Felix and I were the oddest of spiritual partners. God brought us together into the same leadership team for the Navigators' singles ministry at Clark Air Base in the Philippines in 1988. We were just different: Felix the charismatic, I the orthodox; Felix the officer, I the enlisted; Felix the Hispanic, I the Caucasian; he played the zealot, I the intellectual ... a legend in my own mind. I could go on and on. Frankly, Jesus' command for us to love one another was highly necessary.
Each of us was hard-headed in his own way. Each was convinced of his own rightness, his own basic superiority (though I'm sure neither would have admitted to this so brazenly, even to himself). Each of us was very young in the faith, yet each felt he was more mature. We had many showdowns. I remember once Felix looking at me, his eyes showing the strain of our repeated wrangling: "I need to learn to love you." Each of us waited and hoped for the other to either change, or perhaps just to leave the team.
I distinctly remember when once we were in a leadership meeting, and Felix had had enough. He was out. After laying down his plans and bidding us farewell, lightning struck from the blue. Our teammate Brian--Mr. Analytical, who seemingly never displayed any emotion whatsover--said, "Well, Felix, I just have to say that I love you and I'm unwilling for you to leave." You could have heard a pin drop. Felix stayed. God had another plan.
Like the parent who locks the two fighting kids in a room, God was going to force us to figure this out. Felix and I were both going to have to learn to humble ourselves and learn from one another. God held us together because he was working on both of us. He wasn't going to let either of us off the hook.
By the time Felix was married in 1990, we'd been through it all: there was nothing left to argue about, and we'd both done quite a bit of growing up. Felix asked me to be his best man, and I enthusiastically accepted the honor. Nobody who knew us in 1988 would have believed it. He had learned to love me, and I him.
Today, Felix is in full-time service with the Navigators Military Ministry, building up young Soldiers in Christ. I'm not sure what part in his growth I can really claim to have some part of, but I do know that I was the one he had to learn how to love along the way, and vice-versa. In that sense, each was necessary to the other. To God be the glory.