Chattanooga Adios & Fellowship Weekend


Dear friends from, in, or near Chattanooga,

I would like to invite you to Chattanooga Valley for any or all events during the weekend of September 14th and 15th.  All events are free. My family and I are preparing to leave the country at the end of the year to follow our calling towards underserved medical missions (more info here). Come and celebrate with us the great things that God has done for all of us, and the good plans he has for our future. Whether we know each other from school, through family, work, or church – we invite you to come over.  RSVP is required for the Sept 14th supper.

We plan to bring all the pre-ordered T-shirts and have some extras available.


September 14th:   5pm – 8pm   Supper and Fellowship at Barry’s House
-Location: 7110 Hwy. 193 Flintstone GA 30725
RSVP Required, (or if you’d prefer you may email:

September 15th:   11am   Sunday Morning Service – Nathan Gilley Preaching
-Location: Chattanooga Valley Church of the Nazarene – Sanctuary,
2853 Chattanooga Valley Rd, Flintstone, GA 30725

September 15th:   4pm – 6pm  Ultimate Frisbee
-Location: Chattanooga Valley Church of the Nazarene – the Field,
2853 Chattanooga Valley Rd, Flintstone, GA 30725

September 15th:   7pm-8pm   Sunday Evening Service – Q&A with the Gilleys
-Location: Chattanooga Valley Church of the Nazarene – Fellowship Hall,
2853 Chattanooga Valley Rd, Flintstone, GA 30725


Hoping to see you all soon,
Nathan & Bethany Gilley

T-Shirt Promotion

Ready… Set… Begin preparing for launch!

To help raise support for our mission work in Honduras, we have designed an awesome T-shirt for all of you! By ordering it you can help us financially, and by wearing it you can remember to lift us up in prayer, check our blog, and share our story with your friends. (While you are on our blog, subscribe)

This is the t-shirt design that we created (10 inch diameter – centered on the front of the shirt):


The design looks on the coastal mountains of Honduras where we will be working,  with the hospital nestled in the mountain’s foothills over the ocean. The hospital we will be serving at is called Hospital Loma De Luz which means “Light on a Hill,” an allusion to Jesus’ call in the Sermon on the Mount for his followers to be light in a dark world (thus the light rays and reflected cross). Arching over this design is the beginning of the Lord’s prayer – a reminder and request to cover us in prayer as often as you think of us. And at the bottom of the design, our web-page and goal, to be a family that embodies the kingdom of heaven on earth.

Bethany and I love a good T-shirt, so we have gone to the local t-shirt printing store to ensure we will receive soft, and comfy t-shirts that you will want to wear all the time.  We will be offering these shirts in the 2 colors as below.

Front Tshirt Proof

We are asking for a donation of $20 per shirt. We are not planning on shipping these shirts individually but would be happy to figure out how to get your shirt to you. If you would like to tell us what you and your family want we can settle up when we get the shirt or shirts to you.




The views and opinions expressed in this blog are not the views of Samaritan’s Purse or World Medical Mission.

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A Blessing – Graduating Residency

Last night my family medicine residency came to its completion. My formal training as a physcian is done (at long last – praise be to God). It still feels surreal. I offered this blessing last night at the beginning of our graduation dinner and ceremony.


Father God,
We give you thanks:
For long hours, hard work, difficult patients, and demanding training,
For by them you have refined us into ready and resilient physicians.

We give you thanks:
For short days, simple tasks, grateful patients, and gracious teachers,
For by them you have freed us to be refreshed, faithful, and fun.

We give you thanks:
For 3 years of hospital food – that we may have neglected to bless,
For 3 step exams – we’ll never have to sit again,
For 3 years of family medicine residency – completed.

And now we ask your blessing:
On tonight’s food and friends –
may the calories be short-lived and the friendships eternal.
And on tonight’s graduates –
May the Lord bless us and keep us,
With grace, guide our service and attitudes,
With peace, guide our actions and our stillness,
With joy, guide our hopes and dreams,
With love, guide our hearts aright,
Send us forth in your spirit of healing and love.

In Jesus’s name,

-Nathan Gilley, Murfreesboro TN, June 29th 2019

My Family –  Celebrating the Completion of Residency.
The faculty and graduates of UT – St. Thomas Family Medicine Residency, Murfreesboro, 2019


Reflections – At the End of Residency

I come to the end of my residency very soon now (June 28th). You see, after graduating from medical school I, like most newly minted doctors, committed myself to a residency. For me it was a three year Family Medicine residency where I hoped to see numerous patients, treat diverse diseases, and learn essential procedures under the guidance and direction of more experienced doctors called attending physicians (attendings, for short). And, like the doctors that make them up, there are good and bad residencies, and I thank my God that I have had the privilege of being trained in a great residency.


I was excited but nervous when I interviewed at the Family Medicine program in Murfreesboro. It was one of my last interviews, but also one of my most eagerly anticipated. Before we even interviewed it seemed like the best place for our young family to get the support we knew our burgeoning family would need. Bethany’s parents live about thirty minutes from Murfreesboro, and my dad lived one and a half hours the other way. At that time we had a toddler Elizabeth an infant Lydia, and we knew that despite my plan to spend every spare minute with my family, the majority of my time and energy would be dedicated to my residency training.

After visiting and interviewing in Murfreesboro, Bethany and I knew we were going to rank it as our first choice. The clinic was devoted to helping the underserved and marginalized, including refugees, homeless, and uninsured persons. The hospital was run as a ministry of the Catholic church, with prayer and spiritual care offered daily for patients, and this mission statement: “Rooted in the loving ministry of Jesus as healer, we commit ourselves to serving all persons with special attention to those who are poor and vulnerable…” And the faculty were committed to a residency that maintained the breadth of family medicine training, including obstetrics, pediatrics, adult medicine, and geriatrics. Then we waited, trying to express our interest without seeming desperate.


Finally, by the grace of God, and the inscrutable match algorithm (a computer program that accepts all the ranked preferences of applicants as well as the ranked preferences of all the US residency programs – and outputs the fate of those doctors and programs) I found myself matched and moving our family to Murfreesboro.

And now, three years later, I look at it from the other side. The UT-St. Thomas Family Medicine Residency Program in Murfreesboro has been all I hoped for and more. Where many programs chew up idealistic doctors and spit out (or defecate) cynical and selfish graduates, my program has cultivated my compassion and joy in medicine. I have felt valued by our faculty, and together we have promoted the dignity of the work we do and the people we serve in our hospital and clinic. Finally, my attendings have encouraged and supported the value and priority I give my faith and family.


Although I have much to learn, I feel ready to step forth as a family physician. I have been equipped with a solid clinical framework, a repertoire of procedural skills, a healthy respect for what I don’t know, and an awareness of some of the obstacles and work-arounds for providing care to the undeserved.

Thank you,
Dr. Glass – for pointing out my knowledge gaps and encouraging me to always ask at least one more question of myself and my patients.
Dr. Singer – for loving us like your children, and spurring us on in research and comprehensive patient care (even if I occasionally bucked).
Dr. Banker – for being candid about life and medicine and always ready to supervise or teach any procedure.
Dr. Garg – for your keen ability to give feedback, see multiple perspectives and solutions, and help us to see them also.
Dr. Reno – for carefully placed words of encouragement and reassurance that have given me confidence and hope.
Dr. McRay – for encouraging me to take the time for existential moments with my patients, and for delivering my third child into this world with grace and peace.
Dr. Streicher – for helping me learn from my mistakes and then helping me move forward again by sharing your own mistakes and giving me a clean slate.
Dr. Dunlap – for making our residency possible by pouring yourself out, and trusting us enough to graduate us (hopefully).

Nathan Gilley

2. Mentee and Mentor – Nathan Gilley

Around middle school, by the grace of God, and the diligence of many teachers, I began to make large strides academically (I would later learn that persons with dyslexia who are helped to overcome the difficulties of basic literacy and numeracy- often find more advanced conceptual learning to be relatively easy due to their unique nuero-cognitive design). So in fifth grade I stopped being pulled out of the classroom for special education sessions and by 8th grade I was in all advanced classes. For this remarkable transition I credit the almighty God, who answers prayers and works all things for the good of those who love him.

Yet God did not work this change in my life directly. Rather, as He so often does, God chose to do his good work to me through willing members of the body of Christ. And he continued to bless me throughout middle school and high school with many relationships that formed me into Christ-likeness and began my formation into a missional family doctor:

Dr. David Redd

I had the rare privilege of being taught advanced freshmen biology, and later AP biology by Dr. Redd, a medical doctor, board certified in general surgery and a devoted Christian. He shared a beautiful portion of his testimony with us when asked why he was teaching high school biology when he was a doctor: after completing his general surgery residency he had been working full time as a surgeon while raising his family, but one night he had a terrible dream. In his dream he saw his daughter come to him crying after he had missed her kindergarten graduation due to work. He reached down to comfort her saying, “Sweety, Daddy is so sorry he couldn’t come to your kindergarten graduation…” But as she turned into his embrace she grew into a young woman and sadly said, “Dad, it wasn’t my kindergarten graduation you missed- it was my High school graduation – you’ve missed my life.” When he awoke, he began to pray and discussed with his family about what radical changes they needed to make to heed the providential warning he had received. Ultimately, he chose to cut his practice of medicine back to part time, live more modestly, and start teaching and coaching part time at his daughter’s school.

I was in the first biology class that Dr. Redd taught after his paradigm shift. My classmates and I remember well those first weeks of advanced biology. Dr. Redd was an engaging teacher, a gifted medical artist, and a wealth of first hand knowledge with stories that brought biology to life in unmatched depth and detail. But the depth and bredth we covered was like trying to drink water from a fire hydrant. I remember working with my friend Carter late into the evenings struggling to pack all the molecule names, processes and equations into our memories- after only week of classes. Despite our whole hearted efforts I think we all failed the first quiz (excluding Katherine). But the lessons we mastered were well the worth the struggle. Dr. Redd, taught me several lessons that have stuck with me. Firstly, a lesson about lessons – the most life changing lessons are those our teachers and mentors embody for us rather than teach to us. Secondly, the Christian call is to a counter-cultural value system and way of life that balances family, finances, vocation, and discipleship in a way that the watching world finds at least curious if not unsettling. Thirdly, people can often rise to the expectations applied to them- no matter how high – if given a patient and supportive teacher. Finally, Dr. Redd furthered my passion for science and was the first of many exemplary Christian physicians that God would use to light my own path to becoming a physician while maintaining the primacy of Christ in my life.

Chaplain Matthew Atkins

Matthew Atkins came to be the associate pastor at the Church where I grew up, Chattanooga Valley Church of the Nazarene, when I was finishing middle school and starting high school. He served our church in many ways, but most prominent in my recollection was his service as our youth pastor. He was and remains one of my foremost mentors in the faith. Prior to coming to our church he had been an Army Ranger. And while serving at our church he continued to serve in the U.S. military as an army reserve chaplain, he openly anticipated that God would call him back to full time chaplaincy, but for a few years in transition, he and his family made their home in Chattanooga Valley and shared their lives and hearts with us. Matt has taught me several lessons about Christ-likeness (and probably has a few more to teach me yet):

First, Matt taught me about the holiness of play, that we can and should glorify God in all of our activities (especially ultimate frisbee). And to look forward to times of play as an opportunity to disciple and build each other up. For children and teens especially, play creates an incredibly formative opportunity to create patterns of excellence and virtue- to work out being Christ-like under the pressure and adversity of a game. Second, Matt showed me by example the freedom and favor that an attitude of repentance and ready confession brings a leader. In the Wesleyan tradition and American culture a man who is quick to apologize and confesses his sins, shortcomings, and mistakes is a rare and refreshing witness to a God who freely gives a costly grace. Ironically, after Matt left our church to be an active duty chaplain, the faults and flaws that he readily owned up to were quickly forgotten, and the legacy of humble Christ-likeness remained entrenched in our minds. Finally, Matt built on the solid foundation of my childhood to cultivate a passion for Christian service. As a man who grew up in the Salvation Army denomination (yes, they are a Christian denomination), Matt led us to show our faith by our works- regularly finding opportunities to have the youth serve the church and the least of these: the homeless, the elderly, the HIV positive outcast, the person trapped by addiction, or trapped in cyclical poverty. He led us on mission trips locally and abroad. It was one such trip that sparked my passion and love for the Mesoamerican people, culture, and language. A passion that would grow and eventually give geographic direction to my call to missional ministry.

CVNaz Guys Small Group-

Under Matthew’s leadership, I was inspired to take up a mentoring and discipling role within our youth group. It began out of a confession to my peers, who already looked to me as a leader because of my calling and because I was a few years older than most of them. I confessed that I had grown complacent in my walk of faith, that I had taken for granted the grace of a loving savior and settled into a faith that went no deeper than regular church and bible class attendance. Particularly, I was convicted by Jesus’ difficult words: “You will know them by their fruit,” (Matt 7:16) and I felt like my life had produced very little that evidenced my faith in my teenage years. That confession, as many confessions will, domino-ed into others making similar confessions and grew into a peer accountability and Bible study group for the core guys in our youth group: Kaiser, Josh, Logan, Corey G., and whenever possible Kenny and Daryl. The depth of vulnerable confession, genuine love, and mutual challenging that we had was unique and blessed. It catalyzed my formation into a mature Christian, and helped me to understand and value the Christian community. I learned many lessons from those years together, but my biggest take away from our small group was that biblical discipleship requires elements of living life together: more than just a once weekly meeting for confession and study, discipleship needs opportunities to live and shape life together: breaking bread, sweating together, facing adversity, and sharing spaces. It is my hope that missional family medicine can be part of creating a community that is knit together in a similarly deep and intimate way.

One particular church mentoring relationship was a peculiar answer to a specific prayer. After learning so much about the Spanish language and Mexican culture during my summer stay in Mexico as a fifteen year old (part of a Jesus Film trip under Matt) I regularly prayed for another such immersion opportunity. But my next summer began without a hint of such an opportunity arising. Instead, on the Sunday before our church’s summer Vacation Bible School (VBS) was to start, a mother and her son who spoke very little English came to our church having just moved from Mexico. One of the adult members of our mission trip to Mexico, had met and ultimately married one of our Mexican co-workers from the trip. That Sunday, I invited the son, David, to our VBS and offered to translate and guide him (as well as I could) through our nightly VBS. I requested all the teacher’s lessons and instructions ahead of time each night so I could translate them with the help of a Spanish-English dictionary prior to that evening’s VBS. That was the beginning of lasting relationship. Through David and his family, God gave me the opportunity to regularly immerse myself in the Spanish language, in the context of family life and church life over the course of most of my high school years. As David mastered English, I became more and more conversational in Spanish, and we both grew in our faith together as we regularly dug into the Spanish Bible together.

Chattanooga Christian School Peers-

In addition to the already mentioned relationships, I was also blessed with an exceptional group of friends at school who were everything the book of Proverbs recommends a young man should seek to find in his companions. At the stage where my formation was the most affected by the character of my friends, Carter, Tom, Joseph and Audrey were the iron sharpening my iron. Megan, Katherine, Janel and Ellie were wise counsel and kind words. Jeremy, Beau, Chris, Matthew, and Jacob were faithful and encouraging brothers. God surrounded me with more friends than I can name here, all of us pushing one another towards excellence and Christ-likeness in everything from poll vaulting to ballroom dance, mentoring classes below us, competing for better grades even while helping each other study, and holding one another accountable for personal devotional and righteous conduct. A praying mother could not have asked for a better group of friends – my mother’s words, not mine.

I thank my God for the countless friends, teachers, family members and fellow believers who were the hands of God forming me into the young man I became as I emerged from the cocoon of Chattanooga Valley Church of the Nazarene and Chattanooga Christian School and took flight towards college.

P.S. – If anyone of you have a good picture or two of this period in our lives please consider sending it to me so I can post it above. I seem to have lost most of mine.

1. Childhood & Calling – Nathan Gilley

As a young child of two godly parents, I was blessed with a deep and early faith in God. My mother was raised in the church as a PK (Preacher’s Kid) and then served in the church I grew up in as a children’s teacher, choir member, and missions director. My mother’s faith was like whitewater – impressive, always moving, visible, and loud. My father’s faith was more aptly described by the Latin proverb, “Still waters run deep.” He rarely spoke to me about his relationship with God, but I watched him physically construct the church building, give sacrificially, honor God with high standards, and exemplify a walk of humble obedience while serving as the church groundskeeper, handyman, soundman, and board member. My parents complimented each other well, and impressed their shared faith upon me from the first moment that God gave me to them, onwards.


Two things swirl forth in my earliest childhood memories: my home church and the outdoors. Thinking back, I catch glimpses of mission projects, Sunday school, VBS weeks, and church plays. I remember countless hours of Wednesday night lessons and their Bible verse songs taught to me by my mother and my mom’s best friend Miss Helen. I also remember exploring the foothills and hollows at the base of Lookout Mountain, catching frogs and crayfish in ponds with my friend Carter, climbing the poplar trees that towered around my home, and designing booby traps with my brother to spring on imaginary foes chasing us through the dry creek bed behind our house. I never doubted I was safe and loved by my family, and in that fertile ground a seed of faith was planted, and out of that seed blossomed a deep, faith filled love for a good God and His wonderful creation.

As full as my days were of joyful curiosity and freely given affection, my nights were filled with vivid dreams of wonder and terror. These dreams stemmed from a powerful and well cultivated imagination that was fueled by a rich tapestry of Biblical stories, my favorite of which were of Joseph’s interpretations of dreams, Daniel’s visions, and Revelation. One night stands out in my mind. I was falling asleep in my bed when I heard my name called. I dutifully arose and went to my parents’ room and ask them why they’d called. My mom explained to me that they had not called for me. But she quickly added that perhaps it was God who had called, so she admonished me as Eli had Samuel, “If you hear the voice calling again, say, ‘Speak Lord, I’m listening.’” I went back to bed unafraid and eagerly waiting for God to say, “Nathan,” one more time. When he remained silent I decided to go ahead and give him permission to speak, “Speak Lord, I’m listening,” I said quietly in my little boy voice, but I waited and waited until finally I fell asleep in the silence.

Not long after that during a dream I saw my church’s congregation gathered in the sanctuary on a typical Sunday morning. Now, I grew up in Chattanooga Valley Church of the Nazarene, and my family, the Gilleys, had been a part of that Church for four generations and our extended family made up about half of the congregation. In my dream, I saw the instant when the Lord of heaven called His saints to himself in the sky, but my perspective remained in the church building. Many in the congregation went to join their Lord, but to my dismay many people in the church who I knew and loved remained. God impressed that moment and those feelings into my mind, I felt a soul wrenching agony and empathetic torment for those bewildered and lost family and friends. From there the dream continued and I was shown locked books and keys. I no longer remember the details of the later, but I remember awakening with the utter conviction that I was called to ministry. When I enthusiastically explained this to my mother (a kindergarten teacher who knew how often the passionate career hopes of children vacillate) she gave me a non-comital reassurance. I immediately sensed her lack of faith and said with adorable but probably tearful eyes (I cried whenever I disagreed with an adult), “Whether you believe it or not, I am going do what God said, I’m going to be a pastor.” I was five years old.

Shortly after that, my dreams took a darker turn. I had a period in which every night was haunted with nightmares of hell and demons breaking into my ordinary dreams and creating fear, even developing towards periods of sleeplessness. With patience and care my parents, but especially my mother, taught me to pray for peace and protection. I remember us praying together for long periods of time, sometimes multiple times a night, and in those prayers, I learned to lean into the kingdom reality, and immerse myself by prayer in the peace, love, and power of an almighty God who has no rival. The trial passed, but the lessons I learned did not. (Writing this, I am contemplating anew the formative import of the sleepy prayers I pray over my 2-year-old who continues to struggle with sleep).

During that same time period I specifically remember a Kindergarten lesson on jobs (fireman, policeman, teacher, trash collector, doctor, etc.) and knowing with a sort of melancholy certainty that although being a trash collector (who was able to ride on the side of the garbage truck- jumping on and off) was doubtless the best job ever, it could not be my job, because I was called to be a pastor. My mother’s dad, whom we called Paw Paw was a Southern Baptist Preacher, and he was particularly excited to learn of my calling. He had been praying for years, since his own children were coming into the world, that God would call one of his children into the ministry. He told us God had given him the assurance that he would have a ‘preacher boy,’ but after all five of his children were girls, he waited in faith to see how God would answer his prayer.

In the scriptures, before Elijah passed his mantle to Elisha, they crossed through the waters together. In like manner, I remember wading through the baptismal waters to my Paw Paw, giving my confession of faith before the church, and then being put under the water and brought up again- dying to sin and resurrecting in Christ. Pawpaw loved to teach and encourage me, he never let me forget that I had testified to a call on my life, and he prayed regularly for my future (he made it his practice to pray daily for all his children and grandchildren). His advice, prayers, and legacy were carefully, gradually, and thoughtfully put over me like Elijah’s mantle was given to Elisha.


As my parents discerned that God truly had a call on my life, they began to pray and discuss what steps they needed to take to be in obedience to God’s plan for our lives. So, after I completed Kindergarten at the local public school, my parents made the hard decision to move me from Chattanooga Valley Elementary School to a small Christian school called Chattanooga Christian School (CCS). My new school emphasized Christian formation and biblical education. This was a hard decision because my mother was a devoted servant of the public-school system, and had taught at Chattanooga Valley Elementary School for many years before having my brother and I. But they listened carefully to what God was leading them to do even though it had a cost – both financial and social.

In the years to come their decision proved to be truly providential, at CCS God further refined my call to include foreign missions and grounded my faith with a thorough working knowledge of the scriptures. Another formative time in my elementary school years were my family’s visits to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to be with my younger cousin Samantha. Sam was diagnosed with retinoblastoma cancer when she was six weeks old, she went on to have cancer nine times before she was eight years old. My stays at St. Jude brought me face-to-face with the hellish nature of disease and the hope filling power of doctors who treat their patients with love and compassion. It was then that I began to see that the future I had felt God calling me towards might not be a simple pastorate or even typical missionary work I had envisioned. I began to dream of being a type of missionary that could help all kinds of broken people feel better; like the doctors and nurses who joked and played games with my cousin and I when she was feeling well, but also comforted and gave us hope when she seemed to be slipping away.

This desire to tangibly minister to the brokenness of the world resonated with the call that God had placed on my life. And one day, on the long drive back from Memphis, Tennessee (St. Jude’s Children Hospital) to Flintstone, Georgia (Home), I asked my father about the feasibility of such a calling, “Dad, do you think I could be a missionary to help people know about God and a doctor to help the sick people there too?” And with unwavering support and affirmation that would characterize my parents’ attitude towards my calling my Dad answered, “Sure.” My brother, not to be left out, decided to combine his dream job with an altruistic twist to help the sick children, “Dad, I think that I’ll still be a dump truck driver, but between loads, I can also pick up all the sick children (in the spacious dump bed) and take them to the hospital.”

With the medical missions goal in mind and with an insatiable curiosity about the world, I worked hard to be the best student I could. Unfortunately, despite enjoying school, having great support at home, excellent teachers, and doing my best, I struggled to read and write, even into the second grade. My first academic obstacle was unveiled when my mother insisted I be tested for learning disabilities and found out I was in the first percentile for dyslexia. My parents did not allow this to become an excuse (in fact- I did not even learn I was dyslexic until much later) they only assured me that although I needed some extra help, if I worked hard and faithfully, I could be what I dreamed. After my testing, I was placed in special education classes and my mother worked with me one-on-one every day for 2-4 additional hours after school. This went on for several years. In time I could work around my reading and writing mix-ups and slowly I caught up with my peers. This trial taught me the power of persistence, determination, and hope.

Nathan Gilley, October 14th 2018, Murfreesboro TN.

Sojourner, Come In

At the beginning of our marriage, for our first Christmas gift as a married couple, my wife and I created a guest book for our home. I crafted a leather binding and my wife bound up the pages. Our first page contains this invitation:

Book intro

In these pages and dispatches, like our home, we hope to provide a glimpse of God’s inbreaking kingdom. We invite you to come in, and hope you will find our words to be life giving.