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Letter: Transformation Testimony

(Homosexual Transformation through Christ)

Dear Anonymous (the real name has been omitted)

jgentile1_1 I received a forwarded message from the confessing discussion list with your inquiry about the reality of homosexuals who seek and find change. Your comments are well thought out and very logical. I can understand that if you've never met anyone who has successfully come out of homosexuality then your experience would tell you that change is rare if not possible. I however have been homosexual and by the power of God been set free from that lifestyle. Since 1976, at the age of 20, I began my journey out. It took the better part of ten years to accomplish. My theory is that many who begin this quest for freedom quite when they don't see change within a couple of years. But those who persevere and seek Him with all their might DO CHANGE. Of the literally hundreds of ex-gay men and women that I know personally, only a handful have been miraculously and instantaneously set free. For the rest of us, it has been a real process that has involved deep inner healing, forgiveness towards those who have wounded us and forgiveness for our responses to that wounding. Then there's the whole issue of re-identification and healing with our same gender and healing between us and the opposite gender. Very often there is so much "junk" that needs to be uncovered and exposed in our maladaptive strategies of survival that without several key ingredients: the power of the Holy Spirit + the Church as a supportive healing community ("Jesus with skin") + a skilled counselor/support group, the struggler is often tired and frustrated too soon and quits.

It is a shame that the only experience that you have had (or those you know of) has been one of "failed" attempts to change. I know of the documentary that addressed the ex-gay movement. It was a put together by those who have not been successful in their quest. I've actually spoke with one of those men in the documentary 20 years ago when he had an ex-gay ministry himself (omitted). My heart aches for him because somewhere along the line he gave up. I and many others have not and today we stand as living epistles to the grace of a loving God and the fruit of HARD labor of the soul. I wish you could have been in Wilmore , Kentucky in the beginning of July of this year. You would have seen over 800 men, women and teenagers who are in the journey of freedom. This was the yearly conference of Exodus International, which is like the umbrella ministry of the majority of ex-gay ministries. As I watched from the balcony of the meeting hall on the last morning, I was reduced to tears of joy as I saw these "trophies of love" going up to receive communion. Each one literally SAVED from a life they felt hopelessly trapped in. For me it would have been a fatal lifestyle. Had it not been for someone sharing Christ, a body of believers who wouldn't stop loving me(warts and all), and Exodus, I would be dead from AIDS. This is not sensationalism, it's the truth. I have been with several of my dearest friends (I'm also a registered nurse)as they have died from that disease. To this day, I know that because of my behaviors it was only His grace that I'm not HIV+.

In almost every major city in the USA there are ex-gay ministries that are seeing people set free. Exodus International has a referral list on their web site. Also another site you might find interesting is "Stonewall Revisited" which has many true stories of ex-gay persons. If you are sincere about looking at this issue from both sides I know that God will grant you the discernment you need to see the truth of His outrageous power.

Yes there are those who do give up. Many times out of shear frustration, anger towards God and others that the process isn't faster or because they lack the support. That is indeed a tragedy, but it doesn't have to be. Today I am married to an absolutely wonderful women and have three boys that daily bring healing into my life. All of the thing's that went so wrong in my childhood family are being redeemed in my own family now. I enjoy intimacy with my wife and can celebrate the unity of man and woman and really see how perfectly the two can be uniquely different and at the same time interdependent, a perfect complementarity. My sons, even now I become tearful with gratitude, who have been loved and held by me as they have grown, are fully masculine with no signs of gender confusion. They hug and kiss, freely giving and receiving affection. At the same time they have excelled in athletics they are creative and artistic. jgentile1_2 You see not only did God grant me the healing I so desired for so long, but he restored the "land that had been eaten away by the locust" He didn't change the past, he redeemed it and created something I could only imagine in my wildest dreams. My story is not unique, for I have heard the same thing from so many, I'm just another miracle.

I challenge you to be true to your quest for learning. Start out at the web pages and contact some of these ministries. I wouldn't be surprised if one was in your neighborhood. You see God loves a diligent seeker. He delights in being found!! After all that was the whole idea in the first place, that's why He sent Jesus and then the Holy Spirit. This weekend I'll be in Groton, Mass. for the Northeast Regional Exodus. It is expected to draw over two hundred ex-gays to celebrate and encourage one another. Fell free to contact me by email and perhaps we could speak by phone if you so desire. Blessings to you.

Set free in Him,

Jim Gentile

Executive Director, Transforming Congregations

Jim Gentile is a United Methodist from the Philadelphia area who has struggled with homosexuality for many years. It was through a conversion experience with Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit that he found freedom from his homosexuality. It was the Body of Christ in his local church that loved and supported him for over a decade until he was able to stand on his own, free to chose righteousness over darkness. It was this community of faith that then encourage him to share Godís miraculous work with others.

Jim Gentile:

  • is the Executive Director of Transforming Congregations in the United Methodist Church.
  • also continues part-time in his nursing position at a local medical center.
  • has been involved with the issue of homosexuality in the United Methodist Church since 1988 and has been involved with Transforming Congregations since the very early days.
  • has been involved with Exodus International since 1984.
  • is also the volunteer Director of Remnant, an ex-gay ministry north of Philadelphia.
  • further training includes a BS in Bible & Christian Leadership and will receive a Master of Science Degree in Christian Counseling as of May of '98.
  • Jim along with his wife Debbie and their three sons, reside in Bucks County, PA.

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