by gregwoodruff on April 3, 2012
I’m not a rainbow flag waver, by any stretch, but I want to be brave and willing to tell my story in a very REAL way, in tribute to a Hero that I found fearless and real so here goes….
I had a very difficult time with my family at a time in my life. We always loved each other so deeply, and when they found out that I’m gay and imperfect, they became very afraid that I wouldn’t have a typical family and that I wouldn’t go to heaven and many other things as you can imagine….and NONE of us reacted well!
The church did NOTHING to help the situation, in fact just drove a wedge of condemnation between us….and as we all know from Dave “Condemnation cuts off the Conversation” I had people approaching me in the local Walmart to let me know that I was on a one way road to HELL. This just made me angry and afraid of Christians and God and I ran in the opposite direction.
God always had his hand on my life and would have the final say….My friend Stacey Jo went to BCC on a Sunday to watch a baby blessing. She was never a church goer, but this particular Sunday moved her in a BIG way. She came back RAVING and insisted that myself and the rest of our roommates go to the church.
So the next Sunday, with great skepticism and fear that someone would see the scarlet letter on my forehead and throw me out the doors, we walked through the doors of that beautiful church on a hill that was NOTHING like a church in the sense I had known it.
The message was posted on signs as you entered the very playful hallways with pictures of crazy looking people….Ways Weird Families Work….Weird…I was intrigued.
Then, being a musician, the music started to play and I had definitely never experienced this kind of music in church. People clapping and celebrating and loving the Lord. Then Cheryl Long, this woman with soul pulsing through her veins launches into an anthem that is very well known by the gay community…”We are Family” The hair on my arms stood on end and I looked around and felt GOD love me, not inspite, but because! For the first time in a long time…I knew I was where I was supposed to be.
The message played out to me like it did for years after…always appropriate, always poignant, always feeling like it was perfectly tailored for me.
I continued to go to church every week I could.
I remember the Sunday when he was thrown out of the beautiful church he was so inspirational to build…now himself an outcast. He continued to hold his head high and share God’s message…”He’s persuing US! Imperfect US! Yea God!” I followed him to the hotel in Metro Center then to the movie theater in Cool Springs. He continued to fire me up to be one of the RENEGADES for GOD!
I can’t forget the best part….Dave got me to say “Why Not?” He created a crack in the back of my hardened heart and JESUS stepped inside in a Big way! I was no longer afraid to hold my head high in ANY church no matter how judgemental they maybe. They may call me a sinner, but I knew who I was, A RENEGADE 4 GOD. Spreading the message to the poor in spirit, the broken people, the ones who TRULY needed God in a real Way.
I finally got brave enough to go to church with my family one Sunday and my mom and dad invited me to go up to the alter and have prayer with them, something I would not have done in a million years pre-Dave Foster. I would not put myself in that position to be judged, cornered, pointed out. The pastor’s wife prayed over our family and we all circled up and felt the TRUE meaning of love and redemption and forgiveness. We were flooded with God’s love in a very visceral way that none of us there could explain….My Dad squared me off and apologized to me for turning me away…APOLOGIZED to ME…My mom and I embraced in sweet redemption and forgiveness. All the pain was washed away…I hugged my brothers and sister and knew even though one of my siblings was not there at the time I was reunited with my family and would never have to feel abandoned again!!! That was the day we learned the TRUE meaning of Unconditional Love.
Now, I still struggle at times. Just knowing Dave was down the road fighting for the outcasts was a strength for me….Now I guess it’s time to grow up. I feel very helpless to have lost him, but the only strength I have is that my mind and heart are changed. I am a R4G! I will spread the Gospel of Relentless Audacious Love! I will let the poor in spirit and the broken-hearted know that they have a place where they can feel safe and not judged, and I can HEAR Dave in heaven yelling “Yea God!” over the sound of his heavenly Harley!