I was speaking at a wonderful church in the heart of winter in one of Ontario Canada’s frozen northern cities. After the meeting, two lovely young ladies approached me. Now you have to realize I am a bit of a sucker for anyone who likes me. I don’t care about your background, what you do for a living or the colour of your skin. If you like me then I would like to be your friend. They told me how much they enjoyed what I had to say. I knew they were comfortable with me but I was hardly ready for what was to come. “I’m a lesbian," said one and the other was not quite sure what she was. This was simple enough, no problem. God loves all of us the way we are but does not leave us there. I had seen many gay people be won by the love of God. Perhaps He was going to do it again. One of the young ladies asked, “Would you come to a gay dance with us tonight?” The invitation caused the blood to drain from my face. I began to have a silent heart dialogue with the Almighty. Before He could impress upon me His desire I told Him 'no way.’ Not in an audible voice but in the sensitivities of the heart I could feel the Father pressing in on me. My response was, "come on God you got to be kidding.” I looked into the anxious eyes of the sweet pair before me. How could I say no when they came out to see me and showed me such kindness? Any collateral I had built in their hearts could be lost. If I followed the traditions found in my training, this crossroad for the girls to know the love of God could be gone. Soon my heart began to melt. I knew God was asking me to do this and yet He left the door open for me to say 'no'. God had been far too good to me not to grant Him his heart's desire. Still I was afraid. To attend a gay dance was not an everyday activity that goes on in a Bible College or a church. My mind was saying 'no' but when I opened my mouth it said 'yes'.
My heart was pounding in my ears. The frigid night was not an issue, I was preoccupied with the words in my head in a constant loop saying, "I can’t believe I am doing this!”
The rented hall was at the top of a staircase. Each step I took I fought my apprehension. We reached the outside platform. Someone opened the door. A blast of warm air brushed across my tight face. Then my foot crossed the threshold of the door entering the forbidden zone. At this very moment a woman on the stage slammed her hand violently across her guitar strings. She then thundered these words; words I will never forget, "The church calls us an abomination unto the Lord!” Rage and rejection. Defiance and yet an inner yearning to be accepted emanated from this woman in the Larry King suspenders and a brush cut. I knew I was in for quite a night. It helped my heightened insecurity to know that only God could set the timing so exact. It would be an experience of hearing God speak to me in a place where few Christians have tread. I was also grateful that the wife of the pastor at the church came with me. A wonderful friend and counselor. I was not alone in the unknown territory of the gay world. We were not long sitting at our table when the girls grabbed my hand and pulled me up to dance. As I stumbled in a type of irregular two step, everyone glided around me with a grace that made my erratic foot work rather embarrassing. In a sweet way, I felt honoured and accepted. My heart was being touched in a strange yet marvelous way.
During my staggered attempt at dancing, I observed my surroundings. The young people did not seem like their hearts were totally taken in and completely established in the same sex culture as I would have expected. On my way back to my seat a “flamer” flashed by attempting to fill the room like a peacock in strut. This was his night to cut loose. As far as the young people, they just seemed lost and had found acceptance with this enclave of people hidden in society's darker corners.
I could talk for hours about the night. More important is what God, in the secret language of the heart, was saying. In the midst of confused souls lost in identity and mixed up affections, I sensed Him saying, “Do you feel My Love here for these people?” My heart melted once more because contrary to years of being under a theology that said it was wrong for me to even be here, I was experiencing a tender love for these people. He continued and there was a sadness in His tone. "I want to bring My people to places like this but I can’t. They would not see the delicate work I am doing. They would bring their church culture of preconceived perceptions administered by programs and traditions. These will not reach them. It will take flexible, spontaneous, fearless unconditional love to reach them. We must become their friends".
To say the least, I was saddened and ashamed that we as God’s people could be so far from His heart and not know it. Then the girls brought a tall man in a blue dress over to my table and quizzically introduced him to me. They were watching for the slightest judgmental reaction. Again, one wrong response could show my nakedness and hypocrisy. Before me was a man with red lipstick and false breasts. Perhaps at another time I may not have responded very well but not this frosty night. The Father had removed much of the coldness that once reigned hidden deep inside my heart. Before me was not an abomination. It was a man deeply loved by God. I rose to meet him. I did not see the caricature of humanity as many religious folk would. The words, “It is a pleasure to meet you,” rolled past my lips with a dignity that would be given only to a king or president. I shook his hand.
My life was forever changed after the night in the frozen north at this gay dance. After many times of rehearsing the evening in my heart, a serious question came to mind so I inquired of God, 'If the church is not your culture then what is?” His answer left me speechless. “I’m not a culture. I AM."
Dan Chappell was fathered in the prophetic by Robert Ewing of Grace Churches of Texas in the early 80’s and mentored in “The Heart of the Father" by Jack Winters.
He is recognized trans locally for his sensitive and encouraging prophetic and strategic insight. His gifting is not just for the local church, but impacts churches across the continent. Debbie, his wife, stands with him in this demanding role.