When Pride parade participants reached the end of their march at Marikina Stadium in Manila, Philippines, they ran into a group of people whose message for LGBT+ marchers and allies usually isn’t welcome.
Many Christian groups show up to LGBT+ parades to demonstrate their rude, cruel and homophobic agendas. They shout and yell Scripture from the Bible to “prove” horrific ideas such as God hating LGBT+ people. They scream that they are going to hell. All in all, generally speaking, Christian groups who show up at these parades are an unwelcome presence.
This group surprised the participants in the parade in a decidedly different and very good way.
Carrying signs with slogans like, “Christians harmed the LGBT community”, “God loves you, so do we” and “Can we give you a hug?”, the Christian group that met the parade at its end brought messages of peace, tolerance and compassion. One person’s sign read: “I used to be a Bible-banging homophobe Sorry!!”
Parade participants, understandably, were wary at first. When they started to read the signs, though, they quickly warmed to the Christian group. “My heart felt really light upon seeing them,” said Jamilah Salvador, a first-time marcher in the Pride parade. On an Instagram post, she wrote, “Imagine living in a society with nothing but love and respect for each other.”
The gathering was organized by the Church of Freedom in Christ ministries, an evangelical and Pentecostal church based in Makati, Philippines.
Their pastor, Val Pamiani, has been organizing and participating in these kinds of events for the past 4 years. Pamiani believes that “God is not against anyone”, and his church “pray[s] that more and more Christians will act, speak, and love the LGBT people like Jesus would.”
— Jamilah Salvador (@JAMBIyutiful) June 30, 2018
If Salvador’s -and many other’s- reaction can be used as a gauge about how important the impact of this church is, then they have already fulfilled their mission many times over.