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Fear Not

from Rev. LeDayne McLeese Polaski, BPFNA

On May 18, 2016, a NC Clergy Unite Against HB 2 press conference was held in Charlotte. Three of the five speakers were Baptist pastors related to BPFNA~Bautistas por la Paz. One of those was LeDayne McLeese Polaski who is our Executive Director.

Do not be afraid. Fear not. Peace be with you. So say the scriptures over and again. The message is clear – we can decide to be fearful or we can decide to be faithful.

Let me tell you a story about being faithful – a story about 2 fifth graders – faithful, courageous and kind.

The very week that North Carolina passed HB2, my young friend Aidan decided to be fully himself for the very first time, transitioning socially at church and at school.

With a new haircut and new clothes, he pulled up to school knowing this would be the day that his teacher would announce that Amanda and Amanda’s family had decided that he would go by Aidan now, because that’s just what seemed to fit him better.

He knew it was right. He knew it was true. His family and his church were behind him – and yet, he was scared. Imagine your fifth grade self walking into your fifth grade classroom.

He hung on the door of the minivan and didn’t want to get out, so he and his mom said together the Bible verse he had picked out for his transition (Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid, because God will be with you wherever you go”) – a verse he’d learned at Vacation Bible School at his Baptist church the summer before --  and he got his courage up. “Pray for me,” he asked. “As always,” she said.

Before the teacher made the announcement, while kids were still unpacking, a kid from another class, whose mom had already told him what was going on with Aidan, asked his teacher if he could leave to give something to him. After checking the package, the teacher gave permission and he went to Aidan’s classroom. There the guidance counselor met him in the hallway, listened to his request, and called Aidan out in the hall. The kid handed Aidan the package – 2 wrapped cookies -- and said, “I knew today might be tough for you, so I wanted you to have these.”

I wonder – are we as smart as those fifth graders? Here’s what they are saying to us – When you are afraid, say your prayers, find your faith, and do the thing that scares you. When people are struggling – whether a classmate being himself for the first time or a single parent trying to support a family on a minimum wage job – they need our support, our care, our love – and occasionally our cookies.

And to all those who instead choose to use people like Aidan to stoke fear, I say, “We can decide to be fearful or we can decide to be faithful.

Or as he himself would say “Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid, because God will be with you wherever you go”

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