"The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth... I have no greater joy than this, to hear that my children are walking in the truth."
(3 John 1, 4)
Every time I read 3 John 1, and I see the name "Gaius," it brings warm feelings in me... reminding me of the beloved campus minister that helped shape my life (and calling as a pastor) at the University of Hawaii - Manoa. Rev. Gaius Thede was his name. He's since finished his course of faith, but his witness and influence live on... both in my life and in the lives of many others.
Gaius taught me a number of things that I still hold on to tightly...
- God is often found in asking good questions... even more than in giving the "right" answers. He wasn't afraid to ask good questions of God, the church, and us. It gave me permission to ask bold questions as I developed my own faith.
- You're never too old for God to teach you something new... Back in the late 1980's (when I was in college), I remember that we wrestled together with the issue of homosexuality and the church - decades before it became a popular topic of discussion. Gaius, who came from a fairly conservative theological tradition, was open to believing that God might indeed be wanting to teach him something new! What a gift for me to witness.
- The world is am amazing place - get out and see it... Every summer, Gaius & his wife, Ann, would take college students on an epic bus trip (using Bob Dylan's old tour bus!). I was blessed to go one summer, myself. The trip I went on was 3 weeks in California (including 10 days camping in Yosemite!). Amazing. Many students were able to see the country on a relatively cheap budget... with two amazing leaders!
- Ministry is all about relationships... Gaius excelled at this. He went out of his way to get to know the students who were a part of Wesley Foundation. He invested himself in our lives. He was genuinely interested in us, and in the things we were interested about. Despite the fact that Wesley had cheap parking, Gaius was the driving force behind why people came to Wesley!
- Community is where it's at... Friday nights at Wesley Foundation were amazing! Volleyball, dinner, talking story, music & some kind of program happened every week. Alumni came to hang out with us, long after they'd finished their college studies. The Friday night experience was really all about being around people who truly cared for & loved one another - even more than any program or content. This is "the church" at our best!
I know that Gaius would be pleased with so many of us who knew him "walking in the truth" that he helped teach & model for us. Thanks be to God for the saints, like Gaius, who have gone before!