August 1998
Newsletter

on this page...

The story of how
PFlag came to
Buenos Aires.....

.....an illustration of
the need for
international
networking,  
documentation
centers,
coalition building
and sharing
resources
s

              OTHER SHEEP NEWSLETTER AUGUST 1998

    "First came John the Baptist, then Jesus-, proclaiming the very same message: 'Hey, don't
    run off. Come, link up with us, because God's new just order finally has begun to dawn," (Mat
    3:1; 4:17)!

    "A simple campesino, overly enthusiastic, perhaps, not taking care, shockingly 'promiscuous',
    you might even say, set out to sow his seed...but some managed to land on good soil." (Mat
    13:3,8)
 
Buenos Aires, ARGENTINA, August, 1998

Dear friends,    

The need for PFlag in South America (1986)

    Among the most impressive results of the Spirit's networking recently, is our new Pflag group
    in Buenos Aires (for Parents and Friends of Lesbians And Gays) . Shortly after arriving here
    in January 1986 and beginning to work with sexual minorities, I became aware of the
    desperate need for such groups throughout Latin America. One father tried to strangle his
    daughter on learning she was lesbian. Almost no one was out to their parents, and both
    sexual minorities and their parents often were involved in family violence and suicide. I had
    copies of the wonderful literature from the USA

Finding PFlag Literature in Spanish in New York (1990)

    Pflag in English (as well as related European groups), and several volunteers made efforts to
    translate them, but never finished. I think it must have been around 1990, after several years
    of frustration and desperation, passing through New York I visited the Different Light book
    store, and down on my hands and knees pawing through a handful of dusty titles in Spanish, I
    literally shouted with joy and amazement to discover all the standard Pflag literature already
    translated in Spanish--apparently for use with hispanics in the USA, since none of the groups
    in Latin America seemed to know about them. Triumphantly I took them back to Buenos Aires
    and began to distribute copies, expecting Pflag chapters to spring up overnight. Many took
    copies for parents and friends in crisis, but somehow a Pflag group never materialized.

John and Pepe distribute PFlag liturature throughout South America (1994)

    In 1994 John Doner and Pepe Hernández made their historic trip, "Mission Jesus-Style,"
    visiting virtually every country in Latin America by bus, and depositing with interested groups
    and individuals the literature we considered most urgent (on the Bible, theology, human rights
    and AIDS), including of course all the Pflag pamphlets in Spanish. Again, I expected Pflag
    groups to sprout up overnight all over Latin America. But although lesbigay groups and
    parents eagerly received the folders and expressed enormous gratitude for the wisdom they
    offered, Latin America seemed mysteriously resistant to the establishment of any group that
    might strengthen the ministry in this areas, reach out to more parents and begin to affect
    public policy.

Irmgard Fischer initiates a PFlag ministry (1996)

    Then in 1996 Irmgard Fischer, an Argentine Lutheran of German descent retired from her
    post with Bayer and had time for ministry. A widow with a gay son living in Germany, Irmgard
    began to sense a deep sense of call from God to work with other parents in her situation. With
    German thoroughness she began to contact parents, appear in the media, attend all kinds of
    lesbigay meetings throughout the country, and distribute Pflag literature as widely as possible.
    Often other family members were indignant and distressed and sought to make her swear
    never to embarrass them again with magazine articles and TV interviews, but Irmgard
    persevered. Ariel (of our Other Sheep scientific board) and I often tried to encourage her and
    shared other related literature.

    When Irmgard and I led workshops at the Argentine annual lesbigay meeting, held in
    Cordoba, I was overjoyed to hear that at last she had a solid group of 10 parents meeting
    regularly and determined to work with her to develop this ministry.

The story of PFlag in Buenos Aires illustrates the need for international networking,  
documentation centers, coalition building and sharing resources

    After 10 years of networking with many sister organizations, we realize that in Latin America
    the "shame" factor with sexual minorities and their parents is much stronger even than in the
    USA and northern Europe. In every country we need to pray that God will thrust forth more
    Irmgards into the harvest, since literature distribution by itself evidently is not sufficient. I
    believe the story of Pflag in Buenos Aires well illustrates the importance of Other Sheep's
    efforts to encourage international networking, documentation centers, coalition building and
    sharing of resources. Years ago someone in Pflag had a vision for multicultural ministry and
    getting the literature into Spanish, and the investment was made in good translations. Lacking
    was a link with an international organization to assure effective distribution in all of Latin
    America and Spain.

Other Sheep is an organization dependent on volunteers

    If you live in an area where the work of Pflag is taken for granted, I wonder if you can imagine
    what it's like to be lesbigay or a parent in Latin America, Africa or Asia, where usually even in
    the large cities no one has even heard of such an organization or such revolutionary
    perspectives ("Be proud of your gay child--not ashamed"!). Other Sheep, the only worldwide
    ecumenical lesbigay ministry, is seeking to make sure that resources that can save countless
    lives and do not just collect dust somewhere in our centers of privilege. From contributions
    received, no salaries are paid and no overhead deducted. A friendly law office in St. Louis
    handles much of the administrative work without charge and we count entirely on volunteers
    like Irmgard, Ariel, John and Pepe and myself to get the work done.

It is not possible, in Latin America, to be a "doubting Thomas" where the need is great
and   
as we give, we receive all the more

    Local needs (I am reminded after spending two months in the USA) often overwhelm us. But
    as during my 25 years service with an evangelical mission board, I am more convinced than
    ever that as we share and interact with those in even needier circumstances, we always
    receive more than we give. Perspectives on the Bible and the Christian faith that I have
    learned from Latin Americans do not permit me to be a "doubting Thomas" on that question,
    and I often notice how friends in the USA become energized for their local work as they
    network with God's project for humanity

In the God of Hope, Tom Hanks


    "All by itself the soil produces grain - first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the
    head" (Mark 4:28).
This website was reconstructed in June of 2007
Visits made to this web page since June 2007
"I have other sheep that are not of this
fold.  I must bring them in also."  
John 10:16
Counter
 
Other Sheep Newsletter August 1998
"I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.  I must bring them also."  
John 10:16 NRSV
Other Sheep Websites