Thursday, September 25, 2008


Last update, I told about an emotional week in which a friend found her boyfriend (I’m not sure if that’s what he is) cheating with someone else [he had kissed another person and was inviting her for a weekend away], another friend admitted to being gay and having so many questions for God about unfairness and being dealt a bad deck of cards, another questioning the obligation/privilege/concept of tithing in church, another depressed clinically, another scared for his life should he have HIV, etc.

It really is a tough world. And it’s hard for me because I walk around and sense things. I’m sensitive to most things I perceive (somewhat redundant I know). I actually walk around and when I see a need or a hurt, I begin doing something to address. The problem is the enormity of the needs. There are too many. So many times there are needs I want to work on but I’m busy with other ones. I was working on an encouragement box for one person, letters for another, a gift for another, a poem for another, money for travel issues for another, faith questions for another, etc. The list goes on. It can be overwhelming. I’m specifically reminded of the girl suffering from depression.

I actually think I forgot to mention the depressed girl. I gave her a gift. It’s called an encouragement box. I had been making it for a few months with some breaks in between. But I finally finished it. I gave it to her at a time when she started taking another turn for the worse. She had been doing better but she was getting sad again. And people in her house and in her church life group didn’t know what to do. I was trying to tell her I’m fighting this with her, not just praying from some lofty place from afar, feeling empowered in my “prayers.” She hugged me and took the box which I explained would last for 100 down-days (not to be used when you feel great). So when I wrote that update, she had never mentioned it again. And I had to check myself because it was very easy to feel bad or like it had no effect because I am used to people being very appreciative (I’m even used to people just being happy to see me!). So perhaps she wasn’t. But even if she wasn’t, it was for her to help her.

Well, a week ago she spoke to me during a break in Saturday tutoring. She said she was SOOO thankful and really appreciated it. I couldn’t believe it. Moreover, she spoke and gave real input the last two Wednesday life group meetings. She seems to be picking back up from her latest dip that lasted a few months. So we’ll see how it goes, but it’s wonderful to see her smile and interact with people.

So for some reason, I’m at this stage where I hear a lot of questions from people looking for answers. I specifically mean that they are asking me directly. One person was asking me about prayer, another about identity, another about if Jesus ever claimed to be God, another asking what happens to us when we die. It goes on and on. Those are the most recent, but the tough one was this week when I met with the guy who admitted to me that he was homosexual. I was the first person that he had ever told and he told me over e-mail. Now we were meeting face to face after I asked him to write down all of these angry, confused questions he had for God. We were going to have an encounter with God, with each other, or with somebody: he wanted answers.

Well, he forgot the questions but he asked me things to my face. And he was not curious about whether homosexuality was “ok” or “fine.” No. He specifically wanted to know what the Christian God thought of it. Can two guys get married? Can two guys just date with no sexual intercourse? Moreover, he didn’t want to know what current Christian scholarship thought in all its colors; he wanted to know what the real true God thought (Christian God) represented in Jesus. In other words, he recognized that organized religion had often gone wrong by the interpretation of many people—Crusades, Inquisition, Witch Trials, Nazi Germany, apartheid, etc. But alongside all those movements there were always counter-cultural mystics and prophets who encapsulated the real Jesus: Dorothy Day, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, Hildegard of Bingen, Francis of Assisi, Julian of Norwich, Mechthild of Magdeburg, Catherine of Genoa, Thomas Merton, Oscar Romero, Gandhi, Helder Camara, Dorothee Soelle, Mandela, MLK, etc. Even with their faults they spoke out against the atrocities of their time.

So it’s against this faith tradition that I’m supposed to authoritatively answer his questions. Thankfully there was a guy called Socrates who lived and taught me about answering questions with questions. My Nigerian culture has also taught me about that, too, much to the chagrin of my mother. So he was able to start exploring those answers by answering questions he felt comfortable about. I did speak a little.

Yesterday (Saturday the 12th) I was happy that my friend called me. He had a question about identity and which identity he should prioritized, but it’s nicer to do it on the phone. Thanks, T.

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