A couple of months later, with the backing of Central Church, Joe took a discovery trip back to Ethiopia. When he returned, Joe and Pastor Gilbert began to put some things on paper and together they began to implement this plan for TFC. “Many people go on the short term mission field and come back with hopes and dreams that never come to fruition, but I could see that Joe wasn’t going to give up easily,” said Gilbert. After forming the plan Gilbert says, “We sat back to wait and see what God was going to do.”
Shortly after this trip, the missions committee at Central, decided to send Joe on the field. Pastor Gilbert continued to stay in touch with Joe and Karyn Bridges and follow the progress of the ministry through the years. “God just kept blessing the ministry and the funding. I watched Joe raise both personal funding and the ministry funding,” Gilbert stated.
As the missions director, Pastor Gilbert was used to helping people respond to a call for missions. He helped Joe respond to his own call and he came alongside the Bridges as best he could. One of the ways he did this was to create a short term mission trip with Central Church to serve in Ethiopia. That trip continues to this day. He also was blessed to watch life change for the Bridges as they began their new life on the mission field.
The next step for Pastor Gilbert became obvious in those early years of TFC. Early on he began to support TFC financially and pray specifically for one street child named Nati. He couldn’t be there but he could pray. “I could support through others going, I could support through prayer. I once even skyped with Nega and Nati. I let Nati know that there was someone who cared about him,” says Gilbert. Last year Pastor Gilbert took another step to support TFC and became a part of the board of directors.
“Being a part of TFC has taught me so much about God’s faithfulness,” says Pastor Gilbert. “This ministry is fruit that you can put your hand on; it’s mustard seed-growth. Seeing TFC begin with a handful of supporters and then walking into the gala last September and seeing a room full of people there to just support TFC was incredible! God has been so good to expand this ministry into what it is today.”
Pastor Gilbert concluded with this statement. “God does some incredible things and to be able t look back and see that you’ve been a small part of it, is a true blessing.” Pastor Gilbert has seen this time and again through ministries not only in Ethiopia but also Guatemala, India and Kenya. Pastor Gilbert currently runs a ministry called Kingdom Community Builders in Orange Mound (http://www.kingdomcommunitybuilders.org/) .
He wants to thank the Central Church Missions Committee for their support through the years. “Without their support, this dream of Joe’s never would’ve happened,” says Pastor Gilbert.
TFC began with something small, and it is now what it is today. Thanks to donors like you and Pastor Don Gilbert, it is a true blessing to be a small part of God’s Kingdom work!