pride

Q Chats | Identity Formation | Week 4

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Q Christian is a community comprised of people with diverse backgrounds, differing theological beliefs, and a variety of ethics. Q Chats are designed to be a deep dive into self-discovery by learning from one another, and spiritually growing side-by-side. Q Chats cannot be effective without you! We invite you to participate. Share your thoughts, stories, and perspectives. Your influential voice can make a difference in the lives of others.


What prejudices do you perceive as an LGBTQ+ Christian? How does this impact your personal identity?


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Bukola Landis-Aina

In LGBTQ+ spaces, there is a perception that the entire Christian faith is based on archaic harmful values. It can be difficult to convey Christian values without reminding people of legalistic rhetoric that was used to condemn them. I can understand their skepticism. Upon leaving my conservative world, I was sent a letter of disfellowship from a church I had spent over 5 years, my time, resources and efforts. Looking back on friendships that were lost from that church when I came out is still very painful. This impacts my identity now in that I always strive to hear people out. I try not to make assumptions or judge another’s journey. After all I experienced, I know that just because I cannot relate to another person’s experience does not invalidate it in any way.


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Sarah Ngu

I’m left-handed. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it because it doesn’t really make a difference in my life, especially since most of the work I do is on a laptop. I imagine this might’ve been different if I grew up in a context where being left-handed was seen as bad. If I had to fight to use my left hand, to  join support-networks for lefties, and to advocate for spaces that were left-hand-accessible, I would probably identify with being left-handed—just as I currently do with being queer. Friction is not a necessary ingredient for identity-formation, nor should identifies be reduced to oppression. Nevertheless, it has played a key role in my identity-formation.


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Jessica Dickey

The biggest prejudice I perceive is people not thinking I am 'Christian enough' or 'queer enough'. It is hard for people to imagine a Christian with progressive enough beliefs to embrace my sexuality or for a queer person to be conservative enough to embrace the love of Jesus. This has just increased my desire for visibility- increased my desire for truth- and increased my desire for acceptance. While I was first going through the journey of accepting my sexuality these prejudices reached deep into my heart and took a lot of therapy and a lot of tears to combat. They still reach me and affect me in deep ways but I have the ability to remove myself from the assumptions of others and rest in the knowledge that God created me in a specific way and smiles down on me as I dig deeper into my full self.


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Kalevi Chen

I think many of us have this experience, but I do perceive a combination of the individual prejudices that I would as just LGBTQ+ in Christian spaces and as Christian in LGBTQ+ spaces. Somehow, though, I'm in a spot where I'm able to observe these prejudices happening, rather than experiencing them directly. Nevertheless, it's something I'm always conscious of! I actually don't think it impacts how I identify that much, it just informs how I approach my interactions with people. Like I said before, I don't try to mask parts of my identity, but I do try to be strategic about how and when I show myself. So if there's an answer to the second part here, I'd say it's caused me to really hone an analytical mind!


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Lauren Moser

I get a lot of head tilts when I tell people that I work for Q Christian. As soon as someone asks, “What do you do?”, my job immediately opens the door to a very long conversation about how being Christian and LGBTQ+ isn’t mutually exclusive or diametrically opposed. I get a lot of awkward, silent pauses from both Christians and non-religious LGBTQ+ persons alike who don’t know what to do with a queer Christian. Some days I lean into the awkward and other days I honestly don’t feel like justifying both identities to every stranger who asks me about what I do for a living. It can feel like people on either side of the religious aisle don’t want you to be part of their community. That can be really isolating, but I would wager that many folks feel the tension of not quite belonging to the LGBTQ+ community and not quite belonging to the broader Christian faith. The beautiful thing about Q Christian is that both identities are collectively celebrated.


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Scott Herr

As a Side B gay Christian, the prejudices that I perceive may be different from others, since the spaces I inhabit are different, but I also experience many of the same prejudices as all LGBTQ+ Christians.

The biggest prejudice I experience from other Christians would be that I am somehow not Christian enough because I am gay. For some, or even many, Christians, there is nothing that will satisfy them except my complete denial of anything LGBTQ+. They do not see anything LGBTQ+ as being compatible with being a Christian, and therefore cannot see me as Christian. It does not matter that I am attempting to live a life in harmony with the traditional Christian sexual ethic. It does not matter if I am attempting to live a life of prayer. Nothing matters as long as I use a three-letter word to describe myself.

Then there are the Christians who do not go so far as to say that I am not a true Christian, but they do not want me to be seen. They want me to stay hidden and be respectful. As long as I do not draw attention to myself, then I can have a seat at the table and talk with them, but they would not want to be seen with me if I were openly gay.

Of course, another large prejudice in today’s Christian world is equating me, as a gay man, with a pedophile. This may be the most hurtful because it is something that is so far from my own experience, but without even knowing me, people will just assume this is the case or tell me that I am the exception. It amazes me that this line of thinking even exists, but it is the reality of many LGBTQ+ people in our churches.

Another prejudice I experience comes from the LGBTQ+ community. For multiple reasons, my presence as a Side B gay Christian can be triggering and hurtful to some. This can cause people to judge me as unsafe or toxic. They may deny me a seat at the table because of this. They will not accept me as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and may even refuse to give me a chance to talk with them.

It can be difficult to stay in any of the spaces where God has led you, while constantly being confronted with those who would rather you were not there. This makes me feel like I need to conform to what other people think I should be. It makes me feel that all the love in my life is conditional, and that in order to be loved, I have to work to make myself acceptable. It also feeds my desire to be a people pleaser and tempts me to place my identity in human respect and others’ approval. Perhaps this is what drives my need to serve. Perhaps this is what makes me feel that I will be abandoned if I open up to people. I know it makes me feel I have to hide and return to the closet.

While the consequences can be horrible at times, I have found that the more willing I am to be open, seen, and authentic, the more I can begin to break down some of these prejudices. I can turn difficult interactions into an opportunity to help people better understand me and my communities. That takes a lot of energy and commitment, and sometimes it is hard to know if it is worth it. In the end, I like to think that it is.


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Isaac Archuleta

To be honest, one of the prejudices that I seem to experience the most is when a secular LGBTQ+ person seems put-off by my identity as both a person of faith and Bi. Although it used to feel incredibly awkward and annoying to have to explain myself, the more I have fallen in love with who I am the more eager I am to represent people like me, particularly because it unveils another option for others to live authentically.


Q Chats | Identity Formation | Week 3

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Q Christian is a community comprised of people with diverse backgrounds, differing theological beliefs, and a variety of ethics. Q Chats are designed to be a deep dive into self-discovery by learning from one another, and spiritually growing side-by-side. Q Chats cannot be effective without you! We invite you to participate. Share your thoughts, stories, and perspectives. Your influential voice can make a difference in the lives of others.


How do you show up as Christian & LGBTQ+ in secular spaces or within the larger LGBTQ+ community?


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Bukola Landis-Aina

I show up as a daughter of immigrants, a woman who is married to a woman, a deacon, a mom, a semi-pro football player, an attorney, and non-profit leader. I wear many hats and aim to use them all to help bridge gaps within the various communities I engage. I try to show up with my full self to these spaces even though often many aspects would be easier to just try to camouflage. Doing this requires me to “come out” as many forms of “other” when otherwise I might pass as something other than what I am. Honestly, I do not always have the energy to fully show up in every space but I certainly aspire to do so.


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Sarah Ngu

I feel generally fine with casually mentioning my Christianity, as most people who meet me for the first time tend to be surprised that I’m religious. I haven’t perceived any negative reactions thus far. I kind of enjoy the awkward pause after my ‘reveal’ and then I see if they have any follow up questions; if not, I just shrug and keep going. They usually do have questions though. 


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Jessica Dickey

I just show up as myself. Instead of trying to put my Christian foot forward or my LGBTQ+ foot forward, I just show us Jessica, a fun-loving, engaging, and funny (if I do say so myself) girl. My hope is that I can bring awareness to the minority within the minority of queer Christians. The queer community has the potential to become a space that is exclusive rather than being the inclusivity that we ask for. When I enter spaces that feel exclusive I know how to hold the boundaries that keep me comfortable. I know that not every person is not privy to every part of me. I am proud of my sexuality and no longer feel shame but that does not give anyone the innate right to know and I have the autonomy to hold that for people that deserve it.


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Kalevi Chen

I have my Luther Rose bag everywhere I go! :) But seriously and honestly speaking, this isn't an easy question for me to answer because I actually don't spend much time consciously thinking about this. I do suppose it's just a matter of how I try to show up everywhere: I strive to be gentle and kind-spirited wherever I go, even in the face of difficult circumstances. As for how that interacts with being LGBTQ+, I don't know that I have an answer! I like to be authentic, which includes things like talking about my fiancé when the topic comes up; I don't like to conceal any element of my person or identity, if it isn't necessary for personal safety. That means I don't make special efforts to downplay or conceal either my Lutheran faith or my gayness in any of my spaces.


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Lauren Moser

I’ve only been fully out for about 6 months, so showing up as openly Christian and LGBTQ+ in the LGBTQ+ community is still a new adventure for me. I love that I can relate to those who have been ostracized by the Church and resonate with the pain of others who have come out in a conservative religious context. I get a lot of questions, but I pray people come away from those conversations with at least some glimmer of hope that they don’t have to permanently part ways with their faith tradition in order to embrace their sexual orientation or gender expression. I think, as LGBTQ+ Christians, we have a beautiful opportunity to acknowledge the scars of our ex-religious LGBTQ+ siblings and invite them back to the table. To say, “There is still something for you here. God has not abandoned you.” My queerness gives me permission to extend that invitation in a way that was impossible for me when I was closeted. 


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Scott Herr

I like this question a lot, but to be honest, secular LGBTQ+ spaces are something that I am only beginning to explore. For many reasons, from feeling the need for approval from my family and church to my own homophobia, I have not always felt comfortable in those spaces. I have felt like I did not always belong.

As this has changed for me, I have started to go to gay bars, Pride events, and other secular LGBTQ+ events and places. I have learned to recognize myself as part of the LGBTQ+ community. For so long, I was led to think of the community as being something to which I did not belong, but I now know that is not the case. It is not us versus them; there is really only us.

This really hit home after the shooting at Pulse. I could not shake the feeling that this was my family that had been hurt, that this was my people that were attacked. I am embarrassed that it took such a horrific event for me to realize that, but I am grateful that the Lord showed me that.

I want to show up in these spaces in much the same way that I show up in my family, church, and my larger community. I want to show up as a man of integrity, who is not afraid to talk about his identity as a Christian and as a gay man. I want to show up with a quiet presence that helps bring light and love to others’ lives.

I also want to respect and meet people where they are. I first and foremost want to meet people as friends. I want to learn to know people and hear their stories—to be quick to listen and slow to speak. I certainly do not want my presence, especially as a Side B person, to keep them from Christ, but I also want to be able to share my own journey with the Lord.

I want to bring the light of Christ into the LGBTQ+ Community. I want them to know how much God loves them and cherishes them. I want them to meet Jesus, but I also want to respect their freedom and be sensitive to their stories. I love queer people and am grateful to be able to be part of both communities, as difficult as it is at times.  I want to be a light, and as it has been said, “It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”


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Isaac Archuleta

I find that in a culture where diversity is expected and having more of a seat at the table, identifying as a person of faith and a member of the LGBTQ+ community has been rather comfortable for me. I have spent a lot of time trying to live as one integrated being, which meant I had to deconstruct years of rehearsing a compartmentalized life. Showing up as a Christian and LGBTQ+ means being authentic, honest, and comfortable with who I am. Sometimes it means being easily accepted, and others it means having to educate people on the piece of humanity that I integrate into my personhood. All in all, finding confidence in who I am is probably one of the hardest goals I’ve achieved, but it has been completely worth all the work!


Q Chats | Identity Formation | Week 2

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Q Christian is a community comprised of people with diverse backgrounds, differing theological beliefs, and a variety of ethics. Q Chats are designed to be a deep dive into self-discovery by learning from one another, and spiritually growing side-by-side. Q Chats cannot be effective without you! We invite you to participate. Share your thoughts, stories, and perspectives. Your influential voice can make a difference in the lives of others.


What does it mean to be LGBTQ+ in your family, church, and community?


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Bukola Landis-Aina

In my family and previous church/community, being LGBTQ+ has made me an outsider. It has been painful to go from insider to outsider but then Christ modeled a journey of being forsaken. I continue to pray for and seek reconciliation and redemption always.


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Sarah Ngu

It means showing up honestly but also strategically within my family. It means beckoning my affirming church (Forefront Brooklyn) to go beyond affirmation and journey towards the rich resources of queer theology and explore what queer people can gift to the church. Within the larger church community, it means advocating for clarity of policies (see ChurchClarity.org) so that queer people and others don’t get tricked and further harmed. Within my relationships, it means committing to ‘queer politics’ and not recapitulating patriarchal norms. 


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Jessica Dickey

I am blessed enough to belong to an accepting and welcoming church in New York City. This is something that I do not take lightly and try to recognize how blessed I am. Being LGBTQ+ in my community and church simply means that sometimes I go on dates with men and sometimes I go on dates with women. Thankfully, I do not often feel asked to validate my sexuality. As with many people, my family is not quite as open-minded as my community and church. When I first came out it meant that I had to do a lot of educating and processing. In my family, these conversations about faith and sexuality still happen but more time passes between each one and every time they get further into personal and away from ignorance. In coming out, I had to be willing to sit in the process with my family.


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Kalevi Chen

There are times when I perceive a definite "other-ness" for not being straight. (Honestly, with all my non-LGBTQ+ communities I think some of it is all in my own head!) However, I think there's some nuance to that; for example, in my community at St. John's Lutheran in Des Moines, I feel it more as an awareness of how my fiancé and I are different from most other members and what we bring to the community that makes everyone better, rather than exclusion. But more than just this, I think to be LGBTQ+ in all my winder communities is to always be aware of what's going on around me, what people in my family and other groups are thinking and doing, and how the winds around me are changing. More than just how things change, it's also being aware of how I can help that change move along.


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Lauren Moser

It means that I am both a prophet and a protector. I am a prophet in the sense that my queerness begs me to call attention to the injustice being perpetuated by my social sphere, church and community in the name of Christianity. I am a protector in the sense that I am also called to protect and empower the good that is possible in my social sphere, church, and community. It is never giving up on the possibilities of what could be, but never letting injustice go unaccounted for.


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Scott Herr

As I young boy growing up in Nebraska, I knew I was different. I really did not have any good words for it at the time, but I knew, even from a very young age, that I had a different experience of men and women. I did not know what to do with it at the time, so I didn’t do anything. I didn’t have anyone I could speak with, so I just let it be.

When I reached high school, I met my first gay activist. This was a boy a year older than me. He introduced me to a whole new world, part of which resonated with me and part of which did not. I loved the sense of community, I loved being able to be open and speak about this part of me that had been stuck inside of me for so long, but I was uncomfortable with the activism I saw in my friend and felt that was not for me. I knew I was a Christian, and some of what I saw did not seem to match my faith. But again, I did not have anyone to talk to about that, so I was not sure what to do with it and found myself in the same position as when I was younger, so I did nothing.

Since then, I have met many people, both Christian and non-Christian, that have brought me to a better place of self-acceptance, but it wasn’t until last summer that I came to realize how I could accept the fact that I still did not know how to be gay and Christian. I did not know how to bring these two seemingly disparate things inside of me into harmony. I finally had to take them to the Lord and tell Him that I needed His help to know what to do. I had been trying for so long to force them to work together in ways that would please others, in ways that I thought would make me more respectable and accepted, but I finally had to admit that none of that was really working and that I was never going to be able to live in a way that would make everyone happy, so I stopped trying. I took all of this into the light of the Lord and let Him work it out. I decided that I would start living my life as I believed God wanted and not based on others’ expectations.

These experiences have colored the way that I live as a gay man in the midst of my family, church, and community. In many ways, it was not until recently that I really felt comfortable being completely open as a gay Christian man. Most people in my life knew this about me, but I tended to downplay the different parts of who I was depending on the group I was in. I am becoming more comfortable being out as a gay man and as a Christian in all spaces.

For me, there is not much difference in how I am gay around my family, my church, or my community. I tend to occupy conservative spaces starting with my family. The Christian tradition where the Lord has led me is also a conservative one, as is the city where I live. It can be difficult navigating these spaces, but it is not impossible.

Being LGBTQ+ in all of these spaces is about maintaining a quiet position of integrity. I do not feel called to be an activist—to be on the front lines fighting the battles—but I do feel called to minister in the background to those seeking help. I do feel called to tell my story. I do feel called to be more open and loving to all those around me, but for me, being LGBTQ+ isn’t about forcing anyone to see things from my perspective or forcing anyone to change. It is about quietly changing perceptions by my presence and witness. It is about being in a position to show people, who may not otherwise believe this, that being LGBTQ+ does not mean one is anti-Christian and being Christian does not mean that one is anti-LGBTQ+.

There are times when I wish I could be more vocal, but I am coming to a place where I can rejoice in being a point of entry for many people into a discussion they might not otherwise have, and from there, who knows where the journey will lead them.  At the end of the day, I hope I can be faithful to the Lord as well as a person of love and support for all members of the LGBTQ+ community.


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Isaac Archuleta

To my parents, being LGBTQ+ means that I believe in a different sexual ethic, one that differs greatly from that which I was taught as a child. Nonetheless, my parents respect my identity as an LGBTQ+ Christian. In most other areas of my life, it is rather normal to be LGBTQ+.


Q Chats | Identity Formation | Week 1

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Q Christian is a community comprised of people with diverse backgrounds, differing theological beliefs, and a variety of ethics. Q Chats are designed to be a deep dive into self-discovery by learning from one another, and spiritually growing side-by-side. Q Chats cannot be effective without you! We invite you to participate. Share your thoughts, stories, and perspectives. Your influential voice can make a difference in the lives of others.


What do you mean when you call yourself a Christian?


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Bukola Landis-Aina

I believe in Jesus of Nazareth, who was in some tangible way that I do not fully understand, sent to atone for sin in the world which had led to separation between God and human beings. I believe Jesus had always been the plan because God loves us so much that nothing could separate us from that love. My identity comes from being Christ’s beloved and so I aim to have my actions and perspectives embody what Christ lived and died for.


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Sarah Ngu

When I call myself a Christian, I am signifying to others that I belong to a certain community, the “Church,” even if some parts of the community do not think that I belong to it. It is a community that I feel invested in, and it is a community that I allow to hold me accountable. It is a community that is manifest in the lives of my friends, family, my local church, and various Christian networks; it is a community that orients itself along the axes of the Christian tradition.


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Jessica Dickey

I believe that being a Christian means living a life in Christ 'likeness.' I have often been told it is about converting believers or doing good deeds in order to get into heaven but as I have grown into understanding my faith I know that instead, I am striving to give and receive love in the same way Christ does. As a Christian, I am called to love without abandon- to include without restraint- and to serve without question. Living a life that is full of grace, love, and acceptance is how I identify as a Christian.


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Kalevi Chen

This is something that's changed for me a lot over the year, but as of today, I say that every day I call myself a Christian, I am committing to see Christ's calling for the whole world and to respond to it. And what do I think that looks like? As David Haas's hymn puts it: "We are called to act with justice, we are called to love tenderly, we are called to serve one another, to walk humbly with God." And yet, it's not what I do on this earth that earns me any standing; it's all the grace of God, through faith in God. Even knowing that, I think our calling is to make life better and live-able for our fellow Earth-dwellers, such that you can see even just a glimpse of the glory of God.


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Lauren Moser

The word Christian admittedly carries a lot of baggage for me. The historical and modern exploitation of our faith tradition for political power has made me reticent to use the word “Christian” to define myself over the years. But, inevitably, I keep coming back to it. I come back to Christianity’s incredible assertion that God would take on flesh and dwell among us. The incarnation and the story of Emmanuel, God with us, is what has ultimately tethered me to the faith. In identifying as a Christian, I am daily reconnecting myself to this beautiful narrative of restoration where God stoops to our level and pours out Her love for us. To be a Christian is to be both a receiver and giver of the love that is made manifest in us through Christ.


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Scott Herr

For me, being Christian cannot be separated from my call to become a Melkite Catholic Christian. In some ways, being Christian is very simple because my faith and what I believe to be true about God can be found there, but let me try and explain it a little more.

My journey did not begin where I am today. It started in the pews of a congregation that was part of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. Every Sunday from childhood, I would be present with my family taking in a Lutheran understanding of Christianity. In high school, much of that came tumbling down as I started to come to terms with my sexuality, and in the course of that, I met my first gay Christian, which led me into the Roman Catholic Church. From there, I was led to the Melkite Catholic Church, where I find myself today.

When I call myself a Christian, I mean that I follow Jesus and that He is a significant person in my life today and helps to inform how I see the world and the decisions I make. Not only do I follow Jesus, but I follow Him in the midst of a group of other followers, and this is commonly called a Church.

Being a part of this Church, I follow Jesus while standing on the shoulders of all those men and women who have followed Him in the past. I do not think that I alone have to find the answers about who Jesus is and what message He has given the world. I acknowledge that many of these answers have been passed down to me in the Bible, prayers, creeds, councils, and other writings.

I recognize a call to accept as true the historic creeds of the Christian faith. I believe in a God who is triune (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). I acknowledge the Bible to be the inspired word of God. It also means that I accept and hold to be true everything that has been passed down to me from previous generations and declared to be true by the Church of which I am a part.

In all of this, I recognize my need for the Church and for what the Church offers to me in word and sacraments. The Church also reminds me that there are other human beings who need support and love. I consider every human being to be made in the Image of God and have value because of that. There also is a call to reach out and minister to my fellow human beings, both inside and outside the Church.

To me, being a Christian means accepting and working to implement Christian ethics in my life and helping and supporting others to do the same, while respecting the freedom of conscience of each person.

Ultimately for me, being Christian is recognizing that God is Love and that Love will save the world and rescue us from the darkness we encounter in our own minds and in the actions of our fellow human beings. It is knowing that the story did not end with suffering and death but with resurrection, and we will all share in that resurrection someday.


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Isaac Archuleta

When I call myself a Christian, I mean that I believe in the Divine, not as a human-like being, but as entity, the creator of the human world and love. To me being a Christian means that I am culturally home in the progressive Christian community and that I enjoying using Christian scriptures to help me navigate my ethical life.


Pride Month Devotionals: Stepping Out

It’s entirely possible that when we start to lay claim to our belonging as children of God, it will feel scary and perhaps even painful as we expose parts of us that we have hidden away from our friends, families, and churches in order to win their approval. We will feel our world breaking up- rocked by a seismic acceptance of self- and under the shifting layers will emerge a new existence, gleaming with God’s goodness and ready for the world to behold and celebrate.

Pride Month Devotionals: Estuary

When Jesus looked at the multitude, he saw people as being harassed. I used to believe this was just about personal evangelism—that we needed more workers in the harvest field who would help people pray to receive Christ. But now I see that Jesus was asking for more workers who would stand in the gap to guard and advocate for people who were being harassed. For Jesus, love took the form of helping to protect vulnerable people.

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