My Urbana 2009 seminar presented a comprehensive plan explaining how the evangelical community can better care for LGBT+ people. The 350+ students responded with passion. As an aside, I noticed one transgendered student in attendance. Somewhere in the US, some church or student had warmly invited this young person to come to Urbana. What an awesome witness of inclusion.
Near the end of my seminar, I did something that I have never done before. I felt God nudging me to extend an invitation for any persons with same-sex attraction to come forward. I cautiously invited them to come, carefully explaining that no one should feel pressured. Four brave men walked to the front.
The audience erupted into applause and stood as the guys gathered at the front. After the audience finally became silent, each young man introduced himself and I prayed for them. As my seminar ended, many students came up to give them a hug, offer friendship or shower them with positive affirmations.
It took great courage for each of these young men to come forward, yet the blessing is that they stepped out of isolation and the fear of judgment into the safe embrace of an entire community ready to accept them. It was one of those moments when it really felt like “the church being the church.”
Don’t take my word. Join me tomorrow when one of those men who came forward will recall this moment.
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