I’m out in Los Angeles for the week

Earlier this year I met one of my online friends offline and we shared life with one another and I brought up a dream I had where took the I’m Sorry Campaign to San Francisco Pride in the Castro District.

My friend doesn’t live in San Francisco but Los Angeles, and he brought up that the I’m Sorry Campaign would be a good thing at the West Hollywood/L.A. Pride Parade and I said I’d love to do help out with that. With a lot of direction and help from The Marin Foundation and Michael Kimpan, that idea and concept talked about earlier this year is quickly becoming a reality.

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I say all this not to toot my own horn, or self-praise myself, but rather turn any resemblance of praise and thanks and offer it up to God. Even though it has been a harrowing experience, despite my anxiety and a few rough patches in getting this together and even rough patches in my own life…I am more at peace about this now than I ever have been because of several variables:

– Someone else believing in me – It has been been encouraging to be given the task to help lead this up. As much as I gravitate to leadership roles, lately I have been plagued with doubt and worry, anxiety and frustration, and when this happens to me in my life (which is an irregular event but still happens.) I don’t function well. at. all.
Yet Michael believes in me and what I am capable of doing. There’s something to the nature of imposing (in a good sense) belief and capability on others, because while it hasn’t sustained me or inflated my ego, it has restored me in some ways and brought about be believing in my capacities.

– I am not going into this alone – If I am honest with myself and you the reader, there is a sneaky sly deceptive voice that tries to get under my skin with a message of “you’re going into this alone” and then I temporarily freeze up and then I find myself dwelling on the last part of Romans 8:31 where it says “If God is for us, who can be against us” and personalize it, if God is for me, who can be against me? It brings me back to level ground, it brings me back to a place of recognizing that while this is new territory, the way has already been paved which is what leads me to my last point…

– God is here, I’m just invited to be a part of this adventure – God is present in L.A., God will be at LA Pride, God will be amongst those in the parade who read our signs and interact with those gathered to be a part of the I’m Sorry Campaign in LA. I realized the nature of God being present at Pride parades when I was on my way to the first I’m Sorry Campaign in Chicago; I was hesitant and even worried as to how the message of I’m Sorry would be received, but a gentle breeze of the Holy Spirit rolled over me, encouraging me that I was to be a part of something bigger and better than myself, something that God was already involved in…before it even happened! That set the tone of my heart, mind, and soul for that one and ever one since, and even the one that’s going to happen this Sunday.

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I am truly blessed to be out here and to be a part of this, to God be the glory in all that we do! 🙂

~Nathanael~

Building bridges with Muslims

An event popped up on my Facebook feed last night:

“Learn Islam” Classes for New Muslims and Others
These classes are designed for new Muslims and others who want to learn the basics of Islam.
When: Saturdays, 9:45AM – 1:00PM
Where: Fischer Middle School Room 107 (during Al Falah Academy classes)
1305 Long Grove Dr.
Aurora, IL 60504
(this is an ongoing series, so if you’re interested you should come)

I fall in the Others category, but as a lover of learning and a believer that all truth is God’s truth, I went. It was very rewarding to go because I to alter Thomas Aquinas’ quote of “beware the man of one book” I go by “beware the man of only one set of friends”.

I have always been a fan of diversity, and when it comes to people who are diverse, I love them and what they bring to the table. I have a limited knowledge of Islam based on what I have learned and my few Muslim friends who have graciously let me into their lives, their stories.

The reason why I have entitled this post as “building bridges with Muslims” is because there’s a symbiotic relationship in the development; sure I could easily be the one building a bridge to, but this is life, to build bridges there needs to be people on both ends willing to venture out into the sometimes unknown. Unknown isn’t a word that offers up much hope, it is unnerving and it is radical, but my hope isn’t tied up in the unknown. My hope is tied up into something…someone bigger than all my fears, concerns, and ultimately the unknown.

Before I write out a tangent about bridges I am building, have built with others I will say this; if I let fears, concerns, the unknown grasp me and strangle me I would not be the person who I am today. Hope keeps me afloat when I am drowning in my own thoughts. God sustains me and my hope even in times when I am utterly and dreadfully hopeless.

Back to the entry at hand… I was encouraged by today’s get together, because it was a classroom setting of both men and women, taught by both men and women. There was a lot of discussion, interaction, dialogue, and listening. Sure it took some interesting twists and turns, but I can handle that, I in fact like that at times. 🙂 The men whom I talked to were very kind and answered my questions. I did ask them about their stories, where they came from and where they are now today, both from an Islamic standpoint but also their life stories. I won’t disclose them, but one thing I will say is this pertaining to stories and people; people have stories, and people want to be heard, it is healthy and a good thing to get there with people from all walks of life.

This is a weekly get together and I intend to go back next Saturday. I like the group already because they too want to build bridges, they too want to dialogue about commonalities instead of differences. There is no us versus them, there is only we. It is my desire to build that bridge with Muslims as a follower of Isa, there won’t be any converting on my part, only listening and dialoguing and ultimately loving.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”” – C.S. Lewis

~Nathanael~

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