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March 2018

On January 28, I received news that a very good friend and fellow pastor had died.  Jesus came to Gary Hans and carried him home.  This ended Gary’s long battle with a variety of health issues.

It is unusual for me to take this space to remember someone we have lost.  Especially, someone like Gary, who was not, nor had ever been, a member of Boyd Avenue.  But, I’m going to take a moment and share with you my personal tribute to a man who I knew and loved.  A fellow pastor whom I deeply respect.  Perhaps, this is my way of mourning my loss.

When I first met and got to know Gary, he was a deacon at Mountain View Baptist Church.  During those days, the church had a couple of pastors and it is not harsh to say that the church was having its ups and downs.  But, during the ups and downs, the one thing I always saw, was Gary, standing strong and pushing forward.  His pastors always spoke of his dependability and his faithfulness.  His fellow church members, while not necessarily agreeing with Gary, always respected and appreciated him.

In 1999, Gary surrendered to the Gospel Ministry.  He was ordained by Mountain View Church.  Almost a year later, we was called to be pastor of Sunrise Baptist Church.  To say that Sunrise was a struggling church would be a gross understatement.  They had had a series of ineffective pastors.  Turmoil was a standard operating procedure.  The church was beginning to stabilize under the leadership of an interim pastor, but everyone expected the dysfunction to return as soon as a permanent pastor was called.  Then they called Gary Hans to be their pastor.  He had no pastoral experience.  His education was limited.  The only thing he had going for him when he accepted this call was his absolute belief that this was God’s will for him and for Sunrise.  He was proven to be right!  It is no exaggeration to say that Gary saved that church.  In 2000, I had no confidence that the church would survive, much less flourish.  But, it did.  Gary simply loved those people.  He went in as their pastor, loved them and led them out of a wilderness to become a strong and effective church.  I know that I am saying that Gary did all this.  We know that really God did all this, but He used Gary.  Gary allowed God to use Him.  With all of the elements needed to be a successful pastor, if a person loves his people and allows God to use him, good things will happen.  Last year, Gary took a medical retirement from being a pastor.  He left the church that God left in his care exponentially better off than when he started.

That is what I saw God do with Gary.  But, personally, I knew Gary as a friend.  He was always happy, always smiling, always up to something.  You had to keep an eye on him or else you would fall victim to one of his practical jokes.  But, he was never mean spirited.  He just like to laugh and so do I.  Over the last couple of years, as he struggled with health issues, he would still be an encourager.  Every once in a while, he would give me a call out of nowhere.  We would chat for a few minutes, then he would give me a word of encouragement.  He would thank me for doing something I probably had little to do with, but then he would leave me with a word of encouragement.  After those phone calls, I would always feel a little guilty, because here I was, in good health, in a good place and here is Gary encouraging me.  I should have been calling him and encouraging him, but it was usually the other way around.  That was just Gary. 

So here we are now, Gary is gone from this life.  I will miss him.  Gone is a good friend.  Gone is a man who I liked and respected.  While I am mourning his death, truly, I am celebrating his life.  Gary knew and served our Lord, Jesus Christ.  On January 28, Jesus came to Gary’s home in Mills, put His arms around him and said, “Son it’s time for you to come home.  I have a mansion in My Father’s house that I have prepared for you.  Well done, good and faithful servant.”   Someday, I will see Gary in that place.  For the same Savior died for each of us.  The same Lord placed us in His service.  The same Lord will bring us back together in His presence. 


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