The coming home at Independence Day for the Gay Tribe
As we approach our independence day(s), the city is full of banners, gay pride events banned on complaints by the Christian Fundamentalist and Politicians, and an online cyber battle between certain Fundamentalist Church Groups and Gays in the Straits Times Online poll on Homosexuality. Have we become increasingly hardened as a nation, uncompromising in our stand, steadfast in our positions, always suspicious not to be taken advantage of, inward looking to our own rights, opinions and comfort rather than consideration for the minorities amongst us. Such approach once necessary for self preservation, in the early days of nation building, should be adapted as we become more mature. The Christian Religion has become increasingly fundamentalist and exertive "busy bodies" influenced by the external overseas politics. They have peddled a lie for the last 1000 years that Gays are immoral and corrupt and repeated often enough that everyone believed it to be the truth. Now that the truth is slowly emerging that Gays are people like you and me, the Fundamentalist such as the Cornerstone "Church" are desperate to form a Rapid Response Team to continue to distort the truth. However, the tide of time and the tide of truth can never be quenched. The more you come against the Rock, the more the truth shall prevail. In the midst of the National Day panorama, a Church Service was held in KL, the first of its kind that will impact both Malaysia and Singapore - marking the coming home at independence day.
For Christians in Singapore and Malaysia, there is much religious freedom. There are no restrictions normally on overseas speakers and indeed the major mega churches are frequently visited and supported by the Christian Right Institutions in US and Australia. These external foreign forces continue to fan the local populace in a frenzy of prosperity gospel and anti-gay doctrines. The negative foreign influence over the last three decades on our religious Christians have slowly seeped into acceptance by mainstream Christianity resulting in a political influence to push their right wing fundamentalist agenda. Such extreme influence impacts the Nation's sovereignty and control of our own destiny.
There are thousands of Christian churches in Malaysia and Singapore including the Anglican, the Methodist, the Assembly of God, Full Gospel Churches, the City Harvest, New Creation, FCBC, Church of Our Savior, Cornerstone, and many independent churches. Many owned major city landmarks and educational institutions as partners of the former British Colonial Powers. The British Powers bought in Christianity and now the numbers of Christians who attends Church Services exceeds 400,000 weekly. In City Harvest Church, the numbers alone exceeds 30,000. This is the "rich" man who has exceedingly many flocks and herbs. There are many Gay Christians in the churches, many are in their closets, or excommunicated from their churches. They lived in fear and hiding with small "underground" gatherings for mutual support and encouragement. There are no churches, no pastors, no buildings, no bookshops, not even web sites. This is the extremely "poor" man.
In Malaysia over the weekend, in a historic underground church service, a small group of Malaysians and Singaporeans gathered for the first service of a Gay affirmative church. Many Gay Christians have struggled with their faith for decades and many cried and praised God that at last they have a place called home for many have been excommunicated from their churches. The "poor man" who had nothing now has one little lamb. It was a very moving service with a Rev Troy Perry, Rev O Young, and Rev Pat Bumgardner sharing that the church should give a new Hope to a people, a tribe that have long been marginalized and had lost hope. The Grand Olympic Hotel where the service was held was old and run down, but to the Gay Christians it was a bit of heaven on Earth. Many who attended were older Christians who have prayed and longed for this occasion. As the song, "What a Friend, we have in Jesus?", God has not forgotten His Gay and Lesbian Children on Earth and have given them a new hope and a touch of His presence from heaven. For "once we were not a people, now God's people are we".
The mainstream churches tried their best to stop the events by apparently sending "nasty" emails and SMS to the organizers. In a most "unchristian act", for one of the preceding meetings, a rumor was spread stating that the events were cancelled. When the "Gay" church service went ahead, the Churches then sent their informants - sitting at the rear of the congregation and later released a press statement condemning the service. The Mainstream Christian do not want to be seen "condoning" the Gay Church to appease the authorities and other religious groups. They willingly sacrificed the Gay Community so that their "own" vast flock would not be impacted. In Malaysia, where authorities are beginning to clamp down on evangelism this is a understandable concern but a most carnal and unchristian response.
The action by the Christian Churches in the last month deserved strong condemnation for they have so much and yet not pitied those who have so little and want to take away what little they had. It was a very self centered action and the Word of God says that there will be a time of restoration where the Christian church being the anti-gay antagonist will one day need to restore back to the Gay Community all rights, freedom and privileges taken away. It will be a four fold restoration in kind and it will impact the church as a whole. Because of the strong anti-gay movement, Gays will obtain their basic rights and freedom from persecution sooner rather than later. However, the Church may find themselves loosing the rights they once taken for granted and denied to others. If the rights of the Gay community are not supported, there is no reason why the rights of the church would be guaranteed.
In this month of National Day Celebrations, let us pray for a kinder nation, and a Christian Community that does not grieve the Holy Spirit in our evil speaking rhetoric, and malice against the Gay Minority. The Word of God exalts us to be tender hearted, and be kind to others - giving others the dignity, humanity just as Christ gave us at the Cross of Calvary the respect and Hope for a better world to come and an eternal Hope of Glory. Let us also thank God for His Amazing Grace to set up a Gay affirmative church in Malaysia that the Gay Christians may at last find a place to call Home. They have been waiting for many years - with wonder at the founding of the MCC in Los Angeles in 1968 and praying that it will one day come to Malaysia/Singapore. 38 years later, "God's people now we are".
Once we were not a people, God's people now we are
We are an exiled people, with bitter tears baptized,
Once we were not a people, God's people now we are