This weekend, thousands and thousands of people gathered in Richmond, Virginia for the annual gay pride event. This is an opportunity for people of all races, genders, and orientations to come together and celebrate their diversity. Because many, if not all, of them have experienced marginalization, this event provides a safe place where each person can just “be.”
“No one has greater love than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
Here, Jesus says that greater love is shown by serving and laying your own agenda and rights down for friends. This year, I challenged my congregation to ask themselves whether they are able to see the LGBT Community as their friends. Historically, the Church has only seen them as their enemies, responding in hate. We haven’t created a safe place for those questioning their sexual identity to process and work through things. We haven’t provided loving support of what it means to be a friend..
20 of us went out to this event with the aim to show that there is a greater love found in Jesus. We rented a vendor booth where we set up a wheel for people to spin to receive gifts, hugs, encouraging words from God, spontaneous songs from God’s heart, artwork, prayer, healing, etc. We also passed out over 1000 pink bands that said “God Likes Me” to people and shared how God not only loves you but likes and enjoys who you are uniquely.
It was a long day, but well worth it considering how many people we talked to, prayed for, encouraged, and ministered to. Hundreds of people’s lives were touched by God in profound ways that I know they will never forget. God in His wisdom knows what each person needs and where each person is in their own journey in seeking/finding Him. Paul shows that “neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:7). I believe that God will grow every word and seed spoken of this weekend! Here are a few encounters and testimonies of individuals:
I didn’t know I could be free from pain and unforgiveness….
One of our people was kneeling down finishing a spontaneous encouraging song for someone. A lady walked up and asked if she was proposing to her. My friend explained that she was straight and that she had to kneel because she didn’t have a guitar strap. This opened the door for further conversation as my friend began to share some of her testimony. She felt prompted to share how she had been taken advantage of at a young age and how God has brought freedom from that trauma and how she has let go of the unforgiveness; God has actually restored the broken relationship too. Upon hearing this testimony, the lady doubled over almost going into travail because her own pain began to surface. My friend was able to pray with her and lead her through forgiveness and healing. Something definitely shifted because after this time of ministry, the lady’s countenance looked different, free, and full of hope! She left with tools and steps to continue walking in forgiveness and in pursuit of Jesus.
I can’t believe I feel like this and I’m sober…
A young woman and man approached our wheel at the same time. First, she spun and it landed on dream interpretation. As soon as the young man saw this, his face lit up and jumped forward excited yelling, “Can we swap because I really want that!” So he then began to share the dream and one of our team members interpreted it for him. As this happened, he proclaimed, “I have goosebumps, I’ve never thought like that before. You guys think so differently. I can’t believe I feel like this and I’m not drunk, I’m sober!” This young man definitely was feeling God’s presence in a tangible way. A team member proceeded to speak identity over him and prophesy God’s heart. Before he left, he made the distinction of how he felt enlightened from this encounter with us, but he specified that this wasn’t from Buddha or Allah. He knew that it was from Jesus!
I wasn’t always like this….
A black man with a wig on and red lipstick came up to our table. He spun the wheel and got a gift bag. I could tell that he was hurt and wasn’t sure about us christians. He took the bag quickly from my hand and began to leave. One of our team felt to go after him to talk. After asking about his story and where he was from, she asked if she could share something with him that she felt like Jesus wanted him to hear. Immediately, a wall went up and his face got really stoic. It was obvious that this question hit something in his heart. So she asked, do you believe in Jesus or have you had any experience with Jesus and the church? He started to share that he grew up in the church and he kept saying repeatedly that “I wasn’t always like this(as he pointed to his hair and lipstick).” He told of how one of the pastors in his church was convicted for molesting a kid. This completely messed up his view of God, causing him to turn away from the Lord. He couldn’t believe that someone that loved the Lord could do something like that to a child. My friend apologized to him and told him that that wasn’t a right representation of Jesus or God’s heart. He then began to cry and repeatedly said but you didn’t do it, you didn’t do it. She still just explained that she was sorry of how that effected him. She asked what it was like to hear her say that and at the point, he was overcome with emotion and couldn’t speak. They talked more and hugged before he left.
The pain is completely gone!
A girl spun the wheel and got healing. Someone on our team got a word of knowledge and said, you need healing in your lower back don’t you? She started freaking out because she said she had bad lower back pain. Another word of knowledge came that the cause of the pain was from an injury. The girl confirmed this by explaining that she was working out and somehow got hurt. Before she received prayer, she rated her current back pain as a 4(but at other times it would be higher). After praying for healing, she was asked to rate her pain level. Immediately, she threw her hands up to her mouth, almost crying but also began to laugh uncontrollably. Once she was able to talk, she said that the pain wasn’t there anymore!
Please keep praying for me…
Someone on our team struck up a conversation with a girl that identified as a man. She opened up that within the last year and half that her and her friend were both molested by a man. She disclosed that for her, that’s the reason she began to identify as a man. She also asked for prayer because she’s taking him to court over what happened. In the prayer, she got really emotional and genuinely thanked us for what we were doing. She asked us and the church to continue praying for her and for the court case.
Here are some take away points from this weekend personally:
- God is powerful and still speaks! I was blown away how accurately that He spoke and encouraged through us. I can’t tell you how many people that I heard confirm that what was shared was right on for them. God put Himself on display to show just how much He cares for the LGBT Community and wants them to know Him. 1 Corinthians 14: 24-25 says that if an unbeliever encounters prophecy that “he is convicted by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.” People definitely experienced that at our tent and I believe that God will continue to work to reveal Himself to each person from this weekend.
- Love is a witness! Once we shared that we were from a church to people, many said how awesome it was to see christians out there showing love instead of hate. If we want to see the LGBT Community know Christ, we must demonstrate Christ through love. Because the world will know that we are Christ followers by our love.
- Wake up and prepare church! At the outreach, we had business cards that simply said LOVE to pass out with a contact email and number. The goal is to continue building relationship with the ones that we encountered by offering support and prayer. Doing so, we want each person to have a life transforming encounter with Jesus. I believe that this is going to happen so we need to be ready to receive people, no matter what the exterior is like.
- The lost are seeking! Many people commented that they were looking for a church to attend that accepted the LGBT Community. Of course, acceptance and approval are two different things. But we need to learn to love and accept people, no matter what. We all like sheep have gone astray, so will we be that voice to help love and guide people to Christ?
LEAVE A COMMENT – SHARE YOUR STORY
Have you ever been or would you ever consider going to a gay pride event to share the love of Jesus? Do you have any similar experiences with the people we encountered on the weekend? Do you need God to show up in your life like He did for these ones? Do you believe that God likes you?