Friday, July 12, 2013

Steve Kimball: This is My Story, This is My Song

This personal narrative came out of the Believe Out Loud Congregational Workshop that Integrity held at Christ Church: Norwich in the Diocese of Connecticut in June, led by Province I Coordinator Marie Alford-Harkey and Neil Houghton.  Effective storytelling is a powerful evangelism tool, and one of the modules of the workshop.

I have had a conscious and personal relationship with God through Jesus since 1975. This relationship has been a life changing experience. Most of the influence of the transformation was from those whom I met during the charismatic movement of the 70’s from various protestant evangelical churches. I was enthusiastic about sharing the love of Jesus and His salvation with anyone I might encounter along the way.

Steve Kimball
There was however, one segment of the population that I didn’t witness to. That was the gay population. I didn’t give it much thought since I had read various passages that seemed to denounce the gay lifestyle. I migrated to Christ Episcopal Church from the Church of the Resurrection. My wife was still at the Church of the Resurrection. She told me about a lesbian couple that had started to attend there. I still didn’t think much about it, since they were at the Church of the Resurrection, and I was at Christ Episcopal Church. After all, wasn’t the gay lifestyle frowned upon by Christianity?

That very night, I had one the most vivid visions of my entire life. Jesus stood at the foot of my bed, and told me that there were two women that he would like me to meet. I didn’t have to ask who, but I did ask “What about scripture?"

Jesus answered, “I know what I authored. You must learn to love as I have taught.”

I knew what I must do. I went to speak to each of the women separately, and then together. I had to be honest with where I was and how Jesus told me to “get with it.” Both women were very gracious and loving. Not only did they teach me what love really is, they showed me what had been missing from my witness for these many years; a total and complete acceptance of ALL people, regardless of their sexual preference, ethnicity, etc. I was now free to love without any hindrance.

Welcome Sign outside Christ Church: Norwich
My desire to share Christ’s love has increased lately. To help me prepare for that sharing, I attended a Believe Out Loud workshop recently. This workshop is designed to aid us in welcoming and incorporating all people into the church community, being specific about including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender folk into that incorporation. It was informative, and spiritually nourishing. I now consider myself an evangelical Christian much more prepared to share Christ’s love with ALL people.

Steve Kimball is a school bus driver and a member of Christ Episcopal Church in Norwich, CT, where he is a youth advisor and evangelism coordinator.  This article originally appeared in the July edition of the parish newsletter, Thameside Thinking, as does a recap of the Believe Out Loud Congregational Workshop the parish hosted recently.

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