For Those I’ve Known Through Love In Action
I acknowledge that the many changes I have gone through in these years since I left Love In Action, have caused some challenging reactions for some of you. I have retracted some things I have taught with passion when I led groups or teachings within Love In Action. I realize this may have caused you to doubt or to experience confusion from these changes. I also realize it may bring up some challenging thoughts about where I am at today.
When I was a brand new Christian, and beginning to follow Christ, He brought me to the dying bed of a man who had AIDS. After he passed away, I sat, wept, and pleaded with God to give me a way to walk alongside the gay community. I wanted desperately to help bring hope, to bring restoration with Jesus.
This intimate time with Jesus has called me forward for 25 years and continues to do that today. Nothing has changed there!
My greatest prayer for each of you was always that each of you would find a life “worthy of the calling of Christ.” This is still my prayer. Regardless of what I believe, or teach, it is my hope that you follow, in faith, Jesus Christ!
I have to admit, this segment of the “I Acknowledge” series has been the hardest of all to write. I pray God will cover this with His heart, and Spirit.
I’ve spent a significant amount of time reading through a thorough list of people who have gone through the residential program at Love In Action. At my best count, there are 461! It has been privilege to have known each one.
We prayed together, cried together, shared significant times of intimate discussion and have an eternal relationship based on a shared life experience.
I am in current contact with around 130 of these folks. Through FaceBook, emails, and personal interaction, I am extremely grateful to have these connections.
Sadly, 16 have passed away. There are 41 that are married to the opposite gender. Of the 461 people, 80 publicly identify as being “gay.” Out of those 80, 12 have acknowledged having committed, same sex, partner relationships.
There are many I haven’t connect with, however what I do know is interesting for sure. These men and women are significant people in my life and I care about them to the point where I have an interest in continuing to know them, pray for them, and hopefully be with them in eternity.
Some Awesome Memories
Going all the way back to 1986 I can actually say I had some of my best times in life with people who were around Love In Action during those years.
There are seasons in my experience with Love In Action. Love In Action was in California from 1986 through 1994. Then the Memphis years began and continued through 2008.The experiences with each season were dramatically different from each other. The California years were very relationship oriented. We all hung out together, spent lots of time around food, fun, laughter, and knowing one another intimately. We also had some very serious times with Jesus, and some challenging times where we worked through the stuff that would come up within our relationships.
On the other hand, the Memphis years became more clinical, therapeutic, and a sense of community surrounded the “clients” but the staff and I remained distant. There were great times within the houses, but the staff kept further away so as to somehow be more “healthy” with regards to professionalism and counseling. Many of my personal memories of the program members are stronger from the California years but I have some great life experiences from Memphis as well.
I see your faces regularly as I go through photo albums that I have kept. I think about you as I recount your stories and many of the discussions I remember having with you. I picture places like The Lord’s Land, San Francisco, Sacramento, the redwood forests, beaches, hikes, and so many others from the California years. Most of the pictures in my mind in Memphis are of a more formal nature; deep revelations, family growth, and spiritual changes encountered together.
Today, from my life at Love In Action, I have friends in countries far and wide! Finland, Africa, Brazil, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, India, The Netherlands, England, Germany, El Salvador, Spain, and even Azerbaijan.
Do I Remember You?
None the less, your names, lives, and hearts are indelibly inked to my soul. Do I remember you? Of course I do. I have hundreds of pictures from the California years but when the Memphis program changed and developed I made an effort to find some other ways to remember you. I endeavored to remember through our graduation “coins” kept in the “Ark of the Covenant” in the office. (If you were in Memphis, you would know what this is.)This was my way of keeping you close and not to be forgotten. How many times did we support others who “Crossed over Jordan?”
Honestly, I grieved often that the professional “boundaries” kept me away from knowing the Memphis people more deeply. I never liked having to remain therapeutically separated. I always struggled with having “counselors” who handled their “client load” and I became more of an administrator for the ministry. What I always loved about being part of the ministry of Love In Action was the depth of relationship that was so significant. In the later years that seemed to get lost and I became more and more dissatisfied with my role in the ministry as it transitioned away from the former years.
Through the pressure of becoming more “professional” we lost the intimacy that many of us had known so deeply in California. Actually, I think many others also struggled with that transition to a “professionally oriented” program.
From all those years ago, it was always my greatest heart’s desire to provide a place for healing, a place for spiritual growth, and to encourage a stronger faith in God. I believed I could relate to those who came to us, I related to their struggle with homosexuality, I had experienced actions that were unhealthy and relationship challenges and the struggle with despair that were so common for us to share about.
It was from this motivation that I went to LiA every day. I believed I was creating an environment for men and women to find a healthier life which always included a drastic separation from anything homosexually related.
I believe many amazing and wonderful things happened in the groups, counseling offices, and the intimate times spent in the residential environment. I also believe there were times of feeling heard and validated for many of the program participants. I know for certain that many of them found a deeper and more valid relationship with God as a result of being involved with Love In Action.
Every time I came up with a new concept, or teaching it was with the hope that we would become more effective at reaching the intended goal of a closer walk with the Lord, or a greater peace with life and relationships. As I have written all of these articles on acknowledging things I regret, or that I’ve done wrong I think back over why I did what I did in the first place.
I am only now getting in touch with a deep reality of the true pain, and discouragement that can come along with being gay. As I reach down into my own heart and soul I find the deeper life experience that from my position of being the Director of LiA I couldn’t seem to find. I remained in my head so much of the time trying to remain strong, stable, and effective.
Over these last three years I have discovered so many things about myself that I wish I had known many years ago. I feel discouraged that these things were so hidden from my own heart because it wasn’t possible to have given them out.
Families Formed – Families Healed
There were some marriages that formed which today are blessed, intimate, and fulfilling families. Beautiful children have been born and loved by people who grew healthier from their time at Love In Action. Marriages that were devastated by broken lives were wonderfully restored. Some of my fond memories included relationships between parents and their kids that were restored and discovered new authentic connections with each other. It was during these times when I experienced the tearful reality of God’s amazing grace to renew, heal, and restore lives and relationships.
Growth and Purpose Found
Some of those who were single found new careers, brand new foundations through which they discovered meaning and purpose. Some others became ministry leaders, others found restoration to former ministry passions.
There were a few people who discovered public ministry service that gained great notoriety within the Christian culture. Then some worked behind the scenes as amazing encouragers and reconcilers within God’s kingdom.
There were some incredible changes that occurred in people’s lives that were involved in our support group ministries. Hundreds of people came to our support groups in the Bay area of Northern California. I can see them walking through the doors each week as though it were yesterday.
There was a group of about 20 men who were involved in an intensive support group that met in San Rafael, California. The majority of these men have remained in contact with each other through the years. Fortunately, I am also in contact with many of them. It is wonderful to consider many of them friends today. To be honest, most of those men have now found their faith to be reconciled with being gay and continue to support one another along that path. Several of them are living on long term, faith centered, partnered relationships.
In Memphis, we had a large group of people who were part of our “Radical Living” program where God did some awesome and amazing things in their lives. These included those who didn’t struggle with homosexuality, parents, and ministry leaders who took the challenges that were placed in front of them and grew tremendously. I hear from them as well, about how much their lives changed for the better as a result of being part of Radical Living.
At one point we had a local support group of 25 to 30 people involved that provided a place for discovery and growth. We also held support ministries for parents and loved ones that provided a safe place to find camaraderie and support with others who understood. I know that this produced healing and connections that increased the tent pegs of God’s Kingdom.
The Value In Love In Action
I fully acknowledge that within my time at Love In Action God did amazing things. In all of my energy in acknowledging things that I believe I’ve done wrong, it has never been my intent to wash all of these years away as though there was no purpose or good gained. Much good has come from all of those years.
I want to appeal to all of those who celebrate their time with Love In Action. I want you to consider something that is very important. For those who didn’t come away with the results that you did, many are really hurting, lonely, and have desperate pain that has yet to be healed. There are others who have found solace in accepting that they are gay and have gone on with God feeling that part of their lives have been resolved. We are a diverse people with many paths that life seemingly brings our way.
We are brothers and sisters along life’s road. No matter what seems to be in front of us, it is very important to remember, God’s grace is abundant and His love never fails.
I also want to again reiterate to those who were clients of Love In Action, if you’d like to contact me with questions, or comments or just to chat, please do so. I’ve enjoyed reconnection with numerous people in these last couple of years and it has helped me and hopefully them as well. I am on FaceBook, and my website has numerous ways connect with me, phone, email, and a contact form.