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Showing Christ

Timothy Kincaid

July 21st, 2009

Christians speak of “showing Christ” to the world around you. Sadly, too often this is expressed in forms of self-righteousness and public condemnation of others. Frankly, I often think that if this is Christ that you are showing me with your arrogance, condescension, and careless condemnation of those whom you don’t think are as good as you, then I want nothing of him.

But some have found a Christ to show the world that is quite unlike the one whose primary purpose seems to be passing laws to impose religious adherence by non-believers. Their Christ is more interested in helping the needy, healing the hurting, and loving the loveless.

Such a Christ is observed in the actions of Christians in Worcester County, Massachusetts. They have become a haven of safety and help to gay men and women from around the world who are fleeing oppression and torture in their homelands. (Worcester Telegram)

For the past year, Hadwen Park Congregational Church has provided gay immigrants with food and money for clothes and rent, as well as spiritual and emotional support. Lutheran Social Services, which helps many immigrants apply for asylum, established a program to help gay immigrants apply for asylum.

Immigrants such as the Ugandan tortured for two days by men trying to get him to give the names of the patrons of his gay bar. Or the Jamaican who was beaten by crowds four times. Or the Lebanese man sent to the hospital with a broken neck.

The United States government allows those persecuted for their orientation elsewhere to see asylum in America. But few social service programs are available for these victims of brutality, and they are not allowed to work while waiting.

The church’s program is unique in the United States, church members believe; the Lutheran Social Services asylum program for gay immigrants is one of only a handful nationwide.

And theirs is no hand-off missions program designed to placate liberal guilt.

The church started by feeding the gay immigrants with its food pantry, then paying their rent and cell phone bills. Parishioners took immigrants on shopping trips for clothes and other essentials. Two parishioners offered to host two immigrants in their home. The immigrants started coming to the church, telling their stories, and connecting with people who don’t judge them.

Now the Christ of the Hadwen Park Congregational Church and Lutheran Social Services in Worcester, Massachusetts, is a Christ that the world could see much more of.

Comments

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Richard Rush
July 21st, 2009 | LINK

It’s always gratifying to see people being kind and decent towards others. I would like to believe that the good deeds are motivated by rational thinking and an internal concern for the well-being of others, and that may very well be the case here. But I would find it somewhat unsettling if the good deeds were motivated by what they think a deity wants them to do. Or, perhaps they are cultural Christians who may not even believe in the divinity of Christ, but still see him as a great historical figure (among others) who had many profoundly insightful things to say. I wouldn’t find that unsettling at all.

My belief or non-belief in the existence of the God of the Bible is not based upon the deeds of his followers. One of the frequent distractions in the debates between atheists and Christians is the evaluation of the historic and present behavior of each side’s proponents. God either exists or he doesn’t, and this distraction doesn’t help answer that question. This all seems consistent with the Christian trait of taking credit for all things deemed good, and deflecting responsibility for all things deemed bad.

Kristie
July 21st, 2009 | LINK

This church should be very proud of the good work it is doing in the community. They are making a real difference in the world, bettering people’s lives and showing real Christ-like compassion. It’s a real shame that all those huge, megachurches that you hear about that surely have the financial resources to do this kind of work wouldn’t be caught dead having anything to do with it!

Birdie
July 22nd, 2009 | LINK

This a wonderful example to hold up to the Christian world, of humble compassion for the disenfranchised. This is exactly what the straight Christian community needs to see. I applaud this church for their spiritual commitment to following the commandment to love one another.

Christopher Waldrop
July 22nd, 2009 | LINK

Having said many times that I don’t often see tolerant, open-minded people of faith, I have to say that it’s wonderful to read a story like this. This story will probably not get the attention it deserves, but I think it’s fair to say that the people of this church aren’t doing it for the attention. They’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do.

L. Junius Brutus
July 22nd, 2009 | LINK

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

The main problem is that the Christians who are extremely vocal about being Christians are usually of the not-so-savory kind. To an outsider, they would appear to make up a much greater part of Christianity than they actually do.

Me Too
July 22nd, 2009 | LINK

There are some of us at Hadwen Park Church who are not happy with all of this publicity. We have become a UCC church who has no voice anymore. Just the voice of a psycho bi-bolar woman and her black flunky!

Christopher™
July 22nd, 2009 | LINK

Me Too: “Bitter, party of one.”

If you have issues with your church’s leadership, then find another church to attend. It’s that simple.

Timothy Kincaid
July 22nd, 2009 | LINK

Me Too,

How, ummmmm, charming that you think the sex and race of your church leadership is relevant.

Zeke
July 22nd, 2009 | LINK

Me Too, as a proud member of the United Church of Christ I can tell you that I know for a fact that if you aren’t happy with the pro-gay, very Christian stance of your local church, or of the national church, there are literally THOUSANDS of anti-gay options for you in any of the number of anti-gay churches available to you.

Please don’t stay where you are unhappy. Go to the Baptist, Pentacostal, Catholic, Church of God or Holiness church down the street. You will be happy to be there and they will be happy to have you.

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