A Place of Refuge or Safety

November 8th, 2013 by Student Blogger
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By Sakhile Vanqa

Jesus leading us in hyme on the guitar

Jesus Ortega leading us in a hymn on the guitar

Have you ever walked into a space and had a little voice in your head tell you that you should leave? It was close to a year ago when I became a part of Sanctuary, an on-campus Christian group, and heard that little voice.

Initially it was a struggle because my faith and spirituality were very unstable, and I felt like the work it would take to bring myself even remotely close to the level everyone else seemed to be at would be far too taxing. I stayed though, silencing that wee voice, much to my discomfort.

I knew I needed to build my belief system again, and so did my very persistent mother who dropped the question of whether I had found a church to attend in every Skype call we had.

Jen Sullivan and Jesus Ortega, the leaders of Sanctuary, are extremely welcoming and deal with everyone on level ground, and it was refreshing. What I mean is that I haven’t been able to completely feel like I could interact with people that hold the position they do because they weren’t within my age group. In no time I was a part of the group and tried to make it to every meeting.

The leaders and other members share the same desire to build community with actions coming from a place of respect and love for others. Though Sanctuary is marked as a Christian group, it is non-denominational, meaning that we don’t follow specific teachings practiced in the Catholic, Anglican, or Seventh Day Adventist churches, to name a few. Instead, we search for how to be better people through Christ through readings and discussions. Should you be curious to learn about what the Christian faith is all about, and are affiliated with another faith then there is also a place for you. They welcome everyone; it’s no big deal!

Earlier this year when members of the LGBT community were being attacked in the news for their lifestyle, and the Bible was being used as a tool in those attacks, Queers Alliance (QA), CCAD’s group for the LGBT community, and Sanctuary came together to talk about how they felt.

QA members talked about their feelings toward Christianity, based on what they had ascertained through the current events, and Sanctuary expressed what they felt. It was a long night of sharing, and it was thoroughly fulfilling for everyone. This was really big for me too because, having been brought up in a devout Christian home, I had the impression that being a member of the LGBT community would surely buy you a one-way ticket downstairs. Sanctuary made me realize that that wasn’t the case. I was a member of the community, which  meant that I could still establish a relationship with God despite what was projected through mainstream media.

I feel like the desire to be better people resonates in the way Sanctuary treats others and, man, I got to tell you, it’s a pretty warm place to be.

Sakhile Vanqa is a junior majoring in Cinematic Arts who enjoys humor, cycling, and aspires to shoot for National Geographic.

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