A letter from Guido
Sometimes you come across a story so holy that your only concern is not messing it up. This is one. Guido is a friend of a friend, Donnie Miller. Donnie writes at One Church Planter’s Journey, where this note from Guido was published. If you want a little background, follow Donnie’s “Love Wins” tag here.
As I get older I realize that a lot of my views on life seem to change. One of them is the subject of religion. I grew up thinking that religion was all about control of the people and if you didn’t fit the mold you were thrown to the other side of the line. Either you’re a good person or a bad person. Most of my experiences with churches have been bad ones.
I believed you don’t bother me and I won’t bother you. They criticize you if you don’t follow their rules even if you didn’t know the rules. From what I know of Jesus I thought he talked to all people and did not judge them but explained what they should be doing and let them figure out what they needed to change.
My opinion has changed over time but more in the past couple years. A big influence in my thought change has come about because of a couple, who years ago I would have judged as those church people and avoided like the plague. It all started one day when my door staff guy at work called me and said some church ladies were there I thought “Oh NO here we go again”. (Several years before some church ladies had been in our parking lot picketing and handing out negative brochures.) He said they were leaving some gifts for the girls. I think he asked them if they had paint bombs in them because he was also leery. After talking to the employees and the staff I found it odd they would bring stuff to dancers and thought what’s their angle? So this happened again the ladies came to the door dropped off gifts, smiled then left. I thought that’s nice so I had my bartender put together a basket of nice things for the ladies and drop it off. I later thought to myself “wow I’m interacting with church people”.
As time went on our opinion of religious people changed. We discussed a volunteer project at Our Fathers House in Paola. When we showed up I think Donnie and Erin were shocked not only that we showed up but in good numbers also.
Now I’m a big burly guy who is not intimidated easily but I will tell you this was a situation that I’m not accustomed to. I thought wonder what all these other church people think of working beside strippers and people of our sort? Well the answer to that is everything went fine. I actually talked to Donnie for a long time and it was a comfortable conversation and one of the best I’ve had in a long time I really enjoyed our discussions. And I think it opened each other’s eyes a little I know it did mine. I like that Donnie and his group do things more like how I thought JESUS did things. We have done another day at Our Fathers House and hope we can do another one soon.
I have read the church blog and find it interesting that they were as leery of us as we were of them. The staff and the dancers have responded to the ladies in a great manor and we all were happy to find someone to take our Christmas family donations because in the past we have been denied by other religious organizations’ because of what we do for a living. Also we felt the love enough the girls felt they should return the love with baby gifts for Donnie and Erin.
I think this program has even worked on me. One day Erin and the ladies came in and when they left a new girl came up and said “why were they here they’re just here to condemn us for what we do”. I told her that’s not true I told her not to be so judgmental now she’s judging them like she thinks all churches do us. That they are the nicest people you will ever meet. Since then I have had two people ask me what I know about religion and that they were never taught anything about god. So I told both they could call and these people would be glad to help with their questions without judging. Not in a million years would I have thought I would be sending friends to church people to learn about GOD.
So my opinion has changed a lot over the past couple years due to some very different people. So I guess the Love Wins works and I hope more churches learn from your great example. Thanks for giving us a chance to see another side of religion. Keep up the great work
Amen to that, Guido. Amen to that.