ANSONIA – Todd Gasper has become the youth pastor of Ansonia United Methodist Church, and is relishing in his longtime goal of wanting to help youth.
“I have always had a heart for them,” he said. “I have a strong desire for them…to see them do morally and spiritually well.”
He gave his first sermon at the church this past Sunday.
“Looking back on my past, I told the congregation I was not in much trouble but knew about it, and that I wanted to see the youth be positive in their lives,” he said. “Today, there are more bad choices than there used to be. Today, many kids come from broken homes, and some have no guidance with their parents.”
He focused his sermon on a trusting God.
“A lot of people need to realize God loves us and, like a father, wants us to trust Him,” he said.
Gasper said he plans to have the young people plugged in to Jesus.
“Josh Stefanow at the Ansonia Church of God and I are working with kids in the area; Josh on Wednesdays and me on Fridays….after the ballgame,” Gasper said. “The Lord led me to Friday nights, because I remember what I used to do back then. I don’t want them to get in trouble.”
The message Gasper is trying to convey to the youth of today is “that God loves them and they’re loved…and there are good choices to be made in this world. They’ve got a place to come to and parents who really care.”
He said it was probably back in May that he decided the youth pastorate was for him.
He first had gotten involved in the courthouse ministry, offering prayer on the Darke County Courthouse grounds. Then, he got involved in Youth For Christ. He also attends the Heavy Metal Church on South Broadway in Greenville and still goes there as his schedule allows. He is at the Ansonia Church from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. and still has time to go to the other church.
He has been involved in the Heavy Metal Church for well over a year.
“I connect with that type of crowd,” Gasper said. “They come from all walks of life…those who don’t feel like a traditional church which makes them more comfortable. God works into messes. This is a good outreach in the Heavy Metal Church.”
As for the Ansonia youth, he would like to get them involved in movies and music.
“My parents, Albert and Linda (Coppess) Gasper, are behind me 100 percent,” he said.
And, so is his wife, the former Michelle Mead, who is manager of the Casey’s store in Union City, Ohio.
“She used to work at Fram, and I found out she also worked at Taco Bell, so I decided to make it my go-to-eat place,” said Gasper, who indicated they’ve now been married 23 years.
Together, there are four children; Joshua and Jeremiah, from his first marriage; Kassi, Michelle’s daughter from her previous marriage; and Judah.
“We had a four-year plan and God surprised us with Judah, who’s now 20,” he said.
And, they currently have six grandchildren.
He also has two brothers, Ty and Troy, and a sister, Stefanie Gasper Zumbrun.
Before graduating from Ansonia High School in 1981, he was class president, the school mascot and was involved in drama and music. Afterwards, he began a factory life, including Fram in Greenville.
“God called me out one day and said I had to be doing something for people,” he said.
He then began working at the UMC Residential Services, formerly known as Union City Christel Manor and has worked at Art Sense in Union City, helping the mentally challenged adults with life skills.
Gasper indicates he faithfully reads the Bible and prays.
“God is so good to me,” he said. “He shows us through all difficulties. He’s just a prayer away.”
The youth pastor, who is working for students in grades 7-12, also has a love for motorcycles and needs a bigger one.
“I love it so much, but God kept me off of it this year,” he said. “He told me, ‘You need others to set on.'”
Now his focus, of course, is on youth.
“I wanted youth to know God loves them and they should take His love to heart and show that love to family, friends and fellow students,” he said.”I’m challenging them to take that implement and use it their lives.”
PHOTO CAPTION: Todd Gasper