Scott Gilpin: In Love With Hope
By: Sherri Gragg
Saturday, September 21, 2013 Scott Gilpin stopped by the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya to run an errand. Instead, he bore witness to a terrorist attack that changed his life forever.
Terror in Nairobi
As Scott Gilpin walked across the parking lot of the Westgate Mall, a car screeched to a stop in front of him. As the door flew open, men armed with AK-47s rushed toward the mall entrance, firing as they ran. Immediately, a security guard fell dead. Over and over again, the sound of gunfire, and grenade explosions was pierced with the cries the men, women, and children who were fleeing for their lives.
A mother ran toward Gilpin with her two young children. Instinctively, he picked up one of the children and ran. As bullets rained around them, they began to make their way to safety. Gilpin saw a man crouched behind his car and urged him to come with them. And then another…and another. Once they made it onto the street, Gilpin began leading the group to the nearby Kenya’s Oshwal Indian Cultural Center, a place he considered safe since it was guarded by the Hindu militia.
Lessons in Prayer
The small group huddled together in shock and fear. One man was particularly distressed. He had gone to the shopping center to pick up his daughter. As the sound of rapid gunfire erupted, he received a call from his daughter’s phone. He answered to the sound of screaming, and then, the phone went dead. Gilpin was moved with compassion for him. “For some reason, I felt called to do something I wouldn’t normally do,” he said, “I felt led to lead our group in prayer.”
Moments later, Gilpin was safely in the car with his driver. Once again, he felt God leading him to pray. “I think I am probably pretty darn average when it comes to prayer,” Gilpin said, “I quit listening when God has given me what I want. What I learned in Nairobi is that if we will sit quiet just a little bit longer, there is often a second piece to God's answer.”
God’s answer to Gilpin was this: the key to saving others and his own sanity in the wake of the attack was for him to serve. He directed his driver to the local hospital where he found the Red Cross preparing to respond to the overwhelming need for blood donations. Gilpin canceled his flight home and took his place among the volunteers. God used the experience to sow the seeds of powerful redemption in the soil of trauma and loss.
Today, Gilpin’s work and ministry are a multifaceted, international undertaking, much of which has grown out of his experience in Nairobi. He is the Executive Director of a U.S. based foundation for the establishment of Wesley College in Tanzania. He leads a team for the Global Board of Higher Education in which he teaches fundraising to Methodist colleges and leaders to empower their institutions to achieve greater sustainability. Additionally, Gilpin is in the process of conducting feasibility studies for two faith-based projects in Texas.
He dedicates his time and talent to raise funds for two schools in Africa, a passion he ties directly to his experiences in Nairobi.
A Spiritually Hungry Generation
Gilpin is deeply grateful to have survived the attack, but the emotional and spiritual wounds of that day remain ever-present for him. “The people around me who were murdered were just as loved by God,” he said. “Every day I struggle with the questions of, ‘Why did I live?’ and ‘Could I have saved other people?’” Gilpin knows he may only have the answers to the questions that haunt him on the day he can ask them of God face-to-face.
Despite the darkness of Westgate Mall, Gilpin has emerged confident in God’s faithfulness and goodness. “We are a spiritually hungry generation,” he said. “As disciples of Jesus Christ, we dare not miss this moment! We must offer the hope we have found in Jesus Christ. I am in love with hope.”