*This took place near the end of the Gay Pride Parade in Chicago…*
He walked by with the intent to leave the parade because it just ended, but he stopped cold in his tracks when he saw our I’m Sorry t shirts.
(Andrew Marin and I!)
I could see in his eyes fear at possible rejection if our shirts meant something hurtful and hateful. I caught on to his fears early and engaged him in dialogue as to what we were saying we’re sorry about; sorry about how Christians might have directly or indirectly told him they’re not loved by God and there’s no place for the LGBT community in the church, and that in fact God loves them and we do too and there IS a place for you in the church – this is my response to what I’m sorry about
His fears subsided, his frown became a smile, “So you’re saying you are sorry for what Christians have said? That you truly love me?” By now his smile was a full blown grin and he (by now he revealed his name – Nathan) told my friends and I “you guys are REAL Christians! That is bombass!”
Nathan shared how his Christian parents threw him out when he came out to them, his hurt visibly noted as he through up a shrug and referenced John 3:16, I get that and I get the passage when it says “whosoever believes in Him shall not perish by have ever lasting life.”
I pulled Nathan into my circle of friends even closer and I asked him if I could pray for him, “I have a better idea” he said, “let’s pray for one another.” My friends and I proceeded to lift Nathan up in prayer; for a good day, for a good week and I closed by praying for reconciliation and restoration between him and his parents. We finished the prayer, talked a little more and gave hugs and then he was on his way with a smile on his face for getting to meet us.
This time, this moment, was definitely a God moment. He put us then and there to engage Nathan in conversation, to share what we sorry about and to lift him up in prayer. May God reconcile and restore the rift between him and his parents, and since reconciliation and restoration is kingdom stuff this left me smiling and crying a little, because in this God moment this is what the kingdom of God is like.
I had just gotten off work last Thursday night and I needed to pick up some groceries, while shopping I bumped into a professor I had when I was still attending the local community college. It was very neat to bump into him because I’ve been meaning to (more details in my next blog). I was asking him how the family was, because at the time I was taking his speech class his wife was pregnant with twins, and I shared with him that I remembered that because he brought in photos of the ultrasound photos I was excited for him…oh yeah, those twins are 6 and a half years old, my does time fly!
At the end (or so it seemed) of our conversation we shook hands and I asked how I could pray for him, he asked for prayer for traveling mercies, that his drive back to his house would be a safe one, and he returned the favor.
I shared how I want to get into youth ministry and I need discernment in finding a church that is (at the very least) GLBT friendly, because with God’s help I can help make it a church that is GLBT affirming and loving.
His jaw dropped at this, and he shared with me:
This has been something that’s been tugging at my heart as well as my wife’s.
He went on to share with me that he does find it rather sad, silly and disturbing the way Christians do not fully engage these people/keep them at a distance/don’t let them attend their church. He went on to tell me there’s a pretty large Lutheran church in the area that does a very good job at engaging/loving/accepting members of the GLBT community! I’m going to find this church and possibly attend next Sunday!
I shared with him what my friends and the Marin Foundation did last year at the Gay Pride Parade with the I’m Sorry campaign. He was amazed and awe struck at this gesture by Christians, to go out and bring much needed restoration to the GLBT community.
We shook hands one last time and he told me come by his office near the end of the semester for some coffee and communication, heck yeah! I can’t wait.
It was good to see him again and have this God moment, it is also encouraging to find out other believers who want to help bring restoration, to help rebuild a burnt bridge between Christians and the GLBT community.
I went to the Chicago Gay Pride Parade last year, I hung out with these wonderful people…
and today I chose to wear my “I’m Sorry” t-shirt because it was a good conversation starter then at the Gay Pride Parade and it’s still a good conversation starter.
I went out to get some Chinese food for lunch, it is the best (yes, I’m biased and not joking) and I usually go there 2x a month (it is good, but I don’t need to eat it regularly).
Anyway, I walked in and before I talked to the owner about what I wanted to order I was questioned by the only other customer what I was sorry about and from there I talked to the guy for close to 15 minutes about how The Marin Foundation, a few friends and I wore these shirts to the Gay Pride Parade and we shared with those who asked (and they were many) what we were sorry about.
We shared how we’re sorry for the way Christians have treated the GLBT community by saying God doesn’t love them or by treating them badly altogether. I expressed to this guy I am sorry for what I’ve said in the past and I truly love my GLBT brothers and sisters, God loves them and so do I.
This guy was taken aback, he went on to share with me how his brother is gay and he’s been hated on and it’s not often enough that Christians who have said callous things or been callous to GLBT members have come forward to admit their wrongdoings. I told myself that sometimes instead of going out and asking for forgiveness and seeking reconciliation with others we hide in our churches and play it safe where it’s comfortable.
It was good to take time to explain the I’m Sorry campaign, but you know who all credit is due? God.
God has worked in my heart, transforming it and changing it into his own. I’m not the person I was 7 years ago, I’m not the person I was yesterday. All of life is a trip, and it’s about this journey that we get to our destination. With this in mind as a follower of Christ I can either walk the path that is of my own making or I can seek to be more Christlike with those around me, to truly love them as Christ loves me.
I’m not a public speaker, I have an easier time speaking about what I know and with some time to process it all (I’m an introspective extrovert) before I share… So me, talking to B* for 15 minutes without having a “what will I say if someone asks me about this t-shirt I’m wearing” thought in my mind…God, it is to his glory and it was Him moving through me and helping me express what I was supposed to say.
God moments will happen, will you take the opportunity to use them for His glory?