Gary Aupperle introduced me to quizzing when I was in middle school. He was my coach for a couple years. For the last several years he has served as Denominational Quiz Director for the Missionary Church.
A few weeks ago he retired from that position. His daughter solicited notes and letters for a memento book in his honor. Below is my tribute to Gary.
There’s no question that both quizzing and Gary himself had a huge impact on my life, and the two are somewhat intertwined since Gary was my coach for a few years.
Gary introduced me to quizzing. I hadn’t heard of it prior to him. And what a difference that made! Bible quizzing became one of a handful of things that defined me as a teenager.
Once I found I could be good at quizzing, I quizzed to compete. I wanted to win. I admit that my first priority of quizzing was not to study the Word of God so as to know him better; it was rather to know the Word of God so that I could help my team score more points than the other teams. However impure my motives, though, the Word of God got into me, and boy am I grateful!
For one thing, memorizing several books of the NT helps me even today to place exactly where many different passages are.
Also, the detailed study of Scripture back then has led me to detailed of Scripture today (and the study of today is matched with better motives, which yields greater fruit).
Quizzing even saved me money. When I entered college I was able to clep out of NT survey. Thanks, quizzing!
And what a great social network quizzing proved to be as well. I made a lot of friends during those five years, in the district and beyond, not to mention the countless hours spent with two great coaches/Christians, Carl White and, of course, Gary.
As I move to Gary himself, I move beyond just his influence on me in terms of quizzing, for I knew him beyond just his role as coach. Gary was one among a few who taught me passion for God’s word. He did this in quizzing, but especially in his expository preaching on Sunday nights at Avalon. His preaching was one of two or three factors that wooed me into a love relationship with the Bible during my late teens.
Gary taught me by example the fine art of conversation. I remember him taking me out to eat on various occasions when he was my youth pastor, and he would pepper me with questions, showing me that good conversationalists show more interest in others than in talking about themselves.
And I think it was because of Gary’s ministry as my youth leader and then as senior pastor at Avalon that caused me to begin to think about the possibility of going into ministry myself.
Further, when I ended up in youth ministry, how could I not help but think of Gary’s ministry to me as a template for my own ministry to youth? (It usually worked like this: I would reflect on what Gary did with us, and then I would reject that and do the opposite. Okay, not really. That’s something else I think Gary reinforced in me—sarcasm.)
In short, I love quizzing, and I love Gary. What a servant! Well does Gary exemplify 2 Cor 4:5: “For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (NIV).