"Words cannot describe how crazy and traumatic the experience was... being covered in blood trying to save another guy's life that I don't even know," Josh told his story to George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week. Fifty dead and fifty-two wounded at a nightclub in Orlando flashed across the television screen Sunday morning. It felt personal. Listening to a mother pleading on air desperately trying to find out if her son was dead or alive. Her pain was palpable--it could have been me. Like the first responders who rushed in to stop the carnage and help the injured, I began praying, asking God to deploy his people to help each one impacted by this senseless attack.
Josh managed to help the injured man to a safe zone, but he didn't stop there. He willingly laid down on the seat of a police car, as they placed the man on top of him. Josh was asked to hold him tight to help constrict the blood flowing out of a wound on his back while they transported him to the hospital. "I let him know I was saying prayers for him and would be waiting at the hospital for him as long as I can...I hope that God is with everyone. For whatever reason God may have put me there to help him in that situation." I couldn't help but hear Jesus' words in Josh's story. "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends (John 15:13, NIV)." This person wasn't even Josh's friend, just someone he came across in the parking lot where people were fleeing from the gunman.
Radical Islamic terrorists want to destroy anyone who does not believe as they do. Hate not love is their ideology. Thankfully this is not so for Christians. Jesus taught his disciples a new commandment, "As I have loved you, so you must love one another (John 13:35, NIV)." Loving others was not just a good idea, something his followers would do when it was convenient, or if the people Jesus asked them to love agreed with his teachings. In fact, Jesus told his disciples to love and pray for their enemies, even those who persecuted them (Matthew 5:43)! This display of love would prove to the world that they were different--they were like Jesus.
My thoughts turned toward my son and how he might be feeling after hearing the news. A gathering of people like him, those he considered friends, specifically targeted. When he came out in 1998, I remember worrying that someone might want to harm him. As people became more accepting of those with same-sex attractions, my anxiety eased some--until yesterday.
Did my son know that I cared about him and the community he was a part of? I didn't want to miss an opportunity to let him know, so I fired off a text telling him I was sorry and was praying for each person in that club and their families, I loved him, and to stay safe.
Maybe we can't be in a physical position to reach out to those who are hurting, but we can show our love in other ways. Here are a few ideas I put together to get us started.
1. As the names of the deceased and injured are made known, lift them and those who love them to God in prayer. Ask God to pour out his grace and mercy on their lives and to bring other Christians by their side to help them in their time of grief.
2. Reach out to your loved ones and others you may know in the gay community and tell them you care. Offer words of encouragement. Tell them you are praying for them and the safety of their community.
3. Pray for the first responders and everyone who helped the injured. Don't forget to include those who are investigating this crime.
4. Pray for those deceived by extremist Islamic ideology. They need to see Jesus Christ. Pray their plans to kill and destroy others will not succeed.
5. Never grow weary of doing good. Do your part by permitting God's love to flow through you. Trust God to do the rest.
6. Ask God for other ways you can help.
If you are like me and woke up this morning with some trepidation about the future, realizing that living in America no longer insulates you and your loved ones from the hatred toward homosexuals found in other countries--be comforted. There are other Christians who understand your worry and concerns. A waiting room full of people to help you and to pray for your loved ones in the gay community during this difficult time.