This was originally composed in March 2011. Enjoy.
I went to the town of Puyo last week for the third time. It reminded me that I’d like to introduce you to a new friend.
The first thing you’ll notice about my pal Carlos is how shockingly skinny he is. Wow. If he stood sideways and stuck out his tongue, he would look like a zipper. If you put a quarter in his left hand and a dime in his right, he’d lose his balance.
The second thing you’ll observe is that Carlos is quite homosexual. If you watch a little longer, you’ll see that he is probably more so than you originally thought.
Most missionaries and pastors stop there. We, as a group, observe new people from a perspective of trying to figure out what barriers exist between this new person and Christ. We don’t mean to stop there, but it happens. We craft a message, expressed through conversation, that is designed to cut past the clutter and touch this person’s soul for the Lord. We go home and tell our wives about this new guy who really needs Jesus. Our concerns for his future would be genuine. And yet, if I had followed this usual pattern, I would have spent my time praying for Carlos the Gay.
There’s more to Carlos than that. Really.
For example, he’s a sensitive guy who seems to take the feelings of others into account. He also seems insecure, as though he is not quite sure how he fits into the group. Once he knows his role, though, he loves to talk. He will talk to anyone about anything. He is a very open person, and knows 1,000 people, probably because he is so sensitive to others.
And an artist! Oh, he’s good. He prefers to do body painting, using near naked bodies as his canvas. He is somewhat blase about the sexual aspect of it, possibly a result of his own sexual leanings. If you look past his canvas and see what he paints, you’ll notice certain things. He loves deep colors; no pastels. He enjoys natural subjects, though not landscapes. Much of his painting includes curves, like pythons and vines, long-stemmed flowers, slinky jaguars, and a river curving around it all. He has won body painting competitions before.
I am told he cooks well, lives with his mother, and they take care of one another. He is probably the most internet-savvy Deaf guy in town, and has a flash drive with his artwork on it. Carries it with him often, I think. When he met Zach, my art-loving son, Carlos spent well over an hour drawing and modeling things for him. On napkins and envelopes they drew macaws and snakes and mountains with streams.
See? He is more than “that gay guy, the skinny one.” He has family, relationships, feelings, and skills. He is a unique individual who is more than a summary of his sins. Yes, he sins and he needs Christ. Someone needs to tell him about salvation and a relationship with our Creator. I’m not trying to detract from the need for the Gospel message. Even so, I think we do our Creator a disservice by summarizing His people so brusquely.
I just hope no one out there does to me what I do to others, summarizing them as simply the sum total of their mistakes. If so, that means someone is praying for Jeremy the Jerk.