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Dear <<First Name>>,


A large percentage of SF’s residents identify as being part of the LGBTQ community. Little did I know how God would use my increasing ministry in this context to teach me so much about the “shame-reversal” transforming power of God that KR has been advocating for. I am not intending to convey anything overtly theological nor political here. Instead, I want to share just a few pictures of my discipleship in this context.  

In 2004, former Mayor Newsom decided to issue marriage licenses to gay & lesbian couples. Thousands lined the street with signs (pictured above) that read “one man, one woman,” mainly from Chinese churches. As a pastor, I was invited to these events, but felt I would be sending the wrong message to my gay friends if I showed up. Would Jesus have treated their sin any differently than mine? Or would he have held up a sign saying “No Adultery” to the woman in John 7?

 

Discipleship through national gay leaders - Earlier this year, I led a session of students focused on engaging urban spaces (SF City Church’s Newbigin Program). A good number of students were LGBTQ leaders from around the country. I did not expect to befriend and learn so much from their testimonies. Julie Rodgers (shown on right) is one such leader, a keynote speaker at the Christian LBGTQ conference. Her story, documented in this TIME article (http://time.com/4233666/wheaton-college-gay-leader/), is just one of many stories that have sobered my heart & challenged my mind.

Discipleship through transgender friends:  My whole family recently attended a couple parties with transgender people. I have a great reputation with those who know my faith. Because they passed on my reputation “as the Christian guy who is actually rational” I have been able to have some fascinating spiritual conversations at these parties. In these spaces, I listen, and offer Kingdom narratives at points of disagreement. I’m gripped and challenged by hours of testimony regarding identity as I listen to them. 

Discipleship through my small group: Two years ago, I was leading a church small group where all the men came out as gay. Comically, at least one of the men exclaimed “I did not want another gay group!” To which I responded, “My goal was to create a safe space for us all to hear God, not to form a ‘gay group!’” Week after week, stories of shame were reversed by God’s power and love; I’ve never seen so much transformation come out of one small group, ever. These men threw my big party for me last year, grieved with me at my mom’s funeral, and are presently my ambassadors to learn to better frame the difficult questions that abound. One of the gay men I’m mentoring (pictured here) came to Christ because of the outreach of this small group. As a former columnist for SF’s largest paper, he’s been read by millions. At his baptism, he proclaimed his new beloved identity in Christ and his life is bearing fruit.

I am delighted that God’s given me ministry on a fairly wide spectrum spanning some of the most progressive, news-making churches in the nation along with some of the most conservative churches. Do I have all the questions figured out? Certainly not. Has stepping into their pain served me and my walk? Certainly. 

DON'T FORWARD THIS LETTER without my permission. 

My gay friends and I resonate with this post written by a straight man, one of my board members (natejlee.com/coming-out/). I invite you to read it, and to reply to me with any inquiries with it or this letter.  Peace be with you!

Copyright © 2018 Steve Hong/Kingdom Rice, All rights reserved.


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steve.hong@kingdomrice.org

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