Meeting medical and
spiritual needs around the world
Rick Salvato is a veteran member of the Assemblies of Gods
HealthCare Ministries medical team. Prior to his ministry career,
he played professional soccer with the New York Cosmos. He recently
spoke with Scott Harrup, associate editor, about his involvement
with HCM and that organizations international impact.
PE: Was medicine a
always had a desire to be in the medical field, particularly a desire
to work overseas in disadvantaged areas. When I became a Christian,
God refocused that desire to not only bring physical health but
also spiritual healing to people. Shortly after I got saved, toward
the end of my medical training, I visited some friends who were
working in a clinic in West Africa. During that visit the Lord directed
me toward medical missions. I joined the first HCM team in September
1986 for a two-week trip to Paraguay. Ive been with HCM ever
since, ministering in more than 170 countries.
PE: How did you come
to the Lord?
SALVATO: It was
a long process. My older brother, who now pastors a church in Pennsylvania,
came to the Lord about a year before I did and was the most instrumental
in sharing Christ with me. I had picked up a lot of the skepticism
of the 60s and 70s against organized religion. Being scientifically
minded, it was difficult for me to accept something on faith. But
I realized that what the Bible said was reality and that God was
faithful. I accepted Christ on July 6, 1976, and its been
a great experience ever since.
PE: Describe your
responsibilities with HealthCare Ministries.
in charge of our Emergency Response program, responding to natural
disasters, wars, famine or any kind of emergency situation overseas.
Im also very involved with our HIV/AIDS program as well as
doing our regular short-term medical teams.
PE: Do any specific
trips or peoples needs stand out?
was one of the most atrocious situations Ive been in. People
were starving to death in the midst of a war and no one was doing
anything. But God was working in the midst of that. The refugee
camps in Zaire and Tanzania following the holocaust in Rwanda also
come to mind. It makes you wonder how people can survive without
a relationship with the Lord.
PE: What difference
does Christ make in those situations?
you deal with people who have been kicked out of society and told
all their lives that they dont matter, and you see them encounter
the reality of God, you see them realize for the first time that
they have dignity and value. It is such a transformation. Regardless
of their material circumstances they now have something that means
so much more than anything else we could give them. To me, thats
what the gospel is all about.
PE: How are you involved
in ministry in the U.S.?
SALVATO: My work
with HealthCare is strictly overseas, but Ive had the opportunity
to serve with Convoy of Hope and other stateside ministries, and
they are doing a tremendous job of helping people on the edge of
poverty. When HealthCare was headquartered in Lakeland, Fla., my
wife, Ana, and I started a ministry to migrant workers. That eventually
became a church, El Calvario A/G.
PE: Anything else?
hard to just tell someone about the worlds problems. But once
you make a trip overseas and interact with people and sit and hear
their life stories, it makes it real to you. I would encourage people
to get overseas, or even here in the States to get out in areas
where people are in need. Sit and interact with them and hear their
cry. It will change you.