Category : Stories of Hope

  • You are here
  • Home
  • Archive by category "Stories of Hope"
  • (Page 3)

We had no direction. We were ashamed and I felt guilty. What did I do to cause this? What could I have done differently? How can I “fix” this?

A Mother’s Journey

Nora SeemanNora Seemann

My oldest daughter Beth lived the homosexual lifestyle for almost 24 years. Never once, during that time, did we hear “Mom, I’m gay.” Beth is the oldest of my four children from my first marriage and this is our story.

When my children were four to 11 years old, their Dad chose to walk out on us after his unfaithfulness and sexual abuse of our nine-year old daughter. Fourteen months later I was granted a divorce.

Times were difficult for us, but with Christ we stayed active in church. Unable to afford a sitter on my salary, Beth became the main caretaker of her three siblings while I worked. I was in such depression, I didn’t realize the problems I was presenting to my children because of this. Beth lost her childhood and her siblings resented her position over them. These years later, there are still some repercussions over this.

About eight and a half years after the divorce, I met a Christian man – someone who won the approval of each of the children.

Ten years after the divorce from my children’s father, Fred and I planned to be married.

In January of 1979, we went to a local mall to shop for our wedding rings. After we made the purchase, we turned to leave the store and froze in our tracks. Beth and a girl were walking together in the mall. They were hand-in-hand and kissing each other – on the lips. Needless to say, we were shocked. Fred took me home and waited with me until Beth came in. He confronted her about her behavior and her excuse was “My friend had bad news and I was comforting her.”

This girl was a girl from our church! We knew her Christian mother! Her sister was my assistant teacher in Sunday School! This behavior was not what we expected from either of these young ladies and I – I felt numb, ashamed, guilty, and grief-stricken. My children were raised in church and each had made a decision for Christ in their childhood. We were active in church, and I had seen nothing out of the ordinary in Beth’s life that would cause me to question her lifestyle.

Two days after this incident, Beth had her twenty-first birthday. The next day, Fred married me, in spite of it all. Being an only child raised by his father, Fred had no idea what the future held for him, for us, or for the children who were then 14 to 21.

Fred confronted Beth one morning a few months after we were married. At the time, Beth was working as a bartender and had brought an unknown girl home to spend the night. They were in bed together, asleep. Another confrontation. It wasn’t long before Beth moved out and shared a rental unit with yet another “friend.” That “friend” came with Beth when she’d visit us. She joined us on holidays and for birthday celebrations. They never behaved in any questionable way, in our presence. We were always dealing with unconfirmed suspicions regarding her life. It was extremely unsettling.

Shortly after this relationship ended, Beth (who had been in the Air Force Reserves while in High School) elected to join the active Air Force. Later Beth would tell me this was when she openly lived the homosexual lifestyle. Over the years, when Beth would visit home and go to church with us, she would respond to the invitation to give her heart and life to Christ. Then she would leave, and resume life as she had before.

When it was time for reenlistment, Beth did not reenlist. Instead, she had a baby. They were living in another state, and Beth had another partner.

When our granddaughter was about five years old, Beth sold her home there and moved back to Ohio. Other partners entered the picture.

When our granddaughter was 12 years old, she was diagnosed with leukemia and was hospitalized for a full month, where she experienced many painful treatments including chemo and radiation to her head and a stroke. It was then, January 2001, that Beth came to the realization that God could/might take her daughter unless she changed her way of living. This crisis brought Beth to God in repentance and she received His love and forgiveness.

In 2002, Beth told Fred, “2001 was the worst year of my life; yet, it was the best year of my life.” The worst – because of her daughter’s diagnosis and the endless pain she suffered. The best – because her life has been redeemed. Today, Beth is a living testimony of God’s grace.

She has had some serious temptations, but turned to God, and He has been faithful to her to provide that way of escape which is promised in God’s Word.

We are so grateful to God for answered prayer. Today, Beth is living a life for God and is celibate. Her pastor knows her story and she brings much joy to our lives.

Our granddaughter had her 25th birthday in August. She is considered healed but does suffer from Avascular Necrosis, as a result of the chemo, radiation and medications she was given while being treated for Leukemia. God is faithful.

During those almost 24 years, we had no one to talk too and didn’t want anyone to know about Beth and her lifestyle. We had no direction. We were ashamed and I felt guilty. What did I do to cause this? What could I have done differently? How can I “fix” this? Mothers, in particular I’ve learned, want to “fix” things. We had no support, no family nearby, but then again, who wants their family to know? We kept our secret to ourselves. It was very painful all those years.

We talk quite often with Beth regarding those almost 24 years. She said she always knew we loved her. She and Fred have a very good relationship. She has reminded me that I always ended our phone conversations with “I love you and so does Jesus.” At the time she resented it, but she knew it was true. A seed planted.

It was about six months after Beth left the lifestyle, that we learned of a support group in Columbus, Ohio and were invited to attend. We chose to visit Bridge of Hope and found the ministry also had a support group for spouses. There was none for parents and we wanted to learn, so we went to the spouses group. Fred was the only man in the group. We attended for a year. At the end of the year, we were asked to lead a Parent’s Support Group. We accepted and served in that position until June 2010, when we became co-Directors of Bridge of Hope.

In September 2006, we had the opportunity to develop another support group for relatives and friends at our church. We call it “Circle of Love.” Our logo is a crown of thorns with a single red drop to represent the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins, and His never ending love, mercy, and grace which is extended to the parent/family/friend and to their loved one.

The crucifixion and sacrifice of Jesus Christ was for all sin, including the sin of sexual immorality. God is faithful to complete the work He has begun in our loved ones’ lives, and we have the hope for change and a new life in Christ for those we love and pray for.

Circle of Love began as a ministry to relatives and friends. Through the leading of the Holy Spirit, we opened our group to men and women who deal with unwanted same-sex attraction. We have been amazed at what God is doing in this ministry. In our meetings there is no condemnation, or judgment. The love of God is shown in the compassion, concern and healthy friendships that have developed. Again, God is faithful. He never fails. We are blessed to have our Bridge of Hope leaders join us in ministry in this group.

Our granddaughter has been in remission since 2001 and is now 25 years old. She attends the Nazarene University in Mount Vernon, Ohio. She is a Christian and brings us a lot of joy. Over and over, God has shown us His faithfulness in so many answered prayers.

May we be His hands in this world and a reflection of His everlasting love.

“May the God of hope fill us with joy and peace as we trust in Him, so that we may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 NIV

Nora Seemann is the director of Bridge of Hope in Columbus OH.

I searched for love, acceptance, and my sexual identity in all the wrong places which led me into alcoholism, drugs, prostitution and many toxic promiscuous relationships with men; one right after the other.

I Found My Identity In Jesus

Elsie Odom

Elsie Odom

I was born the eldest of five children, four girls and one boy. I became the product of an extremely dysfunctional, co-dependent family of alcoholic parents who physically and emotionally abused me. Also, I was sexually molested many times over the period of my childhood by different relatives.

My mother was the dominating parent whom I grew to hate because of her verbal and physical abuse. I made many inward vows that I never wanted to be like her. My dad was the submissive one who was away at work during the week and drunk every weekend. Even though I now believe my parents did not mean to hurt me, I felt rejected and began to shut them out. I made up my mind early in life that I certainly did not want to grow up to be like my mother or my father and I feared men because of the molestation. I felt insecure, had a sense of shame and no value which led to isolation from my peers. Therefore, I did not have any friends. I see now how the things that happened to me affected my sense of who I was, both as a person and in terms of my gender identity and sexuality.

I longed for love and acceptance and began experiencing sexual desires toward my female friends as early as fourteen or fifteen years of age. Those perverted sexual desires manifested into experiences and by the age of eighteen, I had already been involved in two different homosexual relationships. After I was permitted to date at the age of sixteen, I dated many different guys, trying to find the right one who would change the direction of my affections. I was constantly tormented by the same-sex feelings. Somehow I knew the feelings I was having were wrong but did not know how to get free; therefore, I suffered much pain and shame while feeling like a freak.

I even dated my partner’s boyfriend trying to break them up. She found out and ended our relationship which was devastating. In order to survive my broken heart, I dated every guy I could. And in so doing, I met a guy on a blind date and he asked me to marry him. Marriage appeared to be the answer and a way out. I told my fiancé about my previous same-sex relationships and he promised he would be the one who made me forget about them. I believed this to be the answer to my troubled life. We married in 1961, and he became a good provider. When I discovered marriage was not the answer, I decided to visit a psychiatrist hoping he could help me find the answer. Of course, he could not. I then decided if I had a child this would bring fulfillment, so we soon had a beautiful daughter. After 8 years of marriage that was not filling the void in my heart, my husband and I divorced. I met a woman in the city and had same-sex feelings for her. I decided in order to go on with my life I needed to move into town. There, I could get lost in the crowds and pursue the attraction I was having and accept my sexual identity.

I searched for love, acceptance, and my sexual identity in all the wrong places which led me into alcoholism, drugs, prostitution and many toxic promiscuous relationships with men; one right after the other. My emotional pain became so great I decided to find another psychiatrist to find the answer to my desperation. Sure enough, what he told me was what I had heard before, “Whatever you do behind closed doors is your business”. His answer justified the horrible lifestyle I was living and gave me a temporary feeling that it was okay.

I found a job working at a straight bar as a barmaid where I met a woman and immediately started a friendship with her. This led to a love affair which seemed perfect and lasted for fourteen years. Even though I was living a life of lies and deception, I was the happiest I had ever been, or so I thought. We bought a home together and did everything together. We knew no other women or men who had same-sex attractions until my partner met a couple where she worked. We connected with them and began to have home parties and attend gay bars. The acceptance we received felt really good. Despite this, our lives continued downward into alcohol and drugs. We both became alcoholics.

I attended Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings and checked myself into two different psychiatric units. I was not serious about being free so this accomplished nothing except a time for temporary detoxification. Then early one morning before daylight as I was sobering up from being drunk the night before, Jesus visited me in a vision. I was still in bed and I saw Him standing in my bedroom doorway beckoning me to come to Him. He was so real standing there dressed in His pure white glistening robe. It was so vivid. I saw the same Jesus I had seen in pictures when I was a child attending Sunday school. I will never forget saying, “Help me, Jesus.”

Two years later after being told by my partner I either had to quit drinking or move out, I decided to get serious and start attending AA meetings once again. Through this time of recovery God was working in my heart. One night as I was returning home from AA in 1985 I looked up into the clear beautiful sky where there were millions of stars, and a peace came over me I had never experienced before. This was my Damascus road experience. I know now that was the night God totally delivered me from alcohol because I have not had a drink or even a desire for a drink since then. This was the beginning of turning back to God. You see I had been reading AA’s 24-hour prayer/mediation book for about a year. I know it was the Word of God that had been planted in my heart that set me free. Because the bible says in John 8:32, “if you continue in my Word, you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.”

Once free from alcohol and its numbing effects, I was able to sense the wooing of the Holy Spirit. He led my partner and me to watch Christian television. One night, while watching an evangelist, I accepted Jesus as my Savior and Lord. I found out later my partner also had gotten saved about the same time.

The Holy Spirit convicted us both of the lifestyle we were living. We began to search for a Christian counselor in the yellow pages of the telephone directory hoping once more to find the right answer to our hellish lifestyle. We found one, made an appointment, and were told once again, “What you do behind closed doors is your business.” The Holy Spirit within us did not agree with this counselor’s beliefs and He led us in search of another Christian counselor.

I developed a hunger for the Word of God and started going to church. I began to see in the Bible that homosexuality was a sin. I justified the lifestyle I was living by convincing myself that if God was a God of love then the love we had for each other had to be acceptable to God. My church attendance started to fall off because I was not being fed the Word of God which I desperately needed.

Then through an acquaintance my partner and I found a Spirit-filled church, Whole Life Ministries in Augusta, GA where the uncompromised Word of God is taught and where we both felt accepted and loved from the very first night that we walked into that church. By the power of the Holy Spirit and washing my mind with God’s Word, I entered the path to healing which was a long and difficult course to full restoration but extraordinarily fulfilling. Through the process of God’s precious grace, I was given the ability to give up cigarettes and be healed of low self-esteem, self hate, co-dependence and many emotional hurts that stemmed from a life of abuse.

I have been serving the Lord faithfully for almost twenty-two years now. God has given me such a desire for Him and His Word that I have served in almost every area of ministry within the church, including being an assistant to the Minister of Counseling and facilitating support groups. I earned a Doctorate of Ministry degree in 2003. God has opened doors for me to become an ordained Minister of the Gospel, a licensed Christian counselor, and a Chaplain.

God placed the desire within my heart over 15 years ago that I was to help other hurting women to become free through one-on-one Christian counseling and support group therapy. I began StraightForward Ministries in February 2008 specializing in ministering to those who have un-wanted same-sex attractions. Since I was not told the Truth when I was seeking Christian counseling, I know God placed it within my heart to be a counselor so that He may use me to impart the truth of the Word of God to those who are searching for it, as the Holy Spirit leads. Since He healed my hurting soul and set me free, by His grace He will do the same for all that truly want to be free and pay the price of obedience to His Word.

Elsie Odom is the director of StraightForward Ministry in Augusta Georgia.

Because of those years of my life I suffered from heavy porn addiction and became very confused about my sexual identity and believed I was bisexual during Middle and High School.

Steven Bjork

First, I was adopted at birth due to my biological father being a dangerous person. Since then I have met my biological Mom and brothers and sisters. I’ve been blest to know they are saved, and continue to have a great relationship with all of them.
At the age of eight, I came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ at a Royal Ranger camp.

When I was about the same age, my grandpa, who was the only grandparent I knew, passed away from old age. He had been one of the most important people in my life up until that time. To my young mind this was huge. I needed to find someone like him. I began to look for a man around his age that could be my Surrogate Grandpa.

I really wanted to have that kind of caring person as a part of my life. One night my mom and dad took me to a Blackwood Brother’s quartet concert. An older man attended with us. He seemed to have a lot of the same traits as my grandpa did. With that on my mind, I asked him to be a grandpa to me. He said yes, I was overjoyed at the time.

A few weeks later he began to sexually molest me. That lasted for 8 plus more years in my life. During those years, I kept it all a secret because of threats.

Because of those years of my life I suffered from heavy porn addiction and became very confused about my sexual identity and believed I was bisexual during Middle and High School.

It was through the healing power from God that I’m in a better place today spiritually and mentally. I learned of the power of forgiveness. Through forgiveness and counseling I received healing from bitterness, manipulation, and more.

For quite some time now I’ve felt a growing call to help others who have suffered through the pains that come from sexual abuse.
As the Executive Director for Beyond Imagination, I’m grateful to be walking people through forgiveness and healing as they are suffering from sexual addictions, unwanted homosexual desires, sexual hardships, or sexual abuse.

I have been blessed with an awesome wife, Sunny. In fact she was the first one to ever hear my story. She is my best friend. We were married July of 1997. God has also blessed us with three children. His healing and redemptive power are still being lived out in my life. I am not the man I used to be and I am not yet the man I want to be. I continue to grow and change. God has healed, redeemed, restored and transformed my life.

I love that this ministry comes from Ephesians 3:20, Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.

Steven Bjork is the Director of Beyond Imagination in Raliegh, North Carolina.

Beyond Surviving – Daniel Mingo’s Story

Daniel Mingo
Executive Director
Abba’s Delight

Daniel’s Story

I’ve been told my life mirrors the classic profile. I don’t know about that, but I do know that the power of God’s love and forgiveness has transformed my life in a way that I never thought was possible. I had hoped, but never thought it was possible.

I am the second-born son into what would become a family of seven children, six boys and one girl. I came along when my older brother was two. Ever since I can remember, going to church every Sunday was a part of my life. I grew up in a Christian denomination, which gave me a basic understanding of the faith.

Some of my early memories of family life are happy ones, but for the most part, I was miserable as a child. I always felt that my older brother was favored. He was the one who seemed to get most of my Dad’s attention. After all, they both liked sports, and were good at them. I never was, though I tried to be. I didn’t feel accepted, and I was made fun of for my lack of athletic abilities. If we were playing a game that required teams, I was picked last. It just wasn’t any fun being a boy; it was too hard.

I never had a strong emotional connection to my Dad when I was young. His job often took him out of town from Monday to Friday, and his weekends were filled with shopping with my Mom, errands, and sports on TV. That was a plus for my brother, but not for me. Mom didn’t drive, so she was around almost all the time. Most of my parental input came from her. She has been a woman of Godly character all of my life. I know now my parents loved me and did everything they knew to do to raise me properly. But it wasn’t always that way. I used to think the only reason they clothed and fed me was because they’d get arrested if they didn’t. I think that I was just such a challenge for them; they weren’t sure what do to with a son who wasn’t good at and didn’t like to do “boy things.”

The pain of feeling like I never fit in my family or measured up to earn Dad’s love and acceptance drove me to find those things wherever I could. At first, I began playing with girls in the neighborhood. They were my age and I seemed to fit in with them. I found, though, that the boys in the neighborhood were just as cruel then as they had been before. Even the parents got in on it. There was one set of parents who decided that it just wasn’t normal for me to be playing with girls, so they decided that instead of calling me by my given name Danny, they would call me Mary Jane. It is unimaginable to me now that a parent would inflict this kind of cruelty on a child, just for the sake of ridiculing him.

Sometime before the age of ten, I discovered playing “doctor” with the girls in the neighborhood. These were my first sexual experiences. No one knew, and it seemed I had found in a special and secret way the acceptance I was craving. We moved from that area of town when I was eleven into a newly-developing subdivision. Making new friends seemed easier there, but I was still insecure and often had feelings that I didn’t fit in.

To compensate for my lack of sports abilities, I had gotten involved in singing, acting and dance as a child. I was good at these things, and I enjoyed them. I took great satisfaction in an audience applauding me. Onstage, I could feel some sense of worth, acceptance and appreciation. One night when I was 13, on the way home from one of my lessons, I had one of those life-changing experiences. The bus I took only came out so far toward my house, so I would walk the rest of the way. One night I decided to hitchhike. A man I didn’t know picked me up and sexually molested me. He introduced me to masturbation. I was so scared; I froze for what must have been several minutes. When I finally came to myself and could speak, I asked him to stop and let me out of the car. He stopped the car, and as I was getting out, he said, “Now you be careful; you never know who’s going to pick you up.” I slammed his car door and ran the rest of the way home.

I didn’t tell my Mom what happened that night when I got home, out of breath. She asked if I was OK, saying that I looked white as a sheet. I told her I was fine, but I wasn’t. Not telling my parents what happened that night and keeping it a secret, was probably the biggest mistake of my life. I didn’t tell because I was too afraid of getting into trouble for hitchhiking. How was I to know that the devil would use the secrecy of that horrible experience to torment my mind and my life for many years to follow?

As one might expect, following that experience and keeping it a secret, my high school years were a mixed bag of emotional ups and downs. Still attracted to girls, I dated whenever I could and had several girl friends. But I found myself sexually attracted to boys and men, and sometimes acted out sexually with guys my age. I knew in my heart that was wrong, but I didn’t know what to do with those feelings and I certainly couldn’t tell anyone about them. About two-thirds of the way through my senior year, after I was dumped by my girl friend for my best friend, I went to hear a couple of kids I knew from school give a talk. They shared about how asking Jesus to live inside their hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit was changing their lives. They said their new relationship with Jesus as their personal Savior gave them a purpose for living. I jumped at the chance to have a better life, because I sure wasn’t enjoying the one I had up to that point. So on Friday night, February 27, 1970, I asked Jesus to come into my heart, save me, be the Lord of my life, and change me so that I would become who I was created to be.

My life changed immediately for the better. There was like a honeymoon time, when everything seemed to go perfectly in every area of my life. I thought sexual thoughts were gone for good, but they soon came back. In fact, it seemed like it was worse than before. How could that be? Jesus was living inside me; how could I be thinking all of these awful things, and how could I be getting tempted to do sexual things that were abhorrent to me?

As a young adult, I was leading a double life. I had my circle of Christian friends and those I went to church with, but also I was progressively getting involved in more varied sexual activities with myself and with guys I didn’t even know. I tried to get help, but no one, not even my pastors, seemed to know what to do with someone like me. As much as I knew how, I was totally committed to the Lord, but also driven by temptation to sin sexually, I was dating Christian women, but I was also having anonymous sex with men. I was engaged twice, but I ended both of those relationships before marriage. One of the breakups was directly related to my sexual acting out.

By the time I was 30 and still single, I had convinced my pastors that my sexual problems were behind me. I met the woman who is now my wife and got married when I was 31. Again, I thought my sexual problems would be solved by being married. Afraid of being rejected, I had chosen not to tell my wife about them. For a long time I was able to refrain from acting out sexually, but eventually I gave in, and the whole sin cycle surfaced again. By this time I was working at a job that required traveling. Being away from home like this was always difficult for me, and often I gave in to the temptation. After 10 years of marriage, with my secret still intact, I was crying out to the Lord on the way home from a business trip. I had acted out again, in a particularly bad way, even for me. The Lord spoke to my heart and said that it was time to confess to my wife about my sin. That created a lot of fear in me.

I knew that I had given my wife enough Biblical and civil grounds to divorce me and kick me out of my home that she and I had made for our three sons. But I knew I had heard the word of the Lord. I went to my pastor and confessed to him that I had not been as pure as I had led him to think and that I believed the Lord was directing me that it was time to tell my wife. He and I began to pray that God would prepare her heart and that I would know the right time to come clean. When the time came, I found the Lord had indeed prepared her for my confession. Since that time, though there were some initial obstacles to overcome, she has been so much more loving and supportive than I could have ever hoped for.

At this same time, we began to realize that I was addicted to sex, the same as someone would become addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling or food. By then, my addiction had taken me into homosexual sin, heterosexual sin, masturbation, voyeurism, magazine pornography, obscene phone calls, inappropriate conversations, strip clubs, x-rated movie theatres, and inappropriate touching. I began looking for some type of support group. I knew that there had to be other men who were committed to the Lord, but caught in the trap of homosexual sin as I was. I attended a secular 12 step recovery group for sex addicts for a year, unable to find something Biblically based. After that first year, I found exactly what I was looking for. I attended weekly meetings with other men who were just as I was, and committed to the Lord’s standard of sexual purity. This group had begun at a church in my city while I was attending the secular group. When I found out about the Biblically based group, right away I began attending it, and did so faithfully for another five years, leading it the last year it was in existence. Being in a support group with other Christian men who could hold me accountable for my sexual behavior, I found it was the perfect fit for my recovery from this addiction, which had ensnared me for so many years. That group ended in the spring of 2000. Then, a few months later, I was asked to join another group hosted by the same church. This group is for men who are trapped in general sexual addiction, not just homosexual sin. I have attended this group since its inception for my own ongoing recovery and sobriety, and for the first 7 ½ years functioned as one of its official facilitators.

The Lord led me into ministry in 2003. Father was prompting me to become a part of a ministry team to bring hope-for-change to men who battle sexual addiction through unwanted same-sex attractions. I held a staff position with a Lexington-based ministry for 4 ½ years and then in December 2007 at the Lord’s leading, I resigned that position. After seeking Father’s direction with my wife and Pastor a few months for my next assignment, He led me to begin a new ministry called Abba’s Delight, Inc based in Louisville. Founded in April 2008, it also focuses on those troubled by unwanted same-sex attractions, as well as bringing the message of Father’s love combined with learning to lead a structured and disciplined lifestyle towards righteousness and maturity in becoming a productive and fruitful citizen of the Kingdom of God. This ministry continues to thrive today at Father’s blessing as an Exodus International Member Ministry.

I never thought I could live without being miserable. I never thought I could find love and acceptance the way God intended. I never thought I would ever get past the shame and anger of being molested. I never thought I could ever know what “normal” is. I never thought I would ever find sexual purity.

God was calling me to be His own, His son. God was calling me to grow up to be a man, even though I had such a messed up sexual identity as a child. God was calling me to be a husband. God was calling me to be a father of three sons, whom I could teach to become men of God. God was calling me not just to be a survivor, but an over-comer. And He is calling me to impart to other men what I am learning on His journey.

Now unto Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 24,25

Daniel is the Executive Director of Abba’s Delight, in Louisville Kentucky.

“Daddy, I’m gay”. I was devastated by those words. What had I done wrong for my son to choose this path for his life?

Daddy I’m Gay By Bill Creech

Bill & Phyllis Creech | Family Ministry LeadersBill’s Story

I was raised in a Southern Baptist home by a father and mother who are even today examples of what parents should be. They are both solid Christians who instilled Christian values in my siblings and me and there was never the fear that anyone in our family would ever become “gay”. Of course that is how most of us feel about our lives, that the really bad things happen to other people. At least I don’t remember hearing talk on that subject until I was in high school. When I was a young boy a conversation about homosexuals wasn’t considered suitable in the presence of children or even in mixed company.

The worst words I think I have ever heard in my life were “Daddy, I’m gay”. Those words can send chills down the spine of the strongest man when he hears them from his son. I was devastated by those words. They rang in my ears month after month. What had I done wrong for my son to choose this path for his life? Being a logical person, I decided that he would respond to logic and tried to approach it in that way during the few conversations that we had in those early years of his new lifestyle.

I didn’t know what to do or how to respond to him and at the same time keep our conversations calm. It was a very difficult time for both of us. One thing I knew was that I loved him so much and I wanted him to know that, so I began telling him “I love you” every chance I got. What could I do to reach my son who had taken a path that was both unknown to me and contrary to my beliefs? I realized that I was basically ignorant about the subject, but I wanted to know as much as I could so I could “rescue” my dear son from being gay.

I began reading about the gay lifestyle from a book my pastor encouraged me to read Desires in Conflict. I had been questioning my responsibility in all of this and what I had done or might have done to help precipitate my son’s feelings and actions. I can look back over the years and remember when he was the only boy in the neighborhood so he had to play with the girls. I didn’t always take the time to play with him that I probably should have because I was busy. We did play games together occasionally and I even helped him some with playing on a baseball team. But then his mother and I divorced, and we didn’t get to see each other as much; mostly every other weekend. I hated that situation because I missed my kids so much. Divorce causes more pain than can be imagined most of all hurting the children whom are innocent. Perhaps that is why God says in Malachi 2:16 “I hate divorce”.

I guess most of us think that with knowledge there is power, but that is only true if the knowledge is Truth. The only truth I trust is God’s truth. I had relied on Jesus for so many things in my life and I trusted Him, but what did He want me to do now? Should I preach to my son about the sin of living this kind of life? Should I just accept the gay lifestyle as okay simply because ”these are modern times”? Should I just write off my son and let him go his own way because it seemed there was nothing I could do? I had so many questions, but I already knew the answer. God’s answer to me was from Matthew 22:37  “Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” The answer was that my Biblical responsibility to my son was to love him, and love him as Christ loves me: unconditionally.

I can say that I do love my son unconditionally and I know that he loves me. Such a simple concept, but what power that action holds. My son and I have a very good relationship and we continue to work on it every time we see each other, talk on the phone, or share E-mails. I can feel his love, and his desire to get closer to me. We have discussed how each of us stand on the subject of the gay lifestyle. I believe that it is against the will of God and is presented as such in the Bible. (Romans 1:21, 26-27)

I know that God loves my son even more that I do, but He won’t make him change. He loves him but He gave to him, and to all of us, a free will to decide what he will do and what he will be. My responsibilities are to love him, pray for him, and respect him whether I agree with his beliefs or not. I am not responsible for his decision to remain gay. His responsibilities are to love me and to respect me and my beliefs whether he agrees with them or not. For now, it is enough to love him and to trust God.

My reality with men was either they walked out on me or abused me. There was no positive influence by them at all in my life.

- Jill Mackin

A Former Gay and Lesbian Civil Rights Activist Surrenders To God’s Call

Jill squareJill Mackin’s Story

I give God all the glory when I say “former.” The word tells us “And such WERE some of you, but, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

I grew up in a turbulent home In Crofton, Maryland where my mother and alcoholic stepfather fought constantly. My biological father walked out on us when I was 6. My mother battled with ill health and depression and wasn’t really available for me emotionally. By the time I was in 2nd grade I’d been sexually abused by a neighbor across the street. The abuse would continue through my stepfather well until I was the age of 13.

I first began experiencing same sex attractions when I was in the 3rd grade. The Lord led me to himself when I was 14 years old and for a few months I was on fire for God through his word and church. It wasn’t long though before peer pressure crushed that fervent spirit and I began using drugs and alcohol to fill the deep void I seem to carry around on the inside.

My reality with men was either they walked out on me or abused me. There was no positive influence by them at all in my life.

I went to my first gay bar in Washington, DC at 17 and I thought all my problems were solved. Other women and men just like me! Now I could feel normal! But this wasn’t normal at all. It only fueled my alcoholism and drug addiction further. The people I seem to meet and hook up with were like me alright, they drank as much as I did and used drugs as hard as I did. I never felt love; all I ever experienced was liquor/drug fueled lust.

Of course, I didn’t have that realization at that time, only years later would I come to recognize the truth. My cycle was go look for the love in the bars, drink, dance, find another woman who was just as emotionally needy as I was, go home with her, wake up hung over and in shame over the night before, repeat the following weekend. This pattern would continue for 10 years.

When I was 27 I was introduced to a 12 step program that would bring me my first taste of recovery from alcoholism. At that same time I took a job with the Human Rights Campaign Fund (now called the Human Rights Campaign). They are the nation’s largest gay and lesbian civil rights organization, located in Washington DC. I worked in their development department and was educated on all gay/lesbian issues. Given the opportunity a few times to take part in lobbying activities on Capitol Hill on behalf of the gay and lesbian political agenda, I jumped in full force. I attended and was politically active in both the March for Women’s Lives (pro-choice) in 1992 and the National Gay and Lesbian March on Washington in 1993.

It was also during this period that I began visiting various denominations “looking for God.” I went to a Unitarian Universalist church, the Metropolitan Community Church and even a gay and lesbian Jewish synagogue! Needless to say, He wasn’t at any of those locations. Frankly, I believed God was okay with my lifestyle and I rationalized it by telling myself “God would rather have me loving people than killing them.” Deception, utter deception.

After my time at the Human Rights Campaign, I went on to work at the National Association of People with AIDS first as their development associate and then as their development director. I was still immersed in the politics and culture of the gay and lesbian community.

In August, 1997 I moved to London, UK with my partner. In 1998, my partner went to Ecuador with a Spanish language immersion course and I was left in the UK alone. God got me right where he wanted me.

Out of nowhere the thought came to me “What does God think of my homosexuality?” I began reading liberal (John Boswell and Troy Perry among others) views on Christianity and homosexuality as well as the conservative views. I also went out and purchased a bible and read all the passages pertaining to homosexuality. The explanations of those passages by the liberal views simply were not lining up with what the Bible seemed to say rather straightforward, to me. Romans 1 was not about male temple prostitution! It was about ALL people who practice homosexuality!

God had opened my eyes to the truth of scripture. When my partner returned from Ecuador, I took off the gold ring she’d given to me and put it down, telling her “I cannot live this way anymore.”

I’m not going to say I walked with God faithfully afterwards. That isn’t true. I went through a great deal of pain and depression and I relapsed into alcohol abuse off and on for the next few years. But I have been celibate since that time, in 1998.

My identity is no longer found in the gay and lesbian community but rather in Christ. I no longer live with a void inside my spirit. God has filled that void with himself and I am grateful for his work in me. He has done it all; it’s nothing I’ve done. I don’t really identify as ex-gay either. I don’t hear people in church identifying as ex-gossips or ex-adulterers. I’m just Jill, a woman who desires to serve her great God and walk in fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

My Girl & His Girl

Meleah AllardMeleah’s Story

I’m a Pastor’s daughter, and I walked down the aisle of Calvary Baptist Church asking Jesus to be my Savior when I was 9 years old. As a child I loved attending church, singing in the choir and being part of my youth group. I even went on a mission trip at 14. However, my family had a lot of problems and there were many times when chaos ruled and no one wanted to go to church. So I’d hop on my bicycle and go alone. My parents are good people. Throughout my childhood, I learned valuable things from them. Daddy’s generosity is legendary. He often picked up hitchhikers and they’d leave his car with the gospel in their heart and my daddy’s coat on their back. He’s a prayer warrior. I saw him on his knees countless times throughout childhood. I know his faithful prayers for 10 years are what brought me back to God.

My mother taught me perseverance; to hang in and not give up. I watched her do it for years. Mother said Daddy was either the best husband and father in the world or the worst nightmare, sort of a Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde. He was, during those years, a rageaholic, totally controlled by his anger. When he would lose his temper, he’d become verbally and physically abusive to my mother, sisters and me. One name I remember being called often was “the devil’s prostitute.” WORDS HAVE POWER! Mother was often discouraged and depressed. There wasn’t much physical affection, either between my parents or toward us girls. I remember hearing the words “I love you” only a few times in my life. One of those few times is a vivid memory. I was 15, and lying in a hospital bed after I’d attempted suicide with two bottles of pills. Thankfully God had other plans for me. Compounding these serious family problems was the abuse I suffered at school. I was bullied and called names. It was not a safe place. I became interested in boys at a young age. Mother called me a “boy chaser.” In reality I was a love chaser and was desperately seeking love and affection. Boys took advantage of that weakness. I became pregnant at 15, after having sex for the first time, and was abandoned by the father of my baby. My family rallied and helped me to raise my daughter so I could graduate from high school BUT something happened internally for me. I made a serious turn at that point. I’d begged God for years to change my messed up family. I knew He could. I knew He was all powerful, but nothing changed. Things just seemed to grow worse. I took that to mean that He didn’t care. When we feel like we are being rejected, we retreat.

There was also my church family. They weren’t blatantly ugly over my pregnancy, but I remember the looks of disdain and whispers as I walked by. The message came through loud and clear. I had been demoted from the preacher’s kid on the front row to the prodigal on the back pew. I was mad, and I blamed God for the shortcomings of his people. I remember saying, “OK God, if this is what you have to offer, I don’t need you.” I turned my back on God and my faith, and became a prodigal child. At eighteen my daughter and I moved to Florida where I had friends. They invited me to a gay bar for the first time. I was apprehensive, but I was more curious…so I went. The experience was “surreal” and unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. One of the things that drew me in was how totally accepted I felt. I didn’t feel judged for my past and people were interested in me. So I went back again and again. In a short time, they began to feel like my family. It also wasn’t long before I was pursued by a woman. I’d never had that kind of attention before. I don’t know how else to explain it other than, it was intoxicating. To be wanted and desired when I’d always felt unloved and unwanted was overwhelming. I’d always loved and admired women. When all the other girls had posters of boys in their rooms I had posters of Marcia Brady and Farrah. When a woman put her arms around me for the first time it felt like something I’d always needed but never had. It wasn’t about sex. I was again desperately seeking love, affection and acceptance and buying into a lie about how to attain it.

About a year later at 20 years old, I moved home to NC, and found in Asheville a large gay community. I became entrenched in it quickly and before long they felt like family. I dated women for a while, but it wasn’t long before I met and began a relationship with THE woman – the one with whom I thought I’d spend the rest of my life. She and I lived and raised my daughter together for 8 years. I felt, for the first time, what I thought was real love. It sure was powerful. It had such a grip on me but during the last few years of that relationship my discontent grew because her love was not deep enough to fill that empty well within me. I remember lying on my couch late one night. It was the first time I’d talked to God in years, I said out loud, “I know this is wrong, but I love her and I can’t leave. Please God,” I begged, “Change my feelings so I can leave.”  I can hear His response as plain today as that night. He said, “No Meleah, You Leave and I’ll then I’ll change your feelings.” That was NOT the answer I wanted to hear. It was another two years before I had the courage to leave. God used a number of situations to orchestrate my return to Him, but the main thing was my child. I began to be concerned for her spiritual welfare. No matter how I was living I knew that I was a believer and that if I died I was going to Heaven, but I wasn’t so sure about her. I hadn’t darkened the door of church in 10 years. My parents had taken her when they could but that wasn’t often. “Coincidently” a coworker invited me to her church. All I remember her saying was it was a great place for kids. Never underestimate the power of inviting someone to church because that Sunday in that church began a life change that continues today. So it was Easter Sunday, and I knew that was a Sunday I could sneak in undetected. That church was different, and I knew it immediately. It was the warmest, friendliest place I’d ever been. They didn’t have fake smiles but instead they exuded the joy of the Lord. Within a few minutes of arriving, people were hugging us. We were strangers and they treated us like long lost relatives returning home. The music was vibrant and moving. They sang praise and worship songs. I’d never heard those before. These folks were worshipping uninhibited and unashamed. It was something else. During the service that deep and empty well within me began to be filled to the point where it just overflowed out of my eyes and tears streamed down my face. I knew what I had to do. At the end of the service, I ran down the aisle and asked Jesus to be the Lord of my life. It wasn’t “surreal” as it had been in the gay bar, it was SO REAL. My decision wasn’t hard, but walking it out would not be easy. I knew I could not stay with my girlfriend though. In that moment, the love I experienced from HIM overshadowed all other love, even my love for her. So He had been true to His promise. After that church service, my girlfriend and I spent the next three days crying together. She tried to talk me out of leaving. I tried to explain to her what had happened to me, but she couldn’t hear me through her own pain. She left. It was very hard. She’d been my best friend for 8 years. That was over 20 years ago and A LOT has happened since then. Healing has been a process. God has blessed me with a husband and with him I have experienced true covenant love. Marriage is not a sign of my healing because quite frankly I went into it way too quickly and still very broken. I was a mess, he was a mess and we did NOT make a message! We made a bigger mess for a long time. But we stuck together through the super-glue of Jesus, and He has worked it all out and brought a healing to me that I never could have found through any other avenue. Because God has such an amazing sense of humor he gave a man-hating former lesbian three sons! Through all 4 of my men I have learned about the beauty and glory of manhood, so today I am a man-lover. God has also blessed me with two granddaughters, from my lovely, married, Christian daughter. The one who I raised for the first 10 years of her life in a lesbian relationship is a wonderful mother and is crazy about Jesus…a picture of his marvelous mercy.

Almost a decade ago, God said it was time to come out of the Christian closet. I’d been there for 13 years, hiding, wearing a mask, terrified that if they knew about my past in homosexuality it would NOT go well for me. If you remember I’d experienced some negative consequences in that arena after getting pregnant at 15. But the Lord said it was time to be free. Freedom is exactly what I found. Once I was truly known, I could experience the feeling of being truly loved. So much of my deeper healing has happened over the past 10 years. My husband and kids have been there every step of the way, supporting and cheering me on. My willingness to be transparent allowed God to birth a ministry which has redeemed my life in a very practical way. All those early years weren’t wasted. God is using it all. It has brought tremendous healing! Romans 8:28 is as real to me as my name. Being a part of Exodus for the past 8 years has allowed me to be exposed to teaching that has given me a revelation of God’s grace and has changed me in ways and brought freedom that I could have never imagined. I assure you this journey is SO worth it. My identity has been all over the place in my lifetime. I was a lesbian prodigal. When I came “home,” a Christian Counselor called me a Prodigy but I never felt like one. I tried to believe I was His Princess, but I’ve never been able to fully receive that either. I always felt like more of a Warrior Princess. My identity has been in being a wife, mother, professional career woman and many other things that were only meant to be roles. Today, I know I’m simply Meleah…His Girl and that is truly all I need to know! He loves me more than I love my girl and that is amazing to me!! I know three things for sure. 1) He loves me and nothing I could ever do will make Him love me less. 2) He will never leave me or forsake me. Again, none of my shortcomings or failures affects His nearness to me. Jesus already took care of that problem. 3) Lastly, He has a most excellent plan for my life. It is so much grander than anything I could ever dream up for myself. I’m living it. Oh…I know one more thing…all these things are true for you too.

I wanted help, but I kept this sexual addiction as my shameful secret from everyone, including my church family, my wife and my children. I was sure that my life would be over if anyone ever found out what I was doing.

Living Two Different Lives is Very Stressful By Tony Moore

TonyTony Moore’s Story

I grew up in a close-knit Christian family. There was never any doubt that my parents loved me. My father was the busy pastor of a small church who also worked another full-time job. I grew up with strict Christian discipline, and our family life revolved around the church. There was little time for anything else. I didn’t get to spend much time with my dad or with other boys my age doing “man stuff.”

There were no other boys in our neighborhood, so I played with my sister who was one year younger. Even at school I was more comfortable playing with girls. I was not interested in sports; I preferred music, drawing and reading. In second grade, my teacher wrote on my report card, “Tony needs to spend more time with the boys.” She was right. From childhood, I was the shy, quiet kid trying to hide my true feelings. I thought I had plenty of reasons for shame. When I was about six years old a man whom I admired molested me. This sexual encounter led me to believe that this was the only means to acceptance and intimacy with another man.

Although I was never molested again, I found myself waiting for it to happen. To my young mind the reason it never happened again was because I wasn’t good enough; I didn’t measure up. Feelings of inadequacy began to take root in my life. What I really craved was closeness with a man, but I associated it always to the sexual act.

By my early teen years I found myself equally attracted to boys and girls. Emotionally, I still enjoyed the company of girls and would sometimes do the boyfriend/girlfriend thing just to keep a friendship. But puberty seemed to come slow and late for me. It reinforced my insecurities to see physical changes in other boys at school. I didn’t realize it, but my desire to become a man turned into lust. That lust for manhood led to homosexual desires. I began to believe that I was gay. At the same time, I knew I could never speak my feelings out loud. Sexual issues were never discussed in my home or in my church. I felt obligated to resolve this issue on my own.

These feelings stayed repressed during high school and college even though they were always just under the surface. I never acted on them during those years in any way. Living in a dorm where other men respected me did wonders for my ego and self-esteem. My best friend introduced me to a sweet girl and we started dating. For the first time, I had an intimate relationship with someone who affirmed me and loved me. I was sure that since I had never acted on any homosexual tendencies, I could keep them repressed and her love would be my healing.

We were married after our second year of college with my secret turmoil intact. We were very much in love, but our love did not bring healing. I had never become a man. In my own mind I was still a little boy, so my wife became my nurturer, almost like a second mother. This dysfunctional relationship worked only because we dedicated our home to the lordship of Jesus Christ and because of my wife’s unconditional love for me. We had four children, and even though my struggle caused tension in our home we kept the appearance of the perfect family. I became a minister and a strict disciplinarian as my father had been.

Several years into our marriage a friend brought an x-rated video to our house, which I watched with him. At first, I was repulsed by it, but I found that through pornography I could fulfill my fantasies without actually acting out. So, one movie led to another. Movies led to magazines. Magazines led to the internet. I continued to delve deeper and deeper into pornography until I found myself addicted and unable to break the cycle.

Eventually, when I found myself alone with a gay friend, fantasy wasn’t enough. I gave in to his sexual advances and to my own lust for a period of time. After these encounters, I knew that something had to change.There was no fulfillment or happiness for me in that kind of relationship. What I had been looking for since I was a six-year-old boy was not found in sex with another man.

I wanted help, but I kept this sexual addiction as my shameful secret from everyone, including my church family, my wife and my children. I was sure that my life would be over if anyone ever found out what I was doing. I imagined that I would lose my ministry, my livelihood, my family, my friends, and possibly my freedom, my health and my life. I did not realize how the opposite was true. By holding onto these shameful secrets, I was literally killing myself.

Diseases of which I had never heard began to attack my body. I developed ulcerative colitis, pericarditis, debilitating arthritis, and gall bladder disease. There was no family health history to blame for these, and they were not contagious diseases. Each time I visited my doctor he would ask me about my stress level. My answer was always the same, “I’m fine.” He already knew what it would take me years to figure out: stress can kill you.

Trying to live two different lives, one public and the other private, is very stressful. The Apostle Paul describes this lifestyle in Romans 8:13, “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” I tried to manage the sickness and function normally, but it was impossible. The sicknesses took control of me. I became weak, lost weight and became dehydrated due to the inability to eat and the loss of blood. While I knew my condition was serious, I still had hope.

Late one night, I was lying in the back of an ambulance being rushed to the hospital. A paramedic was holding the printout of the EKG he had just performed on me. He pointed to a couple of peaks in the jagged line on the paper and said, “This shows you’ve had a heart attack.”

Those words will put panic in the mind of a 36-year-old man. However, at the very moment he spoke those scary words, I looked past him and saw the city lights through the windows in the ambulance door. I felt an assurance from the Holy Spirit that someday, somehow God would use me to help hurting people in my hometown. I wanted to pursue that with everything within me, but the sexual addiction was so strong that I could not let it go.

Eventually, I ended up in the hospital literally on my deathbed due to the colitis. I was so sick and weak that I thought I would never go home. After a week of unsuccessfully trying medicines and intravenous feeding, the doctor finally performed a colostomy. With many of my family members and friends praying, the nine-hour surgery was a success. I thank God that He allowed me to live to tell the story.

After my recuperation, I finally contacted the Exodus ministry in my hometown. My thoughts were that perhaps they could help me deal quietly with the issues, and no one would ever have to know. The director was gracious and met with me regularly and helped me understand what I really needed. He was a great listener, and he showed me how to allow God to bring healing into my life. I began attending the men’s support group and found acceptance and encouragement from other men who had similar life circumstances. It wasn’t easy, but eventually I was able to confess all my struggles and failures to my wife and to my children. They have truly demonstrated God’s grace to me through their continued love, acceptance and affirmation.

I resigned from the church I was pastoring in order to take some time to receive counseling and to open myself up to the healing of Jesus Christ. My family and I joined a church we had never attended. My new pastor and church family members have walked with me through some difficult days after my denomination informed me that I could not remain ordained. Pastor White has allowed me to share my testimony openly in our church services. I have received grace and have been restored to ministry. On days when I have felt discouraged God has always sent some godly brother my way to offer me encouragement, or a swift kick in the pants – whichever was needed most.

It took me forty years to grow up, but my family is now closer than ever. I am happy and satisfied as a son, husband, father, grandfather, and as a heterosexual man. I am not ashamed to share my story with anyone who will hear it. It took the power of God to break the shame in my life, and it takes the power of God to break the bondage caused by shame.

When I recently read these words from Isaiah 54:4 they seemed to leap off the page at me; “You will forget the shame of your youth.” I realized that it was true. You really can forget the shame. The events have not been forgotten, but I don’t look back at them with shame. Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

For two full years I dealt with events of my childhood and finally found freedom from emotional turmoil that had been building up all my life. I didn’t realize the full scope of that freedom until I read the verse in Isaiah. God had removed the shame! Now, when temptations come or when I have an inclination to turn back to my old thoughts or ways, I am not ashamed to ask for help. I have family and friends who will listen. Shame finally has no power over me!

I now find great fulfillment in helping other men who are facing similar situations. As a person willing to openly share my testimony, I am able to see lives changed. Whether like me a man has struggled in silence for years or if he has openly embraced the gay lifestyle, I know that there is freedom from sin and shame. Whether standing before an audience or speaking face to face with another man, I can openly and honestly relate from my own experience the power of the grace of God to remove disgrace caused by my failures. The fact that I am able to minister to anyone at all is evidence of God’s grace continually at work in my own life.

——————————————————————————–

Tony formerly served as the Associate Director of Hope for Wholeness.  He continues to assist in editing and graphic design.  Tony is the Founder and Senior Pastor of Transformation House, in downtown Greenville. Tony and Judy Moore have been married 30 years. They have four children and eleven grandchildren.

Changed Forever…A new life in Christ By Miranda Pettit

Miranda’s Story

My childhood probably wasn’t very unusual, and it certainly wasn’t terrible.  My dad worked to support my mom and four children, of which I am the only girl.  He was also an alcoholic, drinking with his co-worker “buddies” while on the road working, sometimes for two- to three-week intervals.  He would come home and continue his drinking, sometimes railing at my mother about her deficiencies, accusing her of things that he was actually doing, and this behavior, thankfully, rarely ended in physical abuse but always with verbal abuse.  Both of my parents loved me, but neither was equipped to really know how to love and affirm their only little girl. I found that my affirmation and acceptance were more readily available by being athletic and making good grades.  I learned to excel at both, preferring being a typical “tomboy” to being a little girl.  My dad worked hard to meet our physical needs, but he was ill-equipped to meet our emotional needs.  My mother lived in such fear of displeasing my dad that she was ill-equipped to meet our emotional needs as well.  But she did try to meet our spiritual needs by taking us to church.

Early on as a child, I felt a difference in my walk with the Lord. Most times I would sit with my mom so I could listen to what was being said instead of being distracted by passing notes and the whispering of my friends. But with this difference, I had yet another noticeable difference that separated me from all girls in general.  Early on in life, I realized that I had attractions for other girls. Of course, like most little girls, I had my boyfriends throughout elementary school, but that was just something I did thinking it was normal to do so. This “phase” I thought I was going through did not pass as I assumed it would.  When a guy was interested in me, I put up a huge wall and assumed that every guy who was interested wanted ONE thing, and I wasn’t going there.  So throughout my teenage years, I neither had a boyfriend nor desired one.  But I was fantasizing about girls/women excessively.  Though most of my fantasies were not sexual in nature, I could dream of being a guy having girlfriends and all the things I assumed every girl would want in a man.  I was so unhappy with being a girl and had such disdain for who I was. I thought to dream about being someone else—a guy, no less—was the only way to make me fit in, to make me “right.”  I never considered myself gay or lesbian because I felt my thoughts were innocent enough—I never did anything to pursue my attractions toward females, so, therefore, I wasn’t gay. In my thought life I was a guy, so that would not make me gay.  Maybe this was a way to justify my thoughts, but it worked. This struggle from my earliest remembrance as a child would follow me for 33 years.

My first same-sex relationship happened my senior year in high school. When I went to college, I was more exposed to lesbianism than I had ever even imagined.  Until that point, I thought I was the ONLY person who struggled with same-sex attractions and feelings.  I was wrong.  I finally didn’t feel so weird or different.  I didn’t fit in with my campus ministry group of “straight” girls, and I didn’t fit in with lesbians on campus either.  I could not find a balance in trying to walk two lines, and I could not find peace.  Much of my inner conflict was likely the result of my own convictions.  I was so confused and torn between emotions and spiritual conviction. Then my world came crashing down when one of my brothers “outed” me to my parents while I was in college.  But I chose my girlfriend and the life I was living over my parents’ wishes.  This choice only added more shame, guilt, and confusion to my life.  I really wanted to make the right choice, but I chose emotions over conviction.  I wanted to have the “right” feelings for both sexes, but I was in an emotional and spiritual battle.  My convictions kept on being suppressed and ignored. And those convictions only persisted and became even stronger as I continued in relationships with women.

The last and longest of all my relationships lasted six years.  By this time I had almost embraced the gay lifestyle because I figured I would never change no matter how hard I prayed.  I struggled spiritually,obviously because of my convictions. I had a storm inside my heart that no one else knew but me, and I felt lonely and all alone.  I thought most of it was discontentment with myself because the relationships lacked what I wanted or needed.  I was searching for that happiness, peace, and joy that I thought I could find in the “right” person.  But my problem was that I was looking at the wrong people.  That happiness, peace, and joy could only be found in one person, Jesus. And that became real to me in August 2004.

After ending my six-year relationship, I realized that I was “looking for love in all the wrong places, looking for love in too many faces” as the old Johnny Lee song goes.  I came to a place of desolation and brokenness in my life.  I was completely empty inside.  It had everything to do with my running from the Lord all these years trying to find in other people and things what He freely offers.  For so many years I was so scared of what I was going to have to give up and do if I followed the Lord that I walked away from Him trying to find my own happiness and joy…and do it MY way.  Well, MY way was wrong, empty, and not what He desired at all. I finally gave my life to Jesus and asked Him to help me. I asked him to help me find wholeness and my purpose. I needed healing and restoration from the same-sex attractions and pursuits that I’d had all these years.  So after 15 years of actively living as a lesbian, the Lord worked a miracle in my life.  He transformed my life, replaced wrong, lustful, habitual thoughts with pure ones; replaced desires for same-sex intimacy with natural, God-ordained ones; and gave me a testimony so I could reach other women who are dealing with those same struggles. I am blessed now more than ever because I know in my heart I am in His Will and am living the life He intended…a life more abundant (John 10:10).  Joel 2:25 says that “the Lord will replace and restore for you the years the locusts have eaten.”  That is so true—all those years I “lost” trying to live MY way and pursue avenues that were not intended by God have been replaced by wonderful, godly relationships with other men and women, including a strong, godly woman who is my best friend and partner in ministry, Kim Broadhead.  I have a supportive, loving church family, and I have also had areas of my relationships restored with my own family.  The Lord brought me to Hope for Wholeness in 2005 to partner with them in ministering as the Women’s Leader to women and girls who want help and support in overcoming their struggles. Sometimes I wish I wouldn’t have made the choices I made but God has turned it around and given me hope. He dusted off the old me and gave me a new life in Him that is better than I could have imagined! What a blessing.

 

I longed for affection, nurturing, and care from men but never received it. I interpreted these needs as being gay and suffered in silence out of fear of what this meant and what others may have thought.

In My Father’s Arms By Tom Vinegar

Tom Vinegar | Hope for Wholeness | Director, GreenvilleTom’s Story

In my mind, I can still picture him standing at the bus stop: a man that I perceived as gay.  The thought came to me that I was like him, and I accepted that thought as the truth.  I had been molested by an older man on several occasions and now as a preteen, those memories disgusted me.  I never told my parents or anyone about the abuse because of the trouble I thought it would cause.  Later, it was discovered that this man had molested other children, and this added to my disgust.

I don’t remember ever receiving any information on the issue of homosexuality in school or church.  We also never talked about it at home where I lived in the 60’s and 70’s with my parents and two sisters.  Both of my parents were hard workers and provided for us the things we needed and even some things we just wanted.  My dad worked second and third shifts, so I did not see him much.  However, when I started playing basketball, both of my parents attended many games.

That was the first activity in which I experienced success.  My previous attempt to play baseball had been a disaster.  I didn’t understand how to throw a ball correctly, so the guys made fun of me and often yelled at me.  Fortunately, I grew tall and also developed skills needed for basketball.  This helped me overcome some of the pain I felt from the ridicule of my baseball throwing style.

Around age 14, as I was riding a public bus home from my summer job a man sat next to me.  We happened to get off the bus at the same time, and he gave me his phone number and invited me to come up to his apartment.  I ended up returning to his apartment regularly for sexual encounters.  A few years later, this man moved away.  It was rough to lose him, but I coped with it by playing basketball and participating in other activities.  But, my secret remained intact.  I still felt isolated emotionally from others, and this created even more pain.  I longed for affection, nurturing, and care from men but never received it.  I interpreted these needs as being gay and suffered in silence out of fear of what this meant and what others may have thought.

I wanted to get as far away from home as possible, so I left Cincinnati to attend college in South Carolina.  College life was fun, and I was involved with many activities including playing on the college basketball team.  Through this, however, several guys came on to me with sexual advances.  My desire to keep my attraction to men a secret was strong enough to keep me from responding to their advances.  However, when I would go back home for holidays or summer vacations I would go to bars to find sexual encounters.

When the AIDS scare came it really scared me, but it took me many years to get up the nerve to be tested.  I was so relieved when the results came back negative.  Something broke in me when I heard the results, and I cried the entire hour long trip home, thankful for God’s protection.  I knew that it was because of God’s mercy that I was not infected, and I realized that I could not continue to live in rebellion.  I gradually stopped the sexual encounters and began living for my Savior, Jesus Christ.

I recognized my unworthiness but was so grateful when the Lord called me into the ministry.  This was a call I could not resist.  Later though, as a minister and counselor, I continued to hold onto the secret of my past homosexual activity.  My lifelong fear of being rejected and my lack of faith in God led me to continue this life of silence.  I was determined to go to my grave with my secret. This changed when once, as I was preparing a sermon, I realized that in order to share the Gospel in all its glory, wonder, redemptive power, and forgiveness I would have to share my secret.  I would have to declare that the Gospel applied to even a sinner such as I.

On that Sunday morning in November 2005, I jumped into my Heavenly Father’s loving arms as I shared the story of my past with the congregation.  I gained so much freedom from that experience.  My faith has increased in my Savior, and I have a freedom of expression that I never knew before.  Now, I am so excited to have an opportunity to share the truth that we can all be set free from whatever holds us in bondage.  And the best news: our Heavenly Father loves, forgives, lifts, and really wants to be our burden bearer as He calls us to live in victory for His glory.

malware removal and website security SSL Cerficate