by Elijah Walker
When I was four years old, my grandmother taught me to play Baptist hymns on the piano. “Oh, How I Love Jesus!” was the song of my heart. It did not take much to convince me to love Jesus at that age. I heard about him three times a week in our missionary Baptist church, and all I knew of him was love. I knew that he encouraged children. I knew that he was of God, who was good. I knew that every song we sang on Sunday mornings referenced his gentle love and generosity.
All I knew of Jesus was love. But the traditional narrative for young, queer and trans folks who were raised in a conservative, evangelical church is not typically a story of love. Rather, it is often a story of fear and loneliness. I feel privileged to say that my spiritual story did not begin with heartache but with the love of Christ. I am grateful for the foundation of love that I learned from my grandparents and our church in rural Arkansas. Jesus lived there.
by Hye Sung
I was 16 when I stumbled into speaking in tongues. I was praying. Some words fell out of my mouth, and I wondered if this was The Gift. But I didn’t know what to do with it, and I wasn’t sure what was supposed to come next.
I tell people that’s how I found the Quakers. Let me explain.
I met with my pastor, who took an “open but cautious” stance on the charismatic gifts. My best Christian friends had mixed responses and no experience. Several of them disapproved of all charismatic phenomena. Nobody I was close to knew much outside of YouTube clips of hotline preachers. But I was desperate to nurture whatever God was doing in me, confident that she was.
I sought out people who were involved in a Filipino charismatic Catholic community. I sought out everyone. Any inkling that somebody was into tongues, and I found a way to talk to them.
A woman at my church heard from her son that I was talking about the Holy Spirit. She affirmed what God was doing in my life and gifted me with a box full of DVDs, CDs, and books from John Wimber, a founder of the neo-charismatic Vineyard denomination. I discovered in John’s words an integrated Evangelical spirituality that valued mysticism and biblical authority; tradition and new wineskins. The way John ministered was not typical of charismatics; it was grounded in deep listening. His theology celebrated God being present and alive but also embraced the eschatological tension of the “not yet.” He was different.
by Hulda Bithia Muaka
It has been six months since the Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) World Plenary conference in Peru with the theme “Living the Transformation.” I have experienced that transformation.
I have learned that transformation surprises us. It happens when we are still.
The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—all of which can be experienced during transformation.
To be transformed, one must go through a process of change.