Friday, December 13, 2013

A Timely Discussion!

On the day I was to start the "Homosexuality, The Church And You" workshop in Bhubenaswar, the front page of The Times Of India was about the Supreme Court Ruling that shot down an earlier amendment making sex between two gay consenting adults legal, and reversing its position.  I had to smile because in preparation for this day, brother Sura had been telling me that, "we don't really discuss these things out in the open."  The headlines laid on the table before I was to begin and in fact -- he started by sharing it with the congregation.  This is indicative of how the timing of this trip has been -- amazing!

Front Page of The Times - Supreme Court Ruling


When I found out I was to do the HCU workshop in one day in English back in Powai -- I thought, this is going to be a challenge as it is usually done over the course of four weeks.  I got through it, but I think it is possibly too much for one day -- perhaps for the speaker and the audience -- not sure.  Well, on this day, it was also to be done in one day, but with translation.  So I had to literally cut the thing in half.


Getting ready to begin

I love it as the Lord continues to challenge me in these areas.  It took so long to get to a point to be able say all that I thought I needed to communicate what I was supposed to in developing this workshop and then to find out -- there are situations where certain people only need to hear a version!

Many churches in India still have the women sit on one side and the men on the other.  They don't even talk about sex in Church let alone discuss the topic of homosexuality.  So for this workshop to take place is very groundbreaking on many levels -- not to say a personal challenge for Brother Sura to have to translate while maneuvering this territory as well.

Brother Sura gave the back story about he was first approached by a Hijira (Eunuch) on a train and how the Lord used that encounter to bring awareness to him of their lives.  It was the love of the Lord that drew him to reach out these marginalized folks and share the love of God.  He has been faithfully loving this group for years and has built a very strong bond of trust.  They call him when they need prayer about something or for practical help as well and they know they can count on him and those that minster with him.  He has shared the gospel and at least 10 of these Hijira have accepted Jesus - -discipling them has been a challenge as they wont go to a typical church.  Then he shared how he and I had been introduced through Ray Eicher who was co-leading Operation Mobilization 30 years ago and was a mentor to him -- and he we were!

Me Singing
After responding to a request to start with a song -- I began to start the explain this workshop and why I was doing it.  I shared a condensed version of my testimony, prayerfully asking God to help me share what was relevant for this group and what they could understand.  We took a short break and then I went through the Theology -- also cut down version -- and then asked questions.  There were a few but still reserved.  They did have questions about the HIV/AIDS part of my testimony and then we talked about how everyone in the church should be tested and they needed to know their status and why that was important.  We also talked about welcoming those that might be HIV infected into fellowship as well.  This was a great addition to the day!


We came back with energy and got into the next two sessions on Identity and Encounter -- totally cut those down and really focused on asking questions.

We had a question proposed - what would they do if a Eunuch came to church - what side of the church would they sit on?  This brought about a lively discussion -- and also, we heard a story where a pastor was asked the same question and he said -- he would not have them come -- we spoke about that as well.  I told them that was the wrong answer -- that we have to struggle through these tough issues as  everybody is welcome in the house of the Lord.  Luke 9:11 says, "Jesus welcomed the people, taught them about the kingdom of God and he healed them."  A great model for us.

It was good for me to finally see them laughing and loosening up as they considered this really awkward social situation and watching people almost blush at the thought of it -- and then considering the plight of the Eunuch -- how would they respond?

At the end of the day -- they said they wanted to join brother Sura in praying for these Eunuchs and they wanted to see God reach them -- they no longer want to judge them as they see in the bible that it is wrong to judge.  Well for me thinking that I needed to share everything in order for them to get it -- the Lord showed me -- perhaps not -- I need to speak under the power of the Holy Spirit and share what he leads me to and to also pray for divine revelation.  We covered an amazing amount of ground in one day in this church -- So proud of my brothers and sisters and how they invited me in and welcomed the Lords work!

HCU - Bhubenaswar

I was very challenged and very blessed by this wonderful group of believers.  I was also so happy to see Daniel and Santayjar who stay with the Dalits in the village that I visited the other day.  They are evangelists - - I just have so much respect for these young men that have given their lives to live with this marginalized group of people to share Jesus.

At the end of the day there is great satisfaction because I share what He has shown me.  He told Peter, "If you love me, feed my sheep!"

Peace,
John

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