Though this is definitely outside of what I normally write, I’ve decided to publish a novella entitled “The Church.” From Nov. 30 to Dec. 15, I will be publishing the work of fiction in 15 parts. Each day, I will publish a part of the story of Christian and his quest to plant the largest progressive church in the world. I will publish the entire work at the end. Today, I’m publishing part 3 entitled “The Start” Enjoy!
For over two weeks, I fasted and prayed. Jailhouse religion did a number on me. I kept rejecting the idea that I could plant a church with all those crazy ass people I met on the inside. I wrestled back and forth over and over. I looked at the list and then I put it down. While I knew God was calling me to plant a church, I was having trouble calling all the guys I met in jail. Then, it happened. The story of Jonah hit me like an oversized sack of potatoes. After sleeping with everyone he could get his hands on in Ninevah, Jonah ran away. God commanded him to go back and minister to the community. Just like me, Jonah didn’t want to go back. When he finally did, the Ninevites were restored. Truth be known, I slept with too many men while I was in prison. I’d even enjoyed sex with three at one time in the shower one morning. I ain’t proud of it…but that’s what I did. Though I felt like I’d already done more than my fair share of straining, I decided to heed the call of my fellow gay brother the Apostle Paul and “strain forward to what lies ahead.”
The phone rang three times before he answered. “Tony?” “Yeah! Who’s this?” “This is Christian from jail.” “Oh shit! I didn’t think you’d actually call.” “I’m calling to invite you to the first service of the new church God has called me to plant.” “Will you and I get some alone time?” “Let’s just keep it about the church Tony. The service will be at my home in two weeks. I know God is moving.” “I do too. I can really feel it. I’m erect as hell.” “Ok Tony, see you at church.” Obviously, the first call went a little sideways on me. I told myself that it couldn’t happen again. I needed better boundaries. So, I decided to attend boundary training that one of the denominations was offering.
Before my class, I’d never considered that dinosaurs might still roam the earth. Professor Price shuffled across the floor, put both hands on the lectern and prepared to teach us about boundaries. When she told us that hugging before marriage was a sin, I about fell out of my chair. I couldn’t let the moment past. “Have you ever hugged anyone before Professor Price?” Immediately, she locked eyes with me and stared straight into my soul. “One of the boundaries that I keep is that I don’t reveal details of my private life.” Breaking the lock that her eyes had on me, I managed to respond, “Maybe if you gave some examples from your private life then all of this bullshit that you are teaching us would be a little more believable.” The room froze. Nobody moved or dared say a word. Death seemed to be approaching quickly. Though frightened, I kept pushing. I refused to avert my stare. After less than a minute, Professor Price lost it and screamed, “Get out! Get out!! Get out right now!!!” I refused to move. I think everyone gained strength. Together, we started to teach the class on our own. Professor Price stormed out of the room and we finally had a round of boundary training that was relevant to our work. Now I’m not saying I won’t slip up again, but I’ll be damned before I live like Professor Price and all the other dinosaurs want. I was ready for them all to go extinct. In those moments, the freedom of Christ took on new meaning.
Thinking that a public place would be safer for to work, I met up with Roy at a coffee shop in BoysTown. We had sex in prison too. Before I go any further, I must admit that I had more sex in prison than I’d ever had before. When I looked at the list of the guys that I was supposed to start my church with, I’d had sex with a majority of them. Roy was a large guy with a sweet smile. I was really looking forward to reconnecting. When we saw each other, Roy ran up and kissed me right on the lips. Back in Jefferson, a public kiss on the lips between two men would’ve gotten someone killed. Relaxing, I reminded myself that Jackson was different. For over two hours, Roy and I enjoyed majestic conversation. In addition to committing to the church, Roy wanted to serve in leadership. I praised God. I knew we were ready to lead the church together. Before we got up to leave, Roy asked me to put my hand on his thigh to pray for a blood clot he had. Though I thought I felt an erect penis, I continued to pray, “Oh God we need you to sock that clot!” Without provocation, Roy assured me it was just his keys. Regardless of what it was, I left invigorated. I hit it hard for the last week.
Though I kept having all kinds of weird encounters, the church was taking shape. With about eighty people committed, we were ready for an awesome first service. I wanted to meet with one last person before the night arrived. Charlie knew everyone. We met at a bar when I first moved to town and immediately hit it off. In the course of conversation, Charlie made the drunken promise that he would bring over a hundred people to our first service. Though unsure of whether he could follow through or not, I decided to call him up. Charlie and I met at the same bar that we met at in the first place. I gave him all the details about our first church service. Looking about as serious as anyone I’d ever met, Charlie assured me that he never made a promise that he didn’t keep. I began to weep uncontrollably and assured him that I would never forget his help. The hand came out of nowhere. Charlie slapped me clean across the face and scolded me, “Pull it together! We’ve got a church to plant.” Recollected, I knew it was time.