Guidelines’ history spans 50-years so here’s a brief decade by decade look at how God has shaped this ministry for half a century!
Our history begins in the summer of 1962, Darlene and Harold were spending their vacation in a little cabin at Grand Lake in the Colorado Rockies. They spent a lot of time there thinking about their lives and the future.
We were praying, “God, what is the best method to take the Gospel to this hard-to-reach generation? What can we do to reach the most people for You?” We saw no hand writing on the wall, nor did we hear a voice saying, “This is what you need to do,” but we heard from God, and the message was clear and undeniable: “Use radio! This will let you touch the lives of people around the world where people are and where missionaries cannot go!”
In those days most Christian radio programs were preaching programs. And, frankly, most non-Christians weren’t listening. Trying something new, Harold began to produce a 5-minute commentary targeting the person on the street, not in the church pew—the person who has an emptiness in his heart and doesn’t know how to connect with God. Sample tape in hand, Harold approached the first radio station about carrying the program—it was Station KFSG in Los Angeles.
With sweaty palms and an anxious heart, I made an appointment to talk to Oval Wiley, the station manager, and presented to him the concept of Guidelines. He liked the program and said he thought they could find a place for Guidelines in their program schedule. And Guidelines went on the air!
According to the National Religious Broadcasters Assn, Guidelines was the first to produce 5-minute Christian radio programming. The idea took hold, and for the first several years Guidelines added a new station on the average of every two-and-a-half weeks. Very soon listener responses began to pour in.
The decade of the 70s! The “Me Decade.” “Self” was all-important. The Vietnam War was still raging, bringing criticism and unrest. Big things were happening in the world as China adjusted to the end of the Cultural Revolution.
It was also a decade of big change for Guidelines’ Ministry as Harold and Darlene moved to Manila, Philippines. During most of the first ten years of Guidelines, Harold pastored a church in Redondo Beach, California, and produced the Guidelines commentary as well. Both ministries were growing. And eventually he came to the realization that he had to choose whether he was going to continue pastoring or resign from the church and go fulltime with Guidelines.
At a quiet spot overlooking the Pacific, Darlene and I poured out our hearts to the Lord: “God, please make Your will so plain and clear that we cannot miss it.” Two weeks later Dr. Robert Bowman, founder of the Far East Broadcasting Company, asked if the Salas would be willing to come to Manila to help with English programming and to serve as chaplain to the FEBC staff.
Harold knew that radio has always been vital in Manila, because from here FEBC’S powerful transmitters could potentially reach 60% of the world’s population. It soon became obvious that God’s time had come to launch Guidelines internationally. So in 1974, the Salas packed 25 barrels and seven hefty crates containing personal effects and equipment for a small recording studio and office and shipped them, while Harold and Darlene, along with their three children, flew to Manila.
The day our youngest daughter, Nancy, was born in California, little did I think that her first day at school would be in the Philippines. Yet, I had a deep sense of God’s guiding hand on our lives. And what happened during those two years? Guidelines continued to be aired on more and more stations. Harold started a new 10-minute program, “Guidelines for Family Living,” picking up the reputation in the Philippines as “Mr. Family Living.” Harold couldn’t begin to fill the requests for preaching and teaching. A burgeoning literature ministry began in cooperation with OMF Literature. And one more thing—Guidelines began to be translated into many other languages, reaching entire people groups that before they had no open door to reach.
Harold and Darlene lived in Manila with their family for two years 1974-1976. During this time, Guidelines USA had offices in Denver, Colorado in the home of Harold’s brother and his wife, Orville and Pat Sala. But In 1976, it became clear that if Guidelines was to continue its international outreach, Harold and Darlene needed to establish permanent offices in the U.S., and Guidelines headquarters moved to California.
Then in 1982—almost miraculously—Guidelines was able to purchase the building where they were leasing offices. And Guidelines had their own facility. During this decade former FEBC missionaries Joe and Ardith de la Pena joined the staff of Guidelines in CA. Joe’s background with FEBC in both radio and printing enabled him to produce the first Tagalog version of Guidelines Five-minute Commentary and also to establish a full-service print shop that for many years served not only the needs of Guidelines, printing thousands of booklets and tracts, but also meeting the needs of some 200 other Christian ministries as well.
The 80’s was also the decade of the beginning of Guidelines Television. After the Salas returned from the Philippines to California, Harold and Darlene renewed their friendship with Tony and Colene Beringer. God moved on this couple to purchase television production equipment that three ministries could share, without charge.
Guidelines Television was launched. Eventually, Guidelines was able to have its own studio and equipment, and for more than 15 years, programs directed by Truett Hancock were seen on a network of as many as 200 stations. Most notable of these was GMA7 that went by satellite all over the Philippines and much of Asia, along with ABC Channel 5 in Manila.
The Bamboo Curtain had parted and by the 1980s Guidelines was able to begin personal ministry in China. Usually the Salas took suitcases of Bibles and other much wanted Christian books, involving secret drop sites, clandestine meetings and suitcases so heavy Harold wouldn’t let anyone else carry them, for fear they would realize the luggage contained something other than socks and underwear.
Back in the U.S, God spoke to Wil and Jacquie Chevalier, calling them to serve as Guidelines Directors in Manila for ten years. It didn’t take long for Wil and Jacquie to endear themselves to the people of the Philippines. But of all the ministry they have had in this country, perhaps the most lasting is their investment in the lives of the couples they discipled.
The 1990s—Dawn of the Information Age! And this was true for Guidelines as well. In the 90s Guidelines’ mission scope grew to embrace and support 51 different couples or organizations, in such diverse locales as Siberia, Mexico, Ukraine, Spain, Venezuela, France, Ecuador, Russia, Romania, China, Kyrgyzstan, and of course, the Philippines.
During the 90s, Guidelines’ ministry in China took a different turn, marked by a decision to work with the registered, Three-Self Churches. This gave us a much wider channel for ministry. Through David and Esther Yap, God dramatically brought into our lives a respected Chinese man with great wisdom—whose name I can’t mention for his own safety. This Christian brother explained that pastors were scarce, and Bible teaching on DVD was desperately desired. In helping to meet this need, we produced 23 bilingual seminars on DVD, almost all taped in China. We began printing books in Chinese—10 thus far.
With the beginning of the new century in the year 2000, Guidelines Ministries began to grow exponentially. For Guidelines, the year 2000 opened the door to more opportunities than ever to minister in a wide variety of places, surveying the needs, conducting seminars, training pastors, and encouraging missionaries, especially those supported through Guidelines. Going where the needs are greatest has taken Harold and Darlene and their team members to 27 countries since the year 2000.
Take China, for instance. That DVD project that was begun in the 80s expanded to distribution across that enormous nation of nearly 1.4 billion people. Darlene says, that for her the extent of Guidelines’ reach really struck home in 2006. Up until 2006 most of our recent ministry in China had been in the Xiamen area—a region pretty easily accessed. But in 2006 we traveled to Inner Mongolia—a place in the far north I had never even dreamed of visiting. The city was Baotou. As we approached the church where we were to speak, rows of ladies lined up to welcome us with radiant smiles. As I greeted one lady, she made the shape of a square with her hands and then pointed to my face. What was she trying to say? Then it dawned on me—she was telling me she recognized my face from a teaching DVD she had watched. Here I was thousands of miles from home—on the other side of the world—feeling quite strange, yet now meeting a lady who was already my friend because someone had given her a DVD.
Then I thought of the faithful courier who had traveled from Xiamen, China those more than 1700 long miles by bus and train to bring the DVDs to this hungry group of people. Yes, China CAN be reached one person at a time. We each just need to do what we CAN do—reaching, teaching, and touching lives for Jesus.
Next stop: AFRICA! Since the year 2000 Kenya, East Africa has been the venue of medical ministry for Guidelines, with the establishment of the Nzoia College of Nursing—part of the work of Sister Freda Robinson. The story is told in Darlene’s book Heart of Compassion, Hands of Care. Open for just two years, the College already has 81 students—a triumph of God’s grace and the faithfulness of many who give to make this possible.
Back in the Philippines, Guidelines was able in 2001 to purchase an office in Manila that is the home for Guidelines Philippines. Directors Amor and Maricar Alvarez bring not only the perspective of a younger generation, but Amor’s excellent talent as a graphic artist designing book covers, promotional pieces, Powerpoint presentations, and so much more.
Birthed out of a devastating fire, a Guidelines ministry center was established in Barangay Valencia under the leadership of Herman, Flor and Joshua Manalo. It was built on their homesite that was destroyed by fire.
Though the needs of the world are great, Guidelines has proved over the past 50 years that when people faithfully share the Gospel, God changes lives—often with split-second timing. There’s the guy who wrote to Harold saying, “I was driving down the highway one day when someone cut in front of me. Filled with road rage, I slammed my fist on the dashboard, The radio switched stations—and the next thing I heard was your voice saying, “Turn your anger over to God.”
A sobering and dramatic example of God’s incredible timing, though, took place in the Philippines when a woman was at her wits end. She wrote to tell us about it, “ Sixteen years ago I contemplated committing suicide by driving the car at a high speed, not caring what I hit. Suddenly, I was brought back to my senses. In a short time, I reached my mother’s house…still feeling so numb with hurt. As I entered the house, the radio was on, and Dr. Harold Sala said, “Forgive your husband,” and he discussed how God restores relationships, and that we should forgive as we are forgiven. That Guidelines for Family Living broadcast gave me a new lease on life! I burst into tears, but no longer with the hurt I’d been allowing to slowly strangle me, but with the rejoicing that I’m finally brought to Jesus’ feet! My life was saved, our relationship was restored, and God brought us to a ministry of reconciliation of couples with marital problems.
2012 – Year in Review