If This Happens in Your Ministry: Focus on
being there for the family, advise the experts. Your ministry
should serve as a source of comfort and acceptance; the family
doesn't need a series of lectures on right and wrong. Most of all,
don't say or do things to create division between the children and
"Comfort them; cry with them," says Bryan. "Encourage them to
love their father and pray for him and be there for their mother
during this time. Minister to their mother and strive to expose her
to excellent resources."
Resources include lovewonout.com, 101
Frequently Asked Questions About Homosexuality by Mike Haley;
and When Homosexuality Hits Home: What to Do When a Loved One
Says They're Gay by Joe Dallas.
The Child Navigating Sexual Orientation
Terry, 12, has always hung back from boy's activities and typical
"boy" behavior, but this year when school started, you notice that
he seems particularly withdrawn from the other kids. You see Terry
once per week, and he's a regular fixture in your ministry class.
The other kids used to tease him, but now it seems that rather than
picking on him they avoid him almost totally. What do you do?
Advice for the Teacher: It's time for a frank,
private discussion -- but bring your leader and the child's parents
into it. Start with the child's immediate and most important needs,
say the experts.
"Ask Terry if he feels unsafe in the classroom or church because
of the way other kids are reacting to him," advises Sharon Lamb,
psychologist and co-author of Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our
Daughters From Marketers' Schemes. "If he feels unsafe, ask
what you could do to help him feel safer. Ask how he copes with the
teasing and tell him you want him to come to you if he feels other
kids are making fun of him or treating him badly. In the classroom
pair up kids in listening pairs to work on important issues, such
as What's My Vision of God or What's Jesus' View on Bullying? Pair
this boy with the most sympathetic, open girl in your class. Once
one child treats Terry as okay, the others will treat him
If This Happens in Your Ministry: Pray about
who to approach and when, says Bryan. Then, "approach key peer
leaders and encourage them to make Terry feel welcome by including
him in their circles."
Also, says Bryan, you must "approach Terry's parents, first
casually, then depending on the relationship, ask key questions as
to what his interests are, how he's doing at school, and so on. If
the parents open up or are obviously concerned, direct them to
local counseling resources." One resource that helps parents focus
on loving their child is Always My Child by Kevin Jennings
and Pat Shapiro.
Above all, offer hope to the parents and acceptance to Terry.
Remind them that God's love never fails, and he has answers to all
our life's issues. Commit to walking beside this family as a
support and prayer partner, and let them know you will be with them
throughout the journey ahead.