A Listening Ear With No Judgements
“They were laughing and making fun of people for being gay and lesbian. I didn’t know what to do because…I’m lesbian ya know?”
Every week I have the opportunity to be on campus for multiple reasons, but on Thursdays it is for the “Be The Change Club.” A club formed after the Challenge Day workshop (check it out online, I also highly recommend Point Break www.pointbreakonline.com). After a day of breaking down the walls with games and fun, talking about stuff that matters, and each student getting the opportunity to tell some of their story, students needed a place to go. I offered to the administration that I would oversee the development of student leaders and get the club going. Can you imagine a youth pastor offering that to a school? Most would say “no,” but God has granted me favor.
So each week we continue all the cool stuff that happened at the workshop. We play games that “you can’t do wrong and you don’t lose.” Students are given the opportunity to talk about their story. And students are challenged to “Notice, Choose, Act, and Celebrate.” Its awesome!
A couple Thursdays ago, a girl that I only know on a first name basis wanted to talk to me. She was adamant. I was busy plugging in speakers and getting ready for our 30 minute lunch club, but this girl had to talk.
She told me, “I went to a youth group last night…” And the story that followed was about a youth pastor preaching against homosexuality. The feeling of everyone in the youth group ganging up and bad mouthing those that are gay and lesbian. And, even worse, how she felt so alone and outcast in a room full of Christians.
As I considered writing about my experience, a couple avenues came to mind. Maybe I should write that youth groups need to be places that are “welcoming and loving” which is true but probably not the point. Maybe I should conclude that on campus ministry is THE place where students are open and real, so youth workers need to get to those places. But that’s too strong.
Instead of those bad ideas I prayed to God, “Why did she bring the story to me? Who was I and what was my role?” I felt the Holy Spirit telling me that the conversation was about her story and our relationship. For better or worse, the experience did happen and is a part of her story. It can’t be “un-done.” My role was not to necessarily make a formal apology for the Church (though there are reasons everyday to do that) nor to try to make things better. Just a listening ear with no judgments. An adult who cares about her experience. And importantly this girl feeling comfortable to share her story, “the good, the bad and the ugly” parts.
I pray that as we seek to go on campus, we are ambassadors of love, peace, and reconciliation. That we are Good News to students, staff, and the school. We recognize that each student and faculty we come in contact with represents a story.
is the Area Campus Director with Youth for Christ/Campus Life in the Sacramento area. In Paul's years working with both church and parachurch, he always has made visiting the local campus a priority. Paul is on campus weekly, and he thinks you should be too! Feel free to use the comment feature in these articles to dialogue with Paul, or use our CONTACT US page to contact him with a specific question.