Our Guest: Col. Gary Nelson

Col. Gary Nelson served in the U.S. Air Force for 29 years before retiring to lead Galcom International, a mission organization primarily reaching oral learners.

While in the Air Force, he spent 24 years as a fighter pilot, including flying the F-4 Phantom Flying aircraft in combat over Vietnam. He accumulated 5200 hours of jet fighter flying time, and for a time held the world record of 4500 hours in the F-4 Phantom. Gary then commanded an F16 fighter squadron and flew that aircraft. He also served as Deputy Base Commander at MacDill AFB after his tour as squadron commander.

In 1991, he separated from the Air Force and moved to Tampa, Florida, to head a mission organization called Galcom International, which a close friend and mentor had started. This included building a tax exempt charity organization from scratch. The ministry provides audio tools for reaching non-literate people, or those who prefer to learn by hearing, with the Gospel. He headed this ministry for 18 years and is still the corporate president. During those years, Galcom sent audio tools for hearing the Gospel to millions of people in over 160 countries.

Born in 1940 and raised on a farm in South Dakota, he married his high school sweetheart, Mary. In 2016, the Nelsons moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, to be closer to family. Now married for over 64 years, they have raised four wonderful children who are all serving the Lord and are raising up the next generation to do the same.

Gary is amazed at how God invited him into His exciting work.

Scriptures and Key Points from Gary’s story:

  • Even before Gary had committed his life to the Lord, God watched over him.

Hebrews 1:14 KJV Are they (angels) not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

Psalm 68:20 NKJV Our God is the God of salvation; and to God the Lord belong escapes from death.

  • “God put that little saddleback there for me as an escape from death.”
  • All of us can look back at our lives at the goodness of God.
  • God is with us along the way.
  • During the Jesus Movement, God was not only moving among hippies but in other communities as well. 

Household Salvation

  • Gary and his family all came to the Lord within a couple of weeks of each other.
  • They grew up in the Lord together.
  • It instilled a great hunger for the Word of God individually and as a family.
  • God has a providential way of connecting pieces.
  •  The characteristics of the Kingdom emanate from the character of the King.
  • Gary and Mary’s marriage and serving together has brought forth great fruit.
  • There is something about the “first”s.

Acts 16:31 NKJV So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

  • The commonality of the Holy Spirit moving brought a lot of people together across racial, denominational, and generational lines.

God is Up to Something.

  • We are ripe for an awakening.
  • God is preparing His bride for the Bridegroom and for the coming harvest.
  • Our hope is not in the institutions of man.
  • This move of God is organic and not forced.
  • God is visiting, healing, and restoring the youth to His Kingdom.

Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

  • Sometimes a move comes through difficult times bringing us back to our first love.

Revelation 2:4 NKJV Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.

Gary’s Next Assignment

1 Corinthians 7:20 KJV Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.

  • “I guess the Lord forgot. He never called me out.”
  • God called Gary out when He needed him in another assignment.
  • In the original Hebrew there is no word for retirement. It just means a different assignment.
  • God always has a calling and a purpose for us.
  • Galcom has been used by God to distribute over 2 million audio bibles.
  • The Church needs to be on the frontlines with the Gospel.
  • What we sow today becomes the harvest for the future.
  • Most of the people coming across the border need Jesus.

Psalm 2:8 NKJV Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession.

  • The first line of influence is the Gospel.
  • Lasting change only comes with the changing of the heart. 

John 10:10 NKJV The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Six Areas where Christian Leaders Need to be Careful:

  1. Finances
  2. Power
  3. Pride
  4. Sexual temptation
  5. Family issues
  6. Loss of spiritual momentum
  • While there would be some who would block Gary’s path, God moved him to a place of promotion.
  • If we stick to our convictions in a godly way, we will always outlast our adversaries and adversities.
  • God is faithful as we walk with Him and trust Him.
  • “It turned out that the Lord had another job for me.”
  • God had a different promotion for Gary that gave him a lasting legacy.
  • Gary and Mary were intentional about bringing their family into everything they were learning about God.
  • When their family faced challenges, they would pray together, see God answer, and talk about it together.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 NKJV And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up…

  • God is God.
  • They lived within godly boundaries.

Joshua 24:15 NKJV And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

  • This verse became the family verse.
  • The Lord has been faithful to their covenant.
  • They laid out foundational principles for lasting success.

1 Corinthians 11:1 MEV Follow me as I follow Christ.

  • As believers we need to open our hearts and lives to the coming harvest of believers.



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