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

1 comment: