An “I See In You” story is when someone identifies a ministry giftof quality in a person and speaks encouragingly to him or herabout it. These “I See In You” stories are from people in the NOWDistrict who have been invited into leadership throughconversations with others who saw that gift in them. They are allpart of theNOW Leadership Initiative (NOW L.I.), which is aunified effort to identify and prepare God’s people to be laborersfor his harvest. Do you have a story to share? Consider posting itor firstname.lastname@example.org assistance.
Rev. Jason Gullidge
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church
“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12
Two words… youth leaders. If it wasn’t for my youth leaders, Iwould definitely not be writing this today. I don’t know where Iwould be. As a child, I took speech therapy from daycare all theway through sixth grade. During those years and throughout juniorhigh, I experienced the teasing and jokes of my peers. It was avery difficult time in my life. One day, I decided to attend theyouth group at my church. Being the only male in my age group, itfelt awkward. However, a man named Todd came up to me. Hewelcomed me with open arms despite what my peers thought. Andevery Wednesday for youth he came for me, this lonely maleyouth. After Todd, my male youth leader who impacted me wasBob. Through the experience of attending and assisting with mission trips as well as their encouragement, I was led to theoffice of pastoral ministry.
Todd would become one of my best friends throughout my yearsof junior high. Todd knew the joys and pains that I faced at schooland in private. The last thing we did together before Toddtransferred churches was to go on my first of three mission trips.We spent an intensive week together with youth from Peace andsix other churches in White Swan, Washington—Yakama IndianReservation. The teams served on paint crews and with achildren’s organization called “Kids’ Day.” The last night beforewe left for home, during the time called “family group,” we cametogether for a foot washing. This was impactful for all those whoexperienced it. The people who washed my feet were my twoyouth leaders, Todd and Angie. After washing my dirty feet, Toddprayed with me and asked God to continue to put people in my lifeto encourage me to follow the ministry path despite my speechdifficulties. After this event was over, he became less involved inPeace’s youth group and was replaced by another amazing mannamed Bob. Bob would continue to follow in Todd’s footsteps as amentor and encourage me to go into ministry.
Bob, a detective for a local police department, took time awayfrom his family and work to dedicate energy to the Youth at Peace.By the middle of my junior year in high school he startedencouraging me to be a small group leader for the junior highboys, which meant I would no longer be just going to the youthgroup; I would be on the planning board for events andcurriculum. This team encouraged me to pursue ministry evenmore. Bob and Angie encouraged me to look into Seminary andfound funds to send me to Christ Academy in Fort Wayne, Indianaduring the summer of 2004. After returning home, I went onanother mission trip, not as a youth, but as a junior leader. Bobencouraged me to get involved in the adult leadership portions ofthe trip. When we returned from this trip, I was given theopportunity to share my experience with the congregation. Thiswould be the second of many experiences I had talking in front ofa church body. He would often volunteer me to pray publicly atregional youth events. However, the biggest impact came at theend of my senior year, when I would go on my last mission tripbefore heading off to college that following fall.
This year the youth board decided to take this mission trip a littlefurther out of our comfort zone. We were going to work with theAppalachian peoples. This trip presented a totally differentlifestyle and culture compared to those from the Northwest. Thismission trip had the most youth in attendance compared to theothers. All the planning and traveling there went well.
For the Appalachian trip, I was once again put in charge of themale youth with Bob as my supervisor. Our team primarilyworked on a home that needed to be repainted. Three nights beforewe were due to head home, things began to change. To give a littlebackground, Youthworks tries to allow their youths to experiencethe culture and that night we were to learn the cultural dancecalled “Clogging.” On the way out to the site, one of male youthsfrom Peace began to suffer a heat stroke. The next couple miles heprogressively worsened and I began to perform heat strokemedical treatment. After signaling to Bob’s vehicle to stop, Angieinformed Bob of the situation. By this time the youth was almostin shock. The leaders whipped around and hurried back to the cellservice area. The Appalachian Mountains region is scarce of anycell service and the nearest hospital is two hours away. Beingstuck in a construction zone the two vans had to stop, but Godworked a miracle. As youth from Peace and the leaders waited inthe line, a lady behind us introduced herself as the dispatcher forthe local emergency region. When she found out about oursituation, she radioed in an ambulance to meet the vans at thenearest town. Once the vans made it to the ambulance, all theyouth in Bob’s van piled into Angie’s van.Bob told me to get inthe passenger seat of his van. The two of us would follow theambulance to the hospital praying all the way. We arrived there inrecord time and Bob told me to go into the hospital as he wouldcall the youth’s parents, the church prayer chain, and keep Angieupdated, meanwhile I was ushered into the room with the youth. Iwas given the opportunity to pray with him and offer support.Right before the youth was released the hospital chaplain came inand said “If you need anything tonight, please let me know.”
After returning from the mission trip, I would pack my bags andbegin attending Concordia University-Portland, Oregon, where Ibegan studying for the Pastoral Office. And on August 6, 2016, Iwas ordained and installed as the pastor of St. Paul’s LutheranChurch in Jerome, Idaho.