Chris Gilger was born on Warren’s tough West Side in 1954. His family later moved to Champion Ohio. At the age of 8, his grandmother passed away. He kept reading the memorial bulletin over. As he continues to read it, he felt the presence of God for the first time and did not know what it was about. His family did not attend church at that time. A neighbor lady began to witness to him about Christ and he finally gave in and went to a revival service at the Nazarene Church. As the pastor gave the alter call, Chris felt that same presence that he had felt at his grandmother’s funeral. Many things in life were still pulling on him and he did not surrender to the Lord. At the age of 19, Chris had been in love with a young woman and over a course of time, she broke up with him. He was in deep despair and could relate with what Abraham Lincoln had said, “I have to get better or cease to be.” After 2 months of wrestling he decided to totally surrender to Christ. At an evening church service, Chris went to the alter and told the Lord, “You can have the steering wheel to my life because I am not capable of driving my own life anymore.” In January 1974, Chris accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.
He was instantaneously delivered of cigarettes (a 2 package a day habit), alcohol, and various drugs. He immediately began reading the Bible for hours a day; he had such a hunger for God he was also spending hours in prayer. Pastor Wurmbrandt came to Chris’s church from Germany. He wrote the book, Tortured for Christ. Pastor Wurmbrandt made a statement that changed Chris’s life. He said, “After being tortured, God said to love the guards and pray for them. What thanks is it before God if you love those who love you. Go and show kindness to people that no one wants anything to do with. Love the unlovely, pay attention and listen to the people who are unattractive, boring, those who cannot reciprocate the love you show them.” Chris took it to heart and started to go down to the park in Warren. He brought his Bible down and talked to everyone that no one wanted anything to do with.
Chris and two of his friends got together and started a Bible study in a friend’s home. Within a year over 70 people were attending, all young people. They took care of each other. Like in the New Testament, they had all things in common. There Chris met a young woman, Margaret, who became his wife one year later. Together God blessed them with seven children, four boys and three girls. They started a janitorial business and worked together. As they would drive through the downtown area they would notice people coming out from under bridges and wandering around town. Chris had such a strong desire to help them. He prayed that someone would start a mission in Warren, Ohio. Chris met and got to know a pastor that ran a small, struggling mission in Warren, Ohio. He started donating meat and food to the shelter. God led Chris to go on an extended fast only drinking water. He had been working in a mission in another city and was seeking God for direction on what to do. The pastor that had ran the mission in Warren, had a heart attack and passed away. His family called Chris and said that the Pastor’s wishes were for Chris to have the mission. They wanted to sell it to Chris for $100,000. The next day Chris, Margaret, and another couple went to the property and walked around it asking God for guidance. Chris and Margaret knelt down and spoke a commitment that if the owner called back immediately and would GIVE it to him FREELY, Chris would quit his job and they would start a new mission work. They needed a “Gideon” sign from the Lord to make a commitment of this magnitude. The next day at noon, the owner called Chris and told him that she had been up all night and felt convicted to give Chris the property for FREE. A week later, the deed was done and they received the keys.
This was the beginning of the WARREN FAMILY MISSION.
Jesus said to them all, If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man is ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and the glory of his Father and of the holy angels. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.
– Luke 9 verses 23-27