My parents let me move back into their home, in December of 1998, when I decided to leave homosexuality behind and return to God. It was a move I contemplated for years. As my life spiraled downward, every conversation with my dad was saturated with loving invitations to return home. To move home was to admit failure. Pride and the whispers of the enemy kept me from surrendering. Eventually, I moved home. My father did everything in his power to support my decision. This was nothing new, my father had always supported and loved me, even though he disagreed with my gay life.
It was a difficult move I have ever made. I was giving up my gay life and my perceived “freedom”. My flesh didn’t die a silent death. I was moving home to reconnect with Jesus, but on the drive home, I reconnected with Stephan, an old boyfriend. I was headed in the general direction of God, but I frequently stumbled. “Dear Christians” please listen. I made the decision to repent and turn to God and deny my flesh. The flesh rarely takes “NO” for an answer. There are gay men and women out there who want to walk away from homosexuality, but the high expectations of the Christian community, that they be perfect and never stumble again on the road to the cross, are stifling and unrealistic. The Cross of Christ has to be a place of refuge, not a Christian weapon of mass destruction.
Giving up my gay life wasn’t all that hard at first. I was so lost, I didn’t contemplate what I was giving up. Sex was always a wearisome cost of keeping men in my life. I grew up as the awkward little boy who never connected with his father, brother or same sex peers. God created all of us for relationship, though. I needed relationships with other men, but I didn’t know how to get them. I fell into homosexuality, because I found “acceptance” from other men who didn’t fit into the “Red-blooded American Male” category either. Other gay men were as much in need of relationship as I was. When I left homosexuality behind, it was the relationship and acceptance that I missed most, not the sex. When I first decided to walk away from gay, I wasn’t running all out towards God, but the forward momentum of my gay life had slowed to a crawl.
The transition from gay to Christian was bridged by a two-month all out porn marathon. Somewhere in the middle Jesus asked me if this was why I had given up everything and then He asked for my heart. I gave it to Him one day at a time. One day became 14 years. A new life rose from the ashes of my old one. I always had a sense that homosexuality was wrong, but I never chose to be gay. It was a feeling that had been there since I was very young, as natural to me as the heartbeat in my chest. Years later, when God led me to examine my past, I could see the environmental and developmental factors that led a little boy, me, who was born sensitive, artistic and creative to believe that he was “born gay”.
Though the coming out process has become an integral step in the lives of gay men and women, I didn’t view my own coming out as a milestone. I viewed it as hopeless surrender to a powerful and invisible enemy. “Coming out” is a systematic denial of the history and events that shape a person’s homosexual desires. It culminates in a singular, jubilant proclamation where one’s past is dismissed as a possible, causative agent of their broken sexuality. This action frees them to embrace the myth that they were “born gay” and dismisses biblical teaching about homosexuality as religious prejudice. I know this, because I was well versed in it.
Once on the road to recovery, I distanced myself from homosexual influences. I also distanced myself from zealous, Christian friends, who viewed my sin as a little worse than their own. Gay friends said, “shut up and dance”. Christian friends wanted me to “date women” and “pray more”. I left them all behind in favor of getting alone with God. Call me sacrilegious, but my first “trinity” experience consisted of Jesus, myself and my dad.
I spent 1999 at home praying, reading the bible, paying off bills and listening to radio preachers. A loving, small-town preacher, named Phil Clements, taught me how to slowly ingest and devour the Word of God. My parent’s house was a place of refuge for me; a place where I could hide away from the world’s influence and listen for God’s voice.
Ten years after I began my own journey out of homosexuality, the Holy Spirit prompted me to open my new home to guys who wished to leave homosexuality behind. Big Fish Ministry was born. We are now entering our fifth year. In a few, short weeks I will be quitting my dream job of fifteen years as a Sea World as animal trainer to become a full time fisher of men.
The Holy Spirit gave me the following scriptures. Peter and John are going to the temple for prayer time in Acts 3:2. “Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going in to the temple courts. “ The man asked Peter and John for money. Acts 3:6 “Then Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have, I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’ ”
Here is the cool part that applies to Big Fish Ministries. Acts 3:7-8 7 “Taking him by the right hand, [Peter] helped him up and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping and praising God.”
Our ministry and my church fellowship stand as Peter and John taking homosexual strugglers by the hand and helping them “up”. We help guys find freedom from their “crippling conditions” and then we walk alongside them into “the temple courts.” We serve, worship and live life together. We equip them to go back to their own “lives” and share the hope of Jesus with others.
We have had victories and defeats. Setbacks simply shape the way we plan for the future. Men have encountered Jesus as a result of this ministry. Whether or not they choose to embrace it, we’ve helped them discover the truth. In today’s culture where all things gay are celebrated, our ministry is an affront to many people. The “Born Gay” agenda keeps people who want out of homosexuality sequestered and paints those of us who adhere to a biblical view on homosexuality as “Haters” and “Bigots”. As long as there are men that need rescuing, our testimonies will be shared and our doors will be open. And that’s What Jesus Did, for me.