Courtney Chestnut, Contributing Writer
“I want to see everybody get messed up.” Joshua Gilmore said passionately. Within the four walls of the small office, not completely unpacked and lined with animal skins, shells and bones, these words were spoken so naturally from the lips of the man comfortably sitting behind the desk.
His relaxed stature and smiling face were inviting and warm, contrasting from his startling statement. Lacking context, those eight words spoken by the new BCM director at North Greenville University seem harsh and unusual, but hearing his story and mission unveils the true meaning behind his statement.
Joshua Gilmore was raised in a Christian home and spent the first part of his life in South Carolina. “As early as I can remember, I was serving in church”, said Gilmore. He was saved at the young age of seven, but later struggled in his life and grew apart from God. He explained that a turning point in his life resulted from an invitation to a night at a pizza blast hosted by a local church.
The call to the altar at the end of the message was the point at which Gilmore felt massive conviction. The simple touch on a shoulder by a friend and encouragement to respond led Him to rededicate His life to God.
“In hindsight,”, Gilmore explained, “I feel like that’s when God called me to ministry. That was sort of a turning point in my life.” A few days after this revelation, He was asked to start a worship band with a friend: an offer that He would have previously rejected. Gilmore revealed that he believes this moment was the start of his ministry.
Being a lover of the arts, Gilmore was on the path to share his creative passion teaching music or art. “I have always been a passionate creative”, he said with a laugh and a sparkle in his eye. “I love adventure, I love creativity, I love art.”
Gilmore had a scholarship to Lander University to study art, but He explained that God had a different plan for his life. This landed him at North Greenville University the month before classes began, planning to study ministry, and there was no doubt in his mind that ministry was his calling.
In light of the transition from art to ministry, Gilmore explained that his canvas changed from paintings, to people and ministry moments. “I want to help people connect the dots between the creator and the creation,” he said.
In his college years, Gilmore used his musical ability to lead worship in local churches and participate in Joyful Sound. “There was never a weekend where I wasn’t doing ministry,” He said. After graduating with a bachelors and master’s degree from North Greenville and getting married, he made a pact with the Lord: that he would go anywhere to do full time ministry. God answered, and Gilmore packed his bags for Chicago to serve as a youth pastor.
After years of serving in various ministry roles in different states, he had an opportunity that he couldn’t pass up. “We could not say no to it. There was no way we could say no to it”, Gilmore stated emphatically. The “dream” of he and his wife was to one day end up back at North Greenville ministering to students on campus, and this is exactly the opportunity that was presented to him. Gilmore expressed that, “The leaving was extraordinarily hard, but the coming to North Greenville was extremely easy.”
“One student at a time” is Gilmore’s ambition and goal until nothing short of a full-on revival, spiritual awakening and renewal happens to every student and every staff member. “I definitely want to see people get born again, but I want to see the born again get lit up”, he said wide-eyed and passionately, “I got messed up because of a pizza blast. I want to see everybody get messed up.” Messed up for Jesus, that is.
This passion that Gilmore displays is something that Jody Jennings, former BCM director, was likely looking for in his search for a replacement. Jennings said, “The characteristics that stood out in the interview with Joshua: he has a hot heart for God, is passionate about God’s word, and intentional with relationships. Those things for me stand out.” Jennings then went on to explain the importance of hiring someone who will complement what was already in place but will make changes that will help the program grow.
Former NGU student JG Faulk, who was very involved in BCM throughout his college years and has met Gilmore, also spoke highly of him. “As an alumni, now working at a local church it has been super cool getting to know and working with Joshua.” Faulk went on to explain how he had worked with Gilmore at a commuter lunch and how he was able to connect with him. “I was also able to attend the first BCM meeting of the year to hear him preach,” Faulk said. “I’m excited to see how the Lord uses Joshua as the new BCM director.”
Gilmore is over a month into his new job as BCM Director and hopes to continue in his role for as long as God calls him. When on the subjects, his passion for God and for students at North Greenville is evident by his speech and always-present smile. A word of advice that Gilmore would give to any young person is “Please value the moment you’re in, and don’t waste it. Seize every opportunity to grow in grace.”