In the late summer of 1992, I moved to Temple, TX to begin my first teaching job at nearby Ft. Hood. The first Sunday I was in town, I visited First Baptist Church. The second Sunday, I visited Temple Bible Church. I never went anywhere else. Gary DeSalvo was the pastor, and he had been there since 1981, when the church started. He remained the pastor until yesterday, when he passed away.
I had the privilege of sitting under his teaching for nine years. I’ve never sat under another pastor who communicated truth with such warmth, conviction, humor—often at the expense of Aggies!—and faithfulness to the biblical text. He was an encourager, a friend, and a man of integrity. He was an Italian-Cajun, native Louisianan and an avid LSU fan. He loved Bluebell ice cream. He loved baptizing people, and he loved teaching the Bible.
He was a shepherd. Under his leadership and the atmosphere he engendered at Temple Bible Church, I steadily grew in my faith. Despite the tremendous growth of the church during those nine years, he still made himself available to me and Dana for pre-marital counseling, and to us again when we were contemplating a move back to my hometown.
Gary loved life, and Sunday mornings were a joy to be a part of as he modeled both delight in our God and the necessity to take God’s word seriously as the only right guide to life. He encouraged the church to engage in our community and around the world—being active himself in the community and in ministering to a church in the Ukraine and refugee camps in Africa.
Gary was always praising others, giving credit where credit was due, encouraging other ministries and churches, and encouraging generosity from us all. The ministry was never his, always God’s, and so he was free to love his church and let God supply what God wanted to supply. We grieve the loss, but we rejoice in a life well-lived and a life finished well.