LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – From the moment we met, Rebecca “Becky” Gulledge could not stop gushing about each of her children, and what they were doing in life. She was solemn, but passionate when discussing her kids and grandkids. There was a sense of pride, and gratitude, for each of them.
Rebecca Gulledge was born and raised in Louisiana. She and her late husband, Randy, lived there for 20 years before making the move to Arkansas due to Randy’s job with the railroad. They joined East End Baptist Church 15 years ago, and Becky continues to be a faithful servant as she volunteers in many roles from teaching college and young adults to serving on committees and singing in the choir.
Before Randy passed away in 2016 from pancreatic cancer, the two had seven children, five girls and two boys. The oldest being born in 1982 and the youngest as recent as 2001. With that many kids, many people have walked through her doors over the years for sleepovers, birthday parties, bonfires and more.
It wasn’t a surprise to Becky when her second youngest daughter, Bekah, a senior at UALR, started asking to host international students at their house for holidays. The first event came on Christmas Day, to host students who had nowhere to go for the holidays to share a meal and just spend quality time together for a few hours. The next she hosted was on Easter Sunday.
“She wasn’t sure how many would come this time, maybe 20,” Becky said.
Forty international students ended up showing up on Becky’s front steps. There was one student, a girl from Mexico, who helped her in the kitchen that she got to chat with and get to know.
“She just really enjoyed helping me and doing stuff,” Becky said. “She was very helpful, and Bekah said she really enjoyed that time.”
“I’ve always been very mission-minded,” Becky said. “So, I always thought it would be neat to do missions and go places, but with seven kids that was never something I thought I could do.”
Hospitality and love for people has always been present in Becky’s life, and she’s seen that translated to her children’s lives. Her oldest daughter, Marci Howard had this to say about her mother’s influence on their family, “My mother has been the biggest influence in my life by living out what she taught me in all areas of her life. She taught us to love God and love others showing us how to do that by example. She has always selflessly put her family and others before herself. When I am with my mom I always feel at home, loved and encouraged. I can’t claim this only for myself because I know every one of my siblings feels this too, as well as anyone blessed to be able to spend time with her. I strive to be a mother to my children like my mom is to me!”
Each of Becky’s children agrees that their mom’s influence has made them better adults. Gideon, the oldest son, reflected, “Mom has always been home to me. She has a way of making you feel wanted without having to do anything. This isn’t just me either. She makes all of her kids feel like they are her favorite because her heart is so full of love for each of us. It doesn’t just stop at us though as most people that meet her love her instantly. When I was growing up my friends would call her mom and loved her and always liked coming over because of how at home they felt. Even when she would get frustrated at me for being so stubborn (or bullheaded as she’d say) I never felt unloved. Even at her worst she’s the best person I’ve ever known. I’ve learned more from her than anyone and there has never been a better mother.”
Bekah recently expressed an interest and desire in going into international missions, thanks to the work of the Holy Spirit and the service she’s done at the Little Rock Baptist Collegiate Ministry. Being a missionary is tough work, sometimes dangerous, but Becky said she’s not worried one bit.
“Bekah’s always been her own person. She’s always had that wit and ready to talk, ready-to-do attitude, even when she was little,” Becky said. “She was always correcting people and helping them get on the right path. She doesn’t meet a stranger.”
“I feel like God can take care of her just as good on the mission field as He can on our freeways,” she said.