Called, affirmed, recognized: On believing and living accordingly

Franco Salvatori, Rocky Ridge

When I was just a young kid my older brother and I shared a room. One night he asked me that great Campus Crusade question. “If you died tonight, would you go to heaven?” I shared with him my best understanding of God at the time—that he was like a big computer up in heaven, calculating everything I did. I almost pictured God weighing my life on a balance scale of good versus bad. If the good things I had done outweighed the bad then I had earned heaven. If the bad things came in heavy… well, you know the story. My brother took the time to explain that I could know where I would spend eternity, that all I had to do was accept Christ’s gift for me. Together, we traveled downstairs to my parent’s bedroom and I remember kneeling to pray and ask Jesus into my heart. This was only a few years after Christ had entered our family and made radical changes. My parents weren’t your average Christian family when I was born, my father was an alcoholic and my mom was just holding the family together. I was only four but I remember when life started changing in our home. One day after dad had taken a short “vacation”, he returned different. He was still a steel mill worker, but something was different. He smiled. That next year when it came time for me to start in school, my brother and I both went to a new school. My parents chose to send us to a Christian school to make sure that we grew up with a strong biblical foundation.

Life continued this way for about 3 years after my own personal experience with Christ, when another big change happened in our family. My parents sat us down to say that we were going to be moving because my 39year-old father was going to college. He felt called into ministry. It was this event in my family that displayed faith better than anything I had ever experienced. We packed up and moved, trusting God. Little did we know before the end of dad’s second semester, it wasn’t college he would be in, it was the hospital. Dad was diagnosed with a large tumor in his colon.

Besides my salvation experience, this event had the most profound effect on my spiritual journey. It was at this time in my life, when I could no longer walk in the shadow of the faith of my parents, that I had to determine whether or not I believed in a God who would “call” my parents to leave everything and then abandon them there. It was truly not a long journey, because of God’s people, and because of the truth of 2 Corinthians.

When we suffer, it gives us an opportunity to experience comfort from the God of all comfort. I quickly felt the care of many people that God brought around us, and the comfort of the God who brought us there. It was during this time that I felt the presence of God carrying not only me, but also my family, through this entire event. God eventually healed my father through surgeons and time, but without this suffering I have no idea what my spiritual life would look like today. I can truly say this journey was a start of a lifelong faith journey following the example I saw in my parents . . . believe and live your life accordingly.

During my high school years, there was little differentiation between my call to a fully surrendered lifestyle and to going into full-time ministry. As you have heard, I was privileged to be a part of a family where total abandon was modeled. When I continued to surrender more of myself to God’s will, God revealed in me a passion for serving and different gifts for ministry. As I began to think about career, God pursued me to pursue ministry. When I went to college, I entered full-time ministry to high school students, and I pursued this passion for the next eight years of my life.

From there, we followed God to Eastern Pennsylvania so that I could attend Biblical Seminary’s LEAD program. Through it all, God continues to be faithful to me, my family of origin, and the wonderful family with which God has blessed me along the way. God continues to use our family in ministry as we continually walk each leg of our journey being faithful to “believe and live accordingly.”