Several years ago, God showed me the perfect picture of ministry, through a very specific dream. The entire dream took place in a grass field, traversed by chain link fences, behind a school. The only other characters in the dream were three, distinct German Shepherds. The first German Shepherd had been beaten within an inch of his life. Bruised and bloodied, he managed to crawl to me and collapsed into a heap in my lap. He was done fighting. He was ready to surrender.
The second German Shepherd was wounded, but some healing had occurred. He was curious, wanted to come over, but he stayed about 20 feet away behind a partial section of fence. Occasionally, he would dart around the fence and over to me, but he would never come close enough for me to reach him. This second dog was barking and anxious the entire time.
A third German Shepherd was just visible beyond the last row of fences. I am not sure if he was wounded as well, but his behavior demonstrated that there was a high level of caution. He never approached, never barked, never moved, until he ran away, disappearing out of sight. I felt like the Holy Spirit was showing me a few descriptive representations of the people I would meet in ministry.
There will be people that resemble the first dog; bruised and beaten by the world and tired of fighting. These are the people ready to surrender to Jesus.
There will people that represented the second dog; people who had been hurt repeatedly, by both saints and sinners, and are wary of people. They still need people, but their scars lead them to believe otherwise. They are reluctant to trust anyone with their heart; desperate to hope again. Like the second dog, they pop in and out of your life unpredictably. Each time they get close they are guarded and highly verbal. The “barking” keeps everyone at bay. It’s a verbal “smoke screen”; a wall of self-protection around their heart. They are simultaneously afraid and angry, yet hopeful.
The third dog represents a greater majority of people. They are only comfortable watching from afar. Physical and emotional distance are their mode of operation. They rarely get close enough or comfortable enough to let anyone to see their wounds. They watch from a safe distance and eventually vanish from the landscape of your life.
Over the past few weeks a couple of these “dogs” have shown up around the Big Fish Ministry house. We were awakened at 344 am one morning, by frantic knocking at the front door a few weeks back. A guy I had talked with a few days prior had been beaten up pretty severely by his drunk boyfriend. We cried, prayed and talked until around 5 am. Two days later, he showed up in tears again, needing ministry. The Holy Spirit led me to wash his feet and anoint them with oil. We talked and prayed and chatted about his next few steps. I really felt he was ready to surrender to God. Then as quick as he showed up, he vanished. I’m realizing that this guy is a bit of a user, but I’m trying to maintain a minister’s heart. He only shows up as a last resort when he needs something. I am fearful for him. If his last encounter with the enemy didn’t serve as a wakeup call, I’m not sure what will. He was guarded and protective the entire time; willing to share his physical wounds, but ever protective of his emotional wounds.
Conversely, another guy I met with recently showed up and immediately began to share openly. A lunch meeting ran from 1 pm to 6:05 pm. The Holy Spirit was all over our conversation as we shared triumphs and defeats, but most of all, the power Jesus had demonstrated in our lives when we surrendered our whole heart to Him.
One of the toughest parts, yet often the most healing part of ministry is sharing the testimony of what Jesus did in my life. Every time someone enters and exits my life, I must constantly remind myself that it’s not me that people are raging against or rejecting, it’s Jesus; His sacrifice for their sin and His plan for their lives.
I don’t always love how people treat me, but I love to help people find Jesus in the midst of their turmoil. It’s never easy, but God has called me and equipped me to minister to the gay and ex-gay community, using my story of redemption. The past 16 years have been a constant series of choices to repeatedly surrender my broken, sexual desires to God. I have played the part of all three of the dogs in my dream, but my current role is as the man in the dream, prepared to minister to so many levels of brokenness. God has called me to be a minister with a heart and a passion modeled after Isaiah 61:1 “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…” Father, I give all glory, honor and praise to You. (That’s Christian speak, for ‘God You have my whole heart’.) Father, I have given myself wholeheartedly in an open, honest and naked way to sexual partners in my former life. Thank you for helping me to lead a life, from here on out Father God, where I can present myself to You in the same way: open, honest and naked, wholeheartedly surrendered to You.
If you are reading this and you, too, are struggling with the shame and confusion of same sex attractions as I once did, make the choice today that brings you into the presence of Jesus. If homosexuality has left you hopeless, trust God with your heart, the same way you have trusted mere men with it in the past. Jesus is waiting to hear from you. As long as you have breath in your lungs it isn’t too late. No mistake is too big for God to redeem it.