Dear friends, mision partners, brothers and sisters in Christ,
Forgive the lengthiness of this month’s update. As we draw to the end of one year and enter another, we reflect on everything that we have experienced, the good and the bad and we feel compelled to take the time to express our gratitude to those who the Lord has used to provide for our family and every ministry need met. We are extremely grateful for each and every person who has taken time out to pray for this ministry, for the church, for our family. Especially those who take the time to personally reach out to us on occasion for much needed encouragement. For every person who has donated any amount throughout the year. Thank you, we love and appreciate your love for the Lord and the desire to be involved in mission work.
Anyone who has followed us for any length of time has probably read in a newsletter, or a post on social media, or maybe has heard me in person speaking somewhere say that, “Those who pray for and give to missions play a role just as important as the missionary on the field.” I say it often, especially when doing some speaking back home or talking missions with anyone. I say it a lot because we really believe that. The church or person who gives any amout faithfully over time, or the grandmother who wakes up early every morning to pray for the missionaries that she has pictures of or names of on her fridge. Both play a crucial role in this long term partnership in the Gospel we call mission work.
When it comes to funding a missionary, some would say very simply that if it’s God’s will He will provide, and they take the position of not seeking to share needs or raise money. They firmly believe that in this way they are truly trusting the Lord. That’s fine, if it is their conviction, and I believe that if it’s God’s will then He will provide too. But to leave it so simplistic would really be to miss something important on the other side of the same coin. Something clearly revealed in the Scriptures that should not be avoided. We understand and believe that God has ordained all things, absolutely. But He has also ordained the means by which to reach those ends. One confession puts it well when speaking on the decree of God. It says that:
“God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; in which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing his decree.
And it wouldn’t take long reading through the epistles before you would start to notice a couple of things:
First, Paul absolutely depended on God and prayed expecting God to answer, and God often did.
At the same time we see other examples of Paul making his needs known to the churches. He also expected the brethren to help him with his needs and the needs of others. Both are true and they go together.
Yes, at times he worked with his hands out of a conviction and even necessity. In Philippians he writes that at one time “in the early days of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving except you alone.” (Philippians 4:15) This is incredibly astounding. Consider the great Apostle Paul, the Apostle to the gentiles, the great missionary. Now consider churches that he himself and perhaps others had planted, unwilling to give or help Paul so that the Gospel may go forth in other places?! If we lost all of our support, and only one (fairly young) church supported us, we would have to do the same. We too have had to do a little tent making as of late until we acquire some new mission partners to help ease the burden of new needs and to prepare for future plans we have. But that hasn´t always been the case.
One realistic downside of bivocational missionaries to consider, is that it is easy to become overloaded and overwhelmed, and hence comes the possibility of becoming less effective and their longevity on the field may then soon be in play. Unless somehow, they had established in the past a business, or a high paying career before they moved to a foreign mission field, and they were able to somehow keep it going and make money for their family and ministry without sacrificing all of their time. But those are exceptions, and often bivocational missionaries usually end up spending less time working for the Lord (of course everything we do is unto the Lord, but I mean specifically mission work and ministry here) and more time working just to survive and make ends meet.
And as the Lord opens more doors, it also comes with more expenses and needs. In the past we taught English at another school free of charge for almost two years. We still even recently have helped that school. But there are seasons of life and ministry when you just do what you gotta do. So we are teaching at another school now. We are willing to do it and even enjoy it in many ways. Sure it is a blessing and the opportunities to share the Gospel are many. But, add a wife and children in that mix of a very demanding work load, both in ministry and secular work, and you will eventually have a recipe for burnout. Especially on the field where the needs are often much greater when working with the poor, and people aren´t so individualistic and private, but need and desire much more attention and time spent together with them. Often needing more time and resources than you have available, and need more than most Americansdo. It is this way with ministry in many other cultures, it’s just different. And if we are honest, most people culturally as Americans just like thier privacy and in general are better off financially. And that’s ok. I say this to mean that just because something is common and or easily done in the States, it doesn’t mean it will be so in a different setting. And though bivocational ministry is always difficult, it proves to be even moreso where the people are poor, often sick and less educated. In those situations, things usually take much more time, energy and money.
But why do some missionaries seem to always need money? Well, first we would certainly agree that the most loving thing we can do for a person is to share the Gospel with them and point them to Christ. To this we say yes and amen. Yet at the same time, it would very unloving to preach the Gospel and ignore someones obvious urgent, basic needs, especially if we were in any position to help them. Of course we cannot help everyone, and the “poor will always be with us.” But this is no excuse for not being as generous as possible and we must remember that we were saved not just from something, but also for somethings,
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
Time and time again we see in Scripture the duty of the believer to compassionate, merciful and generous as we saw exemplified in the life of our Lord and the Apostles and the early church. When the other Apsotles extended the right hand of fellowship to Paul and Barnabas as they were getting ready to go off to proclaim the Gospel and make disciples of the gentiles, they reminded Paul of something that was important to them beacuse it was important to God..
“Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.” Galatians 2:10
In the book “Controversies in Missions,” a compilation of essays written on various controversial topics in missions, a chapter on Carl F. H. Henry’s regenerational model puts it this way:
“The particular eloquence of Henry’s position is this: one need not deny the important biblical commands regarding social justice in order to arrive at prioritism (the Gospel proclamation is the priority), and the way one does this is by understanding the full weight of the doctrine of revelation within Christian theology. When this is done, it becomes clear that there is a direct correlation between the doctrine of revelation and the priority of proclamation. However, such a prioritist position by no means renders what the Bible says about social justice as irrelevant or unimportant. In fact, the opposite is true. A high view of the doctrine of revelation, especially concerning Scripture, also gives rise to a robust social concern because the moral imperatives for God’s people are divinely revealed.”
This is in no way a “social gospel” as some understand it. But rather biblical ministry centered on God’s revelation and the ethical demmands put on those who are transformed by the very same Gospel proclamation. The latter (compassionate generosity) actually gives evidence to and establishes that the first and main thing, (Gospel proclamation and salvation) actually took place to begin with. One is a priority, yet both are necessary and biblical. The author offers a very helpful illustration from every day life to help us understand how both are necessary, while rightly keeping the main thing, namely Gospel proclamation, the main thing.
“I might say that I am going to go to the bank to make a deposit and then to the post office to mail some bills. I furthermore declare that the bank is my top priority because if I do not deposit my paycheck, then the bills cannot be paid. Clearly, one has here a case of priority in which both things remain necessary. I still must deposit my check and I still must pay my bills. Yet one of these takes priority because the second thing depends on the first thing having taken place. It is the same with evangelism and social concern. The gospel must first be preached before converts can be discipled and, indeed, the content of Christian discipleship remains mired in obscurity apart from the proclamational foundations of the apostles and prophets, which is divine revelation. Thus, the logical priority of evangelism does not render compassion as optional. It simply affirms the ultimate place of Scripture and the unequivocal role given to proclamation in the life of the church.”
Consider this text in James:
“If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, stay warm, and be well fed,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself.” James 2:15-17
But now back to my first point on the funding necessary in order to do both of these things:
So we have the Apostle Paul, who was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write and explain the mysteries of God being revealed, praying to the Sovereign Lord, and at the same time He makes his needs known to the churches and seemingly expected them to meet those needs. We see true dependence on God through prayer, AND communicating to the churches his own needs and the needs of others. Why? Because He understood that the means to reach the goal of the church, IS the church. Specifically, the emphasis in the NT is overwhelmingly on the local churches.
God´s people have a mission, to go and make disciples of all nations, baptize and to teach all that Christ has commanded. God´s people also have the real responsibility to be intentional in going, sending, praying for and providing for that mission and showing mercy and compassion to others in the process. There are ethical demmands that are put upon the beliver through the commands in the NT. It´s not rocket science, but for some at least, its hard to stay balanced. Many people error and fall off of one side of the horse or the other. It just isn’t as black and white as some would like. We live in a tension in this area. Consider the beautiful mystery of God’s Sovereignty and the will and responsibility that man has. His decrees and His means to reach His intended purpose.
Who´s mission is it? God´s.
Who has He commanded to fulfill the mission? God´s people.
Who´s doing the calling? God.
Who´s Word are we preaching and teaching? God´s.
Who did He choose and inspire to write and preserve it? God´s people.
Who is the one preaching and teaching? God´s pèople.
Who is forgiving sins and doing the saving? God.
Who is being saved and who is He using to proclaim the Gospel? God´s people.
Who is opening the minds of people, illuminating them to understand the Scriptures? God is.
Who does He use to do this? God´s people.
To Whom belongs the cattle on a thousand hills (and everything else in the universe)? To God.
Who is doing the praying and who is doing the providing? God´s people.
Who has He entrusted precious resources to, to be used for His glory? God´s people.
At the same time, who is really doing the providing and Sovereignly answering specific individual prayers of provision for His people who are doing His will on His mission? God is.
I could go on and on, but hopefully you get the point by now. His plans will be accomplished and cannot be thwarted, no doubt about that. But He has revealed and commanded how it is to be done as well. And we are very much responsible for being about the will of God in the work of the church. He will do it, and He will do it through His people. Paul knew this. But many who lean too much in either direction fall into error and become unbalanced, inconsistent or worse, unbiblical.
To deny the real responsibility we have before Him would be somewhat foolish and would require the systematic focusing on some particular texts of Scripture, while at the same time ignoring of a lot of other texts. Or putting Scripture against Scripture versus putting the two things together. It would be akin to an error as in saying, God will provide for me but I refuse to work. Or that God will cause me grow in knowledge but I refuse to read or study. For the above mentioned reasons, we have come to the understanding that it is ok to ask for help and make needs known for us and for others. We simply say “these are the needs, pray about helping.” If the Lord puts in someone the desire to help, then praise the Lord! We have examples of it in the Scriptures and we simply accept it and live in the tension between the Sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. There is no need to even try to reconcile the two, we see both in the Bible and they do not oppose eachother in any way.
Why even address this? I feel the need to expalian this mainly because of our critics, who themselves are of an extreme position and choose not to communicate or share needs out of their conviction. Unfortunately, the same often suffer need more frequently and unnecessarily. God has blessed and given the specific gift of helping/giving to some. (1 Cor. 12:28) People who desire to see the Gospel taken forth and to help the poor and others. There are people and churches somwhere, right now praying about which mission to give to. We could testify time and time again about how the Lord in His providence would bring such people across our path through their own prayers in seeking who to help, while at the same time answering our specific prayers for provision. Many of who we have never even met or had any prior contact or relationship with! The Lord really has provided and answered an innumerable amount of prayers like these. And He always did so through His people, whether a church as a whole or through individual brothers and sisters.
Having said all of that, we are extremely grateful to God and to our mission partners who pray for us and support us. Especially those who have done so faithfully over time. Without your prayers and donations we just wouldn’t be able to do what we do for as long as we have done it. That’s a fact. Thank you and God bless you.
There really is so much more I can say on the topic, but I will leave it there for now.
But in other news:
Nito seems to be better and is much more active now, but still experiences ocasional headaches and dizziness. The doctor has been unavailable for a few days but the results of the holter are ready and we should have another appointment very soon. We will update soon after we have that apppointment and know more. Pray for Nito.
Since we were unable to have the surgery done for Yeison’s legs over the Christmas break, the surgery has been pushed back to the Summer because of school. He will need casts on both legs for a little while and need more therapy afterwards. The summer is the best time to take care of that. We have already done all the tests that the doctor who will perform the surgery requested. Perhaps one or two may have to be done again due to the time that will pass from now until then, but this should not be a problem. Everything else is in order. Pray for Yeison.
We brought in the new year as we usually do here, with a fellowship meal with the church in Hato Mayor followed by worship and a message. It was a wonderful time.
Pray for me as I have several things on my plate these days. Lord willing, I will be in Haiti again in the next couple of days. I will be meeting with Leonel and others, do some teaching and to take some food and clothes to some of the brethren from the market there on the border. The plans to help teach and prepare men from a few local churches we are partnering with there continue.
At the end of the month we have a brother coming (Pastor Stephen Atkerson) to teach for a conference on early church practice. He has come in the past and has taught all over the world, literally. and the teaching on early church practice are a tremendous blessing to the church. I have slowly been translating his book on the topic with another brother helping in the editing process. Lord willing the first chapter will be done and printed to distribute during the conference as a small introduction on the topic.
A few months ago I was approached by a theological magazine that is now available all over Latin America to be the editor of the missions section of the work. This month my first article on the need for Latin American countries to train and send out more missionaries was published in the magazine. I am the only editor that doesn’t have a doctorate on the team and have no idea why they sought me out, but a brother who is a seminary president, a pastor, author and the general editor of the work contacted me himself and well, here we are. They like my Spanish to English translations as well. To God be the glory.
I was also recently approached by a small Bible institue ran out of a local church that we fellowship with to begin teaching as one of the professors. I like the idea that it is a ministry of the local church and the pastor and I are good friends as well. It looks like I will be teaching hermeneutics beginning in March. Please pray for me. These projects mentioned that we collaborate with others on are completely labors of love. To God be the glory.
Please keep all of these things in prayer. Our family, the needs, the church and for the strength and grace to persevere through the many difficult moments of life and ministry, and above all for God to be glorified in this new year. Thank you and God bless.
If the Lord so lays on your heart to give back to Him by supporting this ministry, you can send your tax deductible gift to:
CENTRAL MISSIONARY CLEARINGHOUSE
P.O. Box 219228
Houston, Texas 77218-9228
CMC (who receives funds for us) serves hundreds of missionaries, but they ONLY receive the funds for us and in no way have control over how the funds are to be spent or what we are to do as a ministry, which gives room to be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading and the liberty in making needed adjustments for emergencies and priorities. This is one of the reasons why we went with CMC. There are also three trusted pastors which sit as our mission board.
You may begin sending your support to the Salgado DR Mission at any time at the address above. (Checks should be made payable to Central Missionary Clearinghouse or C.M.C.) But please include a note on a separate piece of paper that says Antonio and Christen Salgado / Dominican Republic.
You can also give to the ministry here in the DR online through “click and give” at the CMC website.
You can also donate to this ministry online with Paypal. Click the donate button below and you can send support of any amount directly to the ministry. You can choose the option of doing a one-time donation and this is the fastest option to get funds to us.
Unfortunately through Paypal we are not set up for receiving recurring donations at this time. But the other online giving option above does the recurring monthly donation option. Simply register one time and that’s it.
For tax exemption, you must send your donation through Central Missionary Clearinghouse (CMC) at the address above.
We do not use a sending agency that gets a percentage of the money donated, so you can be sure that your gift goes directly to the mission field.
Whatever you decide, thank you so much for praying for us and helping this ministry. God Bless You!