The man beside me was crying. We had just received communion at the Gay Christian Network Conference in Phoenix, Arizona and I had tears rolling down my cheeks as well. God was moving. Hearing his quiet sobs from his hunched position sitting next to me, I felt compelled to do something. Reaching my hand out, I placed it on his shoulder and began to pray for him quietly. Men and women of all ages all around me were weeping, hugging, and experiencing a special touch from the Lord.
The service concluded and the 20-something, professionally dressed, handsome man composed himself and, straightening, thanked me sincerely for my comforting presence. We both began to cry again as we embraced and shared our stories with one another. His name was Nathan and I was astounded to learn that he was the education and outreach manager for a prominent youth suicide prevention organization whose work I had long admired. He was similarly in awe as I told him about the vision of LOVEboldly, helping restore LGBTQ individuals and conservative Christians alike who had been wounded by the lack of dignity, decency, and civility employed in faith and sexuality debates.
Nathan and I only had a few moments to awkwardly exchange contact information in the midst of the tears and hugs, but since that time we have been getting to know one another better through conversations online, phone calls, and text messages. He is intelligent and kind-hearted, and his dedication to helping others and living his faith out practically is remarkable.
Nathan is one of hundreds of friends and connections I have made through attending and speaking at the GCN Conference each year. Last year, we delivered one of our most successful and well-attended workshops to date, teaching attendees how to love enemies and find healing in broken relationships with families and friends related to the faith and sexuality divide. Dozens of attendees have contacted us since that time, thanking us for our presentation. As a result, we have had countless opportunities to deliver God’s love and kindness to folks who desperately need to hear that they are some of God’s favorite kids.
This year, we are going back again. Our excitement at being invited to present at these conferences grows stronger each year as we make new friends, and visit and collaborate with old ones.
This year, GCN is coming to Chicago. This opens up new opportunities for us. Since we can drive rather than fly, we plan to take a small group of LGBTQ and straight individuals from our community along with us who are hungry to hear from God and grow in their faith. Won’t you help us? Our deadline to raise the funds is November 16th. Every little bit helps. Giving is easy – just a few clicks.
Here’s how we will be using the money:
Gas and Tolls (2 vehicles): $300
Hotel Rooms: $780 (three nights, two rooms)
Meals and Incidentals: $150
TOTAL: $1550 (must be raised by November 16th)