Thursday, 14 January 2016

My reflections on GCN Conference 2016

Here's my main takeaway from the GCN Conference that ended a little less than a week ago:

Fellowship is life-giving.

There were so many great keynotes, dozens of excellent workshops, but the thing that made the strongest impressions were the many friendships forged during that 4 precious days in Houston.

Just like the very last Exodus conference I attended in 2013, I met so many gay Christians and heard so many stories. I was gratified to know that I wasn't alone in this. From those at my table in the Women's Retreat before the official start of the conference, to those newbies at my First-Timers' table, to Table 23 on the very first night, to the Side B dinner, to the strangers I met at workshops, the fellowship was warm and everyone was so open to share their stories.

And what stories those were. From being fired from a job for being gay in Texas, to being expelled for the very same reason in a Christian university, it is hard to live as an LGBT person in certain parts of America. I thought Singapore was conservative, but whoa, Americans can be quite conservative too.

I remember 2 stories in particular that made a deep impression on me. The first was at a workshop by Robert Cottrell and his wife. He mentioned how when a son came out to his mom, that she handed him a gun and said that she'd rather he shoot himself than be gay. And he shot himself right there and then, in front of her.

I was lost for words.

And then, on Saturday night, during testimony time, I remember a girl, the daughter of two pastors who shared that she was told to hide ever since she came out to them. This naturally brought about much pain and suffering. When she came to the conference this year, she found so much love and affirmation in the hugs and comfort of moms. At the end of her testimony, she gasped, sobbing,  "You have given me such hope."

Needless to say there are so many times I cried, or almost cried, during the four days there. 

I've been convinced that it is essential to set up an LGBT ministry of some sort in this little island of Singapore. Like what I've learnt from a fellow participant in the Side B workshop helmed by Eve Tushnet, prayer is important. So pray and fast I will, and God shall open the doors. I'll strive not for God shall lead the way. I'm not a ministry leader in any capacity, but even if this allows LGBT Christians to find fellowship and share their stories, I think half the battle's already been won.

Thank you so much Justin Lee and co. for organising this conference.

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