Rob Gilmer's Testimony

Rob Gilmer's Testimony

In Rob Gilmer's debut newsletter contribution, he shares a powerful personal experience of stepping out in faith to share the Gospel. As a ministerial student in the Church of the Nazarene, Rob recounts his transformative journey from being hesitant to boldly evangelizing. He describes a pivotal moment during his vacation when he felt led by the Spirit to share the Gospel with the pool guy, Mike. Despite initial doubts and hesitations, Rob overcame his fears and engaged in a profound conversation about faith and salvation. Through colorful bracelet symbolism and thoughtful questions, Rob guided Mike to a deeper understanding of Jesus, His sacrifice, and the path to eternal life. This heartwarming story serves as a testament to the importance of stepping out in faith and sharing the life-changing message of Christ.


Rob Gilmer

7/27/20197 min read



This is my first contribution to the newsletter so I will briefly tell you about myself. I am a ministerial student in the Church of the Nazarene and have been a Christian for a little over 4 years. I met Mike Barko about 2 years ago at our church, Harrisonburg First Church of the Nazarene, where I hold a Local Ministers License. Over these 2 years we developed a friendship based upon our love for Christ and a burden for the lost.

Mike began to encourage me to evangelize with the ministry he leads, Communities 4 Christ. One afternoon in March of this year I watched Mike and Karen Brooks evangelize and lead souls to Christ outside of the Rockingham County Court House. I had never seen anything like it and was encouraged that with the help of the Lord I could join them.

My first opportunity came later in March at the Maple Festival in Monterey, VA. That day changed me. I had led a handful of people to Christ in the past but this was different. Sitting down with strangers and sharing the Gospel took me way out of my comfort zone. I had to get over being rejected and depend on the Holy Spirit to lead. That was a wonderful day and 12 people prayed to receive Christ.Please let me tell you about this particular day, July 10th, 2019, just a few weeks ago...

I’ll call it, “ An awesome way to start my day.”

My wife, Sue, and I were on vacation in South Carolina at a family member’s beach house. Over breakfast I read an interesting article in Christianity Today titled, “More Than A Feeling” by John Koessler.

Here is a highlight from his article, “The art of being led by the Spirit is not a matter of waiting each moment for some mystical experience of divine direction. It is a matter of trusting God for the power to obey what He has already told you to do.”

A little later that morning my wife called out, “The pool guy is here!” Immediately after hearing this I felt compelled to go and share the Gospel with him. Most of us have had those moments when we are led by the Spirit to do something.

As soon as I knew I must go out and talk to this man another voice entered my head. That voice said, “Don’t bother him. He is working. You are too busy and it is time to head to the beach. Also it may make him feel uncomfortable (or more honestly, it may make me feel uncomfortable), and what if he rejects the message?”

I have had discussions with Mike Barko about why we hesitate and in some cases back away from sharing the Gospel. Mike has led thousands of people to Christ and he sometimes feels timid and hesitates.

It is our nature to avoid confrontation and rejection. We all occasionally feel timid and hesitant to do what doesn’t come naturally. But do you give in to the flesh or do you trust God for the power to be obedient to do what he has told you to do?After a few uncomfortable moments I grabbed a couple of bracelets and went out to meet the pool guy. The pool guy, Mike, was vacuuming the pool when I approached him.

The first thing I noticed were 3 colorful bracelets on both wrists. I introduced myself and asked him about his job. I made a comment about his bracelets and he explained they represented the three foreign countries where he had lived. Mike traveled around the world after college and settled back home in South Carolina with his German born wife.

I pulled out a rawhide bracelet and offered it to him. He said, "Man that is cool, thank you.” I asked if it was OK to share what the colors mean. He was eager to know.

The first color is gold. He couldn’t tell me what gold stood for but when I explained that gold symbolizes Heaven Mike became very serious. He believed in a place called Heaven and he wanted to go there.

Now the first diagnostic question, “Why would God let you into his heaven?” Mike answered, “Because I believe that Jesus died for me and I live a moral life and I am a good person compared to others.”

When we hear someone include their goodness and their works in their hope for heaven red flags are raised. Also the word believe can be troubling because what does “believe” really mean? In Scripture people followed Jesus and believed he was a miracle worker but they did not believe he was the Messiah.

So, I asked Mike why did Jesus die for you? He couldn’t give me a coherent answer.

The next diagnostic question, “How certain are you that you will go to heaven or are you still working on it?” He said he was very certain. How certain? 100% certain. I asked why ? Once again he said, "I believe and I do good and I am good."

When someone insists they are good, we need for them to see when compared to God they are not good. So we take them to the Law, the Ten Commandments. The next colored bead on the bracelet, dark, Mike knew was sin. Like all of us, Mike fell short and he knew it. He accepted his punishment which is spiritual death or hell.

Mike was now ready to hear the Good News. I shared the Gospel starting with Jesus in the manger to His suffering, death, and resurrection. The next bead on the bracelet is red. Mike knew it was blood. He needed to know that red represented the cleansing blood of Jesus.

Mike knew he was guilty and deserved spiritual death and why Jesus died for him. Mike needed to see that his own goodness could not save him. Time for the Great Depression story. If you have read this newsletter before you are probably familiar with this story.

A grandmother steals bread to feed her starving family. She is caught and the bread baker demands punishment. The judge wants to let the grandmother go but he can’t because he is a just judge so the judge devises a plan.

What if someone pays for the bread? The bread baker says he will take $10 for the bread. Who can pay? Mike knew the answer. The judge.

The one who judges also paid for the crime. Mike began to understand that the judge is God and the payment was His Son Jesus’ life.

Now we transitioned into God’s Court. Mike is sitting in the electric chair. Mike knows his sins have made him guilty and he deserves spiritual death.

So I ask, “What can you do to get out of chair? God does not want to judge you guilty but He is just and He must judge you accordingly. He wants you to go to heaven. He made a way for you.”

Mike gave a couple of typical answers, 'I will ask for mercy. I will repent'. After the speeding ticket story (you are to pay a speeding ticket but you ask to be let off because you say you will never do it again and you ask for mercy and you still have to pay) Mike realized that he couldn’t do anything.

He finally gets the connection. He can’t do anything to save himself.

Jesus’ cleansing blood paid his sin debt. After Mike understood that his black sin stained coat was exchanged for Jesus’ white pure coat, God judged him not guilty, making a way for him to go to Heaven.

Now the desert story so Mike can see that his goodness is something he has added as a way to Heaven. I buy Mike’s favorite desert but I leave the receipt. Mike loves the desert and he feels that it is too good for him not to pay. So Mike goes to the store and shows the receipt to the clerk and tells the clerk about the great free gift and he would like to pay for it. The clerk gives Mike a puzzled look and says, “Sir it was already paid for-just enjoy it.”

The next colored bead on the bracelet- White. Mike guesses it is for purity. I asked him, “What happened three days after Jesus died for you on the cross?” He said Resurrection.

I then asked him if he knew what little white piece of paper a store gave him when something was paid for? A receipt. White symbolizes the Resurrection. The Resurrection is our receipt that our sin debt was paid. Paid in full.

Now a very important question,”Who is Jesus?” Mike said, “The Son of God.” But I ask, “Is He God?” He answers no. “Jesus is not God.” So I bring up the Trinity and he begins to understand. I ask him, “If Jesus were only a man, could a man die for all the sin in the world or would Jesus have to be God.” Mike answered, “ He would have to be God. Jesus is God.”

Now the moment of truth.

I asked Mike if he was ready to transfer his trust from his own goodness as a way to Heaven to what Jesus did for him on the Cross. He said yes.


We prayed and he thanked God for sending Jesus to die for him so his sin debt could be paid. He asked for forgiveness of his sins. He trusted Jesus rose from the dead. He trusted Jesus alone for his salvation. He thanked Jesus for what He did for him. He was grateful for a new life.

Afterword we hugged and I asked Mike, “What just happened?” He said, ”I trust only Jesus for my salvation. I have eternal life. I know Jesus is God. Thank you for setting me straight. Now I know.”

I asked Mike, “How certain are you that you will go to heaven.” He said, 100%. I asked why? “I trust He died for my sins.” I ask, “Is that enough or is there anything you can do? He answered, “No, He did it all. There is nothing I can add.”

We hugged again and it was time for me to go. Mike’s final words were...

“This is an awesome way to start my day. Thanks.”

Mike didn’t attend church. If he had ever heard the Gospel he didn’t remember it. He was trusting in things that could not save him. He didn’t know who Jesus is and why he died for him.

We spent 20 minutes together. Mike now knows and trusts Jesus. There are so many people like Mike waiting for someone to tell them the truth.

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Rom 10:17.

Thank you Jesus,

Rob Gilmer