No, these aren't my words (Mrs. Jailer may now breathe a sigh of relief). They were the words of one of my dearest friends, as I read them scrawled at the end of his letter. Intended for dramatic effect, they achieved their aim. I had to catch my breath.
Lou had been my roommate in the Philippines. At 22 I was a couple years older than he at the time, and both of us were on our first assignments in the Air Force. Lou and I hit it off from the first, and he was soon accompanying me to Bible study. Everyone seemed to love him, and none more than I did. His faith seemed genuine, if somewhat tenuous, as something about his life seemed strained.
Lou and I went everywhere together, often with a third companion ... the woman who would be the future Mrs. Jailer. The three of us had great adventures together, until the day Lou discovered his two friends had fallen in love with one another. Lou took this news badly, pushing away angrily from both of us. He moved out, avoided us, and went on a campaign to undermine our romance among our mutual friends.
At this point, I made an unusual decision for me. I decided to care. Rather than just ignore Lou and "shake the dust off my feet", I consciously chose to feel the pain of his rejection. It surprised me how deeply I felt the wound, and yet I refused to turn away. God had been speaking to me about trusting Him enough to hurt, and so I would hurt rather than be calloused.
None of this brought Lou back. He skipped the wedding. After he left the Philippines, he left the Air Force, and a couple of years later I received a surprise letter from him. It described his recent love interest in glowing fashion, and then closed with the bombshell. "His name is Ken. He is a man. And I am gay."
It was clearly targeted to test or shock me, and his postscript expressed his doubts that I would ever want to speak to him again, since he knew that Christians hated gays. I wrote back to Lou, telling him that nothing in his previous letter reduced my affection for him. I expressed that though I believed his romantic choices were sinful, I yet loved him and was unashamed to call him my friend. I explained that faith in Christ isn't license to hate, but in fact helps me to love him even more, as I am also a sinner, saved by grace.
This seemed to surprise him, and his next letter was less confrontational--even friendly. Still, he no longer seemed interested in our friendship, and I heard little more from him. In fact, I eventually lost contact with Lou, and to this day I wonder what became of him. I pray that he might yet repent and find peace and healing for his tormented soul in Christ.