Thursday, June 22, 2006

An Answer to Prayer

If you didn't see Culture Campaign's FYI today (hat tip to our friends at IFI), you missed the best news I've seen all week...

An Open Letter (read the whole letter at IFI link above)

June 12, 2006

Rev. Bill Hybels
Willow Creek Community Church
Rev. James Meeks
Salem Baptist Church of Chicago
CC: * All Illinois and Chicago-land evangelical pastors and leaders
* Cardinal Francis George
* All faithful Christian souls within driving range of Chicago
RE: The Gay Games -- July 15-22

Dear Bill and James:

...Well, as an African-American pastor on Chicago's north lakefront -- with my roots running deep at Moody and other bastions of (mainly-white) evangelicalism -- I feel compelled to point out the absolutely unprecedented, rapidly-approaching moment for Bible-believing pastors of all races and denominations to take joint action for the sake of the Cross of Jesus Christ.

For over a year, it has been SCREAMING OUT for our attention…a one-time-only opportunity facing us as Illinois Christian leaders in the third week of July.

...On July 15 - 22, over 11,000 of the world's neediest souls will descend into Chicago for the Gay Games -- the enormous, quadrennial "Olympics" for homosexuals.

Over 11,000 gays and lesbians from across the U.S. and around the world!

And that's only the registered athletic participants! Not to mention the thousands of spectators, the party-seekers, the relatives, the nightclub and bathhouse crowds... a worldwide convention of homosexuals seeking fun, lifestyle affirmation, mortality denial and no-consequences promiscuity in America's "Second City" -- at the very heart of our great, but sinfully fallen, nation. Maybe I should stop right here -- but I just can't.

As our Lord makes painfully clear in the Law of Moses, and especially in Paul's Letter to the Romans, the world's homosexual population is a microcosm for all humankind. Our gay and lesbian fellow citizens embody our own most extreme, impassioned defiance of our Creator, who lovingly designed and made us in His own image, male and female. Our homosexual friends typify our own stiff-necked, fist-waving, God-cursing, me-loving selves. Scripture says:
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.

[Book of Romans Chapter 1:18-28]
But enough "hate speech" -- as "Gay Games" sponsor Channel 5 might say -- from Saint Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles. I'm writing this open letter to you (and copying it to every Illinois and Chicagoland Christian leader and layman I can possibly reach) to say, with all due respect:

Shame on you!
Shame on me!
Shame, shame on all of us!

Not because full-throttle, all-out Pagan hedonism is about to envelope Chicago's downtown lakefront, the University of Chicago, UIC, Northwestern University, Crystal Lake, and Oak Park. It's America, after all, and America is free to sin.

Not because we all stayed mousey-quiet as the Gay Games Machine rolled over scores of morally rudderless corporate sponsors like WMAQ-TV, Walgreens, Kraft, Sidley & Austin, American Airlines, Ernst & Young, Harris Bank, AT&T, AON, Exelon, UBS, CNA, etc. Sure, we're a day late and dollar short once again with our witness as Christian leaders, but that's not the worst of it.

Not because we stayed lamely mute as our state's Springfield leaders enshrined homosexual behavior as a protected "human right" a few years ago. Wisely or foolishly, some of us narrowly define our jobs to recuse ourselves from leadership on public policy questions, so that's not even the worst of it.

My friends, here's where we've really fallen down: Chicagoland is about to receive tens of thousands of desperately-needy gays and lesbians who -- like all straights who willfully reject the Lord Jesus Christ -- are facing a harsh, lonely, agonizing, horrific eternity without Him. Homosexuals are coming here from the four corners of the earth -- voluntarily, at their own expense, gathering right on our doorstep in just five [now less than four--Ed.] weeks…... And so far as I can tell, we orthodox Christian pastors and leaders have done virtually nothing to prepare!

NOTHING - NADA - NIL in terms of prayer, welcoming plans, hospitality, promotion, P.R., training, materials, food, literature, etc.

ZIP - ZERO - ZILCH to exploit this amazing opportunity to share the powerful Gospel of Jesus to our lost gay brothers and sisters, apart from which none can be saved. Perhaps not since Sodom and Gomorrah has so much of the world's homosexual population been concentrated in one place. Because our Lord is in charge of the fire and brimstone, however,I think we're called now to rain-down something else on this global gay parade: The love of Jesus.

Maybe Lot's wife was fated to remind us of what Jesus demands us to be here in our fallen, sinful, depraved, and sexually-confused world: Salty witnesses, savory testimony to the King of Glory. And yet, it seems we're about to drop that ball big-time with respect to the Gay Games. How is it that we pastors can help collect 350,000 signatures for the Protect Marriage Illinois initiative to deter same-sex unions in Illinois... but we can't seem to make ready our flocks for the world's homosexual community, gathered on Chicago's lakefront?

Rev. Meeks, we got no game -- for the Gay Games?

Rev. Hybels, we have no suburban Christians willing to minister to these lost souls?

Everyone: Are we going to sit back and let Fred Phelps [of "God Hates Fags" notoriety--Ed.] and his picketing, gay-bashing, funeral-crashing, hate-mongering followers masquerade as the uncontested face of Christianity for the world's media gathered on Chicago's lakefront? Brothers please correct me if I'm wrong. Maybe you, the G-8 [a pastors' group in Chicagoland] and other evangelical leaders have something going to which I haven't been privy. Maybe I didn't get the memo.

But I fear that there is no memo; that we've all fallen down here on our duty to lead. Chicago was the springboard of Dwight L. Moody, Billy Sunday and Billy Graham -- giants of American evangelicalism and evangelism. They wouldn't have let this moment pass.

Chicago is the home of Moody Bible Institute, Wheaton College, Trinity International University, Christianity Today, Willow Creek, Salem Baptist, Moody Church, Pacific Garden Mission, Unshackled, and countless mission boards. How are we mobilizing?

Chicago is the home of Bishop Ford; Pr. Jeremiah Wright; Bill Hybels, James Meeks, Michael Easley, Erwin Lutzer, James McDonald, Bishop Arthur Brazier and Joe Stowell. Cardinal Francis George, one of Roman Catholicism's most faithful, orthodox leaders, leads one of the country's largest Catholic Archdiocese. My friends, what are we going to do about this moment at hand?

Here's something fascinating I read the other day, that may be applicable:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the World to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
[John 3:16-17]
What do you think, could this be applicable to the Gay Games? At Moody Church, where I served for a while, we were fond of saying that we were Believers who could change the City -- in a City that could change the World. If this is still true…where is the evidence concerning this historic opportunity.

We're like so many ostriches, closing our eyes, jamming our heads down into the sands of North Avenue Beach -- or simply fleeing Illinois for sultry Michigan beach vacations and Bible conferences and retreats, hoping all those obnoxious gay people will just go away.

But my dear brothers, WWJD?

I think he'd be downtown on the lakefront July 15-22, loving those homosexuals as people created in His own image condemned by sin and the Law just as we were till someone lovingly shared the good news w/us and God in His mercy turned our hearts toward Him.

He'd be just as tough as the nails we all drove through his hands -- hating the sin, but deeply loving the sinners.

He'd be an annoying nudge to all of us, sometimes slow and distracted, red and yellow black and white disciples.

And He'd probably be far less gentle on us all than I'm being right now! So, I think we simply have no choice. We MUST do something. And right now, I'm praying hard that you and others will take up this cross too; it's way too heavy for me alone.

Not long ago, Uptown Baptist got plaudits from Mayor Daley, plus BBC and NPR coverage, because summer crime figures dropped when our church set up a stand that offered "Free Lemonade and Prayer." Interestingly, addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, gays, criminals, etc. took up both offers. For some, it changed their lives. (I can brag about this because I had nothing to do with it; it happened before I arrived as pastor).

So, subject to any better suggestions at this late hour, here's what I respectfully propose that we as Illinois Christian leaders are now going to do about the Gay Games. We are going to "come out of our prayer closets," and deploy our forces for:

The Gay Love Offensive

...Whether or not we like it, the Gay Games are coming in a few short weeks.


Your little brother trying to have a significant impact For Dad,

Michael N. Allen