Erskine Gillespie: A Walking Testimony
Erskine describes himself as his mother’s shadow. He recalls his mother singing in the choir like any other day in his childhood, then suddenly she has a stroke and she passed away shortly thereafter. Originally, Gillespie would blame himself for the passing of his mother. He would think to himself, “If only I was there.” But as he got older, he realized that God had a plan for his mother and if he would have been there the way he imagined, then he would have interrupted the message God meant for him and others to receive.
Although this was a traumatizing experience for Gillespie, this experience changed his outlook on life in the long run. Gillespie says by the age of 14 his mother had taught him so many lessons about the ins and outs of being an adult that he was ready to take on the world.
When he was just 15 years old, he realized that it would be too heartbreaking to live in his old house. So Gillespie’s father gave him a book of homes with listings of real estate. Gillespie picked out a new home, negotiated the price of that home and filled out the contract up until it was his father’s turn to sign. Gillespie affirms that he was very independent and a quick thinker, all thanks to lessons he learned from his mom.
As Gillespie’s life progressed, he found himself a new calling. By the late 1980s Gillespie found himself working with youth organizations. He started off as a volunteer with the Free the Children Program. He originally worked at FedEx until he quit his job in the name of service and selflessness and started his own youth organization with only a $50 donation, his childhood church building, and a dream.
Gillespie says that he embodies his mother by living a life of service and living life in the
name of helping others and you see this through his passion for helping guide younger
generations. He recruited young people from North Memphis and started a community
choir. Things were looking upward for Gillespie until he was faced with a life changing
experience: a dance with death