And That Is What Some Of You Were…
Carla Pinheiro (Brazil)
Before starting my testimony I would like you to consider some things. Have you ever thought seriously about the issue of homosexuality and what God thinks about it? Have you ever evangelized a homosexual with love, forgetting about your own prejudice and with a Christian-like attitude of love for people, like Jesus did?
Still today it is hard to bring up some issues relating to sexuality in the church, especially homosexuality. It is an issue that has been considered "taboo” for many years. Many people remain hurt inside because of that, dealing with their own struggles and not being able to seek help in the place they should be helped the most, the house of God. He is the truth that can set us free from slavery. I would like to share a little bit of my testimony with you and how God, through the truth of scripture, brought freedom to my life.
When I was four years old, my three years old brother died of Leukemia. His death was a huge trauma to my parents, who really suffered his loss. Since I was the only child left at that time, my father, who was already very close to me, became even closer. He would take me with him wherever he went, except for the men’s bathroom because it was forbidden.
When I was 8, my father had a car dealership company and used to take me to work with him. One of his employees would always take me to the bathroom and show me porn magazines with explicit pictures. I used to be very frightened of him and felt horrible about the whole situation, but did not know what to do. I was just a little girl. Mixed feelings would run through my mind but feelings of guilt and fear would keep me from telling my parents. When this man was fired from the dealership, for reasons other then that, it was a huge relief for me. But my heart and my soul were already deeply wounded and broken.
In my teen years, I felt a huge void inside of me and I was seeking something that would fill it but with no success. I did not have a close relationship with my mother or my family. My father had always given me a lot of freedom, including a car when I was very young and I was very proud of how independent I was becoming. I went to bars and started drinking at a very young age. Then came the cigarettes and all kinds of drugs. Until I was 17, I had many boyfriends, all of them a lot older then me, and I almost got married once. But behind all the freedom and independence was an insecure and naïve girl. This insecurity and lack of self-esteem opened the doors to the homosexual world. That huge emptiness inside of me seemed to be filled in the arms of another woman, a friend of mine at that time. There, I would feel safe, even though I felt emotionally unstable. I was growing older, digging deeper into the homosexual world and could not find a way out. Drugs and alcohol were still an important part of my life.
When I was 26, my father suddenly died. Losing him was really hard on me. He left us many assets but in four years I had lost most of them by being irresponsible. At that time my mother had given her heart to Jesus and was praying for me. I remember many times when I would sit with her and she would tell me many of the bible stories, without even having to open the book. Those stories really made an impression on me. With all the stories and the conversations we had, I came to know "my mom’s God” as a very loving and caring God. My sisters would also talk to me about Jesus but I never thought I was worth the trouble. In my mind and because of the way I was living my life, I thought there was no way out. But even though I thought that way every time I went through some difficult times I would ask my mom to take me to a prayer meeting. I didn’t know why back then but it always made me feel better. God was starting to work in my life but I did not notice then. Looking back I can see how many times he delivered me from death but I did not realize it at the time.
Then there came a time when I was really ill. Lumps were emerging all over my body and I had a really big lump in my breast. I went to the doctor and what she had to say was not good. I had a disease that accelerated cell growth, which would cause more and more lumps to come up. Even worse, the lumps that were already there would grow uncontrollably. With that, cancer was inevitable. I was really shaken by all that and felt hopeless. I went back to my friend’s house, the one I used to live with, and went straight to the bathroom because I could not stop crying. While I was taking a shower I remembered "my mom’s God” and I asked Him to change my story – To touch my life in a way that only He would be able to. In the following week when I went back to the doctor to schedule and organize my treatment plan she was speechless. All of the lumps in my body were gone. There wasn’t even one! Right then I could see in a tangible way the greatness of God. He had answered my prayers.
At that moment I felt something was different in my life. I did not feel the same pleasure in going to the places I used to go, in doing the things that once felt so right. I did not want to go the bars, parties and places I so much enjoyed and I didn’t know why. I was still drinking and engaged in homosexual relationships but I could feel something was slowly changing inside of me. The Lord was already preparing me for His work. He had a plan for my life.
On a Monday, after refusing to go to a huge gay party the day before, I got a message from a woman that wanted to see me. She was a prayer warrior and wanted to see me as soon as possible. Many things happened to me that day and I could feel something trying to prevent me from going there but God is sovereign and His will was done. When I got there she told me: "Carla, God has a plan for you and He has delivered you from death many times. The devil has been trying to take your life but God will not allow him.” I felt my heart burning. I knew God was talking to me and something was really changing inside of me. I couldn’t help it so I opened my mouth and said: "From now on I do not want to do anything I did before. I want a new life in Jesus; I want to live for Him and to give Him my life.” On that very day scales came off my eyes and I was deeply touched. My life did not belong to me anymore and I was filled with this weird feeling of hope and pleasure I had never felt before. From that day on I was set free from all of my addictions – cigarettes, alcohol, drugs… I also found a way out of homosexuality in Jesus as a process of healing and holiness took place in my heart and soul. Six months after I gave my life to Jesus, the friend I used to live with was deeply touched while reading the scriptures in Romans 1:18-26. God talked to her in powerful ways and she also gave her life to Jesus.
This verse describes how I feel today thanks to the Lord Jesus. I have found a new identity in Christ. I was able to rediscover my family and I have my mom as not only a friend but also as my prayer partner. In my walk with Jesus I have seen Him working wonders. I have seen Him lifting the weary and pulling people out of the valley of darkness and death because He is our faithful Lord. I am also aware that, like Jesus, we will have struggles in our lives but in Him we will be able to defeat our enemies and pursue our victory in Christ. Glory be to God, as He will never leave us.
I am grateful that the Lord did not allow me to see the prejudice of the church in my first years as a Christian because it was very important for me to grow stronger. I hope we can always receive our brothers and sisters in Christ with open arms, as Jesus would, no matter where they are coming from.
Today I am the associate pastor of Kairos Evangelical Church in Rio de Janeiro. I have been the president of Exodus Brasil for the past six years. And I have been a Christian counsellor in the area of sexuality for 8 years. I have a bachelor degree in psychology and graduated from the Theological Seminary in 2002. I am currently pursuing my post-graduate studies in Christian Counselling.