Ex-Gays Reveal How to Reach Out to LGBTQ Community: 'I Love You and God Loves You'
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Members of the LGBTQ community often clash with Christians over the biblical stance against homosexuality.
Following a recent tragedy in Colorado, ex-gays, who are Christians, are offering advice on how to navigate and minister when two very different worldviews collide.
Mass Shooting at 'Club Q'
The Colorado Springs gay nightclub known as "Club Q" remains closed – due to a mass shooting there that took the lives of five people.
A memorial remains in the form of poster-sized tributes to the men and women gunned down in November.
"I see the pictures, and I see their faces, and it reminds me of all the people that are missing them, all the people that knew them and are grieving them and will continue to grieve them for the rest of their days," Christy Summers of the organization, Restored Hope Network, told CBN News.
"It's very, very sad," she added.
"We listened well, and then said, 'Hey, you're hurting pretty bad – can I pray for you?' And she immediately said, 'Yes,' and put her arm around me. I prayed for her," shared Anne Edward, the executive director of Restored Hope Network.
Edward and Summers ministered to those grieving after the Club Q shooting.
Restored Hope Network consists of a coalition of ministries, pastors and counselors across the US who help people walk out of the homosexual lifestyle and transgenderism.
"We're advocating for the right of people to leave homosexuality or any of the other letters because we ourselves have experienced many of those things," Edward explained.
Both Edward and Summers left behind the gay lifestyle after years of struggling. Edward believes her experience equipped her to minister more effectively after the shooting, especially when angry accusations began flying.
"What I did find is that people believed it was somebody who was from a different worldview and perhaps a Christian," she said. "Some of them immediately blamed Focus on the Family, though there was no basis for that."
"So it was really important to be there and care for the individuals and show them what Jesus looked like, not just talk about Him," Edward continued.
"There is still a churning of an assumption that Christianity had something to do with that," Summers explained.
Following the shooting, the Christian organization, Focus on the Family, based in Colorado Springs, experienced backlash in the form of vandalism. Graffiti declared that the blood of the victims is on the hands of the ministry.
In response, Focus on the Family president and CEO Jim Daly issued a statement, saying in part, "This is a time for prayer, grieving and healing, not vandalism and the spreading of hate."
"Focus on the Family is privileged to be one of many organizations in our city positioned to help and support the needs of struggling individuals and families," his statement continued.
"I know there were some stories online that mentioned Focus on the Family," Jeff Johnston, the organization's culture and policy analyst, told CBN News.
'Nothing Could Be Further From the Truth'
"There's this narrative that's developed over the years from the mainstream media that what we believe about sexuality, God's good design for sexuality, that that leads to hatred and violence towards LGBT-identified people, and nothing could be further from the truth," he continued.
According to defense court filings, the Club Q shooter identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns.
"Interestingly enough, you stopped hearing as much about Focus on the Family after the shooter, his lawyers identified him as nonbinary," said Johnston.
Like Edward and Summers, Johnston, too, left homosexuality.
"It doesn't mean you never struggle again or you're never tempted again, but the temptation is not like what it was when I was a kid, and the struggle is not the same," he explained.
"God has brought a lot of healing and transformation and victory into my life. And I'm just so grateful to Him and to the Church for that," he continued.
How to Minister to the LGBTQ Community
In terms of how Christians can offer help and minister when two very different worldviews exist, all three offer advice:
"I think people were grieved about this shooting, and most people don't know what to do about it, and I think the best thing they can do is, if they know somebody who is gay-, lesbian-, transgender-identified, is just to reach out with love and comfort, and say, 'I love you and God loves you, and if you ever need anything, come and talk to me,'" said Johnston.
"I think it's really important for believers to interact with people in the LGBT community not first about sin, but rather about their need for Jesus," Edward shared. "What are the deeper, bigger things happening in the person's life? Are they really truly at peace with God? Are they at peace with themselves?"
"We have to be willing to see our own prejudices," said Summers. "We have to be willing to look at ourselves and go, 'Okay, now Lord Jesus, what is it that I need to repent from? What beliefs have I been holding onto that really aren't true about the LGBTQ community and what they are experiencing and what they are going through?'"
"There's pain in the LGBTQ community that I think is not always understood by the Christian community," Summers added.
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