David N. Gehrls

David N. Gehrls

July 29, 1947 – March 25, 2019

David N. Gehrls, 71, of Omaha, NE, was peacefully welcomed into the arms of Jesus on March 25, 2019, at home and surrounded by his family. He was born on July 29, 1947, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Wilma (Holter) Gehrls and Marvin A. Gehrls, and was the eldest of five siblings.

Dave came from a strong German/Norwegian heritage, determined people who helped settle the Dakota Territory. As a child he spent much time both in the German community of Okabena, MN, and on the family farms in South Dakota. A heritage of strong personal values, religious conviction and work ethic shaped much of who Dave would become. During his early childhood, his parents were missionaries to Mexico, living just across the border town of McAllen, TX, giving Dave his early taste of ministry. In his later years, he often wished he had learned to speak Spanish!

Dave attended Wessington Springs Academy in South Dakota, graduating in 1965. He immediately moved to Michigan to attend Spring Arbor University, where he graduated in 1969 with a degree in Sociology. It was during those years that he met Sheryl (Howison) Gehrls, and they were subsequently married on June 28, 1969 in Midland, MI. They had four children, and a life full of rewarding “adventures.” One of Dave’s favorite lines was, “Trust me!”

After graduation, Dave took a career turn, entering the ministry and becoming a Youth Pastor at a small Nazarene Church in Lansing, MI. That was the beginning of 50 years of full-time ministry, serving the body of Christ by pastoring several churches in both the Nazarene and Free Methodist denominations, in Michigan, South Dakota, and Iowa. He first moved his family to Nebraska in 1975 to assist Pastor Elmer Murdoch in founding Trinity Church in Omaha.

Dave was known for many things, from tech-whiz to counselor, but among them was his love of wilderness camping. Over the course of 42 years, he took hundreds of kids to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area on extended canoe trips. The stories from those trips are legendary and anyone who knew him still speaks of them today. At one time he owned eight canoes, 30 backpacks, multiple tents, and a wild assortment of paddles, life jackets, and cooking gear! Because he had to provide wilderness medical care, he certified as an EMT-D, and was among the first group of EMT responders in Iowa to be trained in cardiac defibrillation, working 18 years on the local ambulance service while he planted a church.

Dave was all about bringing together the body of Christ in any way that he could. He believed that we could find common ground and core beliefs from which we could work together to extend the Kingdom of God on Earth. He worked tirelessly to accomplish that goal at home and abroad. Part of that ministry involved working with the Omaha 360 network to address violence prevention and intervention in the city. To accomplish that, he started a ministry called First Responders Prayerwalking that has been active in the city for nearly 12 years. Since 2007, his team of prayer responders has met at over 500 sites where violent homicides have occurred, creating opportunities to minister to neighborhoods and hurting families within hours of a violent tragedy. The fruit of this sacrifice, prayer and investment – along with the efforts of law enforcement and other groups – is now being seen in prayerwalking areas that have been at peace for over 200 days with no violent homicides.

Dave’s heart was passionate for the Gospel. He was obedient to the Lord no matter what it cost him. He was a man of integrity who was willing to take a stand on hard issues, but always speaking the truth in love. Dave loved his family, especially bragging about his children and grandchildren. His legacy will remain for many generations, and they will be proud to name him among their heritage. He was a gentle giant of a man who loved everyone he met. His laugh, his energy, and his presence filled a room with life and security. He was a leader among leaders, and will be greatly missed.

Dave was preceded in death by his parents, and his first daughter, Renee.  He is survived by his wife of nearly 50 years, Sheryl Gehrls, and three children: Matthew (Lisa) Gehrls, Omaha, NE; Amy (John) Lynch, Cedar Falls, IA; and Sandra (Wade) Anderson, Mason City, IA. He is also survived by nine grandchildren: Caleb Gehrls, Peter Gehrls, Taylor Lynch, Jacob Gehrls, Jack Lynch, William Lynch, Brock Anderson, Reid Anderson, and Rachel Gehrls. His surviving siblings include Tim Gehrls (Brainerd, MN), Jon Gehrls (Brainerd, MN), Dan Gehrls (St. Cloud, MN), and Lily Bates (Lansing, MI).

The Celebration of Life service for Dave will be held on Monday, April 1, 11:00 a.m., at Good News Church in Omaha, followed by a luncheon for family and friends in the fellowship hall. Public visitation will be 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. Monday prior to the service. Memorials will be directed by the family to ministry projects close to Dave’s heart.  Alternatively, contributions can be made to Christ For the City International, P.O. Box #390395, Omaha, NE  68139.



  • Bob Burns Posted March 26, 2019 4:40 pm

    Dear Sheryl & family I am so sorry to hear of Dave’s passing. I am so sorry for your loss and the pain that it has brought to each of you. I will ever be indebted to Dave for the fact he was not too busy to notice a young lady that moved in a few houses away and that he took the time to reach out to her with the saving message of Jesus Christ. Thanks to his willingness and faithfulness my Martha is now in the eternal presence of Jesus. I do not believe I have known anyone in my life who was as willing and effective in this area I know a number of folks who will also share in this glory thanks to Dave’s obedience when it came to sharing Jesus with the lost.
    Please know that you are all in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Steve Sheridan Posted March 27, 2019 3:36 pm

    Brothers and sisters, Omaha has lost a warrior and a leader in the Church. Dave Gehrls has gone on to Glory and will be missed. The Lord used He and Sheryl in the city for many years. He was always to the work! I thank God for the great privilege of knowing him and I’m asking God to cause others to stand up and fill Dave’s tremendous shoes. God bless you Sheryl and all your family.

  • Becky Wells Posted March 27, 2019 3:41 pm

    David Gehrls will always be Pastor Dave to me. He was my first youth pastor. He introduced me to wilderness camping, backpacking and canoeing, and taught me two important lessons through that. One is that Jesus is there in nature, in the still of the morning and in the simplicity of “roughing it”. Another is that I am stronger and more capable than I think I am. I can carry a 50 pound pack. I can hike two miles with it. I can chop fire wood. And I can use a latrine I dug myself. Pastor Dave was sincere. He was the real deal. You could trust anything he said, because he was always truthful. And you could trust that his heart’s intention was to always glorify God. He was a big man with a big heart, and a sweet spirit of love and service.

  • Steve Sheridan Posted March 27, 2019 3:50 pm

    Omaha has lost a warrior and a leader in the Church. Dave Gehrls has gone on to Glory and will be missed. The Lord used He and Sheryl in the city for many years. He was always to the work! I thank God for the great privilege of knowing him and I’m asking God to cause others to stand up and fill Dave’s tremendous shoes. God bless you Sheryl and all your family!

  • Curt Carlson Posted March 27, 2019 3:56 pm

    Sorry about the loss of such a wonderful Christian brother. God bless the whole family.

  • Angela Kline (Freshman) Posted March 27, 2019 4:40 pm

    I am so sad to hear of Dave’s passing but what a glorious entrance to heaven, I’m sure. I will never forget the many trips to the Boundary Waters. Those were some of the best days growing up. Drawing nearer to God by being in the raw wilderness and worshipping together around a bonfire and under the brilliant night skies. Dave preached some amazing sermons in that place. I will never forget. Thank you!

  • Brian and Emily Brummund Posted March 27, 2019 7:19 pm

    Mentors have always been an important part of my life. I love to have men and women speak truth into my circumstance and to call me out when I need correction. Dave was one of those mentors. Dave and I were part of Omaha city ministry together for years. Then, when I joined the Nebraska Family Alliance Board, he and I (along with Eric, Femi, and Mike) rode to Lincoln together for board meetings. I learned one of my most important life lessons from Dave: how to say NO. He taught me that “need does not equal authorization,” meaning that just because there is a need does not mean God wants me to fill it. I needed to learn to give my YES to the right things that align with my Purpose. I still use his wisdom with my clients today. Well done good and faithful servant. Now, rest in His Presence. Cancer did not win. You were faithful until the end.

  • Carol Cole Posted March 27, 2019 7:23 pm

    Dave has helped me with Fringes Salon for 24 years. Computer & printer installation and networking along with keeping everything protected on those computers, wiring sound system, rewiring bad outlets, replacing door handles and toilet handles……There was nothing he couldn’t or wouldn’t do to help me keep our salon in business! But most of all his Bear Hugs and Words of Encouragement saved my day countless times <3 He loved his family so much and we would have great conversations about them during his every 2 week haircut! He was never judgmental. A wonderful Big Brother to me. A true Warrior for Jesus! I can't wait to see him again one day in heaven <3 In the mean time, I will miss his presence tremendously :'-( Grieving with you all.
    PS: Didn't he have GREAT HAIR!!?!!

    • Amy Posted March 27, 2019 11:12 pm

      Yes he did!! Thank you Carol <3

  • Lana Thomas Posted March 27, 2019 9:32 pm

    My heart was so conflicted when I read your latest journal entry on Caringbridge. I was elated for Dave to be in the presence of Christ Jesus, the LORD, but saddened by his earthly departure. My prayers and support will continue for you, Sheryl, and your family in the years to come. I am so sorry of this great loss to you all.

  • Thomas Ramundo Posted March 28, 2019 5:02 am

    Remembering Dave and a life well lived for the Lord and family he loved. Certainly he could say with the Apostle Paul: “The time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). Like Paul, Dave was a wrestler who fought the good fight, a runner who finished the race, and a soldier of Christ who kept the faith. One godly guy he was, with many of us celebrating his life here, his heavenly home over there, as well as praying for the loved ones he leaves behind, and remembering WE SHALL MEET AGAIN!

  • Paul & Carol Landrey Posted March 28, 2019 9:47 am

    We rise to honor the life and labor of our dear friend and colleague, Dave Gerhls. We will never forget his generous spirit and passionate heart. Who can ever forget the gracious pioneer efforts of Dave and Sheryl, as CFCI moved its offices from Miami, FL to Omaha, NE. Who can forget the numerous ‘prayer walks’ at strategic locations of the city – as we asked God for insight on sight. Praise God for a life lived in Christ and for Christ. What a privilege to have known Dave and to have served with him in the cause of Christ!

  • Tim &Terry Thomas Posted March 28, 2019 12:44 pm

    Sheryl and family, so sorry for your lost. I remember both John and Kathleen taking the canoe trip to Canada. They had so much fun. God’s grace to help you through this troubled time. Love and prayers

  • Elias and Reta David Posted March 28, 2019 1:59 pm

    Elias and I have fond memories of you and Dave at the Nazarene church in Lansing. We are so sorry for your loss and pray God brings you comfort in the days ahead.

  • Mary Suhr Posted March 29, 2019 6:12 pm

    I was saddened to hear about Dave’s passing this week. You have both served the Lord in so many marvelous ways! You were my angel in UNMC ICU on Sept 5th and your prayer made a tremendous positive impact on the story of my husband’s last day on earth. I am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers for peace and comfort in the days ahead.
    God Bless,
    Mary Suhr

  • Rich DelSenno Posted March 30, 2019 6:36 am

    Sorry sorry regarding the passing of my friend Dave .I had the privilege of sharing the great outdoors with him and my sons,his grandsons and many other of his friends and acquaintances during many canoe trips to the beautiful boundary waters of Minnesota and Canada. Dave was an excellent camper. The memories I have of these these trips with him are both wonderful and at times beyond exciting. Like the constructing of a bridge over a creek so we could drive the trailer loaded with 10 to 12 canoes over to the other side.
    Dave seemed to put us in opportunities to trust the Lord just to make it though. These trips gave us many chances to discuss the wonder of Gods creation as we explored the beautiful surroundings.
    Thank you Dave for always pointing us to our Lord and Savior though your conversations and actions.

  • James Patterson Posted March 30, 2019 10:38 am

    To the Gehrls Family,
    On behalf of the “North Omaha Village of Churches, I want to express our deepest sympathy to you during your hour of bereavement. We also want to express our profound respect for Rev. David N. Gehrls and celebrate a life well lived!
    His joy, encouragement, insight, willingness to serve has made us better. He left his mark on the Kingdom of God over the Omaha Metro that will not be soon forgotten. We will truly miss him, but as his personal family, you will miss him most!
    You are in our prayers!

  • Emily Posted March 30, 2019 3:03 pm

    Dear Sheryl and family,

    I am so sorry for your loss, as all of us left behind are. I can only imagine the amazing adventures Dave has already initiated in heaven! Dave made an enormous impact on my life through six consecutive trips to Canada. He allowed me to grow in confidence, to feel strong, but more importantly, grow in my faith. Those trips to Canada were some of the most important times in my teen years, foundational to who I am today. Dave showed me firsthand what it means to share the love of God and enjoy the beauty and wildness of God through the boundary waters. Dave’s hugs were as legendary as his love of dr. pepper. As your mourn the loss of this exceptional man, may God be ever present and wrap you in his arms of love as Dave has done for so many people over his lifetime. Love and aloha to you from Hawaii. — Emily (Riha) Lee

  • Barb Graeve Posted March 31, 2019 4:49 pm

    I love you Dave and Sheryl! I loved our breakfast times with the Buckinghams. I loved hearing Dave share his latest strategy for mobilizing prayer for not only the city, but the state and the prayer walks after a lost life in the city.
    When a tree is cut down, new shoots come out of the stump. I see many shoots coming from Dave’s life.
    I am so very sorry for you all. Dave was one of a kind. I pray that the Lord will comfort you and give you peace.

  • Barb Graeve Posted March 31, 2019 4:49 pm

    The evening Dave passes, Jenny and came to love on you. As I was getting into the car, I had a vision. Dave was standing, all in white. He was surrounded by 3-4 people. They were also in white. Dave was talking to them, using his hands as he did when he spoke. I just knew that he was sharing strategies for reaching the lost! I shared the vision with Burton and he said that he had the same one! I shared the story yesterday with the speaker at a conference we attended in Council Bluffs. We were outside, the air was still. When I finished, a huge wind blew through a very big tree near us. The branches were going in all directions. As quickly as it began, it stopped! Dave hasn’t missed a step!

  • Suzanne Keen Posted April 1, 2019 8:44 am

    I am so sorry for your loss. I feel like I have walked this journey with you through caring bridge and prayers for you. This is a tough one to take. I am thankful for his life and his investment in the lives of kids and the multiple times my oldest went with him into no mans land. Remembering losing a trailer full of canoes on the highway to your house and other adventures. Sheryl you have done well in caring for this man. May God wrap His arms around you and comfort you in the days ahead.

  • Garry Gernandt Posted April 1, 2019 10:47 am

    From those of us in South Omaha who knew Dave, our hearts are heavy as we extend our deepest sympathy to his family and friends. I only knew Dave for a short decade, but WOW what a powerful, kind, deeply committed, caring and helpful human being. Will miss your presence but your spirit and life lessons will live on forever. Rest with the Lord Sir.

  • Jamie P. White Posted April 2, 2019 9:20 pm

    As Becky mentioned, this guy was Pastor Dave. He also was my first youth pastor. I sat under a LOT of formal preaching in my youth–really good stuff. But Pastor Dave’s talks around the campfires in Canada were PRICELESS. He gave me hope that Jesus could fully redeem my life, even when everything around me looked so hopeless. He encouraged imagination in worship, and trusting Jesus in the nitty-gritty details of life. I thank God for Pastor Dave and Sheryl. I remember seeing Pastor Dave leading worship at Trinity Interdenominational Church when we met at Roncali High School in a complete suit homemade by Sheryl. My Mom sewed a bunch of my clothes; I was amazed at the thought of how many pieces Sheryl had put together to make that suit! It was blue.
    Now I pray for Sheryl and the entire Gehrls family during their tremendous loss. People this big leave giant holes in hearts when they are promoted to heaven!!!

  • Karen Lovejoy Posted April 5, 2019 2:28 pm

    Dear Sheryl, Thinking of you yet this afternoon, and praying!! I was blessed to see Pastor Dave at work in First Responder Prayerwalking and in National Day of Prayer activities. Thanking God for a man who loved the Lord and Omaha so much. Praying for God’s perfect peace to surround you today and always!!! BLESSINGS!!!

  • Patrick G Bonnett Posted January 23, 2020 12:25 pm

    I just learned of your passing today my friend and I’m so sorry for having been out of touch and missing it this past year. I’m remembering you fondly this afternoon for your attention, encouragement and kind regards to me and my family. You were a rock my friend.

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