Reaching globally from a local base
By BRETT CROXTON, Reporter
Published: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 8:38 AM PDTPeople often use the word isolated to describe life in Big Bear Valley. But if Gill Ministries is any indication, the higher your altitude, the more people you can touch.
A.L. Gill, founder of Gill Ministries, said there’s no better place to have his international outreach center than in Big Bear. “We’re touching many nations from right here,” Gill said.
Many may be an understatement. Gill said his ministry’s Christian books, audio tapes and videos are used in more than 140 nations around the world. “It’s just amazing,” Gill said of his ministry’s global proliferation. “Our videos are in India, Africa, Mexico, Spain, France, the Philippines. Our approach is to minister to the world.”
But Gill’s ministry isn’t limited to the materials that Bible schools all over the world use. Gill, sometimes along with his wife, Joyce, travels the globe to minister to the masses. “I’ve ministered to crowds of over 300,000 people in Africa,” he said. “(Joyce) and I minister together, she travels domestically with me quite a bit, and some internationally. We’re going to be together in China later this year, that’ll be our third trip (to China).”
Much of Gill’s travels involve speaking engagements at International School of Ministry graduation ceremonies. He just returned from a trip to The School of Acts in Malaysia and is heading to Brazil June 17 for a conference. “I’ve traveled to about 85 nations,” he said. He spends about two-thirds to three-quarters of his time traveling.
But with more than 55 years of ministry experience, it hasn’t always been that way. Gill said he was assisting John Osteen of Lakeview Church in Texas, now the largest church in the country headed by the popular Joel Osteen, when he heard the call to start his own ministry. “God just said, ‘Take it to the world,’” Gill said. “But at that time I thought there was no way I could get in front of people and teach, but God had a better idea.”
Gill said if you had told him when he founded his ministry that it would one day be a worldwide phenomenon, he wouldn’t have believed it. “No way,” he said. “But I would have been so wrong.”
And Gill said thanks to recent developments, he sees only positives and growth on the horizon for his ministry. “It’s amazing what’s happening,” he said.
One reason he’s so excited is the almost completed renovation of the outreach center on Big Bear Boulevard in Big Bear City. “If you know anything about this place, you know it was in a pretty bad state of disrepair,” Gill said. The building has housed multiple restaurants in the past.
Gill said the ministry has owned the building for three years, but it has taken more than two years to remodel the inside alone, and the job’s not quite finished yet. Now the outside is spruced up too, with a fresh paint job, new signs and an aesthetically-pleasing yet water-smart rock garden to greet visitors. “We’re just so happy to make this building beautiful again,” Gill said.
But the building isn’t big enough to hold all the enthusiastic parishioners Gill invites to Big Bear every year. “People love to come to our mountaintop encounters,” he said. “We’ve even outgrown the ballroom at Northwoods. Next year will be another turn-away crowd.”
Gill added that other positives for the ministry include a recently redesigned Web site, www.gillministries.com, and plans for streaming videos on that site.
And while the people Gill ministers to, who affectionately call him Papa Gill, are as enthused as ever, it would seem Gill himself gets tired sometimes. But alas, he said he has yet to grow weary of his work.
“It’s just what we love doing,” he said. “Seeing lives changed and improved, that’s what keeps us going. It’s just so fulfilling. That, and the God-given super strength and energy and health. I just can’t imagine doing anything else.”
It seems Gill has what most people pray for: a job they love and an avenue through which to help those who need it. Most people wouldn’t mind having his frequent flyer miles either.