New Hope: Transformation 6

Written by Danny Blackwell and published by New Hope Outreach. Quoted verbatim. See Information on Re-publishing.

Transformations
Volume 6

Let Us Sit At Their Well

By Rev. Danny Blackwell

In John chapter 4 we have the story of Jesus meeting the woman at the well. As the woman came, Jesus, who had entered her world shocked her, “give me a drink,” He said.

The following interaction proved He knew her and respected her. This unnamed Samaritan woman after an encounter with Jesus was changed.

We today are called to enter and interact with people who need Jesus. We have a message they need to hear. God loves them – died for them – rose for them and can transform them, just as He is transforming us. It is interesting, Jesus chose this unnamed Samaritan woman, a despised people – no one is despised in the Lord’s eyes.

The gay community and those in it are the very ones who feel rejected, judged and despised by Christians. Thus walls exist that separate us from our brothers, sisters and friends.

What can we do? We must begin by listening to their pain, listening to their anger and as we earn the right we can begin. It was summer 2000, as we stood in the gay community and asked 100 people to respond to a survey. Our goal was, just to begin, by listening to them.

The results were surprising. Six questions were asked that dealt with topics: what do you like and what is the greatest need of the community? Also, where would you go for help if needed? Of most interest to us were the last three questions: What could a church provide for you? What advise would you give a minister who wants to serve people in the community and if you could ask God one question, what would it be? The common thread in the answers about the community and how they felt about it was: “a sense of security”, “like home” as well as

Being a close knit community, that has a sense of freedom to pursue the lifestyles they choose, whether that be gay or transgendered, there is an acceptance and unity in the face of struggles, which may arise when they need help and their primary direction for it comes from within. Thus, we as Christians, in order to impact the people in this community with the Gospel, must show respect. In a practical way we can do what Jesus did with the woman at the well. Go to them, sit in their community and get a burden for people.

The next three questions deal with questions related to the church. The first question being, what could a church provide for you brought answers like nothing, consumer issues like weddings and funerals, and further reflections reveal that the church is not number one on their list. The impact of the next question was overwhelming; the question being what advice would you give a minister who wants to serve people in this community? Some of the answers were, be open-minded, don’t be judgemental, stop preaching hatred, don’t be homophobic, treat people equally, don’t presume you can measure this community by others where you have been before, be ready to listen, become involved, be tolerant, be gay positive, patience. By looking at these answers in a different light, it is possible to see how they view us Christians, thus they must see us as being judgemental and close-minded, as well as homophobic. The author had an opportunity to sit in a restaurant with a group of transsexuals and when asked who I was by one member and I told them a minister, he was shocked. The point being if all you have is negative input without meeting a real person there is a tendency to write the whole community off whether that be Christian or gay. All the answers to the questions were really good and if we put them into practice, we can make a difference in any community. The very last question in the survey was, if you could ask God one question, what would it be? This is a very open-ended question and I don’t think there is a lot of uniqueness about the answers. Some of them were as simple or complex as “why” to “why am I gay and why did He make me gay?”

Practical steps to reach someone who is sexually broken

1. It is going to take God moving on their lives as a result of our prayers.

2. We are faced with people who have a strong sense of community and if we don’t stand along side of them, we will loose them.

3. We have to face our own brokenness – the very fact that advice was given for us to be open, tolerant …means that we are not that real about our own brokenness.

4. We must step out of our comfort zone – they are not going to come to us if they don’t sense trust e.g. it is ok to say that God loves a homosexual in church – they are sinners like us.

5. Although the gay community appears a tight community it is not really, broken relations, distant families loom either in the past or on the horizon. We need to be a voice of hope for people.

6. It is not enough to just say God loves the homosexual in the church but the church must become a place of healing and redemption.

We have to go to them and show and live that we care for them. If we don’t go to them they aren’t coming to us

Families Matter

Families who pray together…families who play together… but how does a family handle one of their members who is gay? Pray yes, what does it feel like? We pray that it doesn’t happen in our family, a family who has grown up in the church, but it does.

You are a member of a family and look up to your brother, he played in every sport activity and excelled. You were close and you thought you knew him completely but then one day he says he is gay. My response, “Have you told Mom & Dad? Have you told the pastor?” With that he laughs and says, “ The last time that I was in our church, someone called me a faggot. Do you remember the pastor saying Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” The conversation ends, he walks out the door and the brother with whom I had felt at one time so close suddenly we had erected a wall. I put a sign on that wall, “Do not touch”.

At dinner the family who usually talked about every issue, didn’t about this one. As my brother left, and my mother cried, Dad went silent, our parents wondered what to do and where could they turn. This is something that families don’t want to talk about to church friends. We keep our perfect Christian masks on however after the initial shock, after the “where did we go wrongs”, and after the time of family prayer in desperation, you share. When the cat is out of the bag and you wonder how sister so and so and brother so and so know and then the inevitable advice begins.

Uncle John is like that and he is happy…my aunt just came out…I hope he doesn’t get AIDS.I always wondered if he was…. it’s an abomination you know…unless he repents, don’t let him back into the house…so many mixed messages. The family hears but when I put my head on the pillow at night alone in the dark, the question plays in my mind, “He’s my brother why didn’t he trust me with this one?” As I drift off I realize that this one is not going to go away on its own and I don’t know how it is going to end. Time goes by. It’s been ten years since that night when he shared those fateful words and thankfully to God all the advice that good meaning people gave were filtered not by fear, not by shame, but by God’s love and the fact that he is still our brother. For me, I faced that wall that I had constructed between myself and my brother and God spoke to me that the bricks that made the wall need to become bricks of pavement, cobblestones to bring a prodigal home and one day that will happen by an everlasting Father who loves every prodigal.

The above story is true in so many ways by so many different brothers and sisters and it is encouraging to know that God still calls us to reach out to our prodigal brothers and sisters to be there for them, not judging but loving and speaking the truth in love. There is a fine line to walk, to keep the door open and yet not approve of the lifestyle. Above all keep the door of communication open.

We never give up hope because the Lord is able, in His timetable. I want to encourage you that when the advice comes in don’t let it discourage your faith in God and don’t stop praying.

Luke 15:20 "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him…”

Tips for Sharing the Gospel
by Robbi Kenney (used by permission)

See a person, not a homosexual. We're not a clean-up campaign; we're ambassadors of love. How would you approach any person you felt needed Christ?

Paul Little's book, How to Give Away Your Faith, might be a good one to read for ideas. There's nothing special about homosexuality as a sin in God's eyes. Don't let it cloud yours. Homosexuals are looking for love, just like anyone else. Jesus Christ is the answer for that need.

Remember that the gospel means "good news." Be sure to present a Savior, not a code of ethics. Jesus is a real person, not a life philosophy. Don't be so concerned about a particular sin. God wants to redeem the whole person, not just his or her sexuality.

Know what you are offering. You are offering Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. You are not offering heterosexuality. There is a different between being homosexual and acting out homosexual behaviour. When a person makes a commitment to Christ, he or she must come into agreement with God that homosexual behaviour is sin. You are initially offering the power to come into abstinence from homosexual behaviours--but the feelings are not going to change overnight. That will come with time, the care and concern of friends, and the quality of his or her own continued surrender to Christ.

Actively love that person. Words can be so empty. Demonstrate your love by listening, by calling, by confronting when necessary, by sitting together in church. Love is a verb.

Don't be afraid to hear some "gory" details. Some folks don't know how to express themselves in any way but street language. Listen with love and respond as you seek the counsel of Jesus. Love them where they're at.

Don't be afraid to say, "I love you." Don't be afraid to hug, touch, hold hands in prayer. We all need that physical affirmation of love from one another. Touching is not sexual, it's loving. Homosexuals need to learn the place of affection outside the context of sexual involvement. They won't rape you. If your intentions are misunderstood, explain yourself, but don't back away.

Share your life. Many people coming from a homosexual background are surprised to realize that "regular folks" also wrestle with sexual temptation, loneliness, rejection, hurt, etc. That helps them put their lives into perspective.

Present the whole gospel. Jesus wants to set them free from lying, bitterness, pride, rebellion, you name it. Homosexual behaviour and fantasy are only a part.

Don't make homosexuality the focal point of your relationship. While you should not be afraid to talk about this issue, remember that there are many other areas of your friend's life you can discuss. And let them see Jesus, the answer to all their sins.

Tell them about Exodus. Share Scriptures like 1 Corinthians 6:11 ("... and such were some of you ...") as well as testimonies of others who have come out of homosexuality. "Faith cometh by hearing ..."

Transsexualism in the Church: A pastor responds

Is there anything I have learned which could be transferable to other pastors in similar circumstances? I am hesitant to generalise from our own experience as James’ story is such a unique work of God. Nevertheless, I hope that the following are helpful:

Do not allow yourself to be pressurised by anyone to push a person into a particular course of action for which they may not be ready. Thoughts of “what will others think if they find out?” must be resisted.

Take time to seek God. Note carefully the witness of your spirit.

Do some thorough Bible study. Focus particularly on issues such as creation identity, the fall, the new birth and our identity in Christ. Scriptural teaching on eunuchs is helpful (Deut 23:1; Is 56:3-5). Remember God’s order is always acceptance before transformation.

Remember, however, that God’s goal is transformation, but it is transformation into the new creation, not into the old creation. God, in heaven, transcends the matter of gender identity. We are entitled to expect a growth to Christ likeness in life, however a person dresses.

At every step, wherever possible, seek the acquiescence of the person. For example: “I need to talk this over with a minister friend of mine. Is this OK by you?”. Avoid putting stumbling blocks in the road by ill-judged indiscretions.

Always use the terms ‘he’/ ‘him’, ‘she’/ ‘her’ appropriately so as to give no hint of the true identity of the person unless you know the other person already knows. Gossip, even in hints is lethal and great care must be taken to avoid it.

When sharing information with other members of the church about the transsexual’s true identity, give clear biblical teaching and counsel on how to understand and respond.

Give time to members of the church who may be troubled and need to talk it through.

Do not rush the transsexual into counselling. Inner healing and possibly deliverance may be appropriate at the right time. It was our experience that the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, in the context of an accepting community, did His sovereign work.

So finally what about Deuteronomy 22:5?

“...nor must a man wear women’s clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.”

Are we not entitled to expect a transsexual, even a post-operative one, to stop cross-dressing? Here are some thoughts...

The sins of the heart (pride, greed, jealousy, unbelief, fear etc) are equally detestable to God. We all know that the process of sanctification in these areas is often gradual. For the transsexual we must allow for a process of change that is rooted in heart transformation, rather than external pressure.

Ceasing to cross-dress must be a goal to move towards. I was privileged to be part of a process where at each stage a door of change opened without me having to push it. Of course, that may not always be the case.

Marks of true repentance to look for in this process are:

- A ready acknowledgement that “God is right and I am wrong” on the matter of gender. Deuteronomy 22:5 should trouble the transsexual! Attempts to explain it away (e.g. “Oh, that’s just Old Testament stuff”) should be challenged.

- Openness to discuss the past unguardedly.

- A willingness at least to discuss the possibility of change.

- Actual steps towards change should be looked for. For example a willingness to become increasingly open with others and a greater modesty in dress and demeanour.

- Resistance to steps of change which you suspect is resistance to the Holy Spirit should be gently, but firmly challenged.

While naturally I was delighted at James’ decision to revert to a masculine lifestyle, especially, in retrospect, at the relatively short time it took, I was actually reconciled for it never to happen. This is of course provided that Mandy was not resisting the conviction of the Holy Spirit to change and that there was good evidence of growing holiness in other areas.

This is the story of the experience of a pastor in the south-east of England. The names “Mandy” and “James” are pseudonyms to protect the person’s true identity.

http://www.parakaleo.co.uk/

Used with permission

I am going to pour out My Spirit on all flesh.

By Alice Blackwell

I was asking the Lord for more of His Holy Spirit for myself and for Danny to come to a sharper focus for the future on Church Street. Throughout the weekend I felt a continual need to keep praying this prayer and to wait upon the Lord quietly and consistently. I feel that sometime in the future, somehow there needs to be something permanent on Church Street, a place to belong for us and for the people to whom we are called to minister

Early in the morning on Monday I awoke from a dream where the Lord was handing me a brown piece of paper, which opened like an accordion. I felt that it was saying to me there is a need sometime in the future for a place on Church Street. As I was pondering this, the Lord spoke to me “ I am going to pour out my Spirit on all flesh” – as this was being said, I felt in my spirit that, yes, this will cause there to be a need for a place for these people to come to besides just meeting in a coffee shop. With this I awoke and stood to my feet preparing to go to the living room for prayer. My cat Fluffy got up off the bed at the same instant and I said to the Lord, “ If You are indeed speaking to me, it would be nice if my little cat would jump on my back when I get down to pray like she used to do a long time ago.” (She had stopped with the changes in loosing Bootie). I know this sounds simplistic but I no sooner said it and it happened! I felt in my spirit that the Lord was indeed speaking to me and I could hardly contain my excitement!

I work with several people from the Middle East and I have been sensing their spirits to be unsteady with all the news etc. I want to be able to witness to them in some way and I instantly felt peace when the Lord spoke to me “I am going to pour out my Spirit on all flesh”. This will take care of the unsteadiness for everyone will see and feel the power of the Lord.

We travelled to the itinerant conference and there we were handed a book “Lord Capture My Heart Again” There in the first chapter the writer, Laurie Smith was quoting from the Scripture – “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh”.

In the December issue of the Pentecostal Testimony – there is an article about “ The Life in the City” – Montreal Evangel – 85 years ago, how it started with a solid foundation of prayer, evangelism and missions. The cry of my heart is “Do it again Lord in downtown Toronto, in the Church Street area where Your love is so needed.”

A Quote from another article by John Archer a would be missionary to the East,

“...whatever door He opens no man can shut. For now, we are on this raft called faith, and the strong current of His love is carrying us beyond the horizon. In the East the dawn is breaking. Beyond the horizon are a new hope and a new calling and a new vision. For now, faith, hope and love remain.”

Lifted from a Christmas publication from Bethany Bible College…
When the wise men saw the star in the east that first Christmas long ago, it captured their attention and they followed. It led them to Christ. That’s what light does. It leads people to God. As the world grows darker our longing for light grows stronger….

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