John 4:28-30 Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” They left the city and were on their way to him.
John 4:39-42 Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I have ever done.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there for two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Saviour of the world.’
Thank you – all of you who have written last week on the cards we passed out. Every single one meant something – yes, even the one about smelling KFC and wish we had KFC.
I couldn’t fit all of them into the slides. They were beautiful testimonies and many of them were raw, honest and vulnerable – some I wondered if they were shared with anyone before. So to those of you who opened up to testify to love – about how we reached the lowest point and encountered God there, just like the Samaritan woman by the well.
I would like to read you some of them.
“When God wouldn’t let me kill myself and instead gave me the strength to come out to my conservative parents and they accepted me completely.”
“At a time
Not so very long ago
When I thought I knew everything
And learnt that I knew nothing
When I felt the pain of deep loneliness
You shone above and around me
You touched my stiff tense shoulders
You breathed into me
My shoulders you softened
You breathed into me
You told me
And live again
And learn to stop running
And learn to give
“I can’t see You, I can’t touch You, I can’t hear Your voice. But I know You are guiding me. You know my pain, my sorrow, my weakness, my strength, my laughters, my tears, and everything of me. You love me more than I love You; You put me in Your heart all the time, but I did not do it as much as Yours.
Thank you, my Father, for everything You blessed, blessing and will bless to me.”
“When my family attended my baptism
When my parents accepted my partner
When I found a community in FCC
When my girlfriend gave me a rose to cheer me up
When I saw snow for the very first time”
“I know I can Because of You
Chanced upon this at IMH visit. This indeed spoke to my heart from God….
“Once, I was mired in darkness, crippled in spirit. And then you came, like a beacon of light and lifted me out of my emotion despair.
Because of you, I have found the courage to live on. Because of you, I have regained my confidence.
And it’s because of you, I know I can!”
Thank you God for always there to rest in your presence, to be recharged. You would not turn away and you are my beacon of light.”
“When I blamed myself for something and couldn’t forgive myself and God spoke through someone to tell me “It’s not your fault””
“Sixteen years ago, many great changes happened in my life.
My brother committed suicide, my mother passed away from sorrow less than half a year later. Grandma fell and broke her hip and had to be sent to an old folk’s home. My career went from its peak to its rock bottom.
I lost direction in life and entered a period of depression. During this time of being lost, I was looked down on and suffered a lot of unpleasant experiences
Later, I fell sick, lying in hospital, I lost the will and courage to live on.
When we reach the end, it is the beginning for God. God touched me, opened my eyes, gave me hope and I lived on.
I am grateful to God, for the years of carrying me and caring for me.
Today, I walked into FCC.
I am thankful to the pastor for his trust and gave me the opportunity to testify.
Today, I can testify with a heart full of joy
I am grateful to FCC, grateful to the Chinese cell group and grateful for the grace of God.”
These are texts of our lives that testify to God’s work in our lives.
Not all of us had to reach rock bottom to experience God. Many of us live rather fortunate lives. I, for one, am fortunate to live a rather blessed life. Yet, I too, have encountered Jesus by the well.
Many of you know that the group reconciling faith and sexuality for men is called Living Water. I named it so, because I am that Samaritan Woman.
Before we became Free Community Church, we were Safehaven. The 6 clobber passages in the Bible was probably the first bible study passages we all went through in Safehaven. We were part of Safehaven because we were struggling with being LGBT.
When we formed FCC, we intentionally want to be an inclusive church, because church shouldn’t be a place where we hang out with people like us, it should be a place we encounter people who are different from us.
The leadership then focused on what we needed to do to be church. And we neglected serving those who were struggling – after all, many of us have to some degree reconciled our sexuality and our faith.
I kept nagging the leadership then – are we setting up a group for those who are still struggling? I kept asking, but the leadership was stretched – there was just so much that needed to be done.
I hesitated stepping forward – I wasn’t exactly your goody-two shoes kind of guy. I have had a string of boyfriends and relationships that crashed and burned, and I was not exactly the kindest person around – I was sharp, I was bitchy, I was mean. Not exactly leader material.
But the passage about the Samaritan woman kept cropping up. In sermons, in reading articles. And it dawned on me – when we do the work of God, the will of God, it is not about who we are, but who God is. And in 2005, I started Living Water, and 11 years later, I stand here as a pastor. This is my resurrection. This is me, born again.
This week, Pink Dot launched the first of the videos for this year and our pastor Pauline is the featured heroine – the lesbian lioness. Another video that will be launched on Mother’s day is featuring AJ and his mom. I am moved by their testimonies. This is the fruit that we bear.
I am saddened by Pastor Yang Tuck Yoong’s post on Cornerstone Church’s blog. I am saddened not because he disagrees with us on the issue of being LGBT and being Christian. I am saddened not because he titled his post “A Response to a Misleading Lie.” I am saddened not because he said “in simple and unambiguous terms: A homosexual Christian is an oxymoron.” He is entitled to his opinions and perspectives, and his approach to interpreting the Bible. I am saddened because he wasn’t even listening. If he was really listening, he would not have said that the video was “promoting a Christian lady who’s a lesbian, who had initial suicidal tendencies until she discovered that God is fine with her being a lesbian and Christian at the same time.” That may be true for some of us, but if you have watched the video you would have known that the person who was suicidal was Pauline’s friend, Joan, and she is straight.
Not all of us LGBT people are suicidal. And we LGBT people are equally able to contribute to society. Many, many of us are amazing people who pour of hearts and give of ourselves to our friends, our families and to causes we champion – whether it is for the environment, for the migrant workers, for the animals, for women’s rights, for the marginalized.
I do not want us to respond in anger. Anger was my initial reaction. Now, I want to turn the other cheek. I want us to show up and testify to how God changed our lives. Pauline said it so well in the video – “If I asked God to change me right, fasted, prayed, everything, and God has transformed me in so many different ways, but not this. You know I never understood why until I went along, I realized that not only was God ok with me, but I am who I am for a reason.”
We are to be testimonies to God’s love for all the broken people. And who are broken? Everybody. We are the people who show up authentically and not pretend that we are perfect, and we got everything all together, hiding all our brokenness out of fear of being judged and shamed. We are the Samartian women leaving our water jars behind and shouting “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done!” Come and know this God who is love, who know our pain, our sorrow, our weakness, our strength, our laughter, our tears, our fears, our loneliness, our dreams, our hopes – everything of us.
When we meet God at the well like the Samaritan woman, when we are transformed, we are not called to remain at the well – we no longer need water from the well – we have living water that is within us! We are called to run to parched and dry places and bring that living water there.
I am sure some Samaritans would have sneered and said to the woman – “who do you think you are, the one who has had five husband and the one you are with is not your husband? Who do you think you are, the one living in sin?” Yet, her joy and her enthusiasm cannot be put out. That spring of living water continues to gush.
Let us not remain at the well. Let us go out there to participate in God’s continuing work of restoration, reconciliation and transformation. Let us bear fruit that will testify to what kind of tree we are – for a tree is judged by its fruits. Let us bear fruits of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Last week, I shared that I was going to meet Rupa and Nihal, the two persons leading a small Sri Lankan Christian group who needed a space to gather. We met to discuss this in the board meeting yesterday and we felt that we should consult the congregation about this. If we just bulldoze through there would be no learning and no growth, but if we discern, discuss and share about our concerns and how we can implement a solution then this would be a great learning moment for all of us. I have been criticizing the government for the lack of consultation for many things the government does. If I just roll out a plan like this, then I am doing exactly what I criticize. We would discuss this more during our next FCC Connect session.
We have launched a few things yesterday as part of our testimony as a church.
We have the FCC FAQ, “Whatever Commandment There May Be: A Christian Defence of Homosexuality” pdf booklet, and we have the competition to design invitation cards and tshirt for Pink Dot. We are looking for sponsors for printing the booklets (and also the booklet from Prof Graham Ward’s talks). Those of you who would like to contribute to that please let me know.
We also realized that we lack the resources right now to start a Living Water group, so we will be doing a lecture instead – and that would be a lecture on 22nd May on the 6 clobber passages. This would be open to people who want to hear another / our perspective, as well as those people struggling to reconcile their faith and sexuality. Please invite your friends and family and anyone who may benefit from this.
Let us testify to love with every breath that we take.