The Ministry Need in Bangkok Thailand

The Ministry Need in Bangkok Thailand               

Dan Hitz, Executive Director of Reconciliation Ministries, went on a short-term missions trip to Bangkok Thailand in September 2010 and presented this vision and need for ministry to the sexually and relationally broken in Thailand and Metro-Detroit, Michigan.

Dan Hitz went on a short-term missions trip to Bangkok Thailand from September 22nd to October 5th, and joined the Desert Stream Ministries leadership team as they conducted leadership training for Living Waters Thailand.  Leaders from Thailand and other SE Asian countries received personal healing and were equipped to bring the Living Waters program to others throughout SE Asia.  After the conference, Dan met with Chris from The MST Project, an outreach ministry to the customers of women in the sex trade industry, and Iven and Kashmira Hauptman who have formerly run a ministry to male sex industry workers.  They now run a neighborhood outreach which includes men and women in the sex industry.  You can read more about the MST Project in this newsletter, and on their website.  Iven and Kashmira’s blog is here.

Thailand is primarily a Buddhist nation and in great need of the healing power of Christ.  Leela Tangnararak, Director ofLiving Waters Thailand, explains:

Thailand is not land of the free as its name means because of the spiritual bondages.  People are bound to various types of idolatry and sexual immorality, educated or uneducated are alike.  About 85% are Buddhists despite the 175 years of protestant history in Thailand.  There is only 1% of Christians in the country.  Many people live in darkness by their sins.  Different forms of sexual perversion are obviously increasing and more accepted in the society than ever before; gender confusion, gays, lesbians, sexual addictions, prostitutions, etc.  It is the thirsty and dry land that needs Living Water from Jesus.  Pray that the Thai souls will thirst and long for the One who can truly quench their thirst and hunger.

Although we can rejoice that there are those in Thailand who do know Jesus Christ and are gaining victory over sexual sin, there are still the 99% of Thais who remain in darkness.  Many of those are trapped in the sex industry.  Kashmira Hauptman writes:

On outreach we walk the streets where men are selling sexual services and present ourselves as Jesus-following friends who care about the guys as people, and who know that their true worth is so much greater than any customer could ever pay.  We pray with the men, hear their stories, gain trust over time and ask about their dreams for their future (one man wants to be a social worker so he can help people, another told us he wants to someday own his own duck farm).

Most of the men we meet are between the ages of 17-28, and come from all sorts of backgrounds and education levels – some have college degrees but many others only made it through sixth grade.  Though about 95% of the clients are men, only about 50% of the male sex workers we meet would consider themselves “gay” – many have told us that they hate what they do but don’t see any comparable options for themselves: minimum wage is $6 a day, but customers are often willing to pay $15 or more per sexual encounter.

Isolation is a big part of these men’s lives – while spending the day with one guy in his 20’s we asked him what he likes to do with his friends in his off time. He looked at us blankly and said, “I don’t have any friends. The only people I know are clients and co-workers.” Because of the late-night hours these men keep and the neighborhoods that they work and often live in, it is common for many of them to have few significant relationships with anyone outside of the sex industry.

I am thankful to be a part of what the Lord is doing to bring sexual redemption to Thailand, and am well aware of the great need in the Metro-Detroit area.  One reason I have met with ministries like The MST Project and the Hauptman’s is to learn skills from them that will be useful in our future ministerial outreach in Metro-Detroit.  Please remember to keep Thailand and Reconciliation Ministries in your prayers.  We can do nothing without the power of God – but we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.  We need His leading and His empowering.

Men and The Sex Trade

The MST Project: Men and Sex Trade

              
The MST Project seeks to reach out to the men who frequent the red-light districts of Bangkok looking for intimacy and fulfillment.  Unfortunately, this type of intimacy only leaves one more aware of the emptiness.  This article shares the vision of the MST Project and shares two blog entries which highlight their work.  You can find out more about the MST Project, on theirwebsite.  These articles were used by permission.
 

THE VISION

Some of these men who go to red-light districts looking for sex are hurting and in need and are trying to fill that need and hurt with love and intimacy.  Yet, the love and intimacy that they seek in a red-light district is not the answer.  When the MST Project first started there were a few people who said that there was no hope for these men, that they were better left alone or ignored.  But where is the compassion of God in that?  We do not look at these men for where they currently are but rather for where they can be with a transformed heart.  How many of us grew up in a broken home, have looked for love and intimacy in all the wrong places, or have struggled with issues that are common to men; yet God has brought about redemption in our lives.  The MST Project wants to reach out to these men and be an example of restoration and redemption.

It is our responsibility to go to these men, when very few will, and bring the love of God to them in an area where they least expect it, by those whom they least expect if from.  These men are like us, and it is our hope that these men will experience the love and the hope that is found in a relationship with Him.  The Father’s love is available to all, in all places and at all times.  The hope we have in Him will cause a man to return to his wife and become a husband.  Will cause him to return to his children and become a father.  Will cause him to return to his community and become an example, not a statistic.

God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.  This includes men in red-light districts.  Therefore, choose to be one of the few who will stand on the street corner and offer them HOPE.

A BROKEN MARRIAGE

When we met David (not his real name) late on a Wednesday night in Bangkok’s red light district; he was quietly making his way through the crowds of people.  We politely asked him if he would be interested in taking our survey to which he quickly answered, “Are you the guys with the black packets?”  This was a perfect lead into our second-encounter survey!  This began a 20-minute conversation between our group and this wounded man.  David is married to a woman back in Europe and the father of a young girl.  He has a troubled and distant marriage.  This broken marriage has led him to the place where he would rather seek intimacy and affection in all the wrong places; through a vast array of girlfriends all over the world and many brief purchased sexual encounters.

Our conversation with David was mainly focused on him; his needs, desires and disappointments.  David seemed to have nothing good to say about his relationship with his wife.  He painted a picture of a wife who was over-weight, depressed and rather hard to get along with.  In view of these comments and complaints I asked him, “What do you believe are your wife needs from you?”  I sought to draw his attention off of the ways in which his wife wasn’t meeting his needs and focus it on her needs as a woman and wife.  His reply was short and not very sweet, “sex”.  As a man I can hardly believe this is what his lonely and emotionally neglected wife could be longing for.

At the close of our 20-minute conversation we were delighted to find out that David would be open to making an appointment with us.  This was nothing short of awesome!  Our prayer is that he would pick up his phone and follow through on that desire.  It would be a chance for us to listen in greater detail to his story, desires and brokenness.  To these words we could answer with “the words of eternal life”.  There is such a need in this man’s life and marriage for restoration and redemption.  Our goal and driving force is seeing those desires of Christ being formed in his life.

Written by Will S.  The above conversation took place on May 5, 2010.

 

A BROKEN MARRIAGE – FOLLOW UP

Here we were, at least two hours late, waiting to meet a man who seemed persistent to meet us again.  Months before he had met us in front of Nana Plaza, and just last week he saw us again.  Both times he wanted to stop and talk, and both times he took our survey.  Now, he was calling us to arrange a meeting as soon as he could, and with the way things were going that sooner was becoming later.

We started walking down the street; two others and myself.  When I called him to tell him that we were on the way, he informed me that he had already returned to his hotel; the good news being he still wanted to meet.  We jumped into a tuk-tuk and headed off… to an unkempt and poorly lit hotel.  We had a problem.  We could not remember his name and had some trouble remembering his appearance.  Now, sitting in the lobby of a sketchy hotel, we were beginning to wonder and perhaps even to worry.  We called him again, and told him that we were waiting.  “I’ll meet you on the eleventh floor,” was the response.  His room?  We were not going to do that.  But then it dawned on us we were at the wrong hotel.

Being late even more we jumped into a taxi, to get us there on the double.  This hotel had class, and taking the elevator up we saw that the eleventh floor was a veranda overlooking the Bangkok skyline.  If only we could remember who we were supposed to meet.  We scanned the populace of the room and saw a man meeting the approximate stature of who we thought we would meet.  Looking straight at him we announced a loud, “Hello.”  This was our man

We went outside to a candlelit table, and of all the things for a group of guys to talk about in a romantic ambience we talked about love.  What is love, how can one have it, would we want to receive it, and what does it look like.  It can be said that our group did most of the talking, sharing our testimonies, and explaining Biblical concepts on relationship and love, but there was no bore in the conversation, only attentiveness coupled with much thought.  And while our man, David, may not have said much, I think he absorbed a lot, as did his friend who was with him.

Of the men that I have met after taking the survey, I would have to say that his meeting was special.  It was heart felt, and it was personal.  All of us were on an even playing field, not talking about theory or philosophy, but talking about life and the heart.  We prayed deeply that God would protect, water, and grow the seed that He had planted.

And at midnight, after being late, after going to the wrong hotel, after not remembering whom we were meeting, we left after a two-hour conversation on love.  If anything is a testimony of the Holy Spirit and His work, this night was.  As for David and his friend, I pray that this story not be over, or kept on a dusty shelf, but be a continuation in his life.

Written by Tyler E.  This blog post is dated May 18, 2010 and was shortened for this newsletter.

Why Am I Still Tempted?

Why Am I Still Tempted?              

This article was originally published in a 1985 Reconciliation Ministries newsletter and is part of our vintage newsletter series – a series of newsletter articles that were published in the early days of Reconciliation Ministries which are still relevant for today.  This article applies to those who are struggling with any sin, not just homosexuality.  It was written by the ministry founder and then director, Jack Hickey, who continues to celebrate over 35 years of walking in sexual and relational wholeness.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
1 Corinthians 10:13

If I were to give one question that comes up most in our counseling, it would be about temptation.  Many feel that they have never been fully delivered from their sin, because they still face temptations.  “How can I be free from homosexuality,” I am often asked, “when I still have homosexual temptations?”  Much of this type of questioning is due to a misunderstanding of what temptation is.

To start, Jesus never said He would take temptation away.  He said He would help us overcome it and deliver us out of it.  Second Peter tells us that, “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation.”  He is not taking temptation away, but getting us through it.

The enemy, Satan, is a dirty fighter.  He is not going to tempt us in an area that we do not care about.  He will hit the weakest spot, in an area that is familiar.  Take, for example, a person who has been in a homosexual lifestyle for most of his life.  He comes to Christ and turns from his sins.  He is at that moment made a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17) and a child of God (1 John 3:2).  There are still areas in need of healing and ministry, but the deliverance is now.  When Satan tempts him – as he will do – it would be useless to do so with heterosexual lust.  There would be no battle because there is no desire.  Satan will use the area that is most familiar, the homosexual lust.  Let me add here, lust is sin, no matter what form it is in.  There is no such thing as “normal” lust.  [Editor’s note 2010:  As the issues fueling the homosexual lust are healed and/or repented of in the individual’s heart, men and women who formerly embraced homosexuality can, and do, develop appropriate sexual attractions to members of the opposite sex.  As is the case with every sin, it takes time for old sinful patterns to be broken and for new healthy patterns to be established.  As new temptations develop, old temptations may still remain.]

Furthermore, we are not identified by our temptations.  Just because we are tempted in an area of our past does not mean we are still in bondage to it.  The best example of this is in Hebrews 4:15,“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”  I believe that Jesus was faced with homosexual temptations, too.  He had to have been, if He can sympathize with my weakness.  Yet, He was without sin.  Those temptations did not make Him a homosexual, an adulterer, or a drunkard.  He was still the Christ, without sin.

If Jesus, who was as much man as any of us, was not identified with His temptations, why should we be?  He did that so He could be a help and an example to us.  “He himself has suffered, being tempted; He is able to aid those who are tempted.”  (Hebrews 2:18)

Hebrews 4:15 gives us another very important key:  temptation is not sin!  Many feel that whenever they are tempted they have sinned.  Remember, Jesus was tempted and was without sin.  Sin comes in when one does not handle the lust, or one even carries it into action.  When temptation comes we are to turn from it.  One escapes by the route Jesus made for us (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Once we see that temptations are part of the spiritual warfare we are in, we can start dealing with them as such.  We have victory over temptation through Jesus Christ.  He has gone before us to make a way.  He is our Great High priest before the throne of God.

One of the best passages of Scripture that deals with temptation is James 1:12-16:

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.  Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He himself tempt anyone.  But each one is tempted when he is drawn by his own desires and enticed.  Then when desire is conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death.”

In closing, let me say this:  If we do not understand temptation, and have given into it, there is still hope.  God, knowing our weaknesses, has made provision for us.  First John 1:9 says:  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  This is not an open door to sin, but a way that even the weakest can still live in victory with Jesus.

If you need help with sexual and/or relationship sins, call 586.739.5114 and found out how Reconciliation Ministries can help you walk in sexual and relational wholeness.

An Honest Look at Temptation

An Honest Look at Temptation

This article was originally published in a 1989 Reconciliation Ministries newsletter and is part of our new vintage newsletter series – a series of newsletter articles that were published in the early days of Reconciliation Ministries which are still relevant for today.  It was written by then director, Jack Hickey, who continues to celebrate over 30 years of walking in sexual and relational wholeness.

 For no temptation – no trial regarded as enticing to sin (no matter how it comes or where it leads) – has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man – that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear.  But God is faithful (to His Word and to His compassionate nature), and He (can be trusted) not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength or resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will (always) also provide the way out – that means to escape to a landing place – that you may be capable and strong and powerful patiently to bear up under it.
1 Corinthians 10:13, Amplified Bible

 “Will I always have to face temptation?  Won’t God just take it away?”  I am often asked this by the people I counsel.  The answer is yes, you will always face temptation.  No, God won’t take it away.  Temptation is a reality of life.

“Well then,” the person will continue, “there is no real victory.  There is no true freedom from sin.  Why do I have to fight for something I’ll never get?”  The problem is not in being tempted, it is understanding temptation.  Jesus never said he would take temptation away.  He only said we can have victory over temptation.  Temptation will not over take us.

It is this lack of understanding temptation that gets so many believers confused and out of sorts.  They begin to feel (and sad to say, are often told) that their faith is not enough.  If they were a good Christian or a spiritual person, they would not face temptation.  Look at Hebrews 4:15.  Who is that passage talking about being tempted?  Is it some weak believer with no faith to see them through?  No, it’s Jesus, our High Priest, our Victor.

We need to clear up some of these misconceptions before we can see God intervene on our behalf.  Jesus is our example of how a believer should and can live.  Hebrews 2:18 reads, “For since He, Himself, was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”  It is best that we look at His life to find out who we, as believers in Christ, should approach temptation.  To do this we need to look at Hebrews 4:15 again.

“For we do not have a high Priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”

Temptation is not sin. 

One way that Satan makes us break under temptation is by telling us that we are sinning.  I have known people who spend a good part of their day asking forgiveness for their temptation.  This verse tells us that Jesus faced the same temptations and yet did not sin.  That is because the temptations themselves are not sinful.  It is what we do with the temptations that brings sin into the picture.

“Oh, but Jesus was divine and it was different for Him.”  Yes, He was divine, but He was also as human as you and I.  Look at the verse, “…as we are…”  He must have faced sin as we do if He was to give us victory over it.  Jesus came to earth as a baby not because babies are cute.  He had to be born – like us – and grow up – like us – in order to die for us.  It wasn’t just God on the cross; He was one of us up there.

If He, being one of us, did not sin by begin tempted, then we are not sinning either.  Scripture teaches us that Satan will tempt us.  We are not told (anywhere) not to be tempted.  We are told to resist – turn away from – flee – stand against temptation.

Temptation is not our identity. 

I see this so often in dealing with people coming out of homosexuality.  They are set free and believe they are new creatures in Christ.  But when a temptation comes they think, “I must still be gay.  If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be tempted with these feelings.”

 Remember that Satan has come to “kill, steal, and destroy” (John 10:10).  He did not come to be an annoyance.  He knows that our sexual appetite is a strong force.  We are told to resist and stand against every kind of temptation except sexual temptation.  We are told to run form sexual temptation.  Satan knows our weakest point and there he will hit us.

The fact we are tempted by something from our past does not give us that identity.  These are familiar to us.  Jesus washed away your sin not your memory.  We are now in Christ.  I once lived in Vermont, I now live in Michigan.  I often remember Vermont and how it was to live there, but I now am in Michigan.  That is fact.  We are now in Christ and no matter how we remember our past, it is our past.  That too is fact.

Temptation is not a sign of a poor spiritual walk. 

Revelation 12:10 gives Satan an interesting name.  It rears to him as “the accuser of our brethren.”  Jesus told us that Satan was a liar and there was no truth in him. (John 8:44).  So why are we so quick to believe Satan?

 So often I have had people tell me that they feel they are spiritually falling apart because they are facing temptation.  As I said earlier, temptation is a reality of the Christian life.  It can defeat us and discourage us, or we can be strengthened by it.  James said we should count it all joy when we face trials (James 1:2).  Paul said he rejoices in affliction because he has learned when he is weak; God is strong
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

The fact we go through rough times, or that we face temptation – no matter what the temptation is – does not mean we are weak spiritually.  As you look through Scriptures you see men and women of faith facing great temptation.  Even Jesus faced them and He always had a good spiritual walk.

As we resist temptation, we become spiritually strong.  We then see that we are dependent on Jesus to get us through.  He is faithful when we face temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13).  Temptation is more a sign of a spirit who is growing than a weak one.

All temptation is common. 

Did you ever feel you were the only person dealing with your problems? I have.

I know many have felt this way.  What is almost funny about that is how untrue it is.  We may put a different face on it, or give it a different name, but we all face the same battle.  First Corinthians 10:13 tells us, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man.”

 As a counselor, I will often paint out areas that a person is struggling with that they had not told me about.  They always look shocked, as if I had read their mind.  The truth is I have dealt with enough people over the years I know how sin works in a person’s life.  I can pick it out because it is a common problem.

One we take the specialty out of our sin, we can address it.  We can then see that others have not only faced it, but have gotten victory over it.  Satan loves to make us feel we are all alone, and that no one understands or can help us.  That is a lie.  We may have our own perspective of sin, but it’s all the same dynamics and all the same answer.

Once we understand these basic facts, we can deal more effectively with temptation.  It is God’s will that you be free from all bondage.  He has provided victory, healing and wholeness for you.  That does not mean, however, that you’ll never face temptation.

Be ready for the enemy by knowing the truth to battle his lies.  When you face temptation – no matter what the temptation is – remember the following: 1) you are not sinning, 2) that is not your identity, 3) it doesn’t mean you are spiritually weak, and 4) others face it as well.  Speak those truths and turn away from Satan and his deceptions.

 

“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12

 

 

Is “Ex-Gay” Really “Anti-Gay”

This article was originally published in a 1987 Reconciliation Ministries newsletter and is part of our new Vintage newsletter series – a series of newsletter articles that were published in the early days of Reconciliation Ministries which are still relevant for today.  It was written by the founder, Jack Hickey, who continues to celebrate over 30 years of walking in sexual and relational wholeness.

 And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them. 1 Ephesians 5:11

 Recently our staff has had the opportunity to serve on a committee studying homosexuality for a major denomination.  One of the questions raised is whether we are to be called “ex-gay” or “anti-gay”.

An article entitled “homophobia” by Dr. George Weinberg, distributed by the National Gay Task Force, refers to those who would oppose the stand of gay rights advocates as, “The conservatives, adhering to a literal interpretation of the bible that condemns homosexual acts as evil, conceive of homosexuals as sinners and demand that they be punished.”

In a tract distributed by Evangelicals concerned, a pro-gay organization, Dr. Ralph Blair states, “Some Fundamentalists say it’s un-American and their solution is to fire ‘em and lock ‘em up and maybe even kill ‘em.  People are swallowing this baloney. Some Evangelicals and Charismatics say it’s un-Christian and that homosexual should get delivered and if that doesn’t work, they should just sit and be quiet and forget about romance and sex for the rest of their lives.”

Are Christians who hold to the moral statues set down in Scripture really bigots at heart?  Is to oppose homosexuality to hate homosexuals?  Do we believe gays should be punished and locked up?  Is sitting quiet and forgetting personalities our only advice?  No, this is in no way true at all.

I will be the first to agree that some, who call themselves Christians, do preach a message of hate against gays.  They see no hope for change and have no desire to help them find change.  There are others who preach a message of acceptance and compromise.  They also see no hope for change and have no desire to ever want to change.

For those who do hold to the Bible as the Word of God, we can only come up with one conclusion.  Homosexuality is contrary to God’s standard for sexual expression.  Christians have always held this position and always will.  God’s Word does not change.  But the message doesn’t stop there.  Scripture is also clear about a way out of homosexuality.

When we see sin as sin, we can see hope.  Jesus died not only to forgive our sin, but to cleanse us and free us from it.  “And you know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.  No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.  Little children, let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.  The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning.  The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:5-8).  Sin here means to practice sin as an on-going sinful behavior.  This does not mean the sins we see in our lives daily or when we stumble or fall.  It is because of not being able to practice sin and be in Christ, that I believe one cannot be a Christian and practice homosexuality at the same time.

This call to repentance is not only directed to the gay community.  All people have sinned and fallen short of God’s standard.  God is calling us out of all sin.  We focus on the gay community because that is our burden and our calling.  We do not believe homosexuality is any different than other sins.  Any sexual activity outside of a heterosexual marriage is sin according to God’s Word.

Please understand that I may deal with difficult issues and make tough statements.  That is not because I am bitter or hateful toward homosexuals.  I have a deep love and concern for those in the gay life style.  I was in that life myself for 10 years and I know the pain and confusion.  My anger is to those who would lie and manipulate others to stay in that bondage.

True love does not sugar-coat poison.  I do not want people to think for a minute that homosexuality is OK.  It is sin, and as all sin, it is deadly.  Nowhere in Scripture will you see God calling someone to preach an inoffensive message to repentance.  Sin is a very serious problem and must be dealt with accordingly.

It is the first and main purpose of this and other “ex-gay” ministries to bring hope and healing to those dealing with homosexuality.  Wholeness is not a dream but a reality in Jesus.  Yet, there are those who do not wish to leave their homosexuality.  I cannot do anything about them any more than I can for anyone who rejects the Gospel.  But there are many who do wish freedom, and for those we are here.

We are not the answer to homosexuality.  It is not a case that one must agree with us.  I am not the mouthpiece of God (no one knows that better than me).  Only Jesus can set the sinner free.  He and He alone is the answer to the homosexual.  And He is the mouthpiece of God.

Throughout this series of messages, I will be addressing many issues.  I do believe we as Christians must take a firm stand on these things and stop compromising the standards of God.  Yet, we want to be sure to offer the hope that is ours in Christ Jesus.  Throughout Scripture you will see Jesus dealing head on with sin.  He used hard words and never tried to cover sin up with some emotional reasoning.  Yet, all that Jesus did (and does) was in the spirit of redemption.  He gave His life for the same people He rebuked.

We are not against homosexuals.  It is not our purpose to lock them up or put them down.  It is our deep burden to get the truth of freedom in Jesus out to all who are in bondage.  “Once gay, always gay” is a lie.  Jesus can and will make you new.

We are all faced with making the choice that Joshua confronted Israel with.  Think about it, and choose.  The time is over for walking the fence.

Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the river and in Egypt; and serve the Lord.  And if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the river, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.  Joshua 24:14-15

 

Ex-Gay – How “Ex” is it?

This article was originally published in a 1987 Reconciliation Ministries newsletter and is part of our Vintage newsletter series – a series of newsletter articles that were published in the early days of Reconciliation Ministries which are still relevant for today.  It was written by the founder, Jack Hickey, who continues to celebrate over 30 years of walking in sexual and relational wholeness.

…holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; and avoid such men as these.  For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighted down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

2 Timothy 3:5-7

“I am an ex-gay.”  We have heard this term many times over the past 15 years or so.  [Now over 30 years.]  Several books giving testimonies of “ex-gays” have been published.  Ministries like Reconciliation Ministries and other Exodus agencies known as “ex-gay” ministries are forming nation wide.  There are also groups like Evangelicals Concerned who speak of “ex-ex-gays”.  They, like Exodus ministries are being covered by the media, secular and religious.  Which are we to believe?  Both cannot be right.  Someone is not telling the truth.

There seems to be much confusion surrounding the term “ex-gay”.  What does it mean?  Does it mean that one has stopped homosexual behavior but is left to deal with the feelings?  Does it mean that homosexual lust has passed and heterosexual lust has replaced it?  Or does it mean anything at all?

Jesus told us in John 8:34-36, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sins is the slave to sin.  And the slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.  If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.”  He did not say He would make us partly free.  He did not say He would only free us from sinful behavior.  But as the Amplified Bible puts it, “So if the Son liberates you – makes you free men – then you are really and unquestionably free.” Now don’t misuse this Scripture.  He is not talking about making us free from the Law here, or free to do as we wish.  We are free from the slavery of sin.

Second Corinthians 5:17 goes even deeper into this truth.  “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”  The literal meaning of “new creature” is “never been used”.  Think of it, we are made as if we had never been used by sin.  How that re-creative miracle happens, I don’t know.  God is God and is able to do anything.  I just know it’s true.  The Bible teaches it, and I have seen the reality of it in my life and the lives of many others.

I know some of you may say, “But some of the old feelings are still there.  What about those?”  Where the new creaturehood happens at the time of conversion, the changing of thought patterns and habits, which aren’t sinful behavior, may take time.  We become new creatures but we are also becoming new creatures.  (See 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 John 3:2; Galatians 6:15.)  Romans 12:2 tells us “Do not be conformed to this world – this age, fashioned after and adapted to its external superficial customs.  But be transformed (changed) by the (entire) renewal of your mind – by its new ideals and its new attitudes – so that you may prove (for yourselves) what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”  (Amplified Bible)

If the “ex-gay” movement has received criticism for anything, it’s because those who call themselves “ex-gay” still deal with temptations.  I was once told by a gay minister that I was just denying my true self.  In a way, that is true.  My old nature is capable of all kinds of sin, so I deny it (Matthew 16:24).  Temptation with our past is not something for just the “ex-gay”.  We all go through temptations.  Jesus never promised to take temptations away; He said He would deliver us out of it.  We need to understand temptation, not give into it.

Is this true for just the “ex-gay”?  No, not at all.  God does not expect any more of less form the “ex-gay” than He does from anyone else.  You will not see a separate set of rules in the Bible for homosexual.  God’s standard for holiness and waking upright before Him is for all people.  His standard for sexuality is the same for both the homosexual and heterosexual.  Sexual activity outside of marriage between one man and one woman is sin.

One of the big questions that arise is, “Why do some ‘ex-gays’ fall back into sin?  Is this because they really do not change and can only fake it for so long?”  Many people who come to Christ from many walks of life fall away.  I hate to admit this, but it is true.  This is not a phenomenon that happens only to “ex-gay” Christians.  Jesus spoke of these in the parable of the sower.  “And those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the Word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away” (Luke 8:13).

Salvation is a free gift, but following Christ will cost everything.  If we are unwilling to give all, we will in time fall away.  Jesus offers true and full victory to all who follow Him, but we must follow all the way to Calvary.  It was not uncommon for Jesus to speak of the cost of following him, only to have disciples depart.  This is still true today.  In counseling, I always tell the person that there is a cost to victory.  I want them to understand that it will be work, but that victory is complete.

Becoming religious is not the answer.  God does not want religious talk and philosophies.  He is not interested in how good you have been to others, if you are disobedient to Him.  You cannot serve God your way, it must be His way.  He did not call you to be religious but obedient.  “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22).  Don’t be deceived by those who tell you that the way to God is broad and for all.  Jesus said the way was narrow and few will find it (Matthew 7:14).

Let us not get falling away confused with struggling with sin.  There are those who, due to lack of support and teaching or other reasons, may fall in their walk.  These do not lose their love for God or their desire for freedom.  They need help and loving support.  We must remember Galatians 6:1, and restore those who fall.  There are also those who feel it is alright to be gay and a Christian too.  I am not the one to pass judgment, but I am able and commanded to say what the Word of God says (1 Timothy 3:16-4:2).

God’s truth never changes just because some so called “ex-ex-gay” says that it didn’t work for him or her.  The Bible has a better title for “ex-ex-gay” – backslider (Jeremiah 3:12-25).  I pray that they will once again turn to Jesus and allow Him to overcome those passions that rule their lives.

Ultimately, is there really an “ex-gay”?  Not really.  No more than there is an “ex-adulterer” or an “ex-liar” and so on.  There are only new creatures.  Those homosexuals who come to Jesus become Christians, equal to all other Christians.  The term “ex-gay” is only a name to clarify the type of sin a person has come out of; it is not an identity.  We are no longer slaves to sin (Romans 6).  Yes, at times we battle with temptations and with our flesh.  Yet, we are not given our identity by our temptations.  Reading Romans six through eight will show that Paul, too, fought those inner battles but found that his identity was in Christ.  We serve a supernatural God who can change the inner man which will, in turn, change the outer man.  Victory is in Jesus and nothing less than full victory will He ever offer.

How Can I Walk in the Spirit?

 

This article was originally published in a 1988 Reconciliation Ministries newsletter and is part of our Vintage newsletter series – a series of newsletter articles that were published in the early days of Reconciliation Ministries which are still relevant for today.  It was written by the founder, Jack Hickey, who continues to celebrate over 30 years of walking in sexual and relational wholeness.  This article is relevant for those overcoming either heterosexual or homosexual sin.

But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlledand guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the craving and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God).  For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other], so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do.

Galatians 5:16-17, Amplified Bible

“I want to follow God.  Really I do,” Todd said.  “I will be doing real well, not even thinking about sex, then I see an attractive guy on the street and before I know it, I’m back in the same old routine.  Each time I swear it’s the last.  Each time I get mad at myself for giving in.  Yet, I always do.  The scary part is I am not feeling guilty about it any more.  To be honest, part of me wants to fall.”

How often have you heard this?  Even more directly, how often have you said it?  Sometimes I feel a day doesn’t go by without my hearing this at least once.  The battle with sin is not the problem of a select few.  We all fight in this war.  But must we all loose?  Must we be battered by this enemy we call desire?

Before we see how to combat this enemy, we must get a basic understanding of what the enemy is and is not.  It is so easy for Christians to go charging in an attitude of self-righteousness to fight an enemy they don’t know on a battlefield they can’t find.  We are to be good soldiers who know who the enemy is, where to fight, how to fight, and most importantly, how to listen to the Commander first.

The enemies we face are many, but here we will look at one – desire of passion.  Our sexual appetite is one of the most powerful forces we must face.  People who otherwise are rational and godly people, forsake all to satisfy their passions.  We have seen world-wide ministries fall to the ground because of these passions.  These men were not careless and unknowing of Satan’s devices.  Yet, they were not in control – their passions were.

We have heard of those who kill, steal, lie, cheat, give up family, friends, and business for the chance to fulfill their passions.  We are all capable of this type of sin.  Don’t be a fool and think it can’t happen to you.

Paul tells us in Galatians 5:16-17 that the desire of the flesh wars against the spirit.  This is not just a passing temptation to sin.  It is a desire, a craving, to turn from God and follow our flesh.  The flesh opposes the Spirit.  The two cannot coexist.  We cannot walk in the Spirit and allow the flesh to run wild.  One will win over the other: The flesh over the Spirit or the Spirit over the flesh.  Only one can win.

One thing this enemy is not is Satan. This statement may upset some people.  The enemy here is oneself.  In  the words of Pogo, “We have seen the enemy and it is us.”  I agree that all sin originated with Satan and that he is the tempter.  But is it our own lust that draws us away (James 1:14), not Satan’s.  Satan knows all he has to do is give us a little rope and we will hang ourselves.

It is important to learn this because, too often, we fight Satan when we should be controlling ourselves.  Christians hate to take responsibility for their sins.  We blame Satan, our parents, the church, people who don’t understand us, circumstances, jobs, the weather, anyone but ourselves – where the blame really lies.

The last thing we must face about our enemy is that we like him.  Let’s face facts. Sin, and especially sexual sin, is pleasurable.  If it were not, we would have no trouble resisting it.  It feels good, tastes good, and looks good.  For most of us, we enjoy it so much that it scares us.  It is all too appealing.

So how do we resist it?  What can we do to get free from our passion and live in the freedom Christ has promised?  By putting a few principles into practice we can walk in the freedom that Christ bought for us at Calvary.

First, we must take responsibility for our actions.  We can blame everything and every one.  We can call out to God for hours, and it will not impress Him one bit.  He knows our heart and is not fooled by our fancy excuses.  We should be honest with God and tell Him what we have done.

Let your confession be as David’s in Psalm 51, “Blot out my transgression… Cleanse me from my sin… I know mytransgression, my sin is ever before me.”  Not until you face your own weakness and take responsibility for your sin can God set you free.

Next, there must be a place of taking control.  I realize that healing of inner hurts and the changing of identity may take time.  But, that is not the case with behavior.  If you continue to fall into sinful behavior and say “my healing is not completed yet,” you lie to yourself and to God.  Galatians 5:16-17 says you must walk and live in the Spirit.  God does not zap you to that place.  You must enter into a new behavior.

Proverbs 25:28 says, “Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit.”  As long as you continue to act out your sin, you are open to all the attacks of the enemy.  Don’t wait for yourself to stop wanting to sin.  I see people who think because they still want to sin they don’t have victory.  Wanting to sin is not the issue here.  You may very much “want” to give in.  It is whether or not you will.

Scripture teaches us that our flesh wants to rebel against the things of God (Galatians 5:16-17; Romans 7:15-25).  God does not force us into obedience by taking away the desire to sin.  He instead gives us the strength to say no to sin and follow Him.

Be determined in your heart to follow God.  Strive for Him as much as you have strived to sin.  Search for God as you would a treasure.  Give all your time and energy to knowing Him.  Sounds drastic?  It should be.  It’s your life you’re fighting for.

It doesn’t matter how many times you fell before.  You must stand before God and say, “If it takes all my life and energy, I will follow you.  I will never give up.”  Our God heals the sick, frees the captive, and mends the broken.  He will see you through.

Lastly, remember that we are not alone in this fight.  God has not left you to fight against sin all by yourself.  “Now to Him who is able to keep you without stumbling, or slipping, or falling and to present (you) unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory – with unspeakable, ecstatic delight – in triumphant joy and exultation” (Jude 24, Amplified).

Trust God.  He understands that the battle gets hard.  He understands that you get tired in the fight.  He is able to keep you.  Satan cannot pull you away.  Hold tight to Jesus and you will walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh.  Your passions may be a powerful enemy, but Jesus is a more powerful victor.

 

Exodus RHN 28June2013

June 28, 2013

Dear Friend of Reconciliation Ministries,

Reconciliation Ministries has helped men, women, and adolescents find freedom from sexual and relational sin since 1984. As most of you are aware, Exodus International has announced that they are closing down after 38 years of ministry to those seeking freedom from homosexuality. I wanted to send this letter to reassure you that Reconciliation Ministries will continue to present the Scriptural truths of the transformational power of Jesus Christ to deliver the repentant sinner from whatever sin he or she is struggling with. Jesus Christ can change the heart that once desired sin into a heart that desires holiness and purity.

Reconciliation Ministries is a member ministry of Restored Hope Network. RHN is made up of member ministries, counselors, and Biblical teachers who uphold Biblical truths of redemption and reach out to those struggling with sexual and relational sin. As Exodus began to fall away from key Scriptural truths over the past few years, many well-known national and international ministry leaders reached out to the Exodus leadership and called them back to Biblical principles upon which Exodus was originally founded. The principles of Matthew 18 were carefully followed. As it became clear that the leadership of Exodus would not repent, many of the member ministries (including Reconciliation Ministries) withdrew from the network and began to form the new Restored Hope Network.

This was not a spontaneous development but the result of much prayer, theological discussion, and planning. As the news of the closing of Exodus was released during the second annual conference of the RHN, we realized that it was indeed the Lord that raised up this network for such a time as this. There are some key differences between Exodus International and Restored Hope Network. RHN and Reconciliation Ministries believe in the mutual existence, function and necessity of grace with repentance. Exodus began preaching a message of grace without repentance or the need for obedience to the word of God. RHN and Reconciliation Ministries believe that the Lord is in the process of transforming the hearts of all believers who submit to Him. This includes transforming one's sin nature into a holy nature.

We acknowledge that this process occurs with different timing and in varying degrees for each person. Exodus removed the message of change and transformation from its website and practice. Additionally, RHN and Reconciliation Ministries believe that the church should not bow to cultural demands, but should remain faithful to the Scriptural instructions of how the church should function. Exodus has been lowering their Scriptural standards in order to pacify a culture which is demanding acceptance of homosexuality and a gay identity.

Reconciliation Ministries is thankful for the grace of our merciful Savior to transform the hearts of men and women and bring us out of darkness into His marvelous light. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Reconciliation Ministries at 586.739.5114 or email me directly at dhitz@recmin.org.

In Christ,

Rev. Dan Hitz LPC
Executive Director Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan