It’s hard to ignore your calling once you know exactly where life will take you. And no matter how hard it is, you’ll go to any lengths to obtain it, no matter what.
Joey Gilbert has always been a man of God. He started preaching when he was just 19 years old. But now at age 46, he’s been an ordained pastor for 15 years.
Gilbert is now the pastor of a church located in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi. There was a time where the church needed a pastor, and he came right in to fill the void, and he has served for the last year and a half.
But the catch is that he’s not from the area. He doesn’t even live in the state.
Gilbert lives in Carnesville, Georgia, which is about 500 miles from the church and two states over.
The pastor makes the 1,000-mile round trip from Georgia to Mississippi a few times a month, just to get to the Bayside Baptist Church, which has an average attendance of 40 people. He usually makes it just in time for Sunday morning service, and he stays overnight in the house of one of the church-goers in the community. But why would he go that far out of his way for this church?
Because it needed him.
Gilbert first went to the Bay Saint Louis area right after it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The town had been devastated by the storm, and Gilbert and his family volunteered at the time to help rebuild the community. They ended up helping rebuild the same church he would later serve as pastor.
From that point on, Gilbert kept coming back to the area, as he and the family helped with a Vacation Bible School for the children of the community, although the trip was only once a year.
In June 2016, the Bayside Baptist Church lost its pastor. This inconvenienced the service as a whole, and the rate of people attending was fast declining. So one day during a visit, Gilbert got an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“They asked if I could help them,” he told Sun Herald. And he agreed, despite the fact that the trip he had taken once a year would turn into a near-weekly one. He arrives almost every Sunday morning, not only to serve the church, but also pick up children who don’t have a ride to the service as well.
Despite the 1,000-mile round trip, the man has always showed up to help people, in more ways than one.
For Christmas 2017, the Gilberts came to the church bearing gifts for everyone.
The family brought gifts came from people in their hometown of Carnesville, to help give this small community a Christmas to remember.
When asked about how he manages to pull off the trip so often, Gilbert said it’s “with the Lord’s help, a lot of prayer, and a lot of determination.”
Anyone that is willing to go to these lengths to help people is what this world needs. Gilbert said that he’s already nearly worn out a vehicle in the time since he’s become their pastor, but it’s been worth it nonetheless.
Joey Gilbert and his family have made an undeniable impact on the Bayside Baptist Church and the community as a whole. The church may someday find a pastor who lives a little bit closer, but there’s no doubt that the joy and faith the Gilberts have given to these people will last a lifetime.
Joey Gilbert drives almost every week from North Georgia to Bayside Baptist Church in Hancock County to serve as pastor to the small church. Gilbert has been driving down with his wife and another couple to help the church for more than a year. On their last visit they came bearing Christmas gifts. Read his whole story tomorrow at SunHerald.com
Posted by SunHerald on Saturday, December 23, 2017