Bob Gass’ story
This is the story of Bob Gass, the author of the UCB Word For Today. Although Bob passed away in 2019, before he was ‘promoted to glory’ (as Bob would have said), he began a long writing project which would mean the UCB Word For Today could continue long after he was gone. Thanks to this planned provision, we believe that Bob’s legacy will ensure that the UCB Word For Today will reach even more people in the years to come than it has over the last 25 years.
The below was written before Bob passed away and shares the incredible story of how The UCB Word For Today first began.
'I preached my first sermon when I was 13 but years later on my wedding day, we received a prophetic word which said God would use my writing to reach more people, than words spoken in the pulpit. It has been an extraordinary blessing to see how God has used the UCB Word for Today since then, to reach millions of people around the world. God continues to make himself known through the ‘power of a story’.’
My early years – ‘I would fight back tears, I had this burning desire to preach.’
‘Growing up as a young man in Belfast, my mother was the driving force in our lives. She was one of the greatest Christians I ever knew, with an amazing conversion experience. She came into the kingdom at a hundred miles an hour and she never slowed down. She took her family in one hand and her faith in the other, and said, ‘we are going to serve the Lord.’
Every week, she took us to church and I always remember that after the morning service, I would go to two Sunday schools - the Brethren and the Presbyterian. I once said to my mother, ‘my friends only go to one Sunday school, how come I have to go to two?’ ‘It’s a back-up plan’, she would say, ‘just in case you weren’t listening the first time.’ We also went to a Sunday night service, the prayer meeting on Monday, Bible study on a Wednesday and the youth service on a Friday.
One of my mother’s favourite verses was ‘[they shall be] planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God’ (Psalm 92:13 NIV). And so as children, not only were we planted but we were fertilised, watered and pruned. But then an amazing thing happened, when I was 12, I got saved at a mission and soon all my heroes were preachers. I grew up in a culture where men didn’t cry, but I would fight back tears, because I had this burning desire to preach. I had no idea how I would make it from the congregation to the pulpit, but I had this inner tug, this deep calling, and I preached my first sermon when I was 13.’
A wedding day message from God: ‘You will reach more people through your writing, than you will in all the years of your preaching.’
When I was 18, I left Belfast for America and arrived with just a suitcase and 25p in my pocket. A pastor and his wife there took me in and this pastor contacted all his friends and said, ‘I have this Irish guy here, would you have him come and preach at your church?’ He asked me to record my sermons and he would critique me and give advice on delivery and speaking. I never did get to go to Bible school, but I had a one-on-one teacher in the form of my pastor friend. He taught me so much, to memorise Scripture, how to speak, how to behave in people’s homes. He held my feet to the fire and kept me accountable. So in my heart, I have always been called to the ministry, but while the calling has never changed, the method has.
On my wedding day, the pastor who married us gave me a prophetic word. He said, ‘The Lord has told me that you will reach more people through your writing, than you will in all the years of your preaching.’ I wasn’t a writer, I didn’t want to write, I didn’t feel qualified, but my wife Debby wrote the prophetic word down and we did not forget it.
When I met Ian Mackie and a small group of volunteers, who were trying to launch Christian radio in the UK, their biggest challenge was ‘how do we get the message out?’ They had no support base and the government wouldn’t give them any radio space or time. I realised then, that one of the most read parts of a daily newspaper is often the horoscope section. Thank God we don’t need horoscopes, but I realised that by reading them, people want guidance, encouragement and they want answers. So I said to Ian and his team, ‘I’ll write a daily devotional for you. I’ll provide Scripture and thoughts for each day. You can give it out at conferences, set up a table and say to people, “would you like a free devotional?”’ Three-and-a-half years after I received that prophetic word on our wedding day, the UCB Word For Today was printed for the first time. It was just 3,000 copies, but in 30 years, that mailing list and supporter base has grown from 3,000 to over 600,000. In that sense, there’s been a real marriage between the UCB Word For Today and Christian broadcasting.
The Power of the UCB Word For Today
We frequently receive letters which say, ‘this was just the right word at the right time in my life.’ And people ask how ‘I’ do it. I believe with all my heart that without God’s spirit, I don’t have anything to say, but when God’s spirit touches God’s Word, something ignites and something comes to life. I am reminded of Paul who said, ‘not that we are sufficient of ourselves … but our sufficiency is of God’ (2 Corinthians 3:5 KJV). It’s His Word and all I do is distribute what God says.
I believe we all have a kingdom destiny. We are each called by God to be priests and as believers, we all have access to the same anointing. The same Holy Spirit, the same presence of God rests on each of us and we need to get the message of the gospel to this culture. We live in a world where people are searching for happiness and looking for it in drugs, multiple relationships and money. People think that if they get just one more thing or make some more money, they will be happy. But that is not the answer. We have the answer and His name is Jesus Christ. I am thrilled at how God has used UCB all these years to reach homes across the UK, with His message, His hope, His gospel. But I also know there is much more to be done.
Do you share my desire to help more people than ever before start or strengthen their relationship with Jesus? The UCB Word For Today is such a good way to do this; gently encouraging someone to start spending time with God each day. Will you join me in helping more people than ever before by giving a gift? £20 could reach and impact 25 people through the ministry of the UCB Word For Today.
Jesus is the most exciting, thrilling person and we need to let people know how it’s possible to have a living relationship with Him. If I had a million lives to live, I would live them all for Jesus.