I will post some excerpts over several days.
|Saskatchewan author, Ryan Willey|
The first evening I attended was a special evening service they had once a month for the entire church. The attendance was smaller than the Sunday morning services. The evening consisted of praise and worship music, a short sermon and a period in which people could go in front of the congregation and speak from their heart on the topic of the evening or just share a story in which “God” was moving in their lives.
My heart started pounding during the sharing period and I knew that I had a story to tell. I approached the front and the lady who was preaching gave me the microphone.
“Hi,” I started, “My name is Ryan.” I didn’t seem very nervous, everything was happening so naturally that I knew I was doing the right thing.
“I used to come to this church quite often when I was younger,” I stated. “I used to help out with the youth group and helped organize the youth retreats.” People smiled as I told them I used to be a part of the church.
“I stopped attending because I’ve been on a journey for the past few years trying to come to terms with who I am and what I truly want in life,” I explained. Some of the people listening looked puzzled.
“I, as the Bible refers it as, am a homosexual man,” I stated. More people looked puzzled and some looked at me in awe.
“I don’t think it’s a sin,” I explained. “I know that there are people here who think that it is.”
Everyone was amazed at what I had said.
“I’m not here to argue with you about theories of the Bible,” I explained. “I am here in hope that I can attend my old church without anyone judging me since no one but me has walked in my shoes.” There were mixed reactions on people’s faces now. Some people smiled and others still puzzled.
“There was a film based on a true story that I watched not long ago,” I said. “It was about a son who was gay with a very religious mother. She spoke to him in such condemnation and kept telling him that if he were to pray a little harder that God could somehow take away his sexual desires.” Everyone listened in suspense.
“All of those things she said to him were killing his self-worth and eventually one night he jumped off of an overpass, committing suicide,” I explained. “I beg of you, please don’t treat me like that.” The people looked amazed.
“You are always welcome here Ryan,” the lady who was preaching said. “Let me pray for you.”
She prayed for my “struggle” and although that was not comforting I still felt called to attend.
Courage in the Name of Love (2 excerpts)
…I was visited by the young adults’ pastor and at one point during moments of confusion I asked him to be my mentor. I told him that I wanted to walk away from the “homosexual lifestyle” because I wanted to please “God”. He wanted me to speak about my spiritual journey as I gave up my sexuality to “God” and we went as far as planning a young adult’s night to approach the topic of homosexuality.
We went through many passages of scripture and I was trying to believe that I could become a better person through our mentorship. However, the mentorship did not feel right to me. This was because I wasn’t being myself and I could see that unless I stopped our visits, then I would become someone that I wouldn’t like inside.
I am the one who likes to poke fun at the fanatics and not become one. I speak from my own profound experiences and would never take someone else’s opinion over my own about my spiritual journey. I started to realize that in order to find my inner self that I would have to be more courageous for myself and for all the others who love a person of the same-sex.
I cancelled our visits and not long before the anticipated night we had planned, he asked me, “So where are you on your journey.”
“I simply don’t think that being gay is a sin,” I replied.
He paused, “Well I’m still going to have it as a topic. I just want you to know that I will be taking it on as a biblical issue.”
“And I just want to let you know that I am planning on bringing some supporters of mine,” I responded. “In regards to why it’s not a sin.”
“That’s fine Ryan,” he said. “Everyone is welcome to join us.”
I got in contact with the help centre for gender and sexually diverse people in my city and reached out for some help for the anticipated night. They referred me to a lady who was a youth minister in the Anglican Church.
The young adult’s event sparked interest when what occurred that evening spread as a story through the gender and sexually diverse community. The youth minister who came with me told me that there was interest in having a gender and sexually diverse Christian sharing circle through the community centre which had referred me to her. She, other gay Christians from the community and I organized a group for gender and sexually diverse people in turmoil within their church communities. The Christian sharing circle sparked interest throughout the religious community. Our group consisted of Lutherans, Anglicans, Alliance, Roman Catholics and Mennonites. Later as I was introduced to more people within the religious community who were gender or sexually diverse, I became co-chair of Integrity/Saskatoon, the gay rights movement group in the Anglican Church.
Stay tuned tomorrow for another excerpt of his book.
You can purchase the book Becoming the Devil They Fear from McNally Robinson. They ship books as well. I will post the details when the book is ready