Idaho Pastor Gene Jacobs found dead after search and prayers

Pastor Gene Jacobs speaks at Real Life Newport church in Newport, Washington, on July 9, 2023.
Pastor Gene Jacobs speaks at Real Life Newport church in Newport, Washington, on July 9, 2023. | YouTube/Real Life Newport

A congregation in Idaho is in mourning after authorities found its pastor dead Tuesday hours after he was reported missing.

Gene Jacobs, the lead pastor of Real Life Ministries Silver Valley, was found dead in a mountainous area south of Pinehurst Tuesday evening, Pinehurst Police Chief John Richter told The Coeur d'Alene Press. No cause of death has been reported.

Real Life Ministries Silver Valley is a part of the multi-campus Real Life Ministries megachurch led by founder and senior pastor Jim Putman.

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Real Life Ministries Silver Valley initially announced in a statement just after 4 p.m. on Tuesday that the pastor had gone missing.

"Our pastor, Gene Jacobs, did not arrive for an early morning meeting at the church today. He left home on foot and did not arrive for the meeting. Appropriate responders are attempting to locate him. There is no further information available at this time," the statement reads.

The church announced a prayer meeting beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday to pray for Jacobs' safety.

"The focus is for the safety of our pastor Gene Jacobs. All members are welcome. So is the community. Gene is important to the church and the community. We're praying that city and county resources are able to locate him soon," the church said.

At approximately 11 p.m., the church announced they were in mourning.

"Bless those who mourn, eternal God, with the comfort of your love that they may face each new day with hope and the certainty that nothing can destroy the good that has been given. Amen," they noted in a Tuesday night post on Facebook.

On Wednesday afternoon after reports of Jacobs' death, the church stated that it would open the sanctuary for prayer and support from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, and grief counseling would be available. 

"God promises to be near in time of loss. Turn to Scripture for help coping with grief," the church's Facebook post reads. "Grief is a natural and important process to allow yourself to walk through. While grief can affect each of us differently, we can each find comfort and peace through the words of hope and love in the Bible. Studying Gods word through your grief can remind you of God's faithfulness in our pain. We are given the gift of eternal life in heaven through faith in Jesus Christ, and we can hold onto that hope as we pass through the stages of grief."

Footage from a neighbor's Ring camera shows Jacobs turning from a path he usually walked to his church a mile away. He headed towards trails up a hill where he frequently hiked, The Coeur d'Alene Press reported.

After he was reported missing, about 40 people with the Shoshone County Sheriff's Office and Pinehurst Police searched for him on foot, dirt bikes and by air. His water bottle and cellphone, which was turned off, were found on the trail.

Jacobs served as the lead pastor and an elder at Real Life Ministries Silver Valley since the church was planted in 2007, according to the church website. A native of Western Washington, Jacobs also served in the U.S. Navy and attended Boise Bible College. He was married with two adult children. 

"Gene is passionate about people enjoying a personal relationship with Jesus and believes every person, family, and relationship can be restored by God's grace," the church said. "Gene spends his free time with his family, playing guitar and exploring the trails of North Idaho by foot or bicycle."

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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