Lutz couple returns to Tampa to raise money for Sustainable Empowerment in Africa
By Tia Mitchell, Times Staff Writer
For Deb and Mike Gilbert, how they traded comfortable lives in Lutz for mission work halfway around the world is one long “God story.”
They say God gave them the strength four years ago to turn grief into action after the death of their teenage son. They credit God with giving them a vision to launch a ministry in an economically depressed and war-ravaged nation.
God, they say, put people in their lives who helped them reach their goals. He placed signs along the way confirming they were on the right path. The Gilberts have no doubt Uganda is where they were called to be, and now it is their home.
Though their ministry is only three years old, the Gilberts believe it was God’s plan for their lives all along. Everything else – their jobs, their church experience, even their son’s addiction-related death – was preparing them to fulfill that purpose.
Though the move to Uganda was their first mission trip and very uncharacteristic for the couple who were comfortable in their suburban, middle-class lives, they don’t describe it as an odd turn of events. Instead, they say, it was just trusting God enough to move when he said “go.”
“I know it’s not a surprise to God that we’re in Africa,” said Deb, who is in Tampa to raise money for the mission. “That’s what he was raising us up to.” . . .