Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2–4)
The story of Robert and Ashley Gillean exemplifies the ability to endure trials. Some years ago, Robert was an executive chef who also owned his own successful landscaping company. The Gilleans’ also were engaged in a thriving ministry to youth and the needy. But, life quickly changed when Robert had a stroke that partially disabled him and left him unable to work. The bills began to mount and Ashley’s stress level rose along with it. In the midst of those dark days, they both turned to substance use to cope and their life began to further unravel. With their source of income lost, eventually they lost their home. This led Ashley into an even deeper depression. Everything came to a head with a drug arrest in 2014 – but that’s where faith, determination, and grit began to radically change their lives.
Robert Gillean is a fighter and strongly desires to be a provider for his family. With God’s strength and Spirit, he gradually began to overcome the tragedies, misfortune, and bad decisions that had led he and his wife of 16 years and their two teen boys to a place of greater peace and security.
After years of research, Psychologist Angela Duckworth determined that it turns out that across all ethnic, socio-economic, educational, and psychological demographics “one characteristic emerges as a significant predictor of success… grit”. Duckworth defines grit as “the ability to persevere in pursuing a future goal over a long period of time and not giving up… It is having stamina. It’s sticking with your future, day-in, day-out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
Through grit, determination, and God’s grace, today Robert has two new jobs and the family is starting over in a new home. Most importantly, they have found a welcoming and loving church home at Genesis Church. They feel connected to a community of faith where they worship every week and are in Pastor Jody Farrell’s Gospel of John class. The boys are plugged into youth groups, and the whole family is already jumping in making a difference volunteering their time and talents.
The Gilleans’ new apartment is spotless, neat and tidy, although with a very limited amount of furniture. They give God praise and glory for bringing them from the dark place they were inhabiting which had holes in the wall and floor and was overcome with a flea infestation. Robert openly shares of the struggles they have had and he is so grateful for the help and new direction they have found through their time at Genesis Church. Ashley feels much more secure and is starting to climb out of her shell, and the boys are happy again just being regular kids.
Robert and his family’s future is based on God’s promises to provide peace, wholeness, hope, and healing. Jesus’ simple call was to “come follow me”. And through faith, grit, and endurance, Robert and Ashley have picked up their crosses to follow Him.
Lord, we thank you for bringing the Gillean family to us in their time of need. We marvel at your ability to lift us up and take us to still waters and green pastures. Please protect them as they rebuild their lives with You at the center. We look forward to seeing love manifesting in their lives and witnessing grace growing and thriving in their hearts. In the name of the One who gives us abundant grace and endless chance to follow you and your ways, we thank you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Local Missions Coordinator