Thursday, June 18, 2009

From the Bronx to West Africa on the 4 Train -- Next stop Nepal

by Rev. Stephen R. Parelli. Bronx, New York. Today, I noticed a young man seated on the Bronx 4 train reading his leather-bound Bible. He was situated at the very front of the car. I took the empty seat across from him. I asked him where he was from. "Ghana, West Africa," he said. "I notice your reading the Bible," I told him. And from there our conversation took off.

He's here to go to college. He grew up in the Pentecostal faith in Ghana which he still practices. I told him I've been to Africa – East Africa. And then I told him the nature of the work I do as I travel. "I'm a Christian and I work with faith-based organizations for the full acceptance of the gay community?" It was as if he didn't hear me correctly. "Gays?" he asked more than once and I answered him "yes" each time. "Are you for gays or against them?" he asked for clarification. "I'm for gays." He found it incredulous that I could say one can be both Christian AND gay. His look was, so I would imagine it, like something right out of the book of Acts when Christian Jews were told that one could be both Gentile and Christian (uncircumcised and Christian? – impossible).

Yes, he had a very confused look on his face, but clarity in his eyes – he understood me correctly; he just couldn't grasp it. At that point, I simply told him that at age 8 I had received Christ as my Savior (the evangelical response to the good news) and that at age 13 I knew I was gay. From there, I told him, it's been a long and studied journey. And then I handed him my Other Sheep business card. "Check out the website. See what you think." He placed the card in the back leaf of his Bible. Already it was his stop; still in the Bronx. As he stood to leave he looked at me and said, "I'll look at your website."

I continued into Manhattan to the Consulate General of Nepal to obtain two visas. Next stop Nepal.

Top left photo - 4 train at Bedford Park Blvd. in the Bronx. Bottom right photo - Fleeing Sodom and Gomorrah

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