Blessed by Community
conducted a "Stories of Hope" essay contest, asking readers to reflect
on what Whosoever has meant to them over the past ten years. We'll be
sharing these stories as we continue our celebration of our decade of
ministry to GLBT Christians. The following story is from one of our
in me, though he was dead, yet shall he live."
When I relocated back to my boyhood hometown
from Herb Caen's "Baghdad by the Bay" (Caen's moniker for his beloved
and decadent City of San Francisco) in the summer of 2003, I did not think
I would find any gay Christians. Certainly in San Francisco I had been
the target of much hatred whenever I dared profess a faith in Jesus Christ,
so much do so many people there hate him. I was often suffered discrimination
in housing and employment simply because my resume listed my alma mater,
Texas Christian University.
For twenty years, now, since February 1986, I have been living with
HIV. When I was first diagnosed I did not think I would live to see my
40th birthday, let alone my 50th! I turn 52 in March of this year. I believe
there are several reasons or purposes for my unexpected longevity, not
the least of which is my God's unparalleled grace. There were people all
along who were praying for me, and I believe God has his purpose in keeping
me going, against all odds.
I was so happy to stumble upon the Whosoever community. I live in a
relatively small town (about 30,000 population), suburban and mostly white
and mostly far right in their thinking and their religion. Most churches
in my hometown are more like exclusive, all-white country clubs than truly
faith-based communities. Cross their political lines or challenge their
dogma, and you're out!
Fortunately, I have loving and understanding parents. My mom referred
me to a Presbyterian church here which has had an active outreach to people
living with HIV/ AIDS for nearly two decades. As far as I know, though,
I am the only openly gay member of this church, so fellowship is quite
limited. From my understanding what openly gay members were in this church
died from AIDS over ten years ago.
So I feel very blessed to be part of the Whosoever community, knowing
that I am not alone in this world, that just because politicians who ruled
San Francisco and who hate the very name of Jesus Christ could not keep
me separated from the love of God in and through His Son.
My personal faith is a quiet one. I don't go around advertising and
shouting it. I hear people who claim to be Christians judging others and
condemning others to hell because of the way God has made us. And I hear
ministers and preachers teaching their congregations a religion of exclusion
and hate. This is much farther from God's love than I could ever have
imagined myself to be, and for a period in my life, growing up in a hard-shell
Baptist church, I often felt completely isolated and worthy of suicide.
Thank God for my peaceful and loving transition into a family of love
and faith while attending Texas Christian University! Thank God for my
mom and dad who have grown in their own faith and understanding to ever-greater
heights and depths of love. And thank God for the Whosoever community.
All of you have been lifesavers. Literally.
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