My name is Rey, and I am from China. Here it is difficult to become a Christian due to many reasons, both religious and local policy, especially for someone who's not from a Christian family.
Many years ago, my spiritual life accidentally started with my friend's invitation to attend a church which meets on Sabbath. I called it "Saturday church," and it was not until two years later I knew its full name of Seventh-day Adventist.
As a new member in my church, with zero absences, I attended every introductory course. This lasted almost a year and I gradually developed a strong love for and faith in God. It's amazing for someone who never believed in Jesus. Everything about my church life here was nice: the congregation reads the Bible, sings psalms, and prays together. But one day, the pastor's words in class sharply hurt my heart.
Pastors here openly and strongly condemn LGBTIQ people. You can never imagine how it felt for an innocent young man who was ready to come to the embrace of God's love to get told he's not welcome. Those who say they love you most hurt you most. It's just like someone gently opens the door with a smile telling you, "Please come in," and then shuts the door violently the moment you're ready to enter. After the whole series of introductory classes, they invited me to get baptized, and I clearly didn’t accept—not here.
I've thought about quitting, changing to another denomination. But I just can't, because Sabbath is so important to me.
After a lot of effort online and with many warm-hearted internet pals' suggestions, I successfully found an LGBTIQ-welcoming Adventist church in California and flew all the way there for baptism last October. When I arrived, the pastor there told me it was their LGBTIQ month, and that week's sermon happened to be titled, "Affirming All." Praise to the Lord! He helped me, who had become a Christian, to find a way to get baptized.
Many have paid a high price to stay, and I have every reason to pay a higher price to join the church. It’s easy to quit, but quitting helps nothing. When I think about many potential members like me who are struggling, I know I can't quit; those broken hearts need our help. We need to set a good example and speak out. When we reach out to them, God's never-ending love is revealed.
SDA Kinship shares the value that the journeys of LGBTIQ Adventists matter in the wider narrative of what it means to be LGBTIQ and Adventist. Our Journeys is a series of stories, highlighting the lives of LGBTIQ Adventists around the world, our experiences, triumphs, and failures, our low and high points.