50 Stories: A Word from the Founder of TfG

50 Stories: A Word from the Founder of TfG Cover Image

"On May the 30th 1964, I went to London to catch a train with David Jackson, the youth secretary for the Baptist Youth, and Peter, who was with the Baptist Missionary Society. We were travelling to a Baptist Youth movement rally in Leicester at which I had the privilege of introducing a new project or an idea. But, to be honest, I hadn’t got an idea. I mean, I could preach… I could tell them about the Lord, but I hadn’t got an idea for a new project. During the journey, David told me about the Rufer movement of young people volunteering in Germany – ‘Rufer’ meaning call. 

We talked the idea over on the train going up to Leicester, and came up with the idea of Time for God. We picked four types of work the volunteers would do: evangelism, pastoral care, those who wanted to help with children or elderly, and administrative-type of work. We decided that they would volunteer for a month.

So when we got to the meeting, I had to rewrite my notes for my talk, and put forward the idea that this was to be our project. When I presented it at the meeting, everyone liked the sound of it, but of course, that just started the ball rolling.

The thing that sticks out to me all these years later is how difficult it was to get it off the ground! I think it was only because other people took this project on with enthusiasm that made it work.

We said to the churches which were hosting the volunteers, you are part of this person’s life, you are a big part of confirming if God is calling them into full-time ministry. 

It was the making of many of those young people.

In the next 50 years, what are my wishes for Time for God? It’s got to be growth. Have we got the faith that this will grow? Not just in numbers, but the quality of spiritual growth in these young people is important.

In Acts 8, you have the story of Phillip who was in Samaria, doing a wonderful job, with people responding and being baptised. God calls him out of Samaria to go into the desert by Gaza, and there’s nobody there, no congregation at all. He thinks, ‘what am I doing here?’ But God said to go, so he goes. Then he sees the dust on the horizon and on come an entourage coming home from Jerusalem, and there’s a man sitting in the chariot. He says, “I’ve been to Jerusalem, I’ve tried to pray, I’ve tried to believe, but I can’t.” Phillip gets in, and he opens up the scriptures to this one man. One man. As they go along, the man understands and he asks to be baptised. Phillip’s done his job.

The difference one person in the right place can make to future generations – this is God’s work."

--Rev. Bryan Gilbert

This post is part of '50 Stories,' a year-long series of personal accounts to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Time For God.