Dr. Jonathan Salgado (M.A. 73) was born and raised in a Quaker home in Guatemala. Much of his education was completed at Nazarene institutions, however, and he was ordained as a minister in the Church of the Nazarene in Los Angeles in 1970. He earned his master’s degree in religion from Pasadena College three years later.
“Because I was attending school while a young pastor, I was eager to learn all I could,” Salgado said.
He was strongly influenced by Drs. Frank Carver, Ruben Welch, and William McCumber, who he said were not just teachers but friends. He also built lifelong relationships with many classmates, including PLNU’s dean of the School of Theology and Christian Ministry, Dr. Ron Benefiel.
Salgado and his wife, Maggie, whom he met in college, have spent their lives in ministry. They began by pastoring a multicultural congregation in Los Angeles before being invited by Dr. Jerald D. Johnson, to join the staff of Nampa College Church located on the campus of Northwest Nazarene University.
“Dr. Johnson became my mentor of many years,” Salgado said. In the latter role, Salgado became deeply involved in special ministries related to peace and justice, serving inmates and migrant workers among others.
Salgado has always been passionate about academics, so the Church of the Nazarene’s Department of World Missions appointed him to teach homiletics and New Testament at the European Nazarene Seminary in Switzerland.
“A turning point for me was when I visited Auschwitz and read Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. In the book he argues that our primary drive in life is the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful; that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose.” said Salgado. “I became very involved in the study of the book of Job, and my wife and I decided our main emphasis would be to help human beings discover meaning for their lives.”
With their ministry’s focus deeply embedded in their hearts, the Salgados next moved to Central America where they spent six years founding and developing the Nazarene Theological Seminary in Guatemala. After moving back to the U.S. to earn his doctorate from Claremont School of Theology in 1983, Salgado went on to serve as academic dean of the Seminary of the Americas in Costa Rica for six years. From there, he was invited to teach at the Nazarene Bible College in Colorado Springs, where he lived for 12 years. During part of his time in Colorado Springs, Salgado was the area director Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean for Compassion International. He was then invited to pastor a church in the state of Chiapas, Mexico.
“Through our ministries there, we became very involved in the lives of many people who were un-churched but who were concerned about their spiritual life—mainly political and community leaders,” Salgado said. “We found an open field of work and stepped out of institutional work in 2001 to join my longtime friend Dr. Ron Lush and others involved in a ministry outside the box called Global Initiatives.”
Through Global Initiatives, the Salgados have worked tirelessly on behalf of the poor, coordinating efforts for international organizations such as Healing Waters, Opportunity International, Agros International, IAOMAI Medical Missions, and Young Life among others, to serve in Latin America. Salgado in particular has focused on leadership development and marriage and family counseling. He has a strong ministry among young professionals. At the same time, he has accepted invitations to teach as an adjunct professor at Nazarene Theological Seminary, Olivet Nazarene University, and Azusa Pacific University, as well as the Seminary of the Americas in Costa Rica.
Heeding God’s call even during difficult times and transitions has been a hallmark of Salgado’s ministry.
“For me as a husband and for us as a family, one of the greatest challenges was to be able to trust and keep trusting in moments when apparently there was no hope,” Salgado said. “The year when our first daughter was born, Maggie was diagnosed with leukemia. This was when we were appointed missionaries to Guatemala. I felt like my whole world would cave in, we took a leap of faith accepting the assignment. We trusted God for a miracle. Maggie was totally clear of the cancer after a few months.”
Another distinguishing feature of his ministry has been Salgado’s ability to have a deep impact on people from many walks of life. “As a pastor in Chiapas, Mexico, he was so inspiring that one of the local government officials began to consider how to work Christian compassion into local government,” said Dr. Dean Nelson, PLNU professor of journalism, who knows Salgado well.
Mario Ernesto Avendaño Morales of Chiapas said, “Dr. Salgado helps, supports, and influences, in a positive Christian way, people of all walks of life, directly on a personal level whenever possible and indirectly through organizations and government. This includes acting as an advisor to political leaders in the midst of creating government policies, policies which are geared toward making a better place for people in need.”
In addition to his ministry, Salgado is devoted to his family, to serving young people, to making new friends and to writing. He has authored several books as well as articles, professional papers, and educational materials.
“There is a relational aspect of life that I enjoy a lot,” he said. “We have been able to develop friendships that have opened doors for us to share the message of Jesus in a practical way and ¨when necessary, use words¨, but we need to win the right to be heard.”
Jonathan and Maggie, who is also ordained and has her doctorate in counseling, have two daughters, Marvel (Salgado) Hitson and Marshela (Salgado) Solorio. They also have two granddaughters.
Richard Skiles (53) has always been known for his energy and enthusiasm. As a young college student, that enthusiasm was often directed toward what he dubbed “immature, silly things” like pulling pranks and missing bed checks. But due in large part to the gentle correction of former faculty members Drs. Joseph Mayfield and Chester Crill, Skiles’ energies were soon redirected to impacting the lives of others for good.
After unsuccessfully applying for veterinary school, Skiles found a way to use his science major to serve. On a bulletin board in the Pasadena College administration building, he saw a business card inviting anyone interested in lab work to contact Dr. Reuben Strauss at St Joseph’s Hospital in Burbank.
“St. Jospeh’s offered an internship and, along with passing the state board examination, that would qualify me to become a medical technologist,” Skiles said. “I was the first student they had ever trained and their instruction was exceptional and personal. Working in a medical laboratory provided a job with not only satisfaction but also permanency.”
After graduation from Pasadena College, he started his internship. Skiles was a very different man than he had been as a freshman. He had learned the art of self-discipline and how to channel his passions toward productivity. In December of 1953, he married to Reatha Bullock.
Skiles worked at St. Joseph’s for a year after graduation until he was drafted. After two years of military service, he and Reatha moved to Central California. His first medical technologist job was at Memorial Hospital in Modesto, and then, he became laboratory manager at McHenry Village Medical Center. From there, he moved to Emmanuel Medical Center in Turlock where he stayed until his retirement.
Throughout his career, Skiles leaned on God’s strength to make a difference.
“I was very appreciative of God’s helping me in strategic times,” he said. “There was a man who came in the emergency room, and he had a gunshot wound in the leg. After a few days, he developed a terrible infection. The doctors had taken a sample from his wound and wanted me to tell them what kind of organism this was. If I got it right, the man would live but lose his leg. If I were wrong, it would cause certain death. God helped me figure it out right. He lost his leg, but he lived. I was glad for God’s help.”
In parallel to his career, Skiles decided to direct his abundant energy to serving young people. Skiles spent many years serving in youth ministry at the Turlock Covenant Church. His love of sports and the outdoors helped him connect with youth on trips to climb Half Dome and go river rafting. He also accompanied the high school youth to the national institutes that took place every four years. Perhaps due to his own youthful exuberance, Skiles formed easy bonds with the young people he mentored.
“Our daughters still point to Rick as one of the most positive Christian influences in their lives,” said Darrell Haile, a Turlock Covenant Church member. “The high school students were very responsive in discussing Christian principles,” Skiles said. “Basically we gave them religious opportunities and times for physical fun activities that they could experience together. It was a positive atmosphere where they could talk about things. We gave them as many life lessons as we could. It was one of the biggest pleasures to see them give their lives to Christ.”
“I believe that Rick’s greatest joy and sense of accomplishment through the years has come from giving and sharing his life with young people—always as a volunteer,” said the Rev. Krieg Gammelgard, who was youth pastor at Turlock during the years Skiles served there. “He listens intently, cares deeply, and laughs incessantly, and in so doing, he has earned the right to be heard over the years.”
After his retirement, Skiles moved to Point Loma. He and Reatha joined San Diego First Church of the Nazarene, where he has served in many capacities. At the same time, Skiles quickly reconnected with his alma mater in its new location. He joined Point Loma Sports Associates as a tennis liason, and he became a frequent presence at games. He cheered for the PLNU students, invited them to his home, and encouraged them on their spiritual, athletic, and academic journeys.
“The students are in a unique environment here if they will take advantage of the opportunities and learn some life lessons,” Skiles said. “Probably the most important thing to tell them is to be associated with a group that teaches them the right principles. You have to have your own standards on what is right or wrong, but a support group is essential.”
In coming back to his alma mater, Skiles appreciates what has persisted in the 60 years since he graduated.
“Even though things have changed in many ways, there are still people here at PLNU who care about the students,” he said.
Richard and Reatha have a son, Michael, and daughter, Connie Kortman, five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.