Mr. GB

Eleven years ago…I met Mr. GB. He was looking to start a church and so was I. God put us together at the exact right time. We had this unique connection and friendship that was more like father and son. I told him often that I wished I had known him years before. I believe I could have gleaned so much more wisdom and knowledge in leadership. I talked to Mr. GB just about every morning at 9am. He always wanted a project and wanted to succeed. He taught me many, many lessons….things I use today to lead our church and our staff. It will take me months to measure this loss to my life and our church family. New friends at Friend Church will never know the impact that he made and how instrumental Mr. GB was over these last 10 years.

Let me tell you a little history about how we got started as Friend Church. I was pastoring a church in downtown Columbia, and Mr. GB and his lovely wife, Donnis, came to one of our services. He called me inviting me to lunch one day and we talked about our ideas in starting a church. He then told me of 75 people that he knew that wanted to participate. We scheduled a meeting at his house for me to lay out the vision. I showed up at the appointed time, but when he answered the door, he said, “Greg, they are not coming! It’s only going to be Donnis and me, and 3 other couples…will you talk to us?” I stayed, we talked, and we roughly outlined Friend Church (known as Lakewood Church). As we left the meeting, Mr. GB asked if I would take the risk with him and start this church together. I told him that I was going on vacation and would call him in 2-3 weeks with my answer.

I had only been at the beach 24 hours and the house phone rang, it was of course, Mr. GB. I hadn’t given him the number, I didn’t know the number! He asked, “Well…have you made your decision?” It was then that I knew the type of man I was dealing with! He was a winner! He was ready to go! He was passionate about building something great!

He was probably involved in every major decision I have made over the past 11 years. He was a genius with money and financing. He set up our finances and set up a fantastic relationship with the bank. We have borrowed money about 3 times over the years and have never been turned down for a loan.

Whatever the problem was I could call him for advice and not only advice, but he took it as a ministry to just help people out. He was an unbelievable giver. He gave thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars over the years to the ministry of the Gospel at FC. He is the one that set up the our present facility. He is the one that worked out all of our business. He is the one that set up the new McPherson Educational Scholarship. He is the one that encouraged me and so many others even in the most difficult of times! I suppose the only thing that he wanted to do that we didn’t get done, was to buy some property to build on. I promised him a few weeks ago in the hospital that we would buy it and would call it the “Broome Land”.

Four years ago…he was on his deathbed. The doctors called the family in and said that the end was near. Unbelievable…but he fought the odds, God wasn’t ready for him, and he lived another 4 1/2 years. He remarked many times over the last few years that God must have left him here for something. And he just kept working and going and loving and encouraging and making deals…until 6 weeks ago.

We all thought that death was imminent.  We just couldn’t believe that he would fight 30+ more days! He did. And for the last two weeks, I was on scheduled vacation in Jekyll again. I just knew I would get that call in the middle of the night. It never came. I got into town yesterday, and before I went home I went straight to the Hospice Home. He was restless, I talked to him for a few minutes alone, he opened his eyes and seemed to be listening. I prayed with him…and then just a few hours later…Jesus came to get him. He went home. I am looking forward to this funeral more than any other I have ever conducted. i look forward to honoring my friend and mentor. I love him…and I will miss him…until I see him in glory.gene greg high impact bw

3 Replies to “Mr. GB”

  1. I remember a couple of things that pertain to Friend Church. I worked with GB for three years about sixteen years ago. We started ServiceMaster Lawn Care. I was a struggling student, saw his ad, called, and was later hired as a telemarketer, salesman, and then sales manager. I loved GB as a father as well. He had such a way of motivating people, always positive, but he could chastise you as well. About thirteen years ago, GB called me into his office and said that he felt God was calling him to start a church in much the same way through telemarketing as he had started the lawn care company. It was cool that he trusted me with this dream and shortly after I left, he sold the company to TruGreen/Chemlawn, a corporation that was buying the business. A few years later, I got a call that this group that Greg talked about was meeting as his house about starting a church. He invited me to come. I came for support, but didn’t feel God was calling me to join since my family was young and tied into another church. It was so cool to come on board of the church a few years later as they were moving into the warehouse and see how far they had come. When I got the news a few years ago that he was not supposed to live very long, I went to his house and got to tell him my goodbyes then. Little did I know that he would live so long after that. Last June, my son got married and he and Donnis told me they wanted to come. We sent him an invitation, but due to his declining health they weren’t able to come. The last memory I have of him was bringing him two glasses from the reception. He looked up with such gratitude and little did I know that would be the last time I saw him. I would not be where I am today in business if it were not for the heart Gene has to train people. I have had my own business for about ten years and so often model it exactly as Gene had taught me to do. He has a legacy at Friend Church that I hope won’t soon be forgotten. I’m sorry I’ve gone so long, but I was just looking for an avenue to express my thoughts. I look forward to seeing Gene in heaven. He was a man who had a heart for God, an unshakable purpose, and a love for people. He will be greatly missed.

  2. Greg,
    this man was the definition of a loving god trusting man who cared passionetly about people and fc. I really feel blessed to have known MR Gene for as long as Kelly and I have. Thank you for this church and mr gb.

  3. Greg, that is the most beautiful story…I am sitting here crying reading it.What a great frienship ya’ll had…we should all be so lucky!!! So sorry for your loss….Judy Creech

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