A message from Josh Gilreath, State Director of Mississippi FCA
When I was in college at Mississippi State, I attended the FCA College Getaway. I was blown away with the influence that Wes Yeary (the FCA Campus Director for Ole Miss at that time) had on the athletes at Ole Miss - they had about 3 times as many athletes at the retreat as we did from MSU. It was there that I also met Bill Buckner. After I introduced myself, I asked him why we (MSU) didn't have an FCA director. He said he was praying about it and believed that one day God would call someone to that role. At that moment, I had no idea what an impact Bill Buckner would have on my life and little did I know that a few years down the road, I would become the FCA Campus Director at MSU.
It was while I was coaching football at Indiana University as a graduate assistant that I sensed God doing a new work in my life. I remember calling Bill Buckner and sharing with him about how much I enjoyed investing in the spiritual health of the athletes at Indiana. I didn't know if I should stay in coaching or go into ministry. It was just a few months after that phone call that I was a part of Bill's staff. For over 7 years I served on FCA staff. We saw hundreds of lives changes. Some of our current MS staff were a part of the FCA ministry at MSU. My wife, Ashlea, and I developed life-long friendships through FCA.
On May 23, 2014, Bill went home to be with Lord. Shortly after his funeral, the Mississippi FCA State Executive Board and Del Wright, Regional FCA Vice President, approached me about becoming Bill's successor. Next to my dad, I can't think of anyone who has invested in my life more than Bill. The Board shared with me that they had several conversations with Bill, and it was his desire for me to follow him in the FCA ministry, should I sense God leading me that way. The question put to me during this meeting left Ashlea and I with a difficult decision to make. I'm currently serving as the Campus Pastor for Pinelake Church in Starkville. This is the church that I had the privilege of serving as it went from inception to a vibrant, life-giving church, averaging over 1,000 in weekly attendance. We love our church and love all that God is doing in it and through it. But as we prayed we knew that God was calling us back to serve with the FCA staff and we couldn't be more excited about following God in this calling. I would appreciate your prayers for my family, Ashlea, Jet (4), Eva Cate (3) as we transition.
I'll be taking office as the State Director for FCA in Mississippi on August 4th. I'm excited to have the opportunity to build on the foundation laid by Bill Buckner, the FCA Staff and Board, supporters, Mississippi coaches, and athletes. I ask that you join with our Staff, Board, and me in praying for the future. With prayer, sweat, and sacrifice WE can see to it that every child in the state of Mississippi, OUR state, hears the Gospel of Jesus Christ before they graduate college!