This week I have the privilege of introducing a young man who is living out what Jesus Christ teaches about engaging with people who believe differently from us. For all of you who feel the burden of loved ones making gender decisions with which you cannot agree, listen to Ryan’s story and learn…
I love folks in the LGBTQ community. I can still remember the moment God showed me how to reach them with the good news of Jesus Christ, which we all need. I and some friends were standing across the street from a lesbian bar in Greenwich Village in New York City. We felt moved to intercede for the people inside. A few months ago, we had decided that we wanted to visit gay bars in the Village. Now we were asking the Lord if this particular lesbian bar was another good place to visit. I could hear the sounds from within the bar as I watched several inebriated young adults stumble out into the street. I felt overwhelmed. There were so many that needed light in their lives. How was I supposed to engage these people? In a moment of quiet, desperate prayer God pressed the words of Proverbs 27:6 heavily upon my heart – “Wounds from a friend can be trusted”.
It was a moment of clarity. God was showing me that friendship was the key to reaching these folks with the gospel, and here’s the reason why: I believe that these alternate identities that gender-distraught people embrace are not true and that the romantic relationships they pursue are not aligned with God’s will. To tell somebody that, even if you are doing it for their benefit, is a heavy wound. But this proverb tells us that if we are friends with them, they will be more willing to hear that truth from us. God seemed to commission me with a “strategy of friendship” that evening, and ever since then I have seen authentic friendship pave the way for the gospel to be proclaimed to dozens upon dozens of LGBTQ individuals.
The most prominent example of this is a transgender man named Seraphim, who has become one of my dearest friends. I met Seraphim while just talking to people on the street about Jesus on a Saturday morning. Over the next year or so he and I would have many in-depth discussions about God, the gospel, and our differing views of human sexuality and sexual ethics. Most of these conversations occurred over the dinner table, while we go grocery shopping, or as we took strolls through the park. There’s not much that we agree on, but we genuinely enjoy each other’s company.
Would you like to see more of Ryan and Seraphim’s conversation? Here’s a YouTube video that they made together to give us a peek into their unusual friendship. Both of them are very special people.
Next time, we’ll hear from Ryan about how that friendship was tested when Seraphim went in for trans-surgery. Stay tuned!