- by Julie Wood -
A kind , gentle, knowledgeable and very socially conscious 16 year old boy arrived to join his circle of friends for a youth group prior to going on a mission trip. These kids/this place had been this boys sanctuary from years of school bullying. This group held a safe and sacred space for him as he experienced the laughter and joys of friendship. Over the course of about a year, and since the addition of a new conservative youth leader, a tension had been building between the youth leader and Ben. The youth leader delivered a devotional. Sitting in the circle directly, across from the youth leader quickly became excruciating. The topic was about the sin of homosexuality. After what probably felt like an eternity, I can imagine the breath of relief when the lesson finally came to a close.
The discomfort, however, did not stop. The spiritual leader, blurted out a strong attack:
You all know, we all know, that Ben is gay. Who here is comfortable being around him? Child by child as each name was called, the leader required a response. The next question that was posed to each child in the circle, do you understand that Ben is going to hell? Child by child the leader pressured an answer. Child by child, Ben’s sanctuary was dismantled.