abortion these days I have something I want to share since everyone seems to be putting their two cents forth. This is not a structured argument or anything, but it is part of our story.

Many of you know about our son we are adopting, Yeison. Many of you know we have had him since he was only three months old. Many of you know that he was born to a mother who is mentally handicapped and lives in very poor and difficult circumstances.

But here is something many may not know….

Our son is a product of rape. His mother was left alone and abused by an unknown man, and it was later discovered  that she was pregnant. This was absolutely a tragic and horrific act, and if ever found, that wicked man should be brought to justice. Castrated even!

Yet, I thank God that abortion is not legal here in the Dominican Republic. At least not yet, although sadly it may be just a matter of time. Yeison’s  biological mother is mentally about four or five and can never live by herself and will always need care, but she knows she has a child. She knows his name. She asks about him. She loves him. I am sure she remembers what happened to her, though she may not be able to process everything that happened during that traumatic experience. Even in her condition you can see that she loves her son.

The question is,  how is this Yeison’s fault?!  If so, how?

Another thing that others may not know is that Christen and I had prayed for a few years to have another child, but unable to conceive. Admittedly, at first I did not want to start over. Our children were getting older and I had my plans. And then, I was dead set on them.  But my wife prayed for me and the Lord changed my heart.

We prayed for a long time, and interestingly enough, during that same time God had us working in a very poor area for a few years where I shared the Gospel, taught Bible studies and preached often.

The Lord orchestrated things in such a way that He not only answered our prayers, but He put us in a position to help Yeison, his mother and her caretaker. Yera (his biological mother) is in a much better situation today then the day we found her with baby Yeison, by God’s grace.

But the sad reality is that he probably would have died had not the Lord crossed our paths when He did. He suffered of malnutrition and was dehydrated when we found him. Yera’s mother was dying of cancer at the time and bed ridden, and Yera had no idea no how to care for Yeison. She couldn’t even care for herself.

But this got me thinking and it truly horrifies me to ponder, what would have happened if abortion were legal here?? Especially in a case like this with Yera’s condition and it being a rape?

I am almost certain that we would have one son less than we have today. It breaks my heart just to think about it. Even in cases of rape, like with our son, the child should never be the one to pay the price. It is never ok to murder a child in the womb, period. Every human being, be it inside of the womb or out, at any stage of development from conception, has intrinsic value and created in the image of God. We simply have no right commit such atrocities regardless of how some may try to justify it.

Lord willing, Yeison could be the first one in his family to study and perhaps go to college. Or better yet, he may throw himself upon the mercy of Christ and be used mightily by the Lord someday. But this I do know,  he is already bilingual and very bright. We love him SO very much and really could not imagine life without him today.

His siblings love him and care for him with such tenderness. He is no different to them at all. He has brought so much joy to our family, and God has taught us so much through him over the last five years. We are so very thankful that the Lord allowed Yeison to be born in a country where abortion still is not legal or chances are, he would not be with us today. Just the thought makes my heart extremely heavy. Abortion is murder,  be sure of it, and though we must be gracious when addressing the topic, Christians should work together to end it…. AND minister and give hope to those who may have had an abortion but now are feeling the deep loss and sorrow. There is forgiveness and there is healing for them.

When I see Yeison I see myself. He really is a constant reminder of the Gospel for us. For when we were not God’s children, Christ came to rescue us and through Him we can be ADOPTED into the family of God.

For me, apart from marriage, adoption is one of the most beautiful pictures of the Gospel. The Almighty Creator becomes our Abba Father. We go from lost enemies and rebels, to becoming co-heirs,  privileged sons and daughters. This makes my heart rejoice and extremely grateful. And the only proper response to this is to worship passionately and live for Him. Praise God from who all blessings flow!

May we live and act in such a way that people can see the Gospel in all areas of our lives. God forbid they only hear it in our words alone. Pray.

 

   

Salgado DR Mission

Thank you to all of our friends, mission partners, and brothers and sisters in Christ for your ongoing prayers and support. This month I will briefly share some urgent prayer requests and share an article I wrote a couple of months ago from personal experience in the ministry which was originally written in Spanish, but due to some encouraging and  positive feedback, I decided to translate it to share it here for everyone in English as well.

But first and foremost, Pray!

Our entire family has been under attack in every way imaginable. Our marriage, our children, the church, an all out war of the worst kind. Sadly, we feel at times that we are barely remaining afloat but desperatley desire the prayers of the saints back home. Please pray for us during this time of difficulty. We have been affected spiritually, emotionally, physically and it has been just all around draining. Enduring the storm is never easy, and we don’t recall a time it has grown to this intensity, but we know that the Lord walks with us through it. I ask that you please intercede specifically for each of us by name when you remember our family.

Antonio Salgado Jr, Christen Salgado, Trinity Salgado (although not present with us here), Maya Salgado, Antonio Salgado III, Sahira Lora, Yeison Rosario, and our nephew Dominic who is here spending a few months with us. May the Lord protect us, strengthen us, and teach us in this process for our own good and His ultimate glory. Pray brethren. Thank you and God bless.

 

The article begins below, and I pray some pastor or preacher out there may be encouraged by it. Also that some brother or sister out there would stop, think and come to a realization to show the love that they may be lacking in situations as the one presented. If the shoe fits…wear it.

 

“For it is said, “His letters are weighty and powerful, but his physical presence is weak and his public speaking amounts to nothing.””
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭10:10‬ ‭CSB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

The apostle Paul was an extremely intelligent man. To Him had been revealed the mysteries of God hidden to those generations before him. His letters and sermons were extremely deep and theologically weighty.

However, we see it had ironically been said about him, “his presence is weak and his public speaking amounts to nothing”. (really!?)

Even with the incredible amount of knowledge he had, by God’s grace of course, there were critics (and we all have them, especially preachers), that simply did not like his preaching or way of speaking. He would speak true and beautiful things, pure words from God, nothing unbiblical in any way. But perhaps he was not as eloquent as other preachers or even the philosophers of his day. You should remember this before we are so quick to judge your pastor, or any other preacher of the Word of God.

God has given us pastors and teachers as gifts to His church for our edification. At the same time, just like with the different human authors of the gospels, each of them have, (and each of us too) will have a unique way, due to our different characters, personalities, education, etc. of communicating the same truths. Some may just sound better than others, some may have more passion that others. Some are certainly more eloquent and academic or teacherly than others. Each one of them are their own individual persons as God created them. And its is quite probable that none of them may ever meet your own persoanl standard, please you in their way of thinking or philosophy of ministry, according to your personal preference, opinion, or tradition perfectly. (NONE of which ultimately matter anyway).

The question is , are they preaching the Scriptures or not? Do they love the Word, do they love the Lord, and do they love and care for His church?

They may or may not preach exactly to your preferred method, they may fail at times. We all have those days where we just preach a bad sermon, or miss a point of the text or a certain detail you thought should have been emphasized more in the text here and there.

But he question is, is the Lord using this man to grow and edify the church or not? This is not about if he will have his own weaknesses, struggles and even sins? Of course he will! Someone once said that even the best men are still just men at best.

Will they perhaps even have even a few different (hopefully secondary) theological views on certain things that you may understand differently in the Scriptures? Yes of course, and if you don’t see it now, eventually you will.

Almost always, there will be something you eventually will disagree with for sure. But guess what…its ok! Its good and well so long as they aren’t missing the mark on the fundamentals of the faith. Isn’t it time we show ourselves mature? There should always be unity in the main things, liberty on the secondary issues, but love in everything. And there is truly an amazing beauty in such a diversity.

We have examples in Scripture of men who preach or tell of histories correctly, but in slightly different ways or with some different details. Many men praised Apollos for his great eloquence, while others despised or at least had no appreciation for Paul. Some preachers today include some details and applications that others don’t. So what!

But again the question is,  “are they preaching the Word in such a way that what they are saying can be seen and understood from the text, and is the congregation being edified and benefitted from the teaching/ preaching!?”

Are people in the church joyful and expressing so after the preaching, as God has spoken and taught them something new through His living Word that they now understand that something should change in their life? Are giving thanks to God for those same sermons that others despise and judge?!

Just look at the men that God has used greatly in the past and compare their sermons. Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, Whitfield, Pink, Tozer, Piper, MacArthur, etc. Everyone preaches the Word, and most with excellence! Some with different methods, some with more passion. Not only in the communication of the message, but also in the way of organizing it.

But it is beautiful how God, through different men and in different ways, always does His will through His Spirit to speak through a man and edify His people. Anyone familiar with Spurgeon’s sermons could attest that many times they sounded more like poetry than anything else.

When we cry out to everyone that we all must cling to only ONE single method, and in our useless way, try to limit the Holy Spirit of God by saying that only in SUCH a way should a sermon be delivered, and if it is not, then people will not be edified, we are showing nothing more than a deep pride in our hearts and very much immaturity. (And this is coming from a person who is an avid promoter of good, sound exegesis and expository preaching.)

Now, THE most important thing in any message of any preacher is that God is being glorified and Christ is being lifted up, … but also brothers, there is much wisdom in the following verse. Dont miss it…

“Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying: “Nothing beyond what is written.” The purpose is that none of you will be arrogant, favoring one person over another.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭4:6‬ ‭CSB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

It is true that there are better and more accurate methods of preaching than others. There are ways to preach more effectively academically than others, but when we place ourselves as the judge of these things, (especially when it comes from those who are not pastors), we do not know the inner struggles of each man, or when we are not appreciating the time and effort that man dedicated  to be able to preach that message to the best of his ability at that moment, the time spent in prayer and mediating on the text….. we are doing just what the Word forbids. Just being a discontent hater and, murmuring…

“Do everything without grumbling and arguing,”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:14‬ ‭CSB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬
(For my theologians out there- yes I understand the immediate context of this text, however this can easily be applied to every aspect of the Christian life)

Oh how easy it is to judge another man instead of loving him and receiving the much good of the message that was preached! Mature people eat the meat and spit out the bones. But sadly, it seems that for many it is far too easy for them to desire another church, another pastor, or a better specific method of preaching, INSTEAD of loving and serving the church they have, loving and helping the pastor they have, and looking for the good in what was preached instead of judging with arms crossed as the expert that most certainly are not. There seems to be at least one in every crowd these days. Especially moreso among certain circles that shall not be named. That overly critical spirit is one of the ugliest personality traits a child of God can show, ESPECIALLY when its towards another brother or sister in Christ.

Let us be very careful as to how we treat our spiritual family. Philippians 2 teaches us that the humility of Christ is what brings unity in His church. And the lack of humility in any member of the church for any reason, will only bring division and the opposite of what Christ wants from us.
Pray.

Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭‬‬‬‬

“A fool does not delight in understanding, but only wants to show off his opinions.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭18:2‬ ‭

“The one who has knowledge restrains his words, and one who keeps a cool head is a person of understanding.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭17:27‬ ‭