Saturday, September 22, 2012

Can We Talk?

By Theresa D. McClellan
Faith Advocacy Coordinator
"Gay Christian? Yes! Campaign

I love the fall.  This is an exciting time when we start preparing the earth, laying the groundwork and nurturing the land for the promise of future blooms.

Such is the work of our fall season with GIFT. This is an exciting time as we create and collaborate with others. This is the time we nurture one another with the hope of future allies and  stronger lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of faith. We pray for and act to help create a stronger and vibrant church community where all God’s children are welcomed, encouraged and allowed to share their God-given gifts.  Some upcoming new programs seem like answers to prayer.

Our support group for all ages -GRITS- held it’s first meeting in September. It was an exciting session with good conversation including one with an ally from a conservative church who wanted to know how to get the conversation going in his church. It is always inspiring and hopeful when allies join the conversation. All are welcome.

GRITS has decided to meet twice a month on Wednesdays with the first session of the month allowing more time for talking and support and the second session with more time to explore issues and get to know one another better with activities. To that end we are exploring discussions following specific movies. Other second session events could include book clubs, dinners, outings, speakers. Give us your ideas as we look forward to seeing old and new faces on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Vine at the First Place Building, 207 East Fulton Street.

It was wonderful that an ally wanted to know how to get more involved and we provided mutual encouragement. Here is another fantastic opportunity for all people of faith who want to learn how to have the conversation in their church communities. The nationally recognized Institute for Welcoming Resources will hold its “Building an Inclusive Church”  three-day conference in Grand Rapids on October 27-29 at Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church, 514 Eastern Ave. SE.

Through sound Biblical and theological education, faith-based community organizing skills, meaningful worship, and discussion of lesbian, gay, bisexuality and transgender issues, this conference will prove helpful to lay leaders, clergy, denominational leaders and members and leaders in denominational LGBT groups.

The premise of the conference comes from the belief that “every person, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, deserves to be honored as a beloved child of God and celebrated at Christ’s Table.” 

“Building an Inclusive Church" offers powerful tools to help the Church be the church it is meant to be - just, loving and extravagantly welcome.”

This is exciting news for West Michigan. The $25 conference is hosted by “All One Body” and “Room For All,” two inclusive-building groups that come from the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church of America faith traditions.  The conference is open to all denominations and organizers are hoping to attract a large number of people from various Western Michigan churches and denominations, said Sheryl Mulder spokesperson for All One Body.

She said both the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church of America have “the same current struggles with the official stances on LGBT issues within our denomination and we are working towards helping our denominations begin to dialog and listen to different viewpoints.”

Mulder said she recognizes that the Christian Reformed Church “has a lot of work to do” to be fully inclusive. ”We feel that baby steps are what we are hoping for at this point. We also recognized that change on the current stance of the Christian Reformed Church will be much more effective if it is created from the ground up (laity) versus from the top down (Synod).”  She is hopeful that members of the Christian Reformed Church will engage in the conference.

The Institute is an ecumenical consortium of denominations in the Welcoming Movement. They have full scholarships available and the deadline to register is October 11. So make this a wonderful National Coming Out Day present to yourself and register.

I know I intend to go. I hope to see you there. For more information and to register for the conference visit

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


By Theresa D. McClellan
Faith Advocacy Coordinator
“Gay Christian? Yes!” Campaign


These are the only words to describe the actions and non-action at the Gay Day celebration in a Grand Rapids neighborhood park where Bible-toting characters spewed hate and violence toward women and anyone within earshot.

On Saturday Aug. 4 the East Hills Neighborhood Association organized “Gay Day,” as a day to recognize and celebrate diversity, the current and historical presence of gays in their community, and an inclusive spirit.

The family-friendly event featured food, local bands and educational booths about organizations such as the National Organization for Women and TEAM (Tolerance, Equality and Awareness Movement).  Our Gays In Faith Together (GIFT) “Gay Christian? Yes!” table was scheduled to be there, but a family crisis kept me away.

Unfortunately, nothing deterred protestors from “Gay Day” in Cherry Park. But this was a different kind of protest. These “protestors” made vile threats against some of the women in the park, threatened to rape them and cited Bible passages as support for their threats. Other women reported that the men suggested someone should put a bullet in their head.  Much of this vitriol was caught on video and audio tape. Follow this link

This goes far beyond free speech. This is hate speech. Violent-inciting speech. Fear-inducing speech.  The kind of speech that if not slammed as unacceptable and unfitting of anyone purporting to be a person of faith, is seen as acquiescence.  These characters can be dismissed as fringe, and attention seekers, but their message of Biblically supported violence and hate leaves a stench in the air that has to be addressed.

The Bible can and has been used to support violence and dismissal of women, foreigners, blacks.  As a follower of Christ, I use the Bible to show expressions of God’s love for all and to share the Christ message of celebration, acceptance and inclusion of all that God has made.

I am calling on other followers of Christ to reject and dismiss these Bible-toting characters and their message of  oppression and hate which marred the day in the park.

Silence is unacceptable.

If silence is allowed to be the norm in this community, the Grand Rapids Police Department would feel no compulsion to change their stance and say they would now investigate the matter.

Initially, the GRPD said there was nothing they could do, despite video evidence of threats. Police allegedly said threats could be taken seriously if they were made over the phone.  Really?

That response led people in the LGBT community to relay ,through social media, other acts of violence against them that were allegedly ignored by police. This created a sense that not everyone deserves police protection. Again, unacceptable.

But members of NOW and TEAM and yes GIFT’s  “Gay Christian? Yes!” Campaign are raising their voices to say the violence and threats of violence are unacceptable in this community.

I have a special message to my lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and ally brothers and sisters of faith.

The days of “just sitting with it” because you think no one hears you or sees you, or will stand with you in solidarity, are over.

For too long we have sat silently in church pews, in classrooms, in public places, where others have felt it was their right to create an atmosphere of shame and fear.

Because you raised your voices as victims of oppression, and as oppressors of oppression a light has been shined on this community.  We will continue to hold up that light.

We will not be dimmed.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

GIFT joins "Inch Fest" the music and justice festival Friday

By Theresa D. McClellan
Faith Advocacy Coordinator
“Gay Christian? Yes!” Campaign
When you are a small community church with a mission to listen and be heard, what do you do?
If the church is the “Square-Inch Community,” you bring multi-textured music to the masses and raise the bar by highlighting tough social justice issues happening in our community.
So that's exactly what Pastor Steve DeRuiter chose to do by creating the free "Inch Fest" concert. The concert will be 4 p.m to 10 p.m. Friday June 20 in a parking lot in the 1000 block of Wealthy Street SE across the street from the Sparrows Coffee House.
The event features six bands offering music styles from indie alternative, to folk to Christian hip-hop to punk.  And when your not jammin' with the sounds, you have the chance to get more involved with six local social justice groups - including GIFT - that will have information tables and representatives who work on tackling issues of affordable housing, sex trafficking,  safe neighborhoods, and safe and affirming places to worship for the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender communities.
"We want to promote local goodness," said DeRuiter in explaining how he chose the participating social justice organizations. "Our church is really interested in promoting local business and justice organizations and art" said DeRuiter. His small church community meets Sundays in an upper room at the Inner City Christian Federation Bldg. at 920 Cherry St. SE.
The social justice organizations represented will include the Manasseh Project which is working on educating others on what is called the sex-slave industry occurring right here in West Michigan. The project is an outreach of 
Wedgewood Christian Services which is working to end the sexual exploitation of men, women and children.
"They have stats on how many of these victims are homeless and from the LGBT community, especially when LGBT kids get kicked out of their homes," said DeRuiter.
Too often, LGBT youths and young adults are ostracized by their families - based on church teachings - and wind up disconnected and on the streets. 
GIFT and the "Gay Christian? Yes!" Campaign, which works to spread the message that you can be gay and Christian, will also be present.  Our persistent message of hope and affirmation is crucial for youths and all who are told they are worthless and something to be dismissed just because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning.
To be able to spread our message of hope and affirmation in the neighborhoods and on the streets of Grand Rapids is indeed a blessing for GIFT and for all those who will hear. Our website includes a growing list of inclusive churches and more churches are wanting to know how they can embrace all of God's children. We regularly connect with people of faith who attest to the difference it has made in their lives to have found a supportive faith community.
Pastor DeRuiter is a Christian Reformed Church pastor whose small community of believers come from the parent church of Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church.
"I want to figure out how we can best be a church for our LGBT brothers and sisters, even though our Christian Reformed Church has miles to travel. How can we approach this as a church? We have gay members, they just want to know how to be a disciple of Christ," said the pastor.
So one way to reach out to multiple communities is to create a festival. He will not be preaching at the six-hour event. He will have free Bibles available and a box for prayer requests and literature about their church. It will mostly be multiple musicians, diverse information and a chance to get to know and learn about each other. There will also be vegan treats for sale.
Other justice groups expected are Safe Haven Ministries, which provides help for women in abusive relationships. The Inner City Christian Federation which helps create affordable housing and the East Hills Council of Neighborhoods which works on community development and building strong, safe, connected neighborhoods.  Square Inch Church is in the East Hills neighborhood.
"We are letting people know we are a Christian community in this neighborhood and we aim to be a safe place for you. My prayer is that people will know who we are and seek out questions about us and the universe in a Christian context," said DeRuiter.
He calls the expected music the 
“the Best local Band Lineup of the Summer”
They are:
The Soil and the Sun:
Churches tell us of your programs and efforts to include the LGBT community and we will help spread the word on Theresa’s Table.
Send story ideas and church information

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Golden Opportunity

By Theresa D. McClellan
"Gay Christian? Yes!"
Faith Advocacy Coordinator

When we started our "Gay Christian? Yes!" advertising campaign during Holy Week, some opponents quoted Scriptures to show why we were wrong. My faith tells me we are not wrong and our website is filled with resources showing examples of a God whose love is unconditional with arms wide open.

But starting May 20, those who say no, and those who know yes, will have an opportunity to learn more in a seven-week series titled,"What the Bible Really Says About Gay Christians (May Surprise You!"  

This series, led by the Rev.Bill Lyons of St. Johns Congregational United Church of Christ, is exactly the kind of work we were hoping to see come out of our advertising campaign - getting the conversation started in the community.

St. John's is one of the more than 30 churches on our growing list of gay-friendly churches to be found on our website. Rev. Lyons, 48, has offered to provide this seven week course which he says will be affirming to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Christians and also enlightening to those in the middle who have not made up their minds. The series will help those who believe one cannot be gay and Christian understand why they believe that. It will and also help those who who hear that message not to be dismayed, said Rev. Lyons.

The sessions are meant to create knowledge, dialogue, hope and mutual understanding with respectful dialogue while keeping everyone whole. 

This is an exciting opportunity for GIFT and the community. 

Rev. Lyons, who has more than 26 years experience as a pastor, has been honored for his biblical scholarship. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Bible and a Master of Divinity in Christian Theology. He is a doctoral candidate at McCormick Theological Seminary. He said he is hopeful the series will also attract those who have questioned the theology behind the billboard message.

Rev. Lyons has three adult children. He and his partner of 11 years live in Grand Rapids.

The free seven-week 90 minute sessions will be held Sundays starting May 20-July 1, 2012 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at St. John's United Church of Christ, 1934 Bridge St. NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504.  The church is located where the corners of Bridge Street, Covell Street and Lake Michigan Drive meet.

I know I'm going. Hope to see you there!

To register for the free event or for more information, contact the church at 616-453-2497 or email them at

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Billboard is Gone: The Message Remains

By Theresa D. McClellan
“Gay Christian? Yes! “
Campaign Coordinator

Our billboard is down.  But our ministry is even stronger!

On Monday, April 30, our visual and very public beacon of hope, the “Gay Christian? Yes!” billboard, came down. It was the end of our 30 day contract.

The billboard, featuring a rainbow angel with outstretched arms to say “Yes!”  was a welcome sign like no other to everyone entering the Grand Rapids city limits on northbound U.S. 131.

I found myself often taking the 28th Street entrance onto the northbound freeway for no other reason than to see that beautiful symbol of hope that represents the prayers, hard work and diligence of so many individuals, church leaders and volunteers who believe in our dream declared in our mission statement:
“To proclaim the love of Christ for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people and their allies and to affirm their presence and inclusion in the Christian community.”

As the business cycles of life move on, the billboard is also gone for now, replaced by a restaurant ad featuring a delicious meal.

But our billboard provided another kind of sustenance. Beneath the beautiful “Yes!” angel we included our website which continues to delight, enhance, engage and encourage all who visit.

Here is where pastors, theologians and believers shared in the “Easter Keepers” section why their faith compels them to believe that “Yes! you can be Christian and a member of the LGBT community.”

These Easter Keepers continue the teaching of Christ’s message of hope and revival from the chains of despair, which is why that essay series began Easter morning and continues through the 50 days of Easter ending May 26.

We chose to start our billboard campaign during Holy Week, the seven days of deep prayer and contemplation before Easter Sunday. This decision proved to be a God-send as one church, Aldersgate United Methodist Church, 4301 Ambrose Ave. NE, felt so inspired by the billboard, they asked how to be a part of the Campaign on Maundy Thursday and created a petition to join our campaign that was signed three days later by 70 people including church leadership on Easter Sunday morning.

One of my favorite stories of the impact of this billboard came from board member Cara Oosterhouse, whose personal story was carried on the MLive website by the Grand Rapids Press.  Someone in a store she frequents recognized her picture in the media and shared that he, too, was a gay Christian . But he and his long-time partner left the church after being spiritually wounded by an oppressive, condemning sermon message. He had no idea, until visiting our website, that there were multiple churches in this community willing and ready to open their doors to him and his partner.

Before the April 3 Campaign unveiled, we had 25 churches listed on our website. Since the billboard Campaign, we started receiving calls regularly  from church representatives or pastors wanting to know how to get their name on our list of churches opening their doors to all God’s children. We start the process by having them fill out a survey, to-be published soon, explaining what it means for them to be a gay-friendly church. We now have 38 churches listed on our website and expect it to grow.

It is a blessing indeed when a website can be the source of helping to bring the sheep back to the fold of God’s outstretched arms.

We want your stories of how you have been impacted by the “Gay Christian? Yes!” Campaign. Please share them on the  Forums Page.

Every Monday, we will see a video essay by a gay Christian or ally telling their faith journey. Make these your pages and create and share your three-minute, affirming video stories of your faith journey. To submit a video, upload to YouTube and email the link to your video to

And every Tuesday, here at Theresa’s Table where all are welcome, I will highlight a program, individual or give you updates on our “Gay Christian? Yes!” Campaign.

We have much to celebrate.

For even though we no longer have that welcome sign like no other for those entering the city limits, Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell makes clear his vision for this region.

You can hear and see that vision 8 p.m. Friday May 4, when the West Michigan Gay Men’s Chorus presents their concert “It’s a New Day When…" at the East Grand Rapids Performing Arts Center, 2211 Lake Drive SE.

Mayor Heartwell created a message of hope for the region with a special declaration that will be unveiled in the video at the concert. I was blessed to be a part of that short video that features community voices telling how “It Gets Better” for even the Christian gay community. Beyond the video, the concert features some powerful and emotional songs with sweet harmonies by the chorus. For the $15 tickets see

The West Michigan Gay Men’s Chorus Board President Joseph Workman said he wants to send a message of hope through the concert that “It Gets Better” and “better starts right now, in this very moment."

“Better starts when we all take a stand in our lives to show others love and acceptance. It is a new day when we stand and say children are precious and beautiful, regardless of the sexuality identity or orientation,” said the chorus board president.

I believe we have started making West Michigan better with the raising up of our sign.

The billboard’s appearance has ended for now. The message proved to be a ray of hope for many rounding that curve on the highway. But keep returning here. Another beacon of hope is just around the corner.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Can a Billboard save a life?


I want to thank you for the prayers and support you have given me in my role as Faith Advocacy Coordinator for Gays In Faith Together (GIFT).
We have some exciting programs planned in the coming months. And as you consider spending your tax refund, I want to share with you how you can help our "Gay Christian? Yes!" Campaign based on just one call to our office. I  want you to know this is long. But the message is important and worth your time, so please, continue reading and know that your help will make a difference.
The young one on the other end of the phone line just wanted another voice, another perspective from a spiritual source.
So she called our GIFT office and left a message for Chaplain Jim Lucas. For some reason, her pastor decided to stand at the pulpit decrying all things homosexual. He got to the point where he said if there were any homosexuals in his congregation they should leave. Now.
The young one sat in her pew. She didn't want to move and be noticed. She didn't want to stay for a spiritual beat down. Her parents knew, but never talked about, their daughter's sexuality. They were enmeshed in their own shame fed by cultural and religious messages. So she stayed and felt alone, unheard, unseen, unwanted.
We have seen the news reports of what happens to youth who feel this way with no where to turn. Chaplain Jim returned the teen's phone call, but her angry father suggested we not call again
Imagine what that Sunday afternoon car ride home from church was like for that family driving past cornfields in silence. Heavy silence. Imagine if while driving they passed a billboard stating "Gay Christian? Yes!" and beneath those words was the web address with the tagline "you are not alone."
Imagine if she went to her computer and found the site filled with sermons from local pastors whose faith journey showed them that God says yes to all God's children. What if she found pastors willing to talk to other pastors that have not yet embraced this message of hope? What if she found testimonies from young ones like her who had been in the same circumstances? What if she found others who moved from the depths of despair to the joy that comes from accepting their gayness and Christianity?
What if her mother, who dared not have the courage or know how to address the elephant in the room, went to our website and connected with other parents of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children? What if she found essays and books and movies and meeting spaces to engage in conversation with others like her?
What if her father, who hung up on the chaplain, decided to watch the videos on the website in his own time? The series of brief, pointed and Spirit-filled videos ask if you really know what the Bible says about homosexuality. Other videos show honest discussions of the struggle and how others came out whole.
 What if he saw and read testimonies from other fathers, mothers, pastors, like him, who are on a journey of discovering how they can honor their faith while loving and affirming their non-conforming child? What if after reviewing the entire site, the father called his pastor and said, we need to talk.
What if you could help make this happen?
 We need your financial support to make this billboard campaign a success. We are preparing the website and resources for an early spring release. We are collaborating with others and creating programs and projects under the "Gay Christian? Yes!" campaign that will nurture families, churches and individuals who want to help express the welcome message that there are no mistakes, we ALL are God's children and loved.
We want to have billboards across West Michigan in the spring of 2012 announcing the good news that yes, you can be gay and Christian and directing people, who have been spiritually bullied, to places of comfort.
We don't want another young one to hear from the pulpit that they are going to hell because of who they are attracted to.
We don't want anyone to sit in silence when they hear such a message without having the spiritual and educational resources to challenge such statements.
We believe that you, too, want a world, where everyone who wants a church home, can find one where they are not condemned or ostracized because of who they love.
I believe that you want to help with this campaign and you understand that this is a tough sell and requires a lot of work. I am committed to the work and weekly give much more than the 20 hours I am paid. I just ask for your financial help to make this Campaign successful.

  A few people have supported us with major donations of $500 or more, but we also need donations of $10, $25, $50, or $100. Whatever amount you give, we greatly appreciate your partnership and your willingness to share this message with at least 10 other friends.
As an added benefit, if you send your donation before April 15, you will have an easy reminder of your wonderful tax deduction for 2012. (GIFT is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization.)
We welcome your donation by check or online. If you would like to donate with a check, please make it out to GIFT and send it to our office with the Gay Christian? Yes! Campaign in the memo.
207 East Fulton
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
If you would like to donate by credit card online, please go to our website and click on the Donate Now button which uses the secure Just Give service..
Would you like to learn more about GIFT’s growing ministry? We invite you to read our autumn newsletter by following this link:
I think often of the young one who called and I pray that she continues to seek messages of hope regarding her faith and sexuality.  My faith tells me that since she sought us, she will continue seeking. But I worry about all of those who don’t have it in them to make such a call. They are the ones most in need. They are the ones we can reach with your help. We start by sending the message clearly and boldly:  
In Faith,
Theresa D. McClellan
GIFT's Faith Advocacy Coordinator
Gay Christian? Yes! Campaign

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Happy Knee Year!

By Theresa D. McClellan

Faith Advocacy Coordinator

Gays In Faith Together

“It is not I, but the Christ within who does the work.”

These amazing words salved my tears 3 a.m. Sunday morning as I lay crying in my Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital room.

In pain and overwhelmed, I’d paged the nurse desk late Saturday night and asked if she’d go online, find and print the day’s Daily Word message from Unity Magazine.

The Daily Word is one of my favorite sources of spiritual sustenance. Each day a random topic is expressed in an essay inspired by a Scripture verse. I’ve received the magazine in my home for years. And even when I misplace it, it re-appears just when it’s needed with a message so profound, on point and seemingly just for me.

But since my Dec. 30, 2011 total knee replacement surgery, I have been without it. I forgot to renew my subscription.

But God is good and always on time and delivers to us exactly what we need. Often more.

This is the story of how a random message made it clear that God is constantly finding ways to show us we are not in this alone. All we have to do is listen, be open, and look for God’s work to unfold, often at the hands of surprising messengers.

This is also a message of how our “Gay Christian? Yes! Campaign is going to unfold in the spring of 2012 despite the human frailties of its organizers.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. This started in the fall of 2011 when I finally decided to seek help for my painful knees. Seeking just another pain relieving shot, I was informed my pain was caused by agonizing bone on bone knee deterioration. I needed two new knees. My reaction was instant.

“I can’t have surgery now, I’m in the midst of a major campaign starting in 2012!”

My accompanying friend and the nurse viewing my x-rays were aghast at my statement. They convinced me if I didn’t address this now, my future scenarios would be bleak.

So I agreed to a Dec. 7 surgery. Bouts of bronchitis caused surgical delays for me, but once fully healthy I finally snagged the Dec. 30 date.

I made preparations at work and home getting ready for this life-altering surgery, but it soon became clear how un-ready I was for everything coming my way.

As we start this New Year and our “Gay Christian? Yes! Campaign , I know all about being overwhelmed and about the power of God.

I’ve spent the last year with a talented team of Christians leading the way in praying, planning and collaborating to make this “Gay Christian? Yes! Campaign a success. With your continued involvement, some amazing events will begin to unfold this spring.

Preparing for and having that surgery led to the discovery of other health issues. After four days in Saint Mary’s Hospital, and ten at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, learning how to walk again in an amazingly supportive environment whose motto is “restoring hope and freedom,” I saw and felt God’s hand in my life.

It was never more apparent the Sunday morning of January 8 when God’s blessings unceasingly continued to bubble forth.

My asthma was out of control, my blood pressure numbers were consistently rising to stroke levels and the pain in my new surgical knee was unbearable. To keep all this at bay, a team of doctors had three computerized pages of drugs they were giving me daily and I would have to do the same once home.

I was scared and overwhelmed and paged the nurse asking her for more pain meds, a print out of my drugs list and a computer print out of the Daily Word. Saturday turned to Sunday morning and she brought me the message. I was not the only one feeling overwhelmed, she leaned against the wall and read it silently. I asked her to read it to me aloud.

The anonymous scribe was writing about feeling overwhelmed and used the New Testament Scriptures from Colossians 3:11 for inspiration.

This was the opening line of the essay. “It is not I, but the Christ within who does the work”

My nurse looked at me as I lay in bed crying while she read to me softly. She cried and held my hand. “May I give you a hug,” she asked?

“Yes, please?” I responded.

I requested the Daily Word message and a printout of my drugs on Saturday, but she was finally able to complete the task around 3 am Sunday morning leaving me a message that was right on time.

I used that message throughout the rest of the day to buoy me when my physical therapists sent me back to my hospital room because my blood pressure was out of control; later still in the day when a friend, who was going to bring my mother to visit me ,called to say sickness changed his plans and could I find someone else to bring my mother.

I saw God’s handiwork when out of the blue an old reporter friend ,hearing I was in the hospital, called to check on me and offered to bring my mother to see me upon hearing my dilemma.

I saw God’s handiwork again when my 85-year-old mother finally arrived, but after a short visit, became ill herself in my rehab hospital room with flu-like symptoms. Another friend arrived to take her to the nearby hospital emergency room, while I lay helpless in my hospital bed.

And once my mother was released from emergency, hours later to spend the night with one of my friends, I saw God’s handiwork as I sat on my bed and wept, releasing tears of pain and fear and relief.

And I heard the prayerful words of my roommate, an elderly stroke victim who thought she had lost her words.

“Lord, I don’t know what I’m saying or how to say it,” she prayed, “but be with my friend her and her mother. Let her know you are in control”.

I grew calm and an incredible sense of peace filled me. I felt it again that night when my sister Vanessa called me from Houston and prayed the Our Father to me with me repeating after her. As I heard myself pray, I was reminded of how my stroke-addled father would end each night repeating the Our Father as my sister Connie prayed it to him. My father Frank and my sister Connie are in heaven now and surrounding me with love.

As Vanessa prayed to me that Sunday night and I thought of all the God moments in just one Sunday, I knew at that moment that nothing, no thing could separate me from God and no thing could separate us from doing God’s will of spreading the “Gay Christian? Yes! message.

Just before midnight, the nurses came in to check my blood pressure. All had heard about my day and expected the numbers to be horrific. But I was floating in God juice and the numbers could not touch me.

On the first reading I was 180, then 190. I told the nurse I felt fine and asked her to read me my Daily Word printout while I focused on deep breathing. Their brows grew increasingly furrowed as my top numbers climbed past 200 and my bottom number reached 101.

“I don’t care what that computer says,” I told her while smiling at the computerized blood pressure monitor. “God’s got this” I said waving my hand from the soles of my feet to the top of my head.

“Well I care,” the nurse stated while consulting with a second nurse. I lay back and breathed and the nurses watched in amazement as the numbers decreased to 143 over 87.

I was physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted, but I knew at that point that even though my flesh was weak and I was not where I wanted to be in the campaign, even though I had not yet met personally with every pastor that expressed interest and even though illness had not allowed me to raise all the monies for the billboard campaign, I realized God was telling me that I did not and would not go this alone.

And finally, you know how I knew I was on the right track with the Gay Christian? Yes message, I want back to Colossians where the message is “Christ is in all”

Sounds like Yes! to me.

Now it is February and after a month of intense physical therarpy and after ingesting medically necessary serious pain pills, I am home looking forward to outpatient therapy.  My brain fog has cleared and I am moving toward returning to the campaign.  This is my first column. I hope it sounds like yes to you.