My internship with The Marin Foundation last summer was an unforgettable experience, one that stretched and challenged and improved me. I spent time with precious people, I engaged big questions about faith and sexuality more intensely than I’d had the opportunity to do before, and—most significantly—I had the absolute privilege of doing the kind of work that makes you feel alive because it so richly connects with who you are and what you care about and want to accomplish. When I think about last summer, I think about tables full of diverse groups talking about marriage equality and identity development and Chick-Fil-A; I think about hours and hours of phone interviews with sweet parents who poured out their hearts to a complete stranger for the sake of research; and I think about hugs, tears, and words of love flowing freely at Chicago Pride.
It should come as no surprise, then, that I jumped at the opportunity to work with The Marin Foundation again, and I’m happy to report I’ll be returning to Chicago this summer to do just that. This summer will be different from the last in a few significant ways. First, I’ll have a new role with the organization. Whereas I spent most of last summer working on the Parent Resource Initiative, my focus this year will be on teaching and community engagement. TMF provides a few different formal classes throughout the year for different demographics in the Chicago area, and I’ll be helping to facilitate one of those ongoing classes over the summer. I’ll also be more directly involved with TMF’s “Living in the Tension” gatherings, which were one of the most affecting parts of my experience last summer. Finally, I’ll do more writing for some of TMF’s online publications, and I’ll be doing some volunteer work with the Center on Halsted, one of the country’s preeminent LGBTQ community centers.
Second, because of my existing experience with TMF, I plan to use this summer to discern whether I might pursue long-term work with the organization in the future or how I might emulate what they’re doing elsewhere. As I said above, my work last summer confirmed for me that my interest for engaging the church and the LGBT community is more than merely a hobby or some passing fancy for me, and with graduation looming in the next couple years, I want to explore whether I could give a season of my life to engaging TMF-esque work directly. This is a really, really exciting development in my life, to say the least, so I’m thrilled to have another summer to try on different roles and discern what my place is in the broader conversation.
One piece that hasn’t changed from last summer is my need for support in a few forms. I had about fifteen people who committed to pray regularly for me last year, which was profoundly encouraging and beneficial. That some of my pray-ers were people I only knew through the blog was particularly remarkable to me, and I so appreciated the willingness of friends and strangers alike to pray for my summer. If you’re the praying type, would you consider committing to pray for me and letting me know you’re doing so? When I reflected over the work of bridge-building at the end of last summer, I commented, “Demonstrating [the love Jesus calls us to] for the sake of building bridges in our present cultural climate is much harder than I would have expected.” It’s exhilarating and stirring, of course, but it can also be frustrating and demoralizing. I need people to pray that God will empower me and the other staff to demonstrate the love of Jesus in all of our actions, that I’ll be able to serve effectively in my role (or that God will use my lack of effectiveness), and that God will continue to clarify my vision for my future vocation.
I also had no trouble reaching my financial goal for last summer, which just left me speechless and so humbled and grateful. The bad news is that my situation is essentially the same as last summer: TMF is still a non-profit, and I’m still a grad student, so I’ll need help to cover my travel and living expenses. The good news, though, is that I’ve got a potential head start in the form of airline benefits, so I’m hoping that will cover a portion of the cost. Nevertheless, various costs will remain (rent, food, public transportation, etc.), so I am in need of people who can help support me financially. I’ve said it a dozen times and will say it a dozen more: God is faithful, and God’s people are generous. If you feel inclined to give, please do so; but if you feel hesitant, then rest assured God will empower the people who need to give to do so with joy and confidence. When I said, “Every dollar counts” last year, I was mostly trying to be winsome and persuasive; but I learned that every dollar really did matter when it came down to it. If you’re one of the people positioned to give financially, the process is the same last year, and your donations are tax-deductible: Click here to go to TMF’s donation page, select the option for a one-time donation, and make sure to mark the donation as “on behalf of” Brent Bailey. That will insure the donation makes it to my fund.
Let me be honest: I typically have trouble asking people for help, but I find myself strangely comfortable asking you to partner with me. I think it’s because I so value the work of TMF, having seen the positive effects of their efforts, and I sense such a strong purpose and clarity in my role with the work they do. I still haven’t really gotten past the overwhelming gratitude I felt last summer about the entire experience, so the thought of returning feels like too much to ask; but this has always been about something much bigger than me, and I’m eager to do my part. If you’re curious at all about my experience last summer or my expectations for the coming summer, please contact me—I genuinely enjoy talking about it and want to spread the word. Also, if you haven’t had a chance to read the posts I wrote last summer, check out the index by clicking here.
Thank you for reading, for walking with me, and for helping me understand what it means to love God and love people.