If you hang out with me long enough, I hope you’ll see this passion or drive for my Christian faith. I’d say I’ve had this passion for a long time. My church friends have seen this firsthand, as well as my gay friends! I can also sense it myself whenever I’m at my small group or Bible study group.
This passion just comes spewing out of me, and I have a desire to pour out my heart and share it with others — whether it’s words of encouragement or correction.
I grew up in a Christian household where I heard the Bible day in and day out! Mostly because my father is a pastor. I’d be under his teachings, and I’d see firsthand his passion from the pulpit. He shared expositional Bible studies with his congregation and challenged them each Sunday to live out the Gospel.
At times I’d see him cry, and other times I’d see him angry, and still other times I’d see him happy! It wouldn’t click with me then that his drive was the Holy Spirit; later in my twenties, I’d discover that same drive.
When it was my turn to accept the faith, I found the same passion that my father had whenever he was preaching. Though I didn’t always follow through with the teachings of Christ and basically fell away from the faith for a while, that passion was always there — even when I didn’t feel it or think I had that passion anymore!
While in my phase of hooking up with different guys, I’d often get into these deep, background conversations with them, even talking about my Christian beliefs. I shared my story with them — and, of course, they were surprised!
Once I started talking, it was like this thing inside me clicked, or turned on, and I couldn’t stop it! This joy inside me lit up, and I got very excited talking about my Christian faith, telling the other person how I grew up. I’d somehow even end up sharing the Gospel with that person!
Of course, I never led one of these guys to Christ because we’d just had sex! Oh, hypocrite me!
Once I’d open up about my faith, the other person would also open up about his own brokenness. He’d tell me how he ended up hating Christianity, hating the church, or hating God all together.
Each guy I met had his own story, but they all came from the same strand of brokenness.
These stories burdened me to keep going in my own faith, even though I was sinning! I knew I couldn’t stop believing in God and Jesus like these people did; thus, their stories actually helped drive my desire to follow and know Christ even more — to want His Holy Spirit to consume me as I slowly stop hooking up with other guys!
Honestly, I didn’t want my story to be like theirs: to be broken for a long time and not have any solution to help them in their brokenness.
Jumping to today, gay guys who know I used to sleep around and now see me occupied with church ministry question whether I’m actually a Christian. Why I’d still want to serve God and other people.
This is what I say to them:
Growing up, I heard stories from my dad or saw firsthand what kind of hurt people go through. Even when I was hooking up, I’d hear from other guys their past or current troubles.
You don’t know the stories I’ve heard and seen; you don’t know who these people are.
People said, “Pray for me. I just found out my boyfriend is cheating on me.”
Or: “Pray for me. I just found out I have HIV, and I don’t know what to do.”
Or a mom coming to my dad: “Pray for my son. His father just told him that he doesn’t love him and wants nothing to do with him.” I’d see that boy slouched over, my dad hugging him and praying for him in Navajo.
Bottom line: I know why my dad had this passion that drove him to share the Gospel with his congregation. All my life, I saw broken people, but I never noticed it. It never clicked until I experienced things for myself.
Hooking up with a 30-year-old man, being desperate for money and hooking up with “generous” guys, being told by my own church that I couldn’t serve or work in my own congregation because of my past — yes, I now know it was the Holy Spirit giving both me and my dad this passion to share the love of Jesus to anyone we meet. But it’s also mixed with pain.
These are the stories that drive me to share the Gospel no matter how it’s presented. Sometimes I’m harsh when I’m challenging my friends to dive deeper into their faith. But I know what it’s like to be on the other side. I don’t want anyone to go through horrible consequences for their bad mistakes.
On the other hand, I know what it’s like to hurt, to have nowhere to go. This is why I keep ministering to people who need to hear that Jesus loves them. I see myself in these people!
I’ve listened to one pastor regularly — almost every day — for the past year-and-a-half. Almost every sermon he preaches makes me tear up. He describes how he grew in his faith during his pastoral ministry years, and it’s the same way I grew up as as pastor’s kid. When he preaches, I can sense his passion as the same as my dad’s.
This quote is from that pastor, David Rosales, and it’s on point with everything I’m writing about today:
“You wanna know where passion comes from? It comes from pain….the burden of the Word of the Lord. Where does it come from? It comes from seeing people hurt, who could have been blessed, but decided to reject. It’s the voice crying in the wilderness, because in the wilderness of sin, people sometimes don’t listen very carefully. That’s ministry.”
If you hang out with me long enough, I hope you’ll see this passion evidently. I’m proud of it!
Do you have a passion to share the Gospel with unbelieving friends? What drives you to share — or not share — what Jesus has done your life? Do you believe the pain of your past could serve you in ministering to people with the same pain in the present?
* Photo courtesy Thomas Rodenbucher, Creative Commons.