What I've Been Up To In 2013....
The year 2013 has been unlike any other.
Even though the blog does not show any signs, I have been busier during the first few months of this year than any other I can remember. Here is a little bit of what's been going on.
Back in the fall of 2012, I received a unique invitation from a dear friend and mentor, offering me the chance to come to California and cover a leadership conference that he and his wife were hosting. The three day conference was held at The Rock Church & World Outreach Center in San Bernadino, and featured different leaders and missionaries from over 140 nations around the globe. I had the distinct privilege of writing articles for his website, chronicling the events of each day and highlighting different key speakers. I was also extremely fortunate to interview several of those leaders and missionaries personally. Hearing their stories opened my eyes up to just how rapidly the Gospel is expanding throughout the far reaches of the earth.
During my time in California, I met a lot of amazing people. One person in particular was a man named Dr. A.L. Gill.
Everybody calls him "Papa".
It's difficult to describe Papa Gill without smiling. He has the most loving way about him, like a playful grandfather who laughs with joyous pleasure at the sight of his grandchildren. I met him in the hotel elevator. He had a conference program in his hand, so I asked him if he was attending.
"Yes I am," he answered, turning to me with cordial intrigue.
"So am I. My name is Ben." I extended my hand to him.
"Well, hi Ben! My name is Papa Gill!" his blue eyes sparkled as he shook my hand. That's another thing I loved about him instantly. He had the brightest blue eyes of anyone I've ever seen.
"You are actually one of the speakers, aren't you?"
"I sure am!"
"That's great! I look forward to hearing you."
"Well, thank you Ben!"
The elevator doors opened. "I'm glad we got to meet." I said as I picked up my suitcase off the elevator floor.
"Me too! It was very good to meet you, Ben!"
After that short 10 second exchange with him, I felt as if I was the most special person in the building. He was so sincere when he told me how glad he was to meet me. I felt genuinely loved by him. I can't really explain it any better.
If I never meet that man again, I will love him for the rest of my life, I thought to myself as I walked down the hall towards my room.
At the end of the conference, I was visiting with Papa and asking him what he had planned in the coming months. I wanted to know how I could stay in touch with him and how I could pray for him.
He looked at my with those playful, twinkling blue eyes and said, "Oooh let's see... I'll be in Columbia at the end of March. Would you like to go with me?"
My jaw dropped! My heart pounded! I looked up at him, and all I could say was an emphatic, "Yes!"
"Ok," he reached into his blazer pocket and pulled out a schedule booklet. "Let's see, I am going March 26th, and coming back April 1st. I will put your name down here. What is your email, so I can send you the trip information?"
We exchanged email addresses and phone numbers, and I left the conference that evening in awe of how God works.
I began fundraising for my trip with Papa. I needed about $1400 in order to cover round trip airfare. I sent out some support emails and contacted a few friends on Facebook. Within less than a week, I received $700 for my trip. God was definitely behind this.
The date for the Colombia trip was approaching rapidly, and I still needed about $700 more to cover it. About two weeks before I was to meet up with Papa Gill and go to Colombia, he called me with an idea.
"Hey Ben! This is Papa Gill calling." His voice illuminated my heart, seeping through the phone like sunlight through venetian blinds, illuminating a room.
"Hi Papa! How are you?"
I'm doing great! Listen, I've been doing a little research and some praying, and I discovered that all of the seats in coach are taken at this point. The only way to fly to Colombia, if you planned to go on the same flight as me, would be business class. This would end up costing you way more. Now, you could either take an earlier flight and wait for me, or you could come a day later and meet me there."
Neither idea sounded very appealing to me. But, Papa wasn't through, and he offered another idea.
"However, I don't want you to miss anything and I don't want to put you in an uncomfortable situation. So here is what I think we should do. I think you should wait until May, and then come with me to Guatemala instead. That's my next trip, and I think it would be better for you to plan for that instead."
He and I both felt this was the better plan, so we decided that was what we would do.
As of right now, I am still in the process of raising the necessary funds for my Guatemala trip with Papa, and I am so excited for such an opportunity. In the meantime, I have been working on a few projects of my own. For the last two years or so, I've wanted to start some film projects that have been brewing in the back of my mind. I've started meeting with a friend who has a video production company. We've met a few times now, and I've shared some of my work with him, as well as some ideas for future projects. I can't say very much about it at this point, but I can say that I have started working on the rough draft of a script for the first video project.
It's definitely an exciting time!
If you would like to stay updated on the progress of my trip with Papa Gill, please email me so that I can include you in future email updates! My email is: email@example.com.
If you would like to know more about Papa Gill and his ministry, you can find out more here .
Thank you so much for reading and for your prayers and support!