A Non-Gay Evangelist Speaks Out Loud And Clear!
After 40 years of ministering the Gospel of Jesus Christ through Pastoring and evangelizing throughout the United States, I thought I was pretty well "settled in" and knew where God was leading. However, the Holy Spirit has turned a new light upon the ministry He has assigned to me. For the last four years my life has been in a state of great change.
I was raised in the old conservative, Pentecostal, "everything's a sin" movement. I began preaching hard, old-time sermons even as a child. My husband, Dennis, and I have pastored and evangelized in traditional, fundamental churches for over twenty years. So when I received word that a faithful co-worker and dear friend of sixteen years had come out as a professing Lesbian, I experienced great shock. My secure, comfortable life was hurled into traumatic disarray. My early religionist conditioning delivered an instant judgment: "The Lord has surely turned her over to a reprobate mind. There's no need to pray for her. She's doomed for sure! " When fellow ministers would inquire about "sister Naomi--", it somehow seemed appropriate to express a pious sadness upon learning that, "--she's a homosexual now, Poor Soul."
God, in His amazing mercy, has been working with Dennis and me. He has helped us realize that Naomi, and many others need our love and supportive strength during that often difficult transition of "coming out". Our loving Heavenly Father has shown His abundant forgiveness to us. He has led us into a life-changing restudying of His Word. Initially we had allowed our ignorance and our enemy to paralyze us with fear. We were rendered incapable of letting His love, strength and compassion flow through us. We were made prisoners by vague, dark thoughts: "What would people say?" We were taken into bondage by prideful considerations: "Something bad might happen if we associate with known lesbians and gays." God was to soon begin the journey to freedom with us as He provided answers to our protests.
Dennis and I founded a new church work in Centralia, Washington in August, 1988. The Lord led us day by day as He impressed upon our spirits, "this will be different than any church you have pastored or with which you've been involved." He instructed us to welcome and love anyone and everyone that entered the church doors. We were not to direct their lives or to interfere with lifestyles. He impressed upon us we were to preach His Gospel of love, forgiveness and acceptance. If lives were to be changed, He would be the Changer. Of course, we did not realize what God had planned for us, but we said, "Yes, Lord." (He loves innocence! ) In a short time the work was under way.
The Spirit of God caused the church to flourish and grow. It all seemed so easy. Until one momentous Sunday: who should drive up in the church parking lot but Naomi and her "lady friend"! My heart sank. I thought, "Lord, what do I do now?" He then reminded Dennis and me at the same time, "You are to minister to her in love and I will bring complete healing." There was no time to rebel and follow the inclinations of the flesh. When Naomi walked into the church on the sunny afternoon we met her with open arms. Tears welled up in our eyes as we hugged. Later, as the Sunday service progressed, God moved by His Spirit and directed Naomi to minister in song and testimony. It was an incredible and powerful experience for the entire congregation.
Naomi extended an invitation to me to attend services at Living Communion Church in Portland, Oregon. This was a work she had founded and pastored, and has been since renamed The Potter's House. Hesitantly, I accepted her invitation. Little did I know then how incredibly God would use that first small step to open doors around the Nation. He was to reveal a harvest field, the existence of which I had been completely unaware.
In the meantime, I still had to get over some difficult hurdles. I repeatedly attempted to use the "Clobber Scriptures" I've since learned there are none to come against Naomi. She would patiently try to explain to me she was "okay" in the Lord. I continued to believe she certainly must be deceived when she insisted she didn't require "deliverance."
The next step God had for me came in the form of an invitation to attend the National Conference of Advance Christian Ministries in Houston, Texas. I received a call from Thomas Hirsch, Founder and Executive Director of Advance. He invited me to speak at the next October conference. Another life changing decision was to be made. I discussed the Houston invitation with my husband. I actually expected his reaction to be similar to what I had been thinking: "Why would I want to go to church with a bunch of Gays?" But when I explained that Tom had invited me to preach during the conference he reminded me, "You know you told God you would preach wherever He opened a door. So it looks like you better go."
"Well, I suppose," I answered. "But what would I preach?" Somehow I thought that such a special opportunity called for a very unique message.
"Whatever God gives you to preach," Dennis calmly told me. "Just like you always do," he added with a smile.
And that, dear Brothers and Sisters, was a major step in the ministry God was unfolding before me. I went to my first national Advance Conference in 1989. I hope you can understand the anxiety that went with me to the first worship service of that week-long event. I realized I was there as a "Looky-Loo" But then as the service progressed it was as if the Holy Spirit nudged me, "Don't look with your natural eyes," He impressed upon my spirit. "Stop looking on the outside and I'll show you something."
And He did!
As the worship and praise increased in intensity I became very aware of the presence of the mighty Spirit of God. He hovered over the congregation and His glory filled the tabernacle. I sat there and cried.
Later I ministered in prayer that first night as many came forward. It was truly like a mighty rushing wind as I found myself entering into the Spirit of God and those around me. We had become ONE in Him! I cried even more. I was in the midst of a supernatural miracle!
I found a moment during this amazing event to call Dennis on the telephone. I held the phone so he could listen to the people praising God and worshipping Him. It was marvelous! He was blessed along with me even though the "joyful noise" and my crying made it difficult for him to understand my words as they tumbled out. He was to joke with me later that I was running up our phone bill with collect calls just so he could listen to me cry!
During the week of the Advance Conference many people came to me and told me about a servant of God named Sylvia Pennington. They shared how this non-gay sister, whom I was destined never to meet, was performing a wonderful and much needed work amongst the gay and lesbian community. A few months after my experience at Advance -- and after having read Sylvia's book "Good News for Modern Gays"-- news reached me about the passing of this dear sister. I thought, "What a tragic loss! " I prayed, "God, who do You have from the straight community to minister to and encourage these people?" I found my heart becoming nearly overwhelmed with a burden for God's children in the gay community.
It was then that it seemed God placed His hand upon me and whispered, "You". I knew a work needed to be done, but I wasn't asking Him to use me for the job.
A few days later I attended a memorial service for Sylvia at The Potter's House in Portland. I shared with Pastor Naomi how I felt God was dealing with me about ministering in the gay community. She encouraged me and prayed with me. Later during the service I found myself rising to my feet and praying aloud, "Yes, Lord. I will do what you have laid upon my heart to do."
I will never be the same as I was before that moment. Truly the Lord has baptized me with Love for my gay brothers and lesbian sisters. Since the momentous, prayerful decision many doors have opened for me around the nation. I am privileged to minister in many churches in the gay community. I have learned that these are not "gay churches"; these are my Christian brothers and sisters who happen to be gay. We are seeing a great revival.
You may wish to contact me. I encourage it. I am on call and will travel anywhere I'm needed. Feel free to write to me:
7210 Birchtree Forest Drive
Houston, TX 77088
Phone: (281) 447-4756
Please remember to pray for me.