Written by Kevin P. Gilmore
Someone suggested I write an article of introduction to our P&B constituency. Actually, I would prefer to focus on someone or something else, but it might be good to use this opportunity to share how the Lord’s faithfulness has shaped the course of my life.
My great-grandfather, John Hackett, founded a non-denominational ministry to the poor in Camden, New Jersey, during the depths of the Great Depression. Prior to this, he had been an alcoholic and was far from God, but his Christian wife and daughters prayed for him constantly. After being asked several times to attend a tent meeting revival, he agreed to go but instructed his daughter she was not to sit with or even look at him while he was there. He had planned to attend with some of his drinking buddies with the intent of disrupting the meeting, because “those Christians” supported Prohibition.
Before anything tawdry could happen, however, his plans were disrupted by the convicting message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and he found himself kneeling at an altar to proclaim his faith in the Lord and receive forgiveness for his sins. Soon after, he would become a full-time minister.
That moment in time changed the course of his life forever and would eventually result in my being born into a faithful, loving Christian family and ultimately in my introduction to the Church of the Nazarene.
Another life-altering moment occurred when I was 20, thanks to a faithful Nazarene layman. As he was giving me a check for one thousand dollars, he grasped my hand, looked me in the eye, and said, “This is not a loan, and it’s not a gift. It’s an investment in your life. Stay in school and get your education.”
To me, a thousand dollars seemed like a million! I will never forget those words from a man I had not known prior to that day. But somehow he had learned of my plans to drop out of college because of a lack of resources. His generosity allowed me to pay off my outstanding school balance and enroll for the next semester. I completed my education and the rest, as they say, is history.
Where would I be today had these two men not responded to the call of God on their lives? I’ll never be able to definitively answer that question, but I do know this—I likely would not be serving as director of Pensions and Benefits USA for the Church of the Nazarene.
Their examples taught me the valuable lesson of listening to the leading of the Holy Spirit, particularly when it comes to meeting the needs of others. We never know when we will encounter someone who is on the brink of a life-altering challenge in which we can make a difference.
Because that Nazarene gentleman’s life intersected with mine at what I believe was a divinely-appointed time for both of us, I was able to finish college. I earned a degree in accounting which then led to serving as a practicing CPA for the first five years of my career. I would later transition to the role of chief financial officer (CFO) in several private companies in a variety of industries, including my alma mater—MidAmerica Nazarene University.
That generous Nazarene man was Charles Hager of Garden City, Kansas. He would later provide me with the blessing to marry his granddaughter. That “gift” has lasted through 37 years, 3 children, and (to date) 4 grandchildren!
My family’s faith-based legacy has also affected my thinking about the importance of giving time and talents to serve my local community. To that end I was blessed with the opportunity to serve in elected office on my state and local boards of education and to be active in a number of local charitable and civic organizations, as well as my local church.
The mission of the Church of the Nazarene is “to make Christlike disciples in the nations,” and I believe this begins with being a light wherever the Lord plants us to live, work, and raise our families. Now, more than ever, we need to remember and be encouraged that the darkness cannot drown out the Light that lives within us.
I am grateful for this new opportunity to serve Christ and His church. I look forward to working with our dedicated P&B team in meeting the needs of our faithful ministers and church employees and their families through the benefits and services we provide.
Kevin P. Gilmore serves as director of Pensions and Benefits for the Church of the Nazarene.