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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Reaching Out With Truth

By Ken Walker
June 27, 2010

As a child, Lois DeLong always felt as though she wasn’t pretty and didn’t fit in with her peers. Multiple incidents of sexual abuse that started when she was just 6 left her emotionally scarred.

So did the lack of a father figure after her parents divorced. She believes the lack of a male role model is the root of brokenness in many people.

Although DeLong grew up going to church every week and accepted Jesus as her Savior at age 9, after high school graduation she acted out on those secrets she hid as a girl. For the next 25 years she lived an openly lesbian lifestyle.

“I always thought I was missing something,” says the central Kentucky resident. “There’s a place inside a human being that only God can fill.”

DeLong found her way back to Christ in 2003, thanks to Cornerstone Assembly of God in Danville, responding to invitations from her two sisters. On her first visit to the church, a man prayed for DeLong and told her things about her past life that only she knew.

After attending a church-related cell group meeting that week and revealing her lesbianism, a woman in the group asked DeLong if she had ever considered renouncing it.

Despite feeling cool toward the idea, Delong agreed to pray about it.

“I had a Damascus Road experience,” she recalls. “I prayed and felt the heaviness lift. I felt freedom. From that day on, one of my favorite sayings was, ‘Whom the Son sets free is free indeed’ (John 8:36).”

Soon after, Lois received the baptism in the Holy Spirit at a cell group meeting.

Despite this radical change, she initially had no desire to minister to others from same-sex backgrounds. However, during a 2004 political debate, she heard a candidate proclaim that homosexuals couldn’t change.

“A fire lit in me that’s never gone out,” says DeLong, executive director of CrossOver Ministries, a nondenominational organization with affiliates across Kentucky.

Christians need to adopt a welcoming attitude toward those who battle same-sex urges, according to Cornerstone Pastor Tom Lane and Kentucky AG District Superintendent Joseph Girdler.

“I’ve always preached that there, but for the grace of God, goes every one of us,” says Lane, Cornerstone’s pastor since 1988. “God expects you to come out from among them and be separate, but at the same time love people like Jesus did.”

“We all need to have a unique understanding of those who struggle with any kind of life-dominating behaviors,” Girdler says. “The church needs to be a healing community to all people.”

Ironically, more than 15 years before DeLong joined Cornerstone AG, Lane had been a founding board member of CrossOver. The ministry’s first director was a man Lane led to salvation in Christ while pastoring in nearby Lexington.

CrossOver is one of many ministries across the nation involved in reaching out to current and former homosexuals. Many are affiliated with Exodus International, a network of 235 ministries in North America and 50 other affiliates around the world. Its U.S. affiliates include 130 members of the Exodus Church Association, which has 14 AG congregations as representatives.

By contrast, there are thousands of pro-homosexual organizations. One well-funded group focuses on changing the church’s view of homosexuality to one of acceptance.

These realities make it all the more important that evangelicals maintain a biblically faithful stance, says Exodus President Alan Chambers.

He says such verses as Romans 1:26-28, 1 Corinthians 6:9,10 and Titus 3:3-7 apply to discussions of same-sex relations. DeLong, who has addressed the Kentucky AG youth pastors’ conference the past three years, likes to quote Genesis 1:28 and Genesis 2:24 because they refer to God’s plans for male and female.

Yet, Chambers cautions that biblical fidelity must not be accompanied by a judgmental attitude, particularly since 99 percent of those seeking help from Exodus ministries have some kind of church background.

Compassion is appropriate, too. Eighty-five percent of those who contact Exodus — which receives 450,000 calls and e-mails a year — were sexually abused before age 12. Sixty percent seeking help are men.

“The majority, if not the vast majority, of men struggle with sexual issues,” says Chambers, a former staff member at Calvary AG in Orlando, Fla. “At its core, sexuality is a relationship issue.

“Healing and health are found in a lasting, vibrant relationship with Jesus and with people in a community of believers called the local church. That is not only the answer, it is vital that we’re engaged as the body of Christ in this struggle that people are facing.”

Despite the need, Chambers says too many congregations are silent about homosexuality, either in an effort to not be offensive or in fear of being labeled as bigots.

Still, Chambers is encouraged that more churches are becoming places that embrace biblical truth and grace, no matter what situations people are facing.

“That’s the example of Jesus,” Chambers says. “He was 100 percent grace and 100 percent truth. We’re finding balanced churches that commit to walking that out as best we can as human beings.”

A woman whose parents planted several AG churches in Kentucky is also encouraged by what she believes is a coming harvest of souls from the homosexual community.

Sherry Holt, who leads a female support group at an evangelical church in Louisville, returned to the faith in 2003 after a two-year-long lesbian affair.

“One of the most freeing things is to see God go back to the root issues of my problems,” Holt says. “He’s just exchanged those lies for the truth.”

DeLong agrees that God is at work, saying she knows numerous people who have either left the homosexual lifestyle or are sensing God stirring their hearts to change.

“If the church doesn’t give a loving, redemptive message to these people, we’re going to lose them,” DeLong says.

KEN WALKER is a freelance writer from Huntington, W.Va.

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