American preacher Dr Michael Brown heard there was going to be a homosexual protest a week last Sunday outside the local church where he worships.
The leader of the protest wrote on Facebook: "We will meet just before the service begins, and protest as they gather, we will have a silent protest as service is going and let them have it as they leave for the day. Remember we will be peaceful and respectful, something they don't understand. We are going to STAND TOGETHER AS A COMMUNITY to show that our love is stronger then their hate."
In reponse, Brown wrote on his blog: "On behalf of FIRE Church, I want to extend to you the warmest welcome and let you know that we are thrilled that you are here with us on Sunday. We have been praying for you for a long time!
"As always, you will only meet with love, kindness, and respect from the FIRE leadership and congregants, and we proclaim to you once again the amazing grace of God. Jesus died to save us from our sins, heterosexual and homosexual alike, and only in Him can we find forgiveness, redemption, and transformation. Jesus alone is the Healer, Savior, Deliverer, and Transformer."
On his radio show, he encouraged them to come in good numbers so they could greet them.
Scott Volk, one of the church leaders, posted a note on the local homosexual website: "As the pastor of FIRE Church, I just want you to know that you'll be greeted with the same love and compassion as we always endeavor to show anyone. . .You make mention of the 'hate' that we show. Yet, in all our years here we've only desired to reach out with love to everyone in the local community here. . . Hopefully you'll see that love demonstrated on Sunday as you protest."
His note provoked some hostile responses, including one which said: "You can fool yourself, Mr Volk. You can fool your parishioners. But you can't fool God. He knows what's in your heart, and it isn't love. It's hate."
Volk responded by explaining the love of Jesus and inviting them to his home for dinner with him and his family. He explained that "to call someone hateful without ever meeting them, seeing them or hearing them speak, is an indication of a heart that needs love. I make myself available."
One replied: "I want to hear more about this Jesus," and another: "Even I would be welcome there? It would be an honor to meet Scott Volk and Dr Brown. I'm beginning to see light as very attractive."
On Sunday morning about 10 protesters showed up. Some of the church leaders met them, offered them water and snacks, shared God's love and truth with them and invited them to the service. After a few minutes they left, saying the church people were too nice and loving to deserve a protest.
The following day the leader of the protest telephoned Dr Brown's radio programme to apologise publicly for the protest, explaining that their anger was "aimed [in] the wrong direction." Then he said: "Once we got there Sunday morning we were greeted with absolutely perfect love. I mean, it was fantastic."
After the broadcast, Brown and the protest leader shared contact details, and are looking forward to sharing a meal together - and sharing their hearts.
Dr Brown suggests that the church leaders have not compromised their beliefs. The protesters, he said, have heard his radio broadcasts and read his writings, and recognise how strongly they differ on many issues.
Can it be that love is always the answer?