Living a Life of Change and Promise
by Pastor DL Foster
The night was falling fast in Columbus, Georgia and I was sinking deeper in the quicksand of sin, sinking to rise no more. Somehow in my heart I knew I was going down for the last time and there would be no recovery. Years and years as a homosexual man had burned away all of my sensitivities. The thoughts of suicide had seeded themselves and were maturing quickly. I hated my life and what I had become. I saw no way out except that my life would and should end. Death seemed to be a good thing, because I no longer wanted to look at myself go through the motions of life with no hope for change.
I don't know what made me turn on the television that night. I really didn't want to look at it. It was reactionary, perhaps a habit that I had become so accustomed to that I simply did what I had always done when I was tired and depressed. Yet, looking back I can believe that it was time. A time to meet the man whose passion for me caused him to endure the terrible brutality heaped upon him.
When the TV screen came into focus and my eyes immediately fell upon a troubling scene. It was brutal to me. Thousands of people lined a stone road that had an increasing incline as it wound its way through the city. The people, it appeared were in a frenzy. An evil frame of mind that one can only imagine the extent of. But I also saw the object of their evil desires. It was a lonely figure coming slowly up the arduous road. As I watched alarmed, he approached me under a barrage of insults. Some screamed at him. Others threw rocks at him. Still others reached out as it they wanted to take him and tear him to shreds with their bare hands. But still he moved on. And I continued to watch, mesmerized.
He was not alone. On his back he struggled under a heavy wooden cross. It was twice his body size. One would think that to see such suffering, people would be compassionate. But not this crowd. The cross seemed to enrage them more. Still he struggled on, never saying a word, never lifting his eyes. In my intellect I didn't know who he was. It had been so long since I'd thought about God or church or Jesus that I drew blanks as to his identity. But even in my own pain and the desire to end my life, I became engrossed in his dilemma. I heard my mind ask a single, silent, fearful question. What did he do to make these people hate him so much?
Then a strange thing happened. The "scene" froze. Everyone and everything. Nothing moved except him. That was when it struck home. As I looked, his eyes rose up to meet mine. I saw him and it was like looking into the eyes of someone who has always known you. The blood from a crown of thorns pressed hastily into his head trickled down different parts of his face. He said to me, "I did all of this just for you." Then he lowered his head again and continued on up the hill with his cross, on his way to PROVE what he had just said.
When I came to myself I looked again at the crowd. This time I recognized a familiar face: it was my own. I also realized it was Jesus who has spoken to me. I began to sob and weep. I couldn't believe that he could or would love me after all that I had done. What did his words mean? Did he really love me enough to suffer through the insanity of man and the affliction of God? He did. He truly did.
Eventually, in the same room where I had carried on numerous male sexual affairs, I fell on my face before this Man. I asked him to forgive me and cleanse me of my sin and the years of rebellion. During the time I lay there it seemed the heavens were opened and the glory of God came in. I got up knowing that no matter what happened, I would always love him and I knew that he would always love me. In a word, I was changed.
Yes, now I was free, but it hadn't always been that way.
When I looked at myself as a young boy in the mirror, all I could see was a weak, timid boy full of fear, self-loathing and pain. I couldn't relate to other boys my age except in one way. And that was a deep dark secret I hoped no one would ever discover.
I was born into a church family. In the African American religious tradition, the generations of family involved in the church was a badge of honor. Church was a place where, in spite of the hardships faced by outside pressures--especially racism--black people felt special.
Unfortunately, I didn't meet my father until I was seven years old. He gave my brother and me a few dollars and left again; I did not see him again for another six years. By this time, I was full of anger and hatred at his uncaring abandonment.
"Do we call him 'Daddy'?" my little brother asked.
"No, we'll just call him 'sir'," I replied. I was determined to sound as cold as possible. When we saw my father this time, he rubbed our heads and offered us a few dollars. This time, I refused his money; I hated him so much that I couldn't have cared if he had offered us a thousand dollars.
The lack of having a father around took a heavy toll on me; I developed a deep longing for a man to hold me in his arms and tell me he loved me. I struggled with feelings of rejection caused in part my father's unexplained absence. I had no confidence in my masculinity or in my abilities as a male among other males. I endured the rejection and ridicule of other boys my age, while at the same time developing unwanted emotional and physical attractions to them. I wasn't even aware of my tendency to sexualize relationships with other males until I was about 11.
Even though I grew up in the "sanctified" church and loved going to church, I struggled constantly with homosexual thoughts. Amid the "shouting and dancing so characteristic of our black worship experience, I hid my struggle as best I could. Our church believed strongly in deliverance. That is to say whatever your problem was, someone could lay hands on you and pray--and the problem would be solved. I desperately wanted my homosexual desires to just disappear. That was my fantasy. That one day they would all just go away.
But even with all the preaching about deliverance, I was left confused. While they said God could do anything, it seemed not to apply to homosexuality. Homosexuality in the black church could only be whispered about in private.
These circumstances made me a magnet for manipulation so at the age of 13 an older boy in my church sexually molested me. The feelings in my heart became a vortex of battling conflicts. I hated his touch and I longed for his touch. I hated liking his attention and I hated not having his attention.
Over the next three years, I was forced to bear "Ray's" relentless obsession with me. Thankfully, we never had sex. When I finally left the church in disgust, I left home and plunged headlong into the gay lifestyle. The sight of men dancing with each other and publicly kissing made me feel so good. I felt like I was finally in a place where I belonged.
In 1980, my first year of college I dove headlong into homosexuality and all it had to offer. I was new on the gay scene; soon everyone was asking who I was and who I was dating. I went to house parties, orgies, got hooked on "poppers" and started drinking. I was like a kid in a candy store with no parents around!
In 1982, I hid my homosexuality so I could join the Army. I traveled all over the world and everywhere I could always find another man to have sex with. I went through periods of deep depression, when I felt so lonely I wanted to die. When I came out of my depression, I had to have sex to make me feel powerful and secure. I developed a hard attitude toward others, even my lovers. People existed to give me pleasure; when I was finished, I simply discarded them.
At the height of my life as a gay man I felt invincible! No one could stop me, not even God. "I don't care if I go to hell!" I told God when I felt convicted about my sexuality. But I was still unhappy and unfulfilled. Thoughts tormented me that I now believe came from satan: You can find sex partners anytime you want, but none of them love you. It was an attempt to push me further along the path of self-destruction. After years of homosexual sex in all its devaluing forms, I still felt unloved and worthless.
That was over 14 years ago. Of course, there were many issues to confront as I started down the road to total healing. Healing was and is a process that I embrace with all my heart. God directed me to a church, where I stayed for five years, rising to become second assistant pastor.
I was moving away from the residual issues of anger, hatred, and improper sexual passions. Yet I still had to deal with new challenges. Would I be accepted in the church? Would the men sense my homosexual past? Was I really free?
Over the next few years, God proved his faithfulness by allowing me to build healthy relationships with godly men who loved me without prejudice. They didn't realize it, but God was using them to heal me of feelings of self-worthlessness.
Eventually, I met a young woman who had begun attending the same church and we became friends. Over the next year, God confirmed in many ways that we belonged together. My passions changed and I knew God had created me to love a woman, not a man. Before I proposed to Dee, I told her about my past. "Honey" she responded, "if God has forgiven you, so do I." We were married and began our life together. Today, almost 12 years later that woman, Dee is still my wife, and is still the most beautiful woman in the world. She’s the mother of my four children and the love of my life.
God has greatly used my wife to work miracles in my healing process. She was instrumental in hearing His voice for me to take my testimony public so that others could hear and be set free.
Most of all, Jesus assured me that he would "never leave me nor forsake me" (Heb. 13:5). It hasn't been an easy journey but, because of God's love, power and faithfulness, I am and will continue to be a whole man. My deepest desires for love and belonging have been met, through Jesus Christ and his family, the Church.
Because of the grace and power of the Lord Jesus, I'm no longer the broken, hate-driven homosexual man I used to be. I live for and enjoy my life serving the Lord Jesus, raising my children, loving my wife and leading the congregation God has given me the favor to lead. These are the fruits of change. A promise that only be fulfilled in a life submitted to God.
Adapted from the book Touching A Dead Man: One man's explosive story of deliverance from homosexuality by DL Foster. All rights reserved.