After my brother Brad was publicly outed as gay and mistreated by some Christians, I kept making efforts to stay closer to him and be more of a blessing to him instead of as a brother in name only. A few years after college, I moved to a large city far from the Bible Belt where I had grown up. There were more job opportunities there, and I also knew of a church I liked there.
By that time, I had regained my brother’s trust and he felt close enough to me that he also moved to that new city. I was still a committed Christian and had found some Christian roommates, but Brad went back and forth between a Christian and a gay identity.
A few years later, Brad found out not only that he was infected with HIV, but also that it was an extremely aggressive form of HIV that did not respond well to treatment. He was an assistant manager of a retail store, and his doctor had called him at work to tell him.
Believing he was dying soon, Brad closed the office door and cried for one minute until store employees kept banging on the door demanding his attention. He told himself, “I’ll think about it later” and calmly went back to work.
Can you imagine my gay brother’s pain?
The next year, Brad was in and out of the hospital with one nasty infection after another. He was living in an apartment with a male prostitute who would bring guys into the bedroom while I was there visiting with Brad in the living room. Condom wrappers were scattered on the floor; it was not exactly a healthy Christian environment.
I invited Brad to move in with me and my Christian roommates, and he accepted. Many people from my church came to the house and helped him out when he was sick with HIV.
Then after one near-death experience in the hospital, Brad turned to Jesus Christ. God had changed his heart, so he turned away from his sin and believed.
For the first time, my brother clearly told all his gay friends that he was a Christian now, and they promptly abandoned him.
Shortly after his spiritual experience, I was sitting next to him, hugging him, and asking him if he knew that I loved him now.
And he said yes! That meant a lot. I couldn’t help but see the change from his previous “unloving Christians” comment.
I thanked God.
To be continued…
Have you or someone close to you experienced HIV / AIDS and/or a returning to Jesus after a long wandering away? How were you or they received — both by former communities and by the Church at large?
* Photo courtesy rmampongan, Creative Commons.