By Verlin V. ByersOther Sheep Coordinator for Latinas/os in the USA
(Editor's note: For Verlin's photo and the Other Sheep home page of Latinas/os USA, click here. Verlin became Coordinator in November of 2011.)
My name is Verlin Byers and I would describe myself as a follower of Christ who happens to be gay.
Religious Heritage, Education and Past Missions Work
My religious heritage comes from the Anabaptist/Mennonite tradition, but I grew up in the Church of the Nazarene and have a B.A. in Psychology from Northwest Nazarene University (NNU). I served as a missionary with the Nazarene Youth In Mission program for two summers during university in Brazil and Portugal. After graduating from NNU, I returned to Brazil in 1992 to volunteer as a Community Development Worker with the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). My time in Brazil abruptly ended after two years of service when I was forced to “come out.”
Current Residence, Work and Church
I currently live in Portland, OR where I work in social services and am an active member of the United Church of Christ.
I do speak Portuguese and Spanish, with greater fluency in Portuguese due to my work in Brazil.
Vision and Passion
My hope and passion is to see lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered individuals who have been oppressed by the Church restored to healing and wholeness.
In John 21 Jesus asks Simon Peter if he loves him more than the other disciples. He actually asks the same question three times and Peter gives him the same answer each time. He responds that
Jesus knows Peter loves him. And three times, in the course of the conversation, Jesus tells Peter to take care of his sheep: "Feed my lambs . . . Tend my sheep . . . Feed my sheep."
I find this image very meaningful and hope it guides the work I do, particularly with Other Sheep.
If you have any questions, concerns, comments, or just need someone to talk to, please feel free to contact me. For my contact information, click here.