When I was in Houston a group of militant Christian activists who went by the moniker “Bulldog Ministries” showed up at the annual Gay Pride parade on Montrose Blvd–right next to our church. They held signs with nasty messages like, “Gay’s are an abomination!” and “Hell awaits you!” As you can imagine, the participants in the parade did not react well to this. The situation escalated quickly as an angry mob surrounded the street preachers in protestation. Soon, around six or seven police officers entered the scene–forming a wall between the two opposing forces. Just when we thought things couldn’t get worse, someone from the crowd threw a punch at one of the sign holders. Like any good Christian would do, the man with the sign punched his attacker back, yelled at him, and ran off. The police reacted quickly, pushing both sides (who were working their way into a frenzy) away from each other. Eventually the Bulldog Bullies called it a day, packed up there signs, rubbed their bruises, and headed home (it was never clear whether the police told them to leave or they simply left voluntarily).
The effect of this exercise in hate–done in the name of the gospel–was tragic. That night, hundreds of people learned two things extremely well: (1) that God and his followers hated them and (2) that Christians were pretty much no different from the rest of the world. We knew that something had to be done to rectify this horrible situation.
So, after Bulldog Ministries had cleared out and things calmed down we moved forward with our plan. It was July, one of the hottest months in Texas, and everyone was dying from heat exhaustion. Our plan was simple: to hand out hundreds of bottles of free ice cold water as an act of love. When people would ask us why we were handing out free bottles of water, our response was simple: “because Jesus loves you and doesn’t want you to get overheated.” Armed with several large containers of iced water bottles, we embarked on our plan to reverse the damage caused by the Bulldog Bullies.
As people began to notice our motley crew handing out ice cold water we were quickly surrounded by hundreds of thirsty paraders–that’s when the miracles began to take place. A lesbian couple, incredibly grateful for the rehydration, asked me: “Why are you giving this away for free?” I responded with a simple statement about Jesus loving her and not wanting her to pass out with heat exhaustion. After saying this, one of the young girls looked straight into my eyes and began to cry: “is that really why you are doing this?” she asked. I nodded my head in affirmation and this young girl embraced me like I was her long lost brother. “Thank you so much,” she said as tears rolled down her cheeks.
This reaction was duplicated over and over again as we continued handing out water. A tall muscular gay man bent down and gave my friend Pastor Rollyvic a huge hug and kissed him on the cheek saying: “thank you so much.” I spoke for an hour with a young man wearing a rather beautiful dress–we spoke about Jesus, the Church, and true Religion. He shared with me about his families distaste with his cross-dressing and I was probably the first Christian he had ever encountered who just listened. Before long, people in the crowd began to say to others passing by: “these Christians are not like those other ones – they actually love people!”
That night hundreds of people learned one important thing: that Jesus loved them and cared about their well being in spite of the fact that they were living a lifestyle contrary to his design and purpose . . .
“Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that i will give him will never be thirsty again. That water that I will give him will become in him a spring ow water welling up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water” (John 4:13-15)