Wednesday, November 20th, 2013
Way back in 2010 I attended a conference in Southern California called “The Evangelical Network”. Even today in 2013 the impact of that conference remains and has grown into the fabric of my being. Today on a special day to honor the courage and reality of those who are transgender I wanted to post this very personal experience I had with “Rene” at the conference.
A Curious Meeting
Standing in the lobby of the hotel, where the conference was being held, I saw my two new friends from last night. As I walked up to them they were talking with an older man and introduced me, “John, this is our pastor, the one who has accepted the challenge of discipling us.” I entered the conversation with them for a few minutes and the two guys excused themselves. Another lady was standing with us and I was introduced to “Rene”.
Rene was someone I noticed in all of the main sessions. She seemed to always stand on the periphery of the room. She was very tall and from my observation seemed to be a transsexual. As the pastor introduced us he began to talk about Rene. He told me that his church had tried an outreach ministry to the transsexual community around them but had not had much success. He continued to share with me that transsexuals are often emotionally immature and challenging due to their emotional development of 8 or 9 years of age.
I turned to Rene and said, “How do you feel about this discussion “about” you taking place?” Rene took off and ran with her story. She said she agreed about the emotional immaturity issues. She then said, “John, transsexuals don’t often want to be on center stage. It is a challenge for me to get this attention.” Then, what she said next was astonishing to hear!
“I consider my life in Christ to be like that of a “war horse”. A war horse is trained to obey its master completely, even if the rider takes it into a brick wall. I see my walk with God like that. It’s uncomfortable to be talked about or to be brought into the front line of a conversation. But, my pastor asked me to start a fellowship for transsexuals. I knew the need was there, wasn’t comfortable taking that kind of leadership role, but I wanted to be obedient to the calling. So, I began the group on Sunday afternoons.”
The pastor then stepped in and affirmed that the group was going well and that the ministry he wasn’t able to get off the ground, was working underneath the leadership of Rene’s shepherding heart and care for these people. We talked a little bit more than went to our next session.
I was completely shocked and amazed at what I had just heard. In my former association with “ex-gay” ministry, I would have quickly assessed this as completely wrong for Rene to be living as she is, doing what she is doing, and following God into what she believed He had led her into. We would have questioned her motives, challenged her clothing, and certainly would have never found her qualified for any Christian ministry leadership.
But this day was different for me. I had laid my opinions aside for this conference. I wanted to take a neutral position so that I could hear the stories, experience the atmosphere, and hopefully listen to God’s heart. I could not deny that Rene loved God, loved others, and desired more than anything to serve the Savior with her very being. She wasn’t a renegade, or rebellious. Quite the contrary, she was living a self sacrificial life for the good of others.
God Searched and He Found Rene
As I walked away I found myself saying “and who else is willing, who else could God find that would love these people?” This experience certainly blew more of my preconceived ideas about someone being “holy enough” to find a place in the service of our Lord. I have often said, “if God can’t use imperfect people, He can’t use any of us”. However, my introduction to “Rene” took my own words to a deeper place of reality. I am incredibly thankful for Rene, her heart, her sacrifice, and her dedication to give back to Jesus from a thankful heart of what He has already given her.
Those who are transgender display incredible courage, faith, and yet the pain at times unbearable for some. I want to remember Rene today and her quiet strength of a War Horse.