He grew up on a native reserve, where the cruel history of the church was ever-present. For Allan, the church building was not a safe space…the priests were not safe people.
He never talks about his past with the church unless he is drunk. When he drinks, the kind and gentle man I know him to be disappears, and he becomes enraged. He will walk into any church nearby and scream about the harm the priests caused his family. His screaming turns into sobbing as he kneels at the altar.
I can’t blame him for hating the church. In fact, I wouldn’t blame him for hating God either.
I wouldn’t blame Allan for abandoning his faith altogether.
Recently, I was doing outreach when I saw Allan drinking with some buddies downtown. I stopped to talk with him. He said things weren’t going well for him….and then he asked for prayer. Facing each other, holding hands, I began to pray out loud. When I finished praying, Allan surprised me by lifting both our hands up in the air. Then he started praying in his Native language. Tears were streaming down his face. I’m not sure what Allan was praying for. But I could see clearly that his faith was not lost.
This past Easter Sunday, I was sitting in church when the priest said “The world had done its worst to stop Jesus. But He could not be stopped.”
The world has done its worst to crush Allan’s faith, but it could not be crushed.