CAPE TOWN: Homosexuality Addressed at Global Evangelical Congress
African leader says homosexuality imported from West and Diaspora
By David W. Virtue in Cape Town
October 23, 2010
International evangelical ex-gay leaders at a global congress seeking to reach the world for Jesus Christ say that 155 million homosexuals around the world need to hear the love and grace of God, not condemnation or rejection by Christians.
They believe that the church should lovingly accept homosexuals, let them know that God loves them and that He wants to pour "living waters" of His love into them to cleanse and change them with His love.
"Grace drew me home and truth set me free," cried one speaker. "Stifling behavior is not our goal; our goal in the church is to speak first to the soul as we reach into the gay community. Our goal is not to silence or stop homosexuals but to reach into the gay community with God's love, grace and forgiveness.
"It is not just about behavior, you can cut off my hands and gauge out my eyes but the internal struggle would continue. This is not just about the gay culture. What we face is not rocket science, it is reaching lost persons and letting Christ do his redemptive work in their hearts.
"Homosexuals are not lost or missing, they are hurting. Most people who come into our ministries come from churches," they said.
One speaker, EXODUS International president Alan Chambers told more than a 1,000 participants that Christ died for all of us or he died for none of us. "We need to care about gays and lesbians who deserve our love and acceptance. We are not being called to accept sin but to accept people. Christ died for us when were yet sinners. The church is the best place to hear about God's redemption and His sacrifice for lost sinners.
"Look at the gay community. God wants those people in our churches. God has message for all of us. Whatever sin you are tempted with, the message is you are accepted. God says I want a relationship with you and I have the grace, ability and power to redeem you. Bring your struggles to me and together we will struggle towards wholeness and sanctification and we will struggle towards the cross together.
"What one of us does not do wrong? We all do wrong. There are people who need to be reached. We should not be in the business of politically defeating them but reaching them with the heart of Christ and let them know that there is only One who can redeem them and love them more than anyone else.
"We are the most uneducated about compassion and reaching out. We are people in the world who have the real answer. I lived in a gay community and found it to be one of the best counterfeits I have ever been in. When a church finally reached out to me I saw a greater love. The real tragedy is when the church doesn't reach out with the greatest love in the universe."
One former practicing homosexual, a Brazilian man named Willy, said he had been desperate, helpless and alone.
"I was trying to find health and hope in any persons' arms and anyone who would give it to me because I didn't find it in the church. An amazing thing happened to me I found a church that was better than a gay bar. These people loved me and pointed me to a Savior who loved me and desired me. I fell into the arms of God."
The speaker said gays are not out to defeat us politically. They want love, compassion, and acceptance. If we don't give it to them, who will?
"They don't know where to find it. We need to give them the bread of life and the "living waters" that Jesus offered the woman caught in adultery. The homosexual has more in his body than anger and politics."
Another former homosexual said he was raised to believe that he had to earn God's love. "I was good at understanding that. I had to be a good boy, I was very successful. I wanted to be accepted by my father - he was an alcoholic and very introverted. He saw his role to bring home money. I wanted to be loved. My parents were not even planning on having a baby. I was an accident, their precautions failed.
"I constantly asked what do I have to do not to go to hell. I became involved in everything I could, to win God's approval. I was a youth group leader and I organized camps and finally, under pressure, I went off to seminary. All this time I felt different. My male friends were interested in girls but not me.
"At age 5 I was sexually molested by a woman neighbor. I was abused emotionally by strong women growing up. It made me feel angry towards woman and increased my feelings towards men.
"I went to seminary and later joined Operation Mobilization. I stayed for 2.5 years stuffing down my feelings. I could not talk to anyone. One day three gays came to me and asked, 'can God change us.' I was on a ship on the OM ship DOULOS. There was no sexual involvement, but I told a man on board that I was attracted to men. I was told to leave. It was the first of four times I was kicked out of organizations because of my sexuality. I was disappointed and went home and tried to earn God's favor.
"I went to Sao Paulo one day and had my first sexual involvement with a man at a missionary conference. I had committed a sin from which I thought there is no forgiveness. I was emotionally starved and that hug and tenderness from a man finally saw me going to a gay bar. There I could take off my mask and be honest. I started living the gay lifestyle.
"I had finally given up on God, or so I thought. God is too hard to please. I felt condemned. I tried several times to leave the gay lifestyle but I always went back. I finally gave up on the church. I concluded I was born gay and when I die I will go to hell.
"One day while washing my car I heard God's voice saying 'I love you and I have so much to give you,' I started screaming at God. I yelled back, 'I cannot change and I don't want to change, you are impossible to please.' I waited for lightening to strike.
"All I heard was God saying I want you. I want your heart. I am not going to hurt you. I want to pour my life into your heart. I want to give you my love and I want nothing in return. I relented. I said to God 'love me.'
"It was fourteen years ago that the love of God came in to me. God never asked me to leave my gay boyfriend and gay community. It was love finding me and beginning a transformation that led me out of the lifestyle and those relationships. I heard the words, 'I am a beloved son' that day.
"What I hear now is that I am a beloved son of God. It is not about becoming heterosexual, but becoming more and more like Jesus. This is so good. I have learned that there is no sin that God cannot forgive and bondage he cannot break."
Chambers noted that all the passages about homosexuality in the NT are about people who had committed sexual sin but could experience Jesus who reclaimed them for his kingdom. He would not erect barriers, but reach them with the gospel. Churches contain people who struggle with sexual sin. God still wants to redeem them.
"The Church must be a healing community. The Church must recognize that no one chooses the temptations they face. The Church must be a church that has Christ centered ministries and to help people live holy and God-centered lives.
"We need to share the gospel in a way that gays can receive it."
AFRICA AND HOMOSEXUALITY
Homosexuality is just not an African problem, said Dr. E. Harnack, an authority on HIV/AIDS in Africa and director of a non-government organization.
"The truth is that there are only a few hundred to a couple of thousand people known to be homosexuals. It will be a problem in the future for next generations. Studies have shown that Homosexuality in African nations is not a serious problem."
Harnack said homosexuality in Africa has three sources. "The first is that homosexuality is being imported by non Africans from the west and now resident in Africa.
"Secondly it comes from Africans in the Diaspora.
"Thirdly it is coming from Africans who frequently travel to the west for other reasons.
"The whole homosexual agenda is backed by powerful gay rights movements in the West. Western governments are in a raging battle for the African soul. Africa defies gay rights theology it has no place in African culture.
"The West is trying to portray us as homophobic and they are trying to legalize homosexuality. The truth is the opposite. Africa has resisted except in Tunisia and South Africa and only South has legalized homosexuality.
"How do you prepare the church? We must be vigilant with words. Homosexuality is sexual sin and is being backed by a strong movement behind it. Would one find a movement for stealing? If the church in Africa is to survive it must learn from its mistakes with HIV/AIDS prevention. We must see truth and grace working together."
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