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Death of a radical Jesus-follower – Craig Gallegos, RIP

Life is short. As the Bible says, we should pray, “teach me to number my days.” My daughter Estie called Monday evening – she’d just gotten the news that her close friend, Craig Gallegos, whom she met on AIM’s First Year Missionary program in Mexico, was killed. The news devastated her as I’m sur…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
Life is short. As the Bible says, we should pray, “teach me to number my days.” My daughter Estie called Monday evening – she’d just gotten the news that her close friend, Craig Gallegos, whom she met on AIM’s First Year Missionary program in Mexico, was killed. The news devastated her as I’m sure it did many.  Craig was an original.  He died giving one of his young disciples a ride home on his motorcycle.  Since he only had one helmet, he gave it to his friend.  When they crashed, the helmet saved his friend’s life (read article here).
Dana Siekman wrote me and said, “Although  I knew Craig well and saw him every day, it still amazes me how many people he knew, kept in touch with, took care of, and mentored. Craig’s legacy will be unparalleled in this town and there won’t be anyone like him for a very long time.”
Estie remembers Craig in her email to me below:
He liked to laugh, he liked to be intense. The last time I talked to him in May he asked me how I
was and I told him I was “Loving life!” “That’s what I like to hear!!”
he said back.

He would swing dance with me, pray with me, try pick up lines on me
(which I hated), argue with me about whether or not drinking was
biblical, and would even let me cry on the phone with him when I needed
to at 2am in the morning! He gave like he would never run dry. He
nicknamed me “Fuerte” while in Mexico.

Craig would always ask me how Leah was doing, because he knew I was burdened for her. When I was nannying in Colorado he drove five hours to come see me. He danced with little Gracie Davis, and laughed when she said, “Dance with me, boy!”

One time he and I decided to try to live off of ten dollars a week between the two of us, so we could see how life was for the Mexicans. I lasted one day and he never stopped giving me crap for that. When in Dallas, he took me out to a nice dinner and bought me flowers and an orange gorilla that I named OG. Afterwards he would always ask if OG was doing ok when he called.

I used to joke that I wanted to marry an Irish man.  He would act disappointed and say, “That rules me out” since he is half Mexican. Last year he texted me saying, “Guess what! My name is Scottish (close to Irish) and it means rock!” I then let him know that I would make an exception for him – all in good humor of course. 🙂

Craig was a rock, to the core. He loved and lived hard. He poured his life out into the youth in his area and was sold out for Durango, Colorado. We used to call each other and sing the song “Here I Am Once Again”  to each other. Craig couldn’t sing at all, but he tried. 🙂 While in Mexico on a mission trip he tried to teach me the song.  We had no recordings of the song, just the notes, but he taught me it until it sounded halfway like how he remembered it. After that he would always make fun of me, saying I never played it how it was actually supposed to be played.

Heaven just got a whole lot more exciting on July 21st. I can’t wait to see Craig’s smile again, or to hear him make fun of my laugh. And hopefully he’ll still have some bling bling on his ear and be acting like the big shot that he was.

Here i am once again
Here I am,
once again
I pour out my heart
For I know that you hear
Every cry
You are listening
No matter what state my heart is in

You are faithful to answer
With words that are true
And a hope that is real
As I feel your touch
You bring a freedom
To all that’s within
In the safety of this place
I’m longing to …

Pour out my heart
To say that I love you
Pour out my heart
To say that I need you
Pour out my heart
To say that I’m thankful
Pour out my heart

To say that you’re wonderful
  See pics from Craig’s Mexico ministry team here.  

Comments (23)

  • Craig was such an amazing guy. I had the privelige of knowing him for a long time and I spent so much time with him. It was always a good time when you were with craig and there was never a dull moment. Craig was my young life leader and my hero. Craig and I called each other brother and he showed me the way to god. He made it so easy for you to want to follow god because you saw how amazing his life was because of it. He truely showed the essence of god and will remain forever in our hearts. I know your having a blast up in heaven big brother and I know I will see you again some day.

  • This is a tough tough one to read, but amazing all the same. The things that Donald will have go through his mind, at the top of which will hopefully be the legacy Craig has left and the fullness he was living. My brother and his girlfriend are currently in the ICU as the result of a motorcycle accident Sunday night. Helmets were once again the saving device. Though these two aren’t living THE life…. so much good can come out of incidents like this, and of course, only God knows what can really be going on.

  • incredible story. so sorry to hear this. going for a walk now… will pray for Estie, the Craig’s family, and all those affected.

  • Estie – what a beautiful memory of an awesome man of God you shared with us! Thank you for letting us get to know Craig through your memories. Praying comfort for you, for Craig’s family, and that God will make His glory and love known through this.

  • I was so happy to read this story. Craig was like a son to my husband and me, and a brother to our boys. He also worked for us, so we spent each and every day with this wonderful and amazing young man. He coached my sons and their friends in basketball, mentored them through Young Life and always made sure they were living their best life. We were with Craig in the hospital, along with 50 other people knowing that if he died, he would be in the place he most wanted to be. Craig’s family is still suffering, but are doing amazingly well. His Mom, Linda, has spent a lot of time with the kids here in Durango, making sure they are doing okay. She took close to 40 of them up to Craig’s grave, where we sang songs and prayed. It was beautiful! There were at least 1600 ppl at his Celebration of LIfe – we had to hold it in the HS gym. it was a wonderful tribute to someone who I was honored and privileged and most blessed to know. We will miss him and love him always.

  • wow estie. a lot of memories came flooding back as i read what you wrote. i’ll never forget our time in mexico and how loud craig would sing! thanks for helping me remember.

  • A life lived for Christ yields amazing results.
    My heart grieves for Craig’s family and his friends.
    I am certain that the Lord will use this tragedy for His fullest purpose.
    He is a young man who will be greatly missed.

  • I served in Mexico with Craig and fell in love with the passion he had for his Most High. He was a true inspiration to me in Mexico and continued to be one of my biggest cheerleaders after leaving. He had such a passion for people and for servanthood.
    Thank you, Craig, for all that you showed me and the rest of those you touched.

  • Hermano , siempre te recordaremos.

    Gracias a Dios por dejarnos conocer esta gran persona.

    A tu familia nuestro mas sentido pesame.

    A Craig desde Costa Rica y para el cielo PURA VIDA HERMANO.

  • Si quieren ver un video de Craig en Costa Rica ( Puntarenas ) visiten YOUTUBE , usac Puntarenas , ahi esta el video.

  • Craig was such an amazing leader, to me and all of younglife. I enjoyed every second i had ever spent with him. He interduced me to God and how great life is with him. Craig called me his little sister and i called him my big brother. He was there for me through everything giving me the best advice i could ask for. Craig is my hero(thats for sure)!

  • Craig is amazing. I knew him through basketball and finally when I started going to Wyldlife 🙂 he kept us all entertained and there was never once where I wasn’t laughing around him. His goofy laugh always made me laugh! I’ll always remember the Brake Checks on the way to camp and our handshake. I’m so blessed to have gotten the privliege to have had him a big part of my life, I miss him more and more each day but he’s so LUCKY to be up with God right now :). I feel your presences with me always Greigos and constantly can hear you saying “Taylor,” and me closely following with “Is hot”.. we all know why it rained today… Obviously I was a hazard to our Earth and God had to cool me down 🙂


  • Estie, Craig told me a lot about you. My best friend Katie and I lived up in Colorado Springs when you were living up there so we were able to hang out with him too when he came. He gave me your phone number but I moved not too long afterwards, so I never got the chance to call. He valued you just like he valued me and the rest of his family in Christ. I hope that someday we get to meet, I know he would really like that. I pray that the Lord is blessing you where you are at, I hope you know how much Craig loves you.

  • craig was a truly awesome person, and he touched the lives of so many people i was thankful enough to even know him, unfortunatly i had not gotten the chance to know him very well, but he made me realize how special life is and i would like to say thank you. thanks craig, we love you

  • craig.
    what a wonderfull guy. he meant the world and more to me. i first met him through baskestball, and then through wyldlife and younglife. I was on his first team he tought here in durango. we all called him grandpa, he was such a player. haha. boy do i miss him he was a hero to me and many others. i still talk to him every day, but wish i could be with him. i miss him more than anything in the world.

    one day he promised he would be my first dance at my graduation. i know he will be there to dance, just not the way i expected it. I LOVE YOU GG and there will never be a day i don’t think about you!!

  • What an amazing story, yet not surprising that Craig meant so much and gave so much. There will never be another one like him. Words cannot express how dear Craig was to our family. Craig has been a part of our lives since he and my twin sons (Chance & Chase) were in kindergarten. I will forever have the memories of that sweet little boy that came home for a sleep over and through the years we watched him grow into a wonderful young man. Craig had such an influence in so many lives. We have many memories that will be forever cherished. My boys referred to him as their brother not only in words, but in their hearts. Craig referred to himself as their “triplet brother”, the “good looking triplet” to be exact. My husband and I truly felt like he was one of our own. We are thankful everyday to his parents Kenny and Linda for sharing this wonderful young man with us. Our lives would not have been as blessed without him. Craig was a wonderful inspiration to our family. There is not a day he is not in our thoughts and will always and forever be missed. I sometimes feel selfish for missing him so much, knowing that he is where he truly wants to be. I miss your smile and your hugs Craig, telling me it was all going to be alright. I know your looking down on us. Til we meet again….WE LOVE YOU

  • Ashley “Ryan” French

    Thank you for writing this about Craig. I can relate to the jokes you experienced and his amazing frienship and pure example he set. Craig and I meet in Spanish class at Fort Lewis and if it hadn’t been for him I would never have passed. We then tried dating for awhile and ended up making better friends. He had the joy and silly ways of an innocent child all the while being wise beyond his years. He was in short, one of a kind. I am glad and know that we are both blessed to have known him. Thank you again for taking the time to share your love of Craig and open up about your friendship with him. He will always be terribly missed but I have never had a peace like this upon someone’s passing:)

    We Love You Craig!!

    ~Ashley “Ryan”

  • Craig and I were best friends and brother for 19 years, ever since we started 1st grade together. I have done everything with him before his death. The day he died, a piece of me died. He was the most caring person I have ever been around in my life. He alwasy wanted to help someone else out. I can’t even begin to remember how many times we would sit up and talk about all of lifes problems, and all of lifes amazing times. I still over 8 months later still can’t believe that my brother is gone. But I know one thing for sure, everyone that had ever met Craig is better for having known him. He was the type of guy that if you met him once, you fell in love with him. I was lucky enough to spend my entire life that i can remember with Craig. I remember Craig talking about Estie all the time, so it was crazy for me to see this article. Estie, I am praying for you, it’s a shame I never got to meet you after how much Craig use to talk about you. I remember when he went to visit it you when I think you were in Colorado Springs maybe….. But Thank you for this awesome artice about my Brother, God Bless You All!!!

    Chance Schoser

  • I met Craig when I was a junior in high school (2001). I was traveling with my choir group from Prescott, AZ and we sang at his church in Durango. It was there that I met him. That night a group of us hung out until the wee hours of the morning, and Craig was obviously the entertainment of the night. We exchanged our contact info and I told him he would always have a place to stay in Prescott. A few times he visited me in Prescott, and every year when we were both in the Phoenix area for the holidays. We had lost contact for about 2 years, but then in the spring of 2007 he came to Flagstaff, AZ to run the sound/lights for a friend of his that was speaking that night at the church that I was at. I was in the audience listening to the speaker when the speaker gave a special shout out to Craig who was running the soundboard for him. I couldn’t believe it! I ran back to the soundboard to see if it was really him and it was! After two years we were reconnected!! He invited me to a bbq that night with his friends from Durango and that was the last night that I saw him. He was as cheerful and personable as he had always been.

    After that night I had lost his phone number and I had been trying to connect with him for the last four years, until I finally found your blog today. I am sorry I am so late with this post but thank you for your beautiful and touching comments. He will be dearly missed. Rest in Peace Craig.

  • Craig was the greatest friend anyone could have, he showed me how great Jesus is, I would only see craig once or twice a week, but when I saw him, it was a fun time. I know were he’s at now, and someday i’ll hopefully be there to. He inspired everyone he knew, you’ll always be an inspiration.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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