You probably do not know, but I was invited to go and serve as an associate pastor in a big church at Nashville Tennessee, and yesterday I say no to the offer. The salary was one of the highest salaries I have been given ($44,000) and the chance to go to a bigger city was truly a temptation. But these are my reasons I decided to stay in this little and extremely republican town:
One of my favorite authors says, “The men and women who are truly filled with light are those who have gazed deeply into the darkness of their own imperfect existence”. First of all, I consider myself as a follower of Christ in this motto, to always show myself the way I am, with my weekends and strengths, with the light and the darkness of my humanity and knowing that I can not be the person that I want to be unless God helps me to be. I shared that part to the pastor who was asking me to go an serve in his church, and in a way he felt a little uncomfortable. Why when we are open an vulnerable to others, there is a sense of uncomfortability, specially among Christians? I am amazed how open and acceptable are my friends who are out side of the wall of the church.
Second, I love people, specially people outside of our churches, people who are the outcasts for the condeming standards of church goers, people who are not welcomed to our “churches”, so for me “church” is outside, church is having coffee in Starbucks, church is having a glass of wine in a restaurant, church is being involved in the lives of my classmates and encourage them, is organizing a dance night in a local business to support our city and be known in our community, for me church is to create a place where the white, black, gays, Hispanic, Muslim, college students, Catholics, Indian can feel at home, a place safe enough to doubt and like a Buddhism nun said, “we need to learn to leap into open spaces with our fear, resentment and doubt, this is how we become human beings”. I know I am called to be different not for the sake to be different but to be able to befriend for those who will never step into what we called church. After 8 years I have been able to do that at Connection and having the small chance to leave to Nashville made me realized how attach I am to this ministry and the called God has placed on me to do this kind of service. A very unique service, a very unique call.