I was ten years old and sleeping over at my best friend’s house when I had my first real encounter with Jesus Christ. My friends asked me if I wanted to accept Jesus into my heart and have my sins forgiven. I remember at this young age that I knew in my heart that this was something I wanted and needed to do. This “faith” I thought I had found I didn’t really understand but looking back on it I can see how God slowly worked his way into my life and into my heart. From this time on and into my early teen years church and the Word of God was, for the most part, nonexistent in my life. When I was fifteen I was selling drugs to support myself and everyday drug and alcohol use was just the normalcy of my life. Around this time I was selling marijuana to a lady named Sheryl who became a very good friend of mine. Sheryl is a self-proclaiming Christian who has a deep love for God and she often spoke with me about the Bible and how much God loves us no matter where we are in life. She began to share scripture with me and I began to feel that I wanted and needed God in my life. Sheryl asked me one day if I wanted to recommit my life to Christ and I didn’t see any reason why not so I agreed to do so. Over the next couple of weeks I was caught in illegal activity three times and very well should have been charged and locked up in jail. I began to sense in my spirit that how I was living and what I was involved in was completely against God’s will for my life. My friend Sheryl stopped calling me for drugs because she didn’t want to support me in this lifestyle any longer; she too felt this wild and rebellious lifestyle was not what God wanted for me. During this time I was offered a job in construction with my cousin in Fort St. John. I saw this as a window of opportunity to get out of this gangster “wannabe” lifestyle. In no time at all I was on a bus and in Fort St. John. I really began to explore my Christian faith while in Fort St. John and got involved in a church and Bible study. After moving out to a farm I continued my walk with Jesus but after a year or so my faith began to dwindle away. I moved back into Fort St. John and started partying all over again.
It was at this time that I also started telling friends and family that I believed I was gay. In a short matter of time I met a guy off the Internet and we began dating. His name was Matthew too. I fell right out of God’s Word and His church and began to take on Matthew’s atheist anti-Christ views and beliefs. When we were living together he introduced me to a drug I had never tried before: cocaine. Cocaine use with Matthew became an addiction unlike any other I have ever experienced; we soon were spending all the money we had on the drug. Our relationship was definitely very dysfunctional and was based primarily on drug use and sex and it very quickly became an abusive relationship. We were evicted from three different places in a matter of six months and finally we made the decision to move to Hope because we really had no other options. We came to Hope and stayed at my Aunt’s house and both found jobs quickly, I was hired at Britco and Matthew found work in a small bar. We continued using marijuana, cocaine, and alcohol. Only now we were also using ecstasy and LSD as well. Eventually I developed carpal tunnel in my wrists from all the repetitive work and quit to let them heal. I was looking for work and happened to walk into Bee’s Food Market as they were putting up a “help wanted” sign. Before I left the shop I had a job and a starting date. Very early on in my training Amber Mercer began to speak to me of her faith and began sharing scripture with me regularly. I was very receptive to Amber’s encouragement and the reading of scripture and soon realized I wanted to have faith back in my life. Matthew definitely did not agree with my new-found faith but he was very supportive. I started attending Grace Baptist Church regularly and began to feel a real sense of belonging. After some time I began to feel as if I was missing something in my walk with Jesus; I prayed about it and felt that getting baptized was the next step for me. The experience of baptism (a public proclamation of faith) is an important step of Christianity and I believed that it would allow me to grow into a deeper relationship with God.
There was no doubt within my heart that being baptized at Grace Baptist Church was the next step of my walk with Jesus. Every two or three months they announce a baptism Sunday at GBC and I knew instantly that now was the time and GBC was the place. I approached our pastor Jeff Kuhn and told him I wanted to be baptized at the next baptism service. Jeff told me I should write out my testimony for him and the elders to read. I wrote out my testimony and submitted it to Jeff and the elders. Honestly, I didn’t include anything about Matthew, because I didn’t feel our relationship was wrong and I thought they would. Jeff stopped by Bee’s Food Market one night while I was working to chat with me a bit about my testimony and about being baptized. At some point in our conversation he graciously asked me if I was gay and in a relationship with another man. I told Jeff the truth about Matthew and that I didn’t feel us being together was wrong. Jeff didn’t condemn me in any way; he was supportive and set up a time for me to meet with him and the rest of the elders of the church. I went to the meeting with the elders of GBC feeling extremely nervous about the whole thing but knew in my heart that God was with me and it would all work out. I basically explained to them that I didn’t feel that being a homosexual was wrong in any way and I refuted the scriptures that spoke of it being a sin. My point was that those scriptures were written for the people of that time and we are now in a new age where I felt it wasn’t a big deal. All of the elders were very good to me; they didn’t make me feel uncomfortable or condemned in any way. They did, however, point out the scriptures that spoke of homosexuality and encouraged me to read them, meditate on them and ask God to reveal his word to me.
I walked out the meeting not feeling any differently about same-sex attraction or about my relationship with Matthew. I really didn’t feel that the Bible was clear on the issue of homosexuality but by reading and praying I soon realized that the Bible was crystal clear and the world’s views were not. Over the next week I prayed, read, and spoke with the people closest to me. My heart began to change and I felt convicted in the lifestyle I was living. I was reading the same scriptures as before but this time I was seeing them in a whole new light. I read all the applicable scriptures from the Old and New Testaments; I’m going to share the New Testament ones for they really spoke to my heart in this situation. I read Paul’s letter to the Romans on God’s wrath against humanity.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
I read these verses and finally understood all the feelings that were going through my heart. I read the phrases used like “shameful lusts” and “acts” and “unnatural relations” and felt words put to the way I was feeling. I felt that my relationship with Matthew was based on shameful lust and we were engaging in unnatural relations. The next scripture is ultimately what changed my heart completely and really was the foundation of the decision I ultimately made. This one comes from 1 Corinthians 6.
The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians 6:7-11
I had accepted Jesus as my Savior and I was being called to baptism but I believe that God was trying to do something much deeper than just baptism alone. The particular scripture previously quoted has been warped and twisted by many gay rights and activist groups but when I read it this time all their voices were drowned out and all I could hear was the love of God. God wanted me to inherit the kingdom of heaven and he revealed this scripture to me as a warning but also as an encouragement. Verse 11 helped me to realize that God wanted better for me than to live a life of shame; it says here that that’s who I was but I am washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. I was at the pivotal point in my life where I knew how I was living was wrong and I knew that God desired for me to change but He didn’t expect me to do it on my own either.
In the week after my meeting with the elders my thoughts, feelings, and beliefs had been completely flipped upside down. I knew in my heart I had to leave Matthew to follow God’s will for my life. It was exactly one week since my meeting with the elders and I went out for dinner with my best friend Amber to discuss what was going on in my heart. I told her that I knew this way of life was wrong and that I needed to move out as soon as possible. Amber said she knew in her heart as well that it was wrong but hadn’t said anything so that God could work on my heart and so that she wouldn’t hurt or offend me. I had decided to leave Matthew but I had no idea how to do it so I prayed that God would somehow work it all out for me. That night Matthew phoned home before leaving from work as usual to see if I wanted any junk food and when I said no he knew something was up and was already asking me what was wrong. That night he was continually asking me what was wrong but I didn’t have the words to say. Finally, I prayed and asked God to give me the words to say because I had been mute for well over an hour. Finally the words came out, “Us being together is not the will of God.” I will never forget those words for as I spoke them it didn’t feel as if I was the one speaking them. We talked for many hours after this and Matthew almost seemed to understand. He said, “If you believe in what the Bible says you can’t pick and choose what you want to believe to suit your lifestyle.” The very next day I packed all of my things and left. Blessedly Gary and Terry-Lynn Mercer offered me a place to stay and some much-needed support. That day I phoned Pastor Jeff and told him what had happened and he said he was very proud of me for listening to God’s voice and went on to say we should have me baptized. I left Matthew on May 1, 2008 and was baptized on May 18, 2008 and I have never regretted my decision.
Being baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit was the most important event of my life and it forever is an experience I am grateful for. Really, if you analyze the whole situation when God put it upon my heart to be baptized he was trying to do so much more than just have me publicly proclaim my faith in him. God was trying to take a broken, battered, and shattered boy and turn him into a holy, righteous man. Not only was it time to grow up into a mature man, it was also time to grow up and mature in my walk with God. This was, most definitely, the hardest experience of my life but also a good example of “short term pain equals long term gain” being lived out in my life. In the time since my baptism many things have happened: many struggles, trials, and tribulations—but I’m so glad to know that I know that I KNOW one thing will never change and that is God’s love for me. His love is greater than any “love” any man could ever give me. The growth that I have had in the last three years is absolutely phenomenal. God has since helped me restore godly relationships with friends and family—both male and female. God has also given me the strength to battle my many addictions and I am now well over a year clean and sober of all drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes. I really enjoy how God has just slowly, over time, weeded out one thing after another from my life; he truly knows what’s best for me and is trying to give me the best life possible. Everything in my life has improved from my relationships with people in the church to how I manage my finances. One thing after another God puts on my heart to make me into the man he wants me to be and it has been such a wild and exciting ride that I am so very grateful for. If God hadn’t done all this in my life who knows where I would be? If I hadn’t surrendered to God’s will for my life there are many things I know I wouldn’t be a part of today like the Trails Crossing Friendship Centre and being involved in the church with Bible studies. When people say God moves in mysterious ways you better believe it for my life is a testimony to it.