LIVING HOPE MINISTRIES
Abandoned p 18
The Kiss That Changed My Life p 14
The Truth About Change
Be A Better Dad p 11
My Gay Friend
TABLE OF CONTENTS Uncharted Territory.................................................................4 The Truth About Change..........................................................5 How Do I Help My Gay Friend..................................................6 From Leader to Liar to Love.....................................................8 Finding Hope........................................................................ 10 Connecting to the Sensitive Son............................................. 11 Real Men Wear Steel-toed Boots to Bed.................................. 14
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No Longer Alone................................................................... 16
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From Russia With Love.......................................................... 17
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Iâ€™m Not Leaving You.............................................................. 18
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The Road Often Traveled....................................................... 20 From the Inside Out.............................................................. 21 Helpful Resources................................................................. 23 Partner Churches.................................................................. 25 LHM Board of Directors and Staff........................................... 26 How Can LHM Help You?........................................................ 27
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ur world has changed. In just the past year we have seen the Supreme Court recognize gay marriage on the national level in the historic DOMA case. Maryland, California, Delaware, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and New Jersey were added to the ten states that already approve gay marriage. England/Wales, New Zealand, France, Uruguay, and Brazil were added to the list of ten other countries already approving gay marriage. The first openly gay bishop was elected by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. California and New Jersey outlawed reparative therapy for gender confused minors regardless of the parent’s or child’s desire for help. And the largest ministry supporting change for those with same sex attractions shuts down after almost 38 years of ministry. It is in the midst of this uncharted cultural milieu, Living Hope Ministries seeks to bring grace and truth. Though we recognize the political and cultural realities in which we operate, our aim is not political, but relational. Our mission is to journey with those seeking sexual and relational wholeness through a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. As we journey with individuals our goal is singularly focused on Jesus and the redemptive work He did on the cross reconciling the world to Himself. As we help individuals, families, churches, and organizations embrace the truth of Christ’s work on our behalf, we see people change. Change is not optional; it is required. The Gospel is transformational! With two full-time staff, three parttime staff and dozens of gracious volunteers, Living Hope reaches around the world with the message of hope and change through Christ.
Each week over 100 people gather in three locations for our in-person support groups for young adults, men, women, friends and family, and wives of men who struggle with unwanted same sex attractions. Our staff spends thousands of hours each year in personal, pastoral counseling and mentoring with individuals seeking help for their unwanted same sex attractions. Our young adult and adult retreats draw over 120 people from states across the U.S. and countries around the world for a weekend of Bible study, discipleship and worship. Our online support forums mirror our in-house groups with over 7800 members in over 170 countries around the world. Each year our staff speaks to thousands of people in churches, seminaries, schools and gatherings sharing how they can redemptively respond to those with same gender attractions. The world is indeed changing, but the Truth of God has not changed. We are committed to helping people embrace their true identity in Christ and live out their greatest joy in obedience to His will. But we can’t do this ministry without you. Now more than ever we need your prayers and financial support. As groups like Living Hope become more marginalized and even hated, the work we do becomes more difficult. If we are not here, who will help the Christian family who feels unequipped to deal with their son or daughter’s sexual confusion? Who will walk with the family whose loved one just came out as gay? Who will speak into the life of the young woman in seminary with a call on
her life, but a deep struggle with unwanted same gender attraction? Who will be a refuge of safety and solace for the father and husband who is struggling with his unresolved same gender attractions in a country where little or no help can be found? As you read the stories in this magazine you will discover that Living Hope has been that place of encouragement and help for people around the world. Because we continue to point people to Christ and His Gospel, lives are being transformed and change is taking place for the glory of God! We have immediate need for several additional staff: Full-time media director, full-time Men’s Director, full-time Communications Director, full-time Young Adult Director. Each staff position takes approximately $40,000 to fund. Additionally, we would like to see other satellites started in cities in Texas and states around the U.S. Each of satellite will take funding to start and staff to support it. We are privileged to partner with you and invest in the work of God through the ministry of Living Hope. Though the road ahead may look uncharted, our God is already there, making a way of redemption for all those who call upon the Name of the Lord. Ricky Chelette Executive Director
Uncharted Territory I think my favorite book in the Chronicles of Narnia series is “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”
“We recognize that if some have their way, the ministry we do will face societal rejection and potentially even legal challenges.”
You may remember that as the protagonists set out, they first visited the lands with which they had some familiarity. Then gradually they move into more unfamiliar territory and the dangers increased exponentially. They must work together, be courageous and trust in what they’ve been told. Ultimately through many dangers, they come to the entrance to Aslan’s country. For many of us, we’ve come to realize we are no longer in familiar territory. It is hard to imagine what has transpired just in the last year in the field of ministry to those with unwanted same sex attractions. The difference in our culture today and when I began my involvement with this ministry in 1995 is mind-boggling. Because of cultural and legal challenges many churches and ministries have become silent. We recognize that if some have their way, the ministry we do will face societal rejection and potentially even legal challenges. Yet in the face of all this, Living Hope Ministries has continued to be a lighthouse to those seeking truth and to the church. There are thousands of men, women, youth and family members who are longing for hope and for some light in this darkness. Having been involved in this field of ministry for almost 20 years I’ve become acquainted with most of the ministries throughout the United States and even abroad. I know of no ministries that offer the extensive level of support as does Living Hope. Each week we have over 100 men, women, youth and family members attend our meetings. Our online support forums reach thousands all over the world. Our staff and board members have spoken and led training all over
the United States and abroad. Today, thousands of people walk in freedom because Living Hope Ministries has continued to hold to a steady course in uncharted waters. We have been extremely blessed to have Ricky Chelette as our director. Ricky is totally committed to the truth of God’s Word and is very gifted in communicating that truth. We have also been extremely grateful for the wonderful staff who serve with such commitment and sacrifice to make ministry happen. Each of them brings a unique gifting to the ministry and on behalf of the board, I can’t thank them enough for all that they do. I urge you to join hands with us in this time of crisis in our nation. Help us get our message into our churches and Christian schools. We must be steadfast in our confidence in Christ. We must be enthusiastic in proclaiming a message of hope, love and compassion in spite of the accusations of hate. We must be persistent in offering hope for change in a confused world. I’m very careful and particular about giving my money or my time to ministries. I want to know they are solidly grounded in the Bible, that they are producing fruit, and that their finances are above reproach. LHM excels in every category. I have no hesitation in encouraging you to give generously and stand with the men and women of Living Hope Ministries.
Chairman of the Board
hange is at the heart of Living Hope Ministries because change is at the heart of the gospel. Jesus came to save mankind and His salvation assures us of a change that is beyond anything we can imagine. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 clarifies this change for us. “Now the Lord is Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled faces, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is Spirit.” I am being transformed into the image of the glory of the Lord. Recently, while attending Living Hope Ministries’ support group, I became keenly aware that the room was filled with people, not statistics. My mind shifted to my own personal experience with LHM which began 23 years ago when I was 19. Faces and names of countless hundreds of men and women who have been part of Living Hope crossed my mind. Many of those men and women have a significant place in my heart. In fact, a key element of the Living Hope experience is the opportunity to connect with
other believers whose desire and hope is centered in Christ and a certain assurance of His power to change lives. Nineteen years old and somewhat naive, I believed I would probably attend LHM for about six weeks, get the basic teaching, and my same sex attraction would go away. Little did I know that my attractions were only a small part of what God wanted to change. I was enslaved to sex and changing my behavior was beyond me. Sexual addiction was a new term for me, but it was my existence. Years of anonymous “hook ups” had become my normal. It was Living Hope that brought truth to my experience and opened my eyes to the depravity I had embraced as mine. I’ll never forget the evening when I was challenged to tell God what I really wanted. “God what I really want is to have sex with men.” I said it honestly for the first time. The curtain of outwardly expressing love for Jesus and desire to change my behavior had been pulled back and the true condition of my heart was revealed. Upon this honest confession transformation began to happen. Confessing that I really wanted sex moved me to an honest prayer, “Father, change me.” If the ultimate “change” is reflecting the glory of God, it means I must learn to “behold the glory of God.” Change comes through beholding, rather than self focus and vain attempts at behavior modification. Living Hope Ministries consistently points people to Jesus in their process of transformation, because we know change is only possible through the ministry of the gospel. If the gospel is indeed the power of God unto salvation, we can expect that once surrendered to Christ, a life steeped in sin and darkness can be transformed to reflect His glory.
I’ve changed so much in 23 years and I’m still changing: Constant anonymous sexual encounters are something of my past, not my present; my hatred of women and lack of desire for marriage is past; ongoing addiction to pornography and masturbation is past; lies and deceit, past; isolation leading to selfish choices, past; uncontrollable lust, past; attraction to men that can only be satisfied through sexualizing or acting out, past; feelings of inadequacy as a man, all in the past. My brokenness has been replaced with: Faithfulness, present; appreciation of the feminine and deep love for my wife, present; pornography and masturbation no longer controlling me, present; enjoying the fellowship of friends and family, present; understanding lust and yielding to the Spirit, present; growing in relationship with men based on something other than attraction, and affirming them as God’s creation for His glory, present; accepting my place as a man in my home, the church and community, all present! People want to know how we measure transformation. Simply put, I’m not the man I used to be. I’m being transformed. The Spirit of God continues a deeper cleansing and healing of broken places in my life as I continue beholding the glory of Jesus. That night as I considered the countless ones who have come by way of Living Hope, I was moved to worship. Some of our dear friends have stepped out of these frail earthly vessels and on to Glory—no more temptation, struggle or sin; no more pain, sorrow, grief or sickness. They are beholding Jesus and have been made like Him. I looked on the faces of those men and women gathered on that particular night and saw a reflection of the glory of God. We are being transformed!
by Darrel Auvenshine, Men’s Ministry Director
The Truth About Change PAGE 5
How Do I
by D’Ann Davis, Women’s Ministry Director
“How do I help my gay friend?” This is a question we hear constantly in the Living Hope office, when out speaking at events, or from friends and church members from around the world. Twenty years ago few Christians asked this question, for few knew any same gender attracted people, or if they did know them, they were ignorant to their friend’s struggles. Today almost everyone knows of someone who identifies as gay or deals with a measure of same gender attractions. Even if a Christian finds himself in a season of life where he does not personally know of a same gender attracted (SGA) person in his sphere of influence, this question is of utmost importance in light of the change of our culture and the growing willingness of Christians dealing with SGA to openly talk about their issues. So how does one help a gay identified friend or SGA friend?
The first response I typically give to this question is actually another question. “Does your friend know Jesus?” This is a vital first question any believer must tackle before attempting to help a friend deal with her sexual attractions. This is because there are two different routes to take depending on the answer to this question. If the friend in question does not know Jesus, then it is paramount the emphasis of help given is placed on helping her know Christ. If a person decides to live her life as a heterosexual, but she does not know Jesus, then what has been gained? It in no way helps a person to become straight if she goes straight to hell when she dies because she does not know Christ. Whether PAGE 6
or not she feels attracted to her gender or the opposite gender is not what determines the eternal state of her soul. Salvation is in Christ alone. We must speak the gospel to our gay identified friend with truth and grace so that she, like all of us, might know she is a sinner in desperate need of a Savior. Invariably in the process of walking with a gay identified friend, he will ask for the Christian’s views on homosexuality. A recent Barna poll showed that 91% of those who identified as non-Christian viewed Christians as anti-gay. So the majority of the time, a lost gay person will have strong assumptions about a Christian’s attitude toward him. The best thing a Christian can do for his gay friend is to speak and demonstrate truth and love to him. One can clearly communicate the grace of the gospel that all people, regardless of their manifestation of sin, have fallen short of the glory of God and need a way to be reconciled to God, and Jesus is THE way. It does our gay friends no favor to teach a false gospel, that God’s word is not true or is unclear about his sin, as we would likely never do this to our lost friends who are mired in the sins of alcoholism, heterosexual promiscuity, self-righteousness, adultery, thievery, or godless religion. Any friend we truly love we would risk the offense of expressing the reality that they are not perfect, just as we are not perfect, and we are all in need of the grace and mercy God affords us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Might we offend? Yes. Is it taboo in America today to come into agreement with the Word
of God that homosexual practice is sinful? Absolutely! Jesus says in John 7:7, “The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil.” We do risk offending people when we stand in agreement with God’s Word because a world darkened in its understanding hates God’s Word in response to its indictment on our sin. The fact that our message can be offensive to the lost world requires an extra effort of presenting the gospel with grace and love in submission to the timing of the Holy Spirit. Holding signs screaming “Abomination,” preaching long, tedious sermons at people, or getting into argument after argument, is rarely the way to reach anyone. We must be gentle and wise in our boldness. We must seek our opportunities to speak as the Holy Spirit brings them to us, simultaneously seeking to honor, respect, love, encourage, and show kindness to our gay friend. If they are lost, then they are no different than we were when we were lost. We needed to be shown the way, and we needed someone to graciously lead us. If a believer has a Christian friend who deals with SGA and wants to find freedom and healing in Jesus Christ, here are some easy and practical ways you can help. These are not exhaustive, but will be important in helping any friend struggling with SGA. 1. Be a gospel-centered friend. There is nothing better you can do to love your SGA friend than to know and live the gospel for
yourself. To be transformed by Jesus on a daily basis is the best way to be a friend to anyone. If you really want to help your friend you must live the gospel so that it can overflow out of you to your friend. There is no way to extend grace without having first received it yourself, so you must know and love Jesus deeply to be a good friend to others. 2. Be trustworthy. Those struggling with unwanted SGA have often experienced the nightmare of finally reaching out to a friend for help, only to have that confession instantly spread and gossiped to countless people. It is vital to be a trustworthy confidant. 3. Be committed and faithful. Many who struggle with SGA have issues with abandonment. If you seek to help your friend, commit for the long haul. There are fewer things more difficult than to risk vulnerability in a relationship only to be continually abandoned by those who were not truly invested long term. Know the path of recovery is long and there will be many obstacles along the way. Be ready to have your commitment tested by even the struggler herself, but seek to remain faithful and steady in the midst of what can at times be a particularly stressful relationship. 4. Be patient. Know that the struggler will have many ups and downs, victories and failures, and will often be caught up on a roller coaster of emotion, as is the case with anyone overcoming strong addictions or working through deep-seated wounds. Extend the grace to him that you would like to receive yourself. Celebrate each victory and mourn
each defeat, always spurring your friend on toward Christ and life and freedom in Him. 5. Be healthy. You cannot fix or save your SGA friend. Having healthy boundaries is of such great importance that it cannot be overstated. If you do not know what it means to be healthy relationally, then seek help to work through your own issues so that you might be a better help to your friend. Demonstrate appropriate levels of contact and affection. Do not allow manipulation to be the mode of operation within the relationship. Be direct, kind, loving, and do not give in to manipulative tactics or play games yourself. Those struggling with SGA often find themselves in relationships with blurred boundaries or no boundaries at all. The best way to learn about healthy relationship is in the context of healthy, boundaried relationships. Establish boundaries early on and stick to them regardless of your friend’s possible protests. 6. Be honest. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (Proverbs 27:6). As believers we are to speak the truth in love to one another. If your friend is in sin, then the only way to love him well is to speak truth to him and point him back to the cross. If he is willing to let you be an accountability partner, make sure you ask direct questions and follow up when he reaches out for help. Know that few of us can stay out of sin if we dabble in
continued on page 19
From Leader to Liar...
y first event with Living Hope was the banquet in 2012. At the banquet I heard the stories of men and women whose testimonies were not too different from my own. Stories of terrible pain and abuse - wrongs that should never be done to any of God’s children. Stories of rebellion and running from God. Stories from men and women who simply wanted to be loved, seen, and accepted and who wanted to love in return. Stories of God’s grace being poured out on unsuspecting, and undeserving sinners. And as I listened to these stories I noticed a glaring difference in the lives of these men and women and that of my own. They weren’t chained by shame, living a double life, and hoping no one would discover their past. They were vibrant and full of life! That evening the Lord began something new in me. I was raised by parents who prayed for me. They longed for me through years of infertility, finally accepting that my older brothers would be their only children. Years later they discovered they were pregnant – with identical twin girls! They loved and treasured PAGE 8
my sister and me. We were raised in church, and I grew up loving Jesus. Having come to faith early, I loved the Word. I loved God and His church. As a teenager I knew I wanted to serve Him overseas. From the outside looking in, everything was fine.
academics, and band. Other leaders saw me as a leader and invested in me.
But there was emptiness in my home. My parents weren’t able to emotionally engage me or communicate their love for me in a way that assured me I was loved. Things began to go awry early when I was sexually abused by various people. As I grew and others continued to use me for their pleasure, I kept these things secret, not knowing how to communicate what was happening to those who were supposed to protect me. Consequently, the lines for appropriate and inappropriate relationships were blurred.
After college, I went on to seminary, became a missionary, and lived among an unreached people group in the Middle East until I was deported by the local government. I moved to Texas because I loved God’s Church and church planting and could be a part of a church plant in Texas. I led a home group and served in a variety of ministries. All of this to insure others perceived me as “good.” They loved and accepted who they perceived me to be. I mastered the art of being in control of others perceptions of me at the cost of really being genuinely known by anyone.
From my teenage years on, I found myself working hard to live two lives. One life as a leader of my youth group, loved, accepted, and respected by parents, teachers, and youth leaders. With my family, I was the “quiet, easy, good” child. I excelled in my sport,
In college I traveled, speaking and presenting the research I’d conducted under the supervision of one of my professors.
People in my community never had the chance to love the parts of me I kept hidden. During my teenage years and twenties, and even while I was on the mission field, I was in church on Sundays, but the rest of the week was
by Sarah, 31, Texas
“Being a lesbian in a Southern Baptist seminary doesn’t really win friends, so I chose not to tell anyone.”
spent attempting to manage my double life. I struggled to fit in among healthy circles, but found acceptance among others who would help me perpetuate my sin. I found myself seeking out girls in high school and college with whom I could have physically intense, but emotionally empty and spiritually anemic relationships. I immersed myself in their lives and they in mine, all while manipulating and lying to keep it hidden. Various forms of sexual addiction became rampant in my life and I vowed that no one would ever know. The Lord graciously moved me away from every one of my lesbian friends when He called me to seminary. The pain of that break was unbearable. I felt so alone, unloved, and awkward. Being a lesbian in a Southern Baptist seminary doesn’t really win friends, so I chose not to tell anyone. I continued to hide my addictions, yet found myself in a season of respite from lesbian relationships. I studied Missiology, moved overseas, and eventually to Texas. I assumed that because I wasn’t acting on any homosexual desires and because I’d gone on a handful of dates with men, I was “fine.”
Fortunately, the Lord desires so much more for his children than being satisfied with being fine. His desire is abundant life! When the Lord put LHM in my life I began to see the hope for deep, lasting healing. Hearing Ricky preach the Word weekly has been a tool used to keep me focused on Scripture. Darrell leading in worship is a powerful tool in softening my heart. Meeting with the ladies of LHM, being challenged by D’Ann and the small group leaders, and having a chance to confess my brokenness openly has been life-giving. B ei ng reminded weekly to walk toward Jesus, to talk to Him about what I am or am not feeling, and being encouraged to invite him into every aspect of my life has been refreshing. I’ve learned that my attractions, my wounds, and my brokenness do not and cannot define me. They don’t have the power to overwrite the truth of who I am in Christ! I’m learning how to live, breathe, and do life as a loved
and treasured child of God. I’m learning to use the way God made me as a woman, a leader, and a person passionate about His kingdom to glorify Him rather than using those gifts as tools to cover up and hide my sin. I’m learning how to invest in relationships and allow others to invest in me. I’m seeing the beauty of allowing my community to see my wounds and brokenness and I’m seeing them love me. I’m seeing myself grow in my ability to love others and to receive love from others. Living Hope Ministries hasn’t taken away my homosexual desires; it hasn’t fixed all my problems or saved me. But LHM has diligently pointed me to a Savior who passionately loves and pursues me. LHM hasn’t healed the wounds in my heart left by emotionally unavailable parents and sexual abuse. But I’ve been met there by a loving Father who delights in me and calls me child, whose desire is to show me all I am in Him and all that is available to me in Him. PAGE 9
Finding Hope F
or most of my adult life I chose to believe the lie that I had a normal childhood with loving parents. The truth was I was a broken woman raised in an abusive home by broken parents. By the age of six I had experienced physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and had attempted to end my life. I learned to escape the pain of daily life by burying my pain and emotions. By my early teens, I feared I was gay. This was a secret I planned to take to my grave. I could not imagine sharing this horrible truth with anyone. I buried this secret with everything else, and never allowed myself to consider any type of relationship... Ever. By the age of 14, my parents had turned their lives over to Christ. Things were better at home, and the whole family benefited from their new life in Christ. We began attending church services. There was a peace in my home that brought me hope. But, unfortunately, the past problems were never faced and buried in a shallow grave. Despite the positive changes, a year later I was planning my death. I felt worthless, hopeless and damaged
I poured everything into a relationship with God and pursued religious training to prepare for a role in ministry. I spent three years working with a ministry geared toward teens. During this time I received what would be the foundation of my future to help others in emotional pain. Upon returning home, I began working in my home church. I later worked in two other churches. Unfortunately, I found that broken people create imperfect organizations. I began to receive new wounds that led to discouragement and disillusionment with organized religion. I decided it was time for me to take over the direction of my life. Following Godâ€™s plan was too slow and costly. I chose college and a career working with wounded children and families through the state welfare system. I actually convinced myself that I was working for God. It looked the same, but God was not allowed into this system. My first same sex relationship began one year into my new career. I thought a relationship would take away the pain and sadness that was always present. During the three chaotic years of the relationship, I began to
I spoke to the pastor about my past. He said they would accept me as long as my struggle remained in the past, but also made it clear there would be no discussion or help within the church. beyond repair. I just wanted the pain to stop. I begged God to give me a reason to live. He assured me that all my suffering had a purpose, and He had a plan for my life. I held tightly to that promise, and many times that promise gave me the strength to endure my deep loneliness. PAGE 10
experience health problems. I also began taking numerous medications that were supposed to fix me, but they only dulled the past. Within five years I was in my second same sex relationship which also could not satisfy.
by Susan, 55, Arkansas
By 2007 I was coming to the end of my own ability to fix others or myself. During this time my health began to deteriorate, making daily function almost impossible. I began counseling in an attempt to address the old wounds that would not heal. It was during this treatment process that I was encouraged to embrace lesbianism and I chose to believe this would lead to the peace I desperately desired. I built up a community of lost souls for myself within the lesbian community. I quickly discovered this was also a hopeless dead end. As I pursued another same sex relationship I became aware of Godâ€™s faithful pursuit of me. One night God wrecked my hardened heart with one scripture after another reminding me of truth. The veil of deception begin to lift, and my prodigal heart cried out to the living God. Things did not miraculously improve, and within six months my job, health, medical insurance, comfortable income, professional reputation and friends were all gone. I was totally dependent on God for everything, and still struggling with my past hurts and same sex attractions. Over the past 20+ years the only thing that had changed was my age. But God was not through with me. God began digging up everything I had buried. My healing had only begun, and I realized I would need more than regular church attendance to address the root of my attraction. I severed all ties with my former way of living, but had nothing to replace that community. Unable to share my secrets intensified the deep loneliness I felt. Healing and freedom from homosexuality was not a topic discussed at any church I knew about. I did
find a church to attend and I spoke and completely accepted for the first to the pastor about my past. He said time in my life. they would accept me as long as my struggle remained in the past, but As I consistently participated in the also made it clear there would be no forum I began learning so much about discussion or help within the church. myself and the roots of homosexuI began looking for a church or a ality. LHM also had audio teaching Christian organization to help me available on their website that allowed work through my SSA. I didnâ€™t know me to gain a deeper understanding of what I was looking for my own struggles as and found nothing. I well as encouraged I have hope for my knew homosexuality a new and healthier future and my relawas a sin, but I also understanding of knew the attraction Godâ€™s love for me. tionship with God is was real and would stronger... I pray others not go away by an act The more I learned struggling with same of my own will. the stronger my comsex attraction find help mitment to Christ and hope. There are so I began praying and became. As I began many like me out there seeking Godâ€™s help sharing my long-held in finding someone secrets, I was dislooking for freedom. or some organization turbed by the depth I pray they find to help me break of my brokenness. Living Hope. free. One day while New and deeply burchatting with old ied trauma, hurts and friends on Facebook, I found a new emotions were being exposed. I would entry. An old friend was sharing what need tangible help from my own suphad transpired in her life over the past port system as well as a community 30+ years. A new hope was lit within of people with whom I could begin to as I read her story of life in the gay build healthy relationships. community, and her efforts to break free from the gay lifestyle. I searched for local support within my own geographical location. It was We began talking and she shared discouraging to find so little available details of her story and the ministry to those looking for freedom. I did, she had found in Texas. She said that however, find numerous churches, orthrough a relationship with Christ ganizations and counselors willing to this ministry was helping those with help me accept my homosexuality and same sex attraction gain freedom. support me in achieving happiness in a same sex relationship. Living Hope Ministries had an online The closest location to receive Biblical support forum that provided support counseling was four hours from my and community to women and men home. from all over the world. It was a place to safely share daily struggles and After one year on the forum and after receive encouragement and prayer. attending my first LHM retreat, God provided everything necessary for me What a Godsend the online forum to move to DFW. It was so exciting was for me! For the first time in my and encouraging to find people who life I was sharing my own story with would help me in my journey out of others who were willing to listen homosexuality. and who understood. I no longer felt completely alone. There were boundOne week after moving to DFW I aries on the forums and LHM staff attended my first LHM in-house and moderators who monitored the meeting. What an amazing opporconversations, lending support, prayer tunity God has provided me to seek and wise counsel as needed. I felt safe freedom from same sex attractions.
The unexpected blessing is the LHM staff who is always available to offer guidance, prayer and speak into my life. The love and compassion they provide allow me to
understand God and His character in a way I never imagined as they model Christ. I have begun a new stage in my life. I have hope for my future and my relationship with God is stronger and the center of this healing process. I pray others struggling with same sex attraction find help and hope. There are so many like me out there looking for freedom. I pray they find Living Hope.
Connecting to th
SENSITI SON He’s a wonderful young man. His teachers think well of him and he is a delight in their classes. He is a good kid. His mom and dad never have to fear a teacher conference for they know they will be met with accolades and congratulations for raising such a fine boy. But as dad listens to the praise of his son he wonders why he has such a tough time connecting to his gifted and talented son. He thinks his son is different. He doesn’t really know his little boy, but mom does. She’s deeply connected to her son and she seems to get him in ways dad does not. It is not that dad does not try to be connected to his son. He certainly does. In fact, dad can recount each time he invited his young son to do something with him: pitch ball in the front yard, go on a fishing trip, join him for an early morning hunt, assist him in the garage as he works on the family car, watch the Monday night football game and so many more, but always with the same response: “No thanks dad!” In many ways, dad feels like he is an outsider in this son’s life, watching from the sidelines as his little boy lives in what seems to be another reality, a different world, and a foreign land to the dad. Dad does not like this reality, but he doesn’t know what to do to make it different. The truth is, there is nothing wrong with the son or the dad. This dad simply has a sensitive son and dad is more likely rough and tumble. Rough and tumble men tend to express their emotions in physical ways. This is most readily seen in their early childhood. When happy, a rough and tumble boy might jump up and down or roughly hug his mom, little sister or family pet. When angry, he might punch a hole in the wall, throw and break his favorite toy or hit someone. If excited, he might tackle his
sister, kick the cat or swing from the chandelier in joy. Rough and tumble boys grow up to be rough and tumble men and though they learn more constraint in the personal expression of their emotional feelings, they are still drawn to the physicality inherent in games like football, basketball, baseball and soccer. They can still punch a wall, break a possession or spin the wife wildly in the air. The difficulty is that rough and tumble guys have a particular way of communicating. They tend to be matter-of-fact in their communication and their words centered more on actions and results than on feelings and emotions. This is not the language of the sensitive son. Sensitive boys see the world with acute and magnified vision. It is as though they have a giant magnifying glass attached to the lens of their soul. Everything that happens near them, to them, or around them, they experience much more profoundly than their rough and tumble counterparts. Though deeply concerned with truth and facts, they are equally fascinated by emotions and feelings and often communicate in more emotive terms. They often view life as one large integrated reality with each individual part only contributing to the greater symphony of beauty and tragedy that is life. They often believe they have been created to impact the world around them in profound and powerful ways. They are also generally very gifted and talented young men. When a rough and tumble dad tries to engage with a sensitive son, it’s like the collision of two different cultures
by Ricky Chelette, Executive Director
with radically different languages embarking on negotiations for which neither has been provided a translator. Frustration, aggravation and isolation are often the result; each feeling the other is not truly trying or engaging in real intimacy. It is exhausting and in some cases, hurtful for all involved. I’m often asked by dads what can a dad do to bridge this gap, to navigate these uncharted waters and find real connection and intimacy with their sensitive sons. Of course, there is no pat answer that works for every situation. But after working for more than thirty years in ministries helping folks build stronger relationships, I do have some suggestions: 1. Be the man of God you have been called to be. Your congruence of faith and life is paramount for you to have credibility with your son. You must live what you say you believe. Your deep and abiding relationship in Christ will be intriguing to your son. 2. Tell him that you love him often and specifically. Your words are the most powerful words in his life. He needs to hear “I love you” and not simply when he is doing something good. He needs to know you love him simply because he is a gift from God given to your care. 3.Spend one on one time with your son and look him in the eye when you communicate with him. Date your son. Designate one day a week or every few weeks to go to dinner together, go for a hike, or visit a museum where just the two of you can communicate. He doesn’t need a lecture in these times, but is looking for someone to hear his concerns and dreams and affirm his life. 4. Love his mother and his sisters (should he have any)
deeply and gently. Because he is closely connected emotionally to these significant women in his life, your care for them communicates your sensitivity and awareness of people he greatly values. If there is disharmony between his mom and you, he may be inclined to take her side and take up her cause. 5. Story your life with him so he knows who you are and how you survived life. These boys love a great story because to them, all of life is a grand movie in which they are a principle player. Let your son know specific things you went through at his age. Share your successes, but especially your failures. He needs to experience you as a hero, but also as a real person who has traversed the path he now travels. 6. Be vulnerable and not invincible. Life is hard and though I don’t believe you should share every detail of every difficulty with your young son, he does need to know when you are having a tough time. Invite him to pray for you and be sure to share with him how those prayers are answered or how God comes through for you in those difficult times. Because of his sensitivity and perceptiveness he will know something is up. Sharing, appropriately, what is going on relieves his anxiety and invites him to proactively participate in life with you; valuing him as a “man” as he joins you in prayer. 7. Learn to say, “I’m sorry” and “I was wrong.” These simple words communicate love and value. We all make mistakes and when we admit them, repent of them, and move forward, your son learns a valuable lesson in life: how to fail without being a failure. 8. Affirm his God-given gifts even when they are different than yours – in fact, even because they are different than continued on page 24
Real Men Wear Steel-toed Boots to Bed by Mark, 41, Australia
I was at a large Christian Men’s Convention in the Blue Mountains – an idyllic location for such an event, but my mind wasn’t on the beautiful views and magnificent scenery. It was on the dreamy looking guy up front talking about how he managed to deal with his pornography addiction. He spoke about his wife (“Rats!” I thought, “he’s so good-looking.” I’d kind-of hoped his problem was gay pornography), he spoke of support-groups (“That would be great – if I could get to one!”), and left me in a state of complete ambivalence. His eyes were so blue and clear; they made me weak at the knees, yet what he had to say really affected me. I knew I had a problem. I knew I needed to
do something about that problem, so at the last minute, I stole away from my group to go and meet the dreamy, blue-eyed Adonis. It was time to “man-up” and confess my sin to another. It was a risky strategy. If those in my group knew what I was seeking to confess, I felt sure they would censure me. We were from the rugged “outback,” from a culture where men were so tough that they wore their steeltoed boots to bed. It’s a culture where sport is king and where it was often said, “‘Poofters’1 should be rounded up, and left on a desert island.” An uncoordinated, slight-built, sensitive boy like me was an aberration. It took me all day to pluck up the courage to talk to that man and when I could put it off no longer (the Convention was about to finish), I sought him out. I confessed I had a problem with gay internet pornography and I knew it was destroying me. He sympathetically listened and told me I was very brave to seek him out and that it was also his problem. It was a relief to be talking to someone working through the same issue. 2 Corinthians 1:4 says, “[God] comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” I believed it was his turn to help me with the comfort he’d received. The only problem was that his help came in the form of weekly support groups, in a large city
1 poofter - n. Derogatory slang 1. a man who is considered effeminate or homosexual 2. NZ a contemptible person PAGE 14
some 1200 kilometers from my home. What to do? I had been a sexually curious child and had engaged in “I’ll-show-youmine-if-you-show-me-yours” behind the laundry shed more than once. Fortunately, I was raised in a home where Jesus Christ was honoured in word and deed and my diligent mother had read, “Shaping your Child’s Temperament” by Beverly LaHaye. It turned out I was her melancholy child, her “rough diamond” that would need shaping. I was already having trouble fitting in at school and knew well the experience of Janis Ian who penned: To those of us who knew the pain Of valentines that never came And those whose names were never called When choosing sides for basketball - At Seventeen So when one of the boys from a Christian family at my school invited me home for a sleepover, I think my parents were glad their 10 year-old boy had made a friend. That night, however, I was introduced to new sensations and pleasures a boy should not know. Reflecting upon that situation from the relative clarity of adulthood, I wonder if my friend had seen things he should not have been exposed to either – it turns out his much older brother was gay. My sleepover “experience” set in motion an endless desire to experience “it” again. I eventually found a willing partner in another neighbourhood boy and we “experimented” until my father sensed something was wrong when I was 15. My pre and early adolescence was shaped by these powerful sexual experiences.
My father’s detection was so tremendously embarrassing and humiliating, that 25 years later, I shudder at the recollection. It all ended there. I grew the rest of my teenage years looking like a well-adjusted teenage boy. I had made a commitment to Christ at a tender age and it was time to get real with my faith and live it out.
to marriage for life and regardless of whatever pull towards sin I now felt, I was not going to walk out. I sought a counsellor, but the nearest Christian counsellor who would deal with homosexuality was 1200 kilometers away. A visit or two per year was the best I could hope for.
I couldn’t believe what I was reading! It seemed like the stories of the other men were copied... from my life.
That should have been a happy ending, but masturbation had me in it’s vice-like grip. I still wanted to relive those powerful sexual experiences and homosexual fantasy became the jaws of that vice. But where does a good Christian boy go to get help with such wicked and repulsive problems? This was the 1980’s and any hint of homosexuality was shunned and ridiculed. Even more problematic was the small, isolated community in which we lived. Christians were observed with skeptical and suspicious eyes and any admission would have been fodder for the rumour mill and the vicious gossip-mongers. So, I found a couple of books by Christian authors that were helpful, but nothing seemed to put an end to the struggle.
In my early twenties, I did take up with a girl – she was my first girlfriend. I was thrilled to think she could like me. Things developed and we married. I had decided my fantasy life had to stop. I wouldn’t want my new wife dreaming of another, and I thought I owed her the same courtesy. By the grace of God, fantasy did stop. Enter: the Internet. We’d been married three years when we first got online. It took a year or so, but I still remember when I first dared to seek out my first gay pornographic image. The floodgates were opened and a new battlefront presented itself in full Technicolor. In the space of a few short years, I realized I was going backwards. I had committed
So, I continued to suffer in silence. My addiction would ebb and flow. Sometimes things were good and under control, other times, I spiraled out of control towards destruction. Then there was “the kiss.” We were on holiday, visiting a foreign shore and I noticed a guy and he noticed me. Somehow we kept bumping into each other and very soon sparks flew. He kissed me. My mind was in a whirl: I wanted to enjoy it, but knew I shouldn’t. I tried to get away, but he was persistent. I cannot recall how, but I did get away before anything more happened. But the whole thing left me shell shocked. Adultery was no longer virtual – it was ACTUAL. Without really knowing how, I crossed the line. I was filled with remorse and after returning home, was able to receive significant help through an ex-gay ministry in Sydney. Sadly that ministry lost their pastoral care worker and I was once again without support. Another three years passed and the cycle of pornography continued. I was desperate. At the Christian Men’s Convention in 2011, hearing about a way to be free from my sin was exciting. Hearing that help was still out of reach was demoralizing. And then God provided a way …
good, but it required signing up. It required a user name linked to an email address. Suddenly irrational fears rose up before me: “What if someone from my town was on the forum and recognized me from my story? What if they took that and made it public? What if…” I closed the web-browser window and consigned it to the “too hard” basket. But my problem didn’t go away. Indeed, my misery deepened until finally, four months later, I bit the bullet and signed up to the Living Hope Forum. Once in, I couldn’t believe what I was reading! It seemed like the stories of the other men were copied, however crudely, from my life. Then there was Ricky’s video on the Development of Male Homosexuality. It opened my eyes like never before. Suddenly my chance encounter whilst on holiday made complete sense. All at once I belonged to a community of men from around the globe, struggling, processing, encouraging, chastising, advising, praying, confessing and sharing. How I needed that support in my quest to be free from the snare of homosexuality! How refreshing it was to have fellow pilgrims on the journey, brothers on the road, and someone(s) to walk the mile and bear the load. I’ve just celebrated my 2nd anniversary on the Living Hope online forums. I am not as cured as I may have hoped for 20 years ago, but I am further along the road to holiness because of it. Without LHM, I would have little or no support. The Lord has used Living Hope to bring sanctification in my isolated life on the other side of the world. All praise to His glorious Name!
The blue-eyed Adonis remembered an online forum called “Living Hope.” He suggested I should sign-up and see if it would be helpful. Once home, I checked it out. Living Hope looked PAGE 15
photo by Chris
No Longer Alone
by Samuel , 23, East Texas
t the beginning of this year, I began my voyage into uncharted waters. Over the Christmas holiday, approaching the end of my undergraduate stint at university, I felt the Spirit encourage me to sit down with my parents and talk about the struggle that had been crippling me throughout college, and to be honest, for as long as I could remember. We had talked about this before, but I didn’t feel like I had really made clear the nature of what I was wrestling with inside. We sat and talked, and I told them I was quite sure I could never “like” girls like boys were supposed to. I had never really been at a point where I would admit that I was “gay,” but that is what the world would say about me if they knew the nature of my addiction to pornography and masturbation and my attraction to men. I was never going to embrace a gay identity. The secret lie I was living was that I can keep myself from “acting out” by satisfying myself with this secret sin of gay pornography. The biggest problem with that line of thinking is that we can never be satisfied with just a little bit of sin. Slowly but surely we will always slip into darker places when we disobey God. Now that my parents really knew what it was that was bothering me, we prayed about it and they encouraged
me to take the next step to seek counseling (or something). Funny thing is, the longer we wait to answer the Spirit’s call the harder it is to answer it. I sat idly on my struggle for a few more months, when out of nowhere, God gave me another chance to seek help. Brock, the Living Hope director in Bryan/College Station, spoke at a church event I was attending. Through Brock, I got involved with what the LORD was doing through Living Hope Ministries.
As the son of a Music Minister in a Baptist church, I always thought I had to be a model of purity and holiness. I thought if I failed, my father’s ministry would be tarnished and my family shamed. I thought to myself, “surely there are not any other Christ-followers who struggle with this sin.” The most encouraging thing about getting to know the authentic, Christian men involved in Living Hope was to realize that I was wrong.
There are other Christians, much like me, who struggle with same-gender attraction and who are finding victory. Yes, it is a sin, but it is a struggle just like other struggles with sin. We have to seek Christ despite our flesh’s desire to sail in the opposite direction towards the familiar shores of our sin and brokenness. The greatest power this struggle held over me was the secrecy imposed by my shame and fear. I believed the lie that if anyone knew, I would be cast out! I now know condemnation has fallen away with Jesus’ sacrifice at the cross. Why could I not accept that? When I got to know other men who were seeking to follow Christ in purity through this struggle, I gained new perspective: I am NOT alone. For anyone who struggles with the power of any secret sin, that little realization is groundbreaking. “O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55 NASB) I never expected God to work in my life in such a mighty way three months before I graduated college. I do not consider myself to be completely “healed,” whatever that means. For me, “healing” also needs to take place in a lot of areas that I consider even bigger struggles, like pride and self-love. I have a long way to travel, but I am not lost at sea. I have a Guide and a Navigator who will never lead me astray.
From Russia With... It was June 26, 2012 when a good friend of ours sent us some screen shots of an Instagram conversation that rocked our world. We were in Haiti spending time with kids we have since adopted when we got the photos. I still remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach—a mixture of heartbreak and dread. Our then 17 year old daughter was in a relationship with another girl. Suddenly time that was supposed to be spent focusing on our kids in Haiti was spent trying to figure out what we were going to do and how we would respond. That day, time seemed to stand still. We immediately did what we could from Haiti. We prayed. We cried. We wondered what we would do. We shared the news with a couple of very close friends who were with us and we wondered what we would encounter when we returned home. What we heard when we returned were the typical phrases that all of us who have friends or family members who struggle have probably heard, “It just happened. We are in love. God must have given me this relationship because surely He wants me to be happy. I won’t stop seeing her.” Fortunately, our daughter was scheduled to attend a church camp the following week and she went ahead and attended. Thankfully, she responded to God that week and when she returned, there was a completely different attitude from her. She knew the relationship was wrong and she knew she needed help if she was going to have any hope to overcome the feelings she had. While she was gone to camp, we had already found Living Hope. We scheduled an appointment with D’Ann, the Women’s Ministry Director. During our time
with D’Ann, we got a thorough lesson on some of the factors that make some more susceptible to same sex attraction. Our daughter was a classic case—a child who was taken from her home at a young age, lived in an orphanage for 3 years, and missed out on some of the key developmental steps in her early relational development. We also learned about the weekly Bible study, worship, and small group support offered through Living Hope. My wife and I remember attending our first night—we were apprehensive to say the least! But once the worship started, we realized that what we were experiencing may have been one of the most genuine worship experiences we had ever experienced. The people in the room—both those who struggled with same sex attraction and the friends or family who were there supporting them—were looking for hope. We were counting on God’s grace and forgiveness to overcome sin. We were confronted by clear teaching straight out of God’s Word that both convicted and challenged us. We participated in small group sharing and prayer
by Kenny and Tami, parents, Texas
that first night with a room full of strangers. But it wasn’t long before those friends and family members became friends, prayer partners, and encouragers for us. Early on one of those friends mentioned to us that he started coming to Living Hope for his child, but now he came not only for her, but for himself. At the root of all sin is our desire to put ourselves in God’s place. We want to call the shots. We want to be the boss. We want to decide what is right and wrong; what is good and evil. The Bible tells us our hearts are deceitful and when we follow our hearts, many times they lead us astray. It is only when we obey God’s truth that we find freedom—for He promises that the truth will set us free! We never imagined we would be dealing with this issue in our family and I don’t really know why. Many families are affected by homosexuality. Ironically, we prayed about being involved in an unreached people group. We soon discovered most involved in continued on page 22
I’m Not Leaving You
by Kristen, 26, California
It is difficult to put my finger on why Living Hope means so much to me in my journey of healing this past year. There is nothing garish or elaborate about the way they do ministry, at least from my perspective as a participant. In fact, when I first met the women of Living Hope, I had no idea that any of them were even struggling with same sex attraction. I thought they were volunteers, or some kind of Bible study group that had come to the Exodus conference together from Dallas. I flew to Minnesota alone, without telling my girlfriend, to participate in the Exodus Freedom Conference as a last ditch attempt to pull my life together and stop doing the thing I KNEW God had called me out of; namely, dating women. For a year, I tried to silence God’s Spirit because I was tired of struggling between these two opposing forces in my life: God and my feelings for women. I had always sided with God, and I was tired of not knowing what it was like to truly live on ‘the other
side.’ Most of all I was tired of saying I believed one thing, while constantly failing to maintain those standards. So I quit trying altogether and told God I was putting him away for a while. I stashed my Bible in the bottom of my closet and stopped pretending like I wanted to go to church. Instead, I dated my girlfriend. I lived with her for about a year, and even though I was ignoring the Lord, he was not leaving me alone. He would speak to me in the strangest places, and at the most inopportune times. One night I woke up thirsty. I stumbled through the house to the kitchen for some water. Opening the refrigerator door illuminated the inside of my arm, which bore the imprint of my girlfriend’s tiny cross necklace. In that moment the Lord spoke to me and said “I’m not leaving you.” I was furious. “Why are you still talking to me?!” I thought. “Just leave me alone!” I shut the door and went back to bed. As hard as I tried, I could not get the image of that imprinted cross on my skin out of my head. I knew I belonged to God, and that he was not about to let me go. I was stuck in a miserable relationship that I didn’t know how to end. I could no longer numb my suffering soul with sex, drinking, or having a girlfriend. I knew I would always have the Holy Spirit living inside me and I knew God was never going to leave me. From this place of utter desperation I made an appointment with a counselor who immediately advised me to attend the Exodus Conference
in Minnesota, which began the next morning. It is a miracle I made it to that dorm room lobby in Minnesota at 1:00 a.m. the next day. It is the pure, relentless love of God that the women of Living Hope were also in the lobby that night. The moment I met these women they invited me in and treated me, a complete stranger, as one of their own. In those first few days of the conference I was struck by the love and respect the women of LHM had for one another. There seemed to be a deep friendship connection between them, along with an uncompromising adherence to their boundaries, which provided the security, safety and maintained propriety in the group. These qualities were irresistible and I found myself completely captivated by the mysterious force that compelled this group to strive for purity so intensely. Eventually, the conference ended and we parted ways, entering back into real life where the same challenges awaited us. What I didn’t expect was this same community I had been physically present with for four days was still with me in a strange way. The more I participated in the online support forums the more my friendships with these women deepened and they became just another part of my daily life. In this way, Living Hope is a lot like other communities or churches. We talk about our weeks, how our jobs are going, what the Lord is teaching us, what we’re reading in scripture, when people are coming through Dallas to visit in house, and occasionally the fact that we sometimes find the same sex extremely attractive. continued on page 24
continued from page 19
it so be willing to call your friend up to something more if you find him frequently dabbling in sin or making unwise decisions. 7. Be sensitive. Know that this is a deep-seated identity issue that will require great sensitivity and care. Saying things like “I totally knew it!” when someone first tells you of her struggle might give you a sense of pride, but it is extremely defeating for your friend to hear. Be cognizant of what comments you make about people with this struggle. As you grow in relationship with your friend, find out which things are particularly hurtful or triggering for her to hear. Ask what things you can do to be helpful or what things might be hurtful. If your friend is trying to break up with an SGA partner, inviting that partner to hang out with the two of you will be a stumbling block to your friend and will not be sensitive to her need to cut ties with her partner. Scheduling hangouts in parts of town that hold temptation for her is unhelpful and unloving. Know that you might need to sacrifice going to that particular trendy restaurant on that particular street for the betterment of your friend who is already struggling to avoid that area of town. Ask questions, and to the best of your ability, honor your friend and avoid being a
stumbling block or triggering difficult memories. 8. Get educated. Learning about the dynamics of this struggle and how to speak into your friend’s life will be incredibly helpful. Learning that simply encouraging her to “find the right guy” or wear something frilly and pink will not help, but likely inflame the issue and increase her sense of shame, isolation, and despondency. Read the free resources on the LHM website and dialogue with your friend to understand how this struggle uniquely affects her. The more you understand her, the more understood she will feel and the better equipped you will be to support her. Your efforts to learn and understand will mean a lot to your friend. 9. Cultivate relationships in groups. Unhealthy relationships are born in a one-on-one, exclusive, context. Seek to bring others into the friendship and request that your accountability relationship include at least one other person. Simply including one or two other people can often easily disarm an unhealthy dynamic. He will likely push against this idea with the insistence that it is impossible for him to let others, beside you, into his world. However, you must insist that for him to walk with you requires healthy relating which seeks to avoid a super-intense and exclusive, one-on-one relationship. 10. Help call them up to their natural born gender. People who struggle with SGA experience a detachment from their own biblical gender identity. This does not mean their personality needs to change or they simply need to “girl-up” or “man-up.” Learning what healthy biblical gender roles are is imperative and they need friends who will encourage and support them as they take the brave risk of moving toward embracing and expressing of their biblical gender. Mocking or teasing them about their pursuits will do damage. Help them not be ashamed of their biblical
gender through words of affirmation and recognition for their efforts. Acknowledge their efforts even in areas that might seem elementary or to come naturally to everyone else. Walking in biblical gender identity is new to them and will need your encouragement. After significant healing through Jesus, the next helpful element to a person’s journey in finding freedom from homosexuality is having healthy same-sex peers and mentors. There are fewer things more freeing for men and women than to feel intimately known, loved, and accepted in a healthy and holy way by their same sex peers. Loving an SGA friend is simply a call to remember the greatest commandments to love God with all one’s heart soul and mind, and to love one’s neighbor as one’s self. The key lies in living out the gospel every day and walking in the realization that we are all sinners in need of a Savior, and that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Be encouraged as you walk with your friend struggling with homosexuality, as it is a great opportunity to practically live out the gospel. As 2 Corinthians 5:20 tells us, we are ambassadors for Christ, so let us move forward in that confidence as we are blessed with the privilege of walking with our SGA friends toward freedom and transformation in Jesus Christ.
Women’s Ministry Director
“I’m attracted to guys” was what I told my parents for the second time in January of 2010.
by Jared, 22, Texas
photo by Chris
The first time I told them was 3 years prior, at a time when they were dealing with my oldest brother who had just announced that he was gay. Yet here I was, three years later, expressing that I needed help. My faith told me that acting on my desires was wrong, yet my feelings were so overwhelming. At 18, I hit a crossroads and had to choose a direction. My dad took me to see a couple from our church, and when he asked “What is the best thing we can do?” They replied with two words. “Living Hope.” I didn’t know what it was at the time, but I honestly never even considered that I’d become an active member. My time at Living Hope started out with my intake. Ricky proceeded to tell me the story of my life on a white board and completely changed my perspective on life and homosexuality. Despite the five hour round trip drive, my father and I came back to Arlington the following day to attend the in-house group. I was blown away for a second day in a row. The people were friendly, the worship was uplifting, the message was powerful, and the small groups were productive. As I drove back home on that crisp February night, for the first time in a long time, I had feelings of hope. From that night on I became as involved with Living Hope as I could. It started out as me attending once a month, and
quickly moved to every week. I also became very involved with the online ministry, expressing the deep things of my heart with people across the world who would pray and help me along the way. We laughed, cried and grew together. I had no idea I could learn so much from people who I had never met. I had no faces to put with the names, but they meant the world to me. The following year I was able to attend my first Living Hope youth retreat. It was a very powerful event in my life and I have been to every one since then.
My whole way of life changed as I now lived in close community with people who were dedicated to following Christ and walking in obedience to Him. I was called on to be a man. From the daily, mundane tasks of house upkeep, to the decisions I made in my walk with Christ, I was constantly called upward to walk in my Godly identity. It wasn’t easy to be in a state of highly accountable living, but the fruit’s of that season are clear in my life today. I completed the program and moved out of the house, ready to start a new chapter.
My parents also stayed involved with Living Hope, making the long drive each week to listen to the preaching and talk to other parents who had walked through this struggle. Living Hope changed their lives as much as it changed mine. It provided a safe place for them to express their fears and doubts in a place where they wouldn’t be judged.
I often compare my year in the House to heart surgery. I took a year out of my life to allow God to work and move as He willed. I knew that after the Hope House I would be stronger and more fit to engage a broken and hurting world the way Christ wanted me to.
Soon even my middle brother began attending, partially to gain understanding, but mostly to support our parents and me. Two years and many healed emotional issues later, I was ready for a next step. I was ready to continue growing in my faith and transition into the man I knew I was called to be. In September of 2012 I moved into the Hope House. The next year was filled with countless conversations with Ricky and the guys at the house.
I can honestly say that every aspect of Living Hope has touched my life in one way or another in the past three and a half years. I’ve been to LHM meetings, participated in the online support forums, participated in retreats, brought my family, referred my friends, and lived for a year in the Hope House. It has changed my life! I’ve been blessed to see many men and women walk ahead of me and into a life of freedom and sexual wholeness. Now I’m blessed to say I am one of them. continued on page 24
The Road Often Traveled PAGE 20
From The Inside Out
by Craig, 25, Texas
I first found out about Living Hope four years ago, but I didn’t actually start coming until one year ago. I’d like to say that my delay was the result of external circumstances that hindered my journey into holiness, but in reality it was my own stubbornness and tight-fisted control over every detail of my life. You see, when I first heard about Living Hope, I was just beginning my senior year of college and I had just opened up my soul to my college pastor, revealing to him the secret of my struggle of which I had always sworn to keep to myself. So, when he told me about the ministry, my mind painted a rather elaborate picture of a group of creepy, older men sitting in a long-since unused church gym, huddled close together in a circle, sitting in tan colored metal chairs. I told him no thanks, I’m good. Months passed and I began interning at a local church’s counseling ministry in order to get credit for one of my psychology classes. While I was there, I came across several Living Hope magazines, and to my shame, quickly stuffed them into my backpack while no one was looking. I was all about keeping my sin to myself, while wishing I didn’t have to. But, no one needs to know. I can fix this on my own. God, please help me, I can’t do this on my own. God, I’m trying to take care of this on my own, please stop dropping hints about Living Hope.
photo by Chris
There was this back-and-forth struggle I was having with my flesh and my spirit. My flesh was telling me that I could tame the beast. My spirit was telling me that God was knocking, and soon He was going to break down the door if I didn’t open it. Well, years went by, and I didn’t open it. My struggle went deeper; I became more depressed; I moved into my mom’s house; and life was not great.
I had been going to a smaller church and was involved in a small group there, and I had been wishing for help and relief from this darkness. I knew that something needed to be done, but in my darkness, could not see the Truth and wasn’t really seeking the Lord for help. So, God finally broke down the door. A guy showed up in my small group who, on his first day, told the group that God had brought him to Arlington to be a part of a ministry called Living Hope. I was floored, and so was my jaw. The chance of him showing up in my small group was not a coincidence – I knew it was God telling me that it was time to trust Him and take the leap. I met with Ricky and began attending group. It was weird – not in the old, creepy gym sort of way (thankfully!), but in the “Oh my gosh. I’ve never talked about this struggle so openly before!” sort of way.
not, a “we’re gonna fix these weird feelings you have” ministry. It is a home for me; a safe place that helps me see past my sin, and points me to the heart of God. Since becoming a part of Living Hope, I’ve moved into the Hope House – a year long discipleship, accountability-heavy, living situation, under the guidance of Ricky. Moving into the House was a scary step for me. But, I had been convicted to let go of my control, and seek out more discipline for my life. I had been living life on my terms, and sin still had a heavy stronghold on my life. Moving into the House has been difficult. God has revealed to me my heart, and I’m seeing the ugliness inside. I fight against God so
I began to experience freedom in bringing my sin to the light, and not just by saying it, but by also being challenged to take it all to Christ, and it opened my eyes to a life that is far more than just my sin. My whole life I’ve focused so much on this secret – it defined me mind, body, and soul. I Before coming to Living Hope, I felt hopeless. was same-sex I had no real, authentic relationship with the attraction. But, God really began Lord. working on my heart through Ricky and the guys at Living Hope. often, constantly choosing It wasn’t about the struggle. Yes, we my ways over His. But, talk about it. Yes, we confess. No, it what I’ve learned over the didn’t all stop there. I was challenged past year is this: though to push into Christ. I was offered my feelings come and go, advice on how to get into the Bible God’s love for me does not. and make it a part of my daily life. I was held accountable each week to the Before coming to Living commitments I had made the week Hope, I felt hopeless. I before. Living Hope was not, and is continued on page 22 PAGE 21
Interesting Facts About Living Hope Ministries 2014 will mark 25 years of ministry for LHM. LHM is the largest ministry of its kind in the world.
photo by Chris
Over 18,000 people have come through our online support ministry.
Our staff has spoken in churches and organizations across the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia. LHM is non-denominational and has participants from various faith backgrounds.
We do over 200 intake interviews for group each year.
LHM has one of only a few fulltime Women’s Ministry Directors in the country and a thriving ministry to women.
Our weekly support groups, online, moderated support forums, and our mentoring/pastoral counseling are all offered for free.
LHM has one of the largest ministries to youth, young adults and families in the country.
LHM is discipleship oriented and Christ-focused.
We were started by a seminary student.
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had no real, authentic relationship with the Lord. I saw Him as an angry man who had His constant eye on me, looking for things I did wrong. My feelings are fickle. I can be worshiping God one moment, and then the very next moment, choose sin. But, I’ve begun to realize the love God has for me, and that’s changing my heart. I cannot be perfect in this life. No amount of control I try to exert over my life, my heart, or my sin will ever change anything. I am a sinful person, and because of that I cannot make myself not be sinful. God is the one changing me from the inside out. It is in pursuit of holiness, of seeking Him, that the Spirit is changing my heart. I’m not being changed from gay to straight. I’m being changed into the likeness of God.
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homosexuality are unreached because I think Christians are afraid of them. Christians are afraid to wade into the messiness that is inherent in any sin, but especially one that is condoned by most in our society, even encouraged by many who call themselves Christians. Other Christians will ignore the gay community or simply judge it. We also recognized that this sin is now the “taboo” sin in many Christian communities. We don’t talk about it and we pretend it doesn’t exist in our town, our school, or our church. We have gained a great deal of respect for those of you who are struggling with this issue, but continue to seek God. Many folks don’t have the kind of support we have had for our daughter and many more are searching for a Christian community who will wade into their messy lives with PAGE 22
honesty, transparency, and truth. I am thankful for those who serve in Living Hope who are willing to do that for thousands of people around the world.
matter her decision. We won’t stop trying to help her, and we certainly won’t stop holding out the truth of God’s word to her.
The journey has not been easy and there are days that are really hard. We have definitely had our ups and downs these past fifteen months.
We have shared our story with our small group and now they pray for her, encourage her, and support her. We have recommended Living Hope to some others who have needed support and resources. I don’t know where we would be in this fight without the ministry of Living Hope. And after coming for the past 15 months we can agree with those who told us early on—you start coming for your friend, for your spouse, or for your kid who struggles, but you keep coming because you find YOU need it too. We look forward to seeing what God will do in and through us and our daughter.
We know our story isn’t finished and we don’t know how it will end. Our daughter still struggles. Not too long ago we were having one of those hard times, and I told her that when I thought of her, I still thought she was the cutest girl I had ever seen. The first time we ever laid eyes on her, nearly 11 years ago, I thought she was the cutest girl in the entire group of orphans who had come to visit Texas families from Russia. And I promise, she was. Now, as an 18 and a half year old today, I still think she is beautiful! I also know she is worth fighting for and we will continue loving her no
Resources for Growth Living Hope has put together years of helpful and original articles related to same sex attraction and those who love them. These free resources can be found on our website, www.livehope.org. Simply type the title below in the search bar at the top of our home page. We also have teachings, DVD, and audio downloads available for a small fee. Just click on Products on our main page. Here is a brief list of our most requested articles:
Healthy Same-Sex Friendships Finding A Good Counselor Keys to Recovery From Same Sex Attraction A Real Woman? Defining Biblical Femininity Answers to Questions Most Asked by Youth To Fathers: Words Matter The Fear of Man As We Think... Godâ€™s Artists: Real Men? What Does Healing Look Like? Marriage: Godâ€™s Idea Help! My Son is Gay Help! My Wife Struggles Managing Sin vs. Loving Jesus Removing Old Tools
photo by Chris
Resisting the Blessing
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yours. Your son is unique just as you are. He needs to know that his uniqueness is not “weird,” “gay,” or “freaky,” but the special way that God has gifted him to contribute to God’s glory in the world. He needs to know you approve of his gifts/talents and value him as a man as he walks in those gifts. 9. Verbalize your admiration of him early and often. Let him know you are proud of him. “I’m proud of you,” are life changing and life-giving words to every young man. Your verbalization of his good deeds and kind heart lets him know he meets and/or exceeds your expectations and you value him. 10. Become interested in the things in which he is interested. Invest deeply in his passions even when they are not your passions or interest. If he loves ballet, learn what a pirouette is. If he loves architecture, read some books on architectural styles and be able to identify ionic columns or Frank Lloyd Wright design.
11. Listen more than you talk. Though he wants to hear from you he longs to know he is truly heard by you. Reflect to him the things he is telling you to be sure you are hearing him correctly. Make yourself notes of important events, dates, and things that he particularly likes/enjoys. Check on those events or ask about those things he loves. 12. Let him know you are thinking about him when he is not around. Nothing speaks you are important to me than to know that you are on someone’s mind when you are not present with them. Take a picture of something you see that you think he would like and text/send it him. Text him at unexpected times that you love him and are praying for him; you are proud that he is your son. Buy his favorite gum, candy, comic book, author, or video game and give it to him, “just because you are my boy and I love you.” 13. Let him see you cry or at least see that you have real
emotions. He needs to know you have a heart and especially one that loves him. Let him know your dreams and hopes for him, and let him see how passionate you are in your love for him and your family. 14. When giving correction, always begin with praise for what he is doing right before telling him about what he needs to improve. Because of his sensitivity and tendency for perfectionism, he will always hear correction like it is being shouted from a megaphone. Subtlety is king here, so a little goes a long way. Sensitive boys are a gift from God who has given them the ability to impact the world for the Kingdom of God. The devil is aware of their potential and wants to kill, steal and destroy those possibilities. Don’t allow the evil one to speak lies into the life of your son. Connect with him, love him, and impact the Kingdom for good and for God!
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I’m not perfect, nor are any of the ones who came to this ministry before me, but I can honestly say I’m the most content and stable I’ve ever been, and that is a direct result of the work of Christ through the ministry of Living Hope. Not only has it changed my life and the life of my family, but also my family and I have had the privilege to refer people around us to the ministry and point them towards Christ in the area of sexual and relational brokenness.
After a year of journeying with these amazing women and men, I have discovered that the love of Jesus is the compelling force that drives their commitment to purity and growth in the Lord. I cannot express how valuable this quality is, especially within a culture that doesn’t seem to be firm on anything except following your own way in life. I need the women of Living Hope to remind me that there is more to life than how I feel. I need the ones who have gone before me to confirm that the sting of sin and loss does eventually fade, and that following Jesus is worth everything. In this steady, commitment to truth, Living Hope finds its uniqueness. We are an everyday life kind of ministry that attends to the whole person, from the deepest struggles, to the most humorous incidents. Living Hope is here to speak the truth of the Word, and love with the love of Jesus. In these two things they are uncompromising, and for that I am so thankful.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16 ESV)
Partner Churches First Baptist Church Arlington, TX
Antioch Community Church Waco, TX
Friendswood Community Church Friendswood, TX
Southside City Church Fort Worth, TX
Park Cities Presbyterian Church Dallas, TX
Denton Bible Church Denton, TX
Alsbury Baptist Church Burleson, TX Bent Tree Bible Fellowship Carrollton, TX Rockpointe Church Flower Mound TX
Community Church College Station, TX The Village Church Flower Mound, Denton, Dallas, Fort Worth, TX
Thank You Victory Life Church Battle Creek, MI
If you are interested in becoming a partner church, please contact Ricky Chelette at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office at 817-459-2507
If you are looking for a Gospel-centered congregation, join one of these great churches. We are indebted to their support, prayers, and partnership in the transformational work of the Gospel.
Living Hope Ministries Staff Special Thanks to
Living Hope Ministries Board of Directors Rev. Bob Stith, Chairman of the Board, Retired Pastor and Retired National Strategist for Gender Issues of the Southern Baptist Convention. Sue Bohlin, Secretary of the Board, Calligrapher, Webservant for Probe Ministries, and speaker. Member of Watermark Community Church, Dallas, TX Larry Forkner, Retired attorney, Bible study leader, and member of First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, SC. Rev. Darrel Auvenshine, Pastor, Southside City Church, Fort Worth, TX. Men’s Ministry Director Living Hope Ministries. Dr. Brock Faulkner, Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University, Elder Community Church, Bryan, TX Michael McFarlane, Professional pilot and Delta Airlines Captain. Member of Denton Bible Church, TX. . Rev. Ricky Chelette, Executive Director, LHM, Minister of Pastoral Ministries, First Baptist Church, Arlington, TX. PAGE 26
Cash Belew is the volunteer co-director of LHM Denton since its inception. He holds a Master of Arts in Organizational Psychology from California School of Professional Psychology and presently works for Keasler & Associates as an inside sales associate in Plano, TX. He serves as an adult Sunday School teacher and is on the leadership team at Parkway Baptist Church, McKinney, Tx. Michael McFarlane is the volunteer co-director of LHM Denton since its inception. He is a Delta Airlines Captain and is actively involved at Denton Bible Church, Denton, TX. Brock Faulkner is the volunteer director of LHM Bryan/College Station and holds a B.S., M.S., and PhD. in Biological & Agricultural Engineering from Texas A&M University where he is also an assistant professor of Biological & Agricultural Engineering. He also is a small business owner, rancher, and serves as an Elder at Community Church, in Bryan, TX. Marsha is the Ministry Associate for Development and co-leads the Friends and Family group at LHM with her husband. She is a graduate of Wheaton College with a BA in English and Biblical Archeology and an Master of Arts from Midwestern University in English. She serves as a lay counselor in at Christ Chapel Bible Church, Fort Worth, TX in the Soul Care program. Samuel is the Assistant to the Executive Director, and is a graduate of The College at Southwestern with a B.A. in Humanities and Biblical Languages and is presently enrolled in the Masters program at B.H. Carroll Theological Institute. He is also serves as a youth small group leader for LHM and Bible study leader in the college ministry of First Baptist Church, Arlington. Darrel Auvenshine is the Men’s Ministry Director and is a longtime participant in Living Hope. He attended Dallas Baptist University and is a graduate of Emmaus Road School of Ministry. He has served as the Minister of Music and Minister of Mission at churches in Texas. He is an ordained minister and presently serves as the founding Pastor of Southside City Church in Fort Worth, TX. Darrel is married to Kim Newman Auvenshine. D’Ann Davis is the Women’s Ministry Director and has served in that capacity since 2009. D’Ann received a B.A. from Texas Tech University in History and Communications and a Master of Arts in Christian Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She is a Covenant member of The Village Church, in Dallas, TX where she is actively involved in her small group. Ricky Chelette is the Executive Director of Living Hope Ministry and has served in that role since 2005. He also serves as Minister of Pastoral Ministries at First Baptist Church, Arlington, TX. He has a B.A. in Pre-Law/Political Science from Louisiana College and a Master of Religious Education from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He is an ordained minister and has served in various capacities in churches in Louisiana and Texas. He is married to Merlinda Allen Chelette.
How Can Living Hope Ministries
Living Hope Ministries offers a variety of services to help those who are struggling with sexual and relational brokenness, homosexuality, and those who love them.
Support Groups We offer FREE weekly support groups. These meetings are confidential and a person must go through an intake interview prior to attending the group. Intakes can be arranged by calling our office at 817-459-2507, Monday Friday, 10a-6p or by emailing us at email@example.com. Arlington, TX location: • Men • Women • Youth (up to 26) • Friends and Family • Wives of men with same gender attractions Bryan/College Station, TX location: • Men (18+) • Women • Friends and Family Denton, TX location: • Men (18+) • Friends and Family (If there is no location near you, we duplicate all these groups online through our online support ministry.)
Retreats Retreats are concentrated times of exploration, examination, worship and fellowship. In the midst of God’s creation individuals are encouraged to experience God in deep and personal ways. Worship, Bible Study, and teaching are parts of these red-letter events.
• Thursday through Sunday retreat for young adults (18-26) in the Spring.
• Friday through Sunday retreat for adults 27+ in
Participants must be active members of LHM in house or online to participate and agree to the conduct and confidentiality agreements of Living Hope Ministries.
Online Support LHM offers the world’s largest, FREE, moderated, online support forums, open 24/7. You must complete an application online and be approved. Our online support mirrors our in-house offerings.
Education LHM offers free education to the church, universities, seminaries, and community on understanding homosexuality and gender development as well as how to have a Christ-like, redemptive response to those who are struggling with their sexuality. We also have teachings on sexual addiction, masculinity, femininity, raising gender-healthy children, and host of customizable teachings on sexual and relational wholeness. For more information or to book one of our staff, please call or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Living Waters Living Waters is a closed, intensive, discipleship program and a fee is charged for this group. Living Waters is offered once per year for 21 weeks, beginning January. Register online.
Mentoring Pastoral mentoring/counseling is offered on a limited basis for those with same sex attractions or their family members. You must call or email for an appointment.
Online Resources Visit our website for articles, testimonies, resources and products at www.livehope.org
P.O. Box 2239 Arlington, TX 76004 817-459-2507 to make a donation or explore more resources, testimonies, and articles visit
Published on Oct 19, 2013
In a world of sexual and relational confusion the Gospel continues to offer hope, help and transformation. Discover the real-life stories of...