Yesterday was Gil's 35th birthday, and so I emailed dozens of his current and former students and asked them to write notes of appreciation to Gil, especially considering this is his last year at HOPAC.
There is no better way to honor my husband than to let you read some of their words. This is his legacy:
The reason Christianity makes the most sense, why I view the world and life the way I do, are thanks to your teaching and time at HOPAC, and Youth group. There were other influences but you're likely the person with the biggest impact.
Thank you even more for introducing me to my best friend--God. Truly, if it hadn't been for you
, I do honestly shiver at the thought that I may have
never been able to hold His hand as TIGHTLY as I yearn to do, today.
You have no idea how much you have prepared me and others who have graduated from HOPAC for college, and even more, for life.
To be honest i feel like am talking rubbish right now because i cannot express how much of an impact you have made in my spiritual life! ...God has put something in you to impact teenagers! even though we might slack off, we do remember what the Bible and your advice says!
Your classes were never boring!
Gil made Bible my most enjoyable class, one in which we argued about apologetics and tried to get our minds around pre-determinism v free will. Gil always played the devil’s advocate, getting his students to break their comfort barriers and engage in discussion.... Gil is certainly a talented teacher, able to hold his audience captive and plant seeds in minds that grew into understanding. ...
However, Gil the teacher is not the reason I appreciate Gil the most.
To me, Gil was and is a mentor and confidante. He has given me advice when I’ve needed it and most importantly told me I was wrong when I needed to hear it. He has shown me how to live with integrity and values....Gil has a gift for drawing the best out of the youth and I owe him much gratitude for the major role he has played in my development from boy to man.
Unlike most teachers, you never made anyone feel like you were always right, and we were wrong to have an opinion. You simply challenged us. Good challenges. We needed that, because at the end of the day, it makes what you stand for firmer!....I loved the visits to your office this year. Always so much better than having to go to class :P
Thank you for challenging me and pushing me to my fullest potential. Thank you for your wisdom and advice for life after highschool and into college.
What makes you special than most teachers is that you don’t only teach them, coach them or do the bare minimum, but you aim for friendships, which is one of the hardest things to accomplish if you are an adult trying to befriend a teenager. What is even more significant than that is that you stay in touch even when they have left Hopac. You stay involved, you really care, and your time and energy is limitless when someone needs you, your heart to connect and reach out to young adults is an amazing gift and your passion for it is rare. ...
Teenagers are terrible at showing appreciation…but don’t give up on us just yet…all teens need a Gil Medina in their lives. ;).
I was recently asked to give my life story in a college small group that I was in, and I told the people listening that my middle school years were among the most important of my life. It was during that time that I was challenged to LIVE out my faith and to be different than the rest of the world. I was inspired to actually think about what it means to be a follower of Christ and implement that into my daily life. During my middle school years I laid down a solid faith foundation for the rest of my life - and that was solely because I had a incredible Bible teacher/youth leader/friend who challenged me to be more than what I saw around me and above all, love Christ with my entire heart. I honestly do not think that I would have the relationship with Christ that I do if it had not been for Mr.Medina's intentional input in my life.
I still talk to my friends about what I learned about dating in your classes (I have been saved from a lot of heart break thanks to Gil), I still make it a point to read "Passion and Purity" once a year (and I have his personal copy), I STILL have my apologetics notes which I look over when I need them.....Mr. Medina is still the first person that I want to come to about questions with faith or just life in general even though I haven't been to Tanzania in over 5 years. I know that he is always willing to hear my thoughts and is genuinely concerned about me.