I just got schooled tonight. I got schooled in how to live authentically as a follower of the Way. I am completely broken right now as to how humbled I am to have witnessed what went down tonight with a bunch of folks who don’t care about book sales – don’t care about organizations – don’t care about branding, fundraising, networking, media or anything else other than being real and raw in living life as a precedent to not a belief, but rather to a way of life through that belief. It’s as simple as that, and I’ve been missing the boat because I have been too caught up in the lists of everything I have to do.
Tonight The Marin Foundation hosted another OUT! Night in Boystown. An OUT! Night is a recreation of my original immersion experience into the GLBT community by taking straight, conservative Christians into the gay bars and clubs in Boystown with the goal of striking up conversations to learn, listen and understand. There’s obviously more to it than just that as there are always other variables in play, but I don’t want to take away from the point that I’m trying to make …
I build bridges to serve and I work to bless others. Yet tonight as I was out on the town I was not the one doing the blessing, I was the one being blessed. Not by words, not by intention, but plainly by sitting on the sidelines for the first time and soaking up the genuine, non-pretentious joy of the others with me as they came to me wide-eyed about the stories and experiences they just had with strangers in the gay and lesbian community on the streets of Boystown at 2am.
I saw that pureness and I longed for what I once felt when I first immersed myself 8 years ago through my best friends. Now, it’s pressure. It’s producing constant activity. It’s that everyone looks up to me and expects me to start every conversation, be the center of attention, know what to do in every situation and be the expert in absolutely everything … and it’s the groups of people uncontrollably and constantly thanking me for what ‘you do’ and that ‘you’re so special and different.’
Well, I’m not. And tonight I saw what refreshed and refocused me back to what ‘I do’ because I saw others do it better than I, with transparent reckless abandonment of love and prayer. I watched tonight as Juan, a 50 year old blind black man struck up a conversation with every GLBT person that would walk in his path. He didn’t preach; he didn’t have to. He, in all of his smiles, love and blindness, talked for 4 hours to groups of gay men who then asked Juan to pray for them right there on the street corner in the middle of the night in Boystown outside of a gay club. Juan might be blind, but his tears are the same as yours, mine and those gay men who were blessed tonight by an unsuspecting grandpa who for the first time in his life didn’t intentionally run away from someone he definitely knew was gay. Juan is the expert. He taught me what overcoming your fears looks like and how God uses that fearful genuineness to bless and produce fruit in the most unlikely of places.
And then there was Joo Sim and Sun Joon – 2 twenty-something graduate students who just this year moved to America from South Korea to study in seminary. They speak English, barely, and neither of them had ever seen in person, let alone met or talked to any GLBT person. They were scared at the beginning, asking a million questions and writing down on a notepad every single word I said as we started walking around the neighborhood. For hours they didn’t leave my side, soaking up every word I spoke throughout each conversation I had. Sheepishly they went into the night with no clue of how to process any of this unique, cultural overload. And just like that they disappeared, venturing on their own to give conversation a shot.
At the end of the night the two of them came running up to me and told me how they just had a conversation with a cross-dressing transgender woman who was sitting on a curb in an ally crying. These 2 fearless, and very tiny (both height and weight I might add), Korean girls approach this intimidating 6’1” transgender woman and asked if they could pray for her. And with their thick Korean accents Joo Sim and Sun Joon sought Jehovah face to face as they called out to the Almighty for their broken sister in Christ.
Lives are changing because fearlessly sensitive doers of the Way are living out a certain, unshakable belief in Christ in real ways throughout everyday culture that never register on anyone else’s unsuspecting radar. Anyone, that is, unless it’s other countercultural radicals living in the same fearlessly sensitive way. And tonight I witnessed it first hand as 3 people that the everyday American person would automatically write off as not capable, had our Father lead the way in their lives as the Holy Spirit came upon them and did such miraculous things that even Juan, Joo Sim and Sun Joon didn’t think possible from themselves.
And I sit here now at a little after 3am shamed that I also included Juan, Joo Sim and Sun Joon in that incapable group as well. As embarrassing as it is to admit that, I am that much more grateful, and way ridiculously humbled, by the very important eternal lesson I learned tonight – God’s glory and power bear no bounds. Period. All He needs is a willing and faithful vessel who believes in His miraculous ways and yes, His will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. It is literally as simple as that. And it’s time that even I start to believe it again. It’s funny because I’ve seen it before, I’ve lived it, and I’ve believed in exactly those miraculous ways for many years now; but yet there are times and trials that can still shake even the core of our foundational belief systems.
Lately I have been a beaten-down, overburdened, insecure shell of tired faithlessness. And tonight God showed me what is needed from me – just like Juan, Joo Sim and Sun Joon modeled by doing nothing other than being themselves, living in God’s pure strength.
Wow. Thank you Lord for giving me such a powerful lesson tonight: You have faith in us even when we don’t have faith in ourselves.