How The Lord Led And Guided Thomas Bruce Gilbert
1917 - 1972
Gospel Perpetuating Publishers
Fort Dodge, Iowa, U. S. A. 50501
Donald L. Norbie
It is with mixed feelings that this biography is being written. When one has known the person fairly well it is difficult to be completely objective. But then is any writing objective? This is complicated even more when the author feels a great debt to the person about whom he is writing. And this is the case here.
It was in 1938 in Tucson that I heard the simple Gospel through T. B. Gilbert. First the radio reached its long fingers into our home. My mother, who was an invalid with tuberculosis, heard his radio program. She was helped and wrote expressing her appreciation. Soon he was bringing other Christians and visiting our home.
It was on one of these visits that I was trapped in the house when he came. A rebellious teenager, I was pulled and torn by the currents of life. Baptized, a church member, yet fearfully frustrated by the demands of God’s law—I did not know grace at all. Ours was a religion of works. “Be good and you will go to heaven!” My problem was that I was not good.
And so I was ripe for the Gospel of God’s grace. Sin was a problem to me. I may have heard some of the radio broadcasts before but they did not really register. I may have heard some of the words he spoke to my mother that day as I was in the room. But what gripped me was the way he prayed. No formal repetition of the Lord’s prayer but a fervent, vibrant talk with God, and I did not know God. When he was through praying I was weeping, big unhappy tears without shame. Did I want to know my sins forgiven? Indeed, I did. Then came a simple presentation of God’s love, Christ’s death for sin, His resurrection, and the gracious offer of God’s gift of salvation. It was God’s promise—John 5:24. Would I believe God?
That afternoon as a teenage boy I opened my heart and life to God. Mr. Gilbert talked some more, prayed and left me clutching John 5:24 as if my life depended on it, and it did. This was the beginning of life, real life, for me.
In view of this you will realize it is not easy for me to be completely objective. I am aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the man—”a man of like passions as we are.” But the purpose of this book is not to glorify a man but the God he served And also there is a desire to point out Scriptural principles that molded his life. God still needs men, men of courage and commitment, men of character and obedience, men with vision and persistence.
I am sure Mr. Gilbert’s concern for this book would be that some younger men might catch a vision of the fruitfulness and joy of a life given over to God.
“Whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their life” (Hebrews 13:7).
Donald L. Norbie