It was my first year of junior high at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa when we were introduced to the weight room. They issued us white shirts along with some blue p.e. shorts. I will never forget the day when we came around a corner and I heard loud screams along with the sound of clanging iron. When we entered into the weight room I saw a mountain of a man on the bench press. He had a spotter shouting the number of reps. When he stood up his face was as red as his shorts and he let out a loud shout. I thought to myself, "that must be the strongest man in the world." My first impression was, "that guy is scary." Little did I know he would become a lifelong example and someone I not only admired, but hoped to be like one day. My first year of junior high was Pastor Gary Neumann's first year of employment at Calvary Chapel.
Gary was my coach, mentor, and friend. He labored tirelessly for over 30 years at Costa Mesa. He served countless children and their families. He ministered to untold thousands of Jr. Higher's through difficult circumstances. He taught them the Word of God. He helped us understand the importance of loving the Lord, and being respectful to our parents. He gave of his summers to minister to kids at camp every year. He was a man's man, but he also has an extremely tender heart for the Lord.
I remember when we moved back to California and I got to take my oldest son to camp with Pastor Gary. My son was now the same age I was when I met Gary the first time. Amazing how time had gone by, and how faithful Gary was to the ministry God had called him to. Many people were scared of Jr. Highers, but Gary loved the kids and still does.
He has raised a wonderful family along with his amazing wife Joy. Their youngest son Andrew is an assistant pastor at our church in San Juan Capistrano. He has his dad's pastoral heart and love for people.
Today was Gary's final day at Calvary Costa Mesa and I want to personally say on behalf of all the kids that you have ministered to and given of yourself we are so thankful for you.
I can honestly say that any fruit that comes from my life in the ministry is partly added to your account my brother. Thank you for your friendship, your example, and your love for JESUS!!!
I believe that the Lord still has work for you to do. Love you bro.