by Jared, 22
“I’m attracted to guys” was what I told my parents for the second time in January of 2010.
The first time I told them was 3 years prior, at a time when they were dealing with my oldest brother who had just announced that he was gay. Yet here I was, three years later, expressing that I needed help. My faith told me that acting on my desires was wrong, yet my feelings were so overwhelming. At 18, I hit a crossroads and had to choose a direction. My dad took me to see a couple from our church, and when he asked “What is the best thing we can do?” They replied with two words. “Living Hope.” I didn’t know what it was at the time, but I honestly never even considered that I’d become an active member.
My time at Living Hope started out with my intake. Ricky proceeded to tell me the story of my life on a white board and completely changed my perspective on life and homosexuality. Despite the five hour round trip drive, my father and I came back to Arlington the following day to attend the in-house group. I was blown away for a second day in a row. The people were friendly, the worship was uplifting, the message was powerful, and the small groups were productive. As I drove back home on that crisp February night, for the first time in a long time, I had feelings of hope.
From that night on I became as involved with Living Hope as I could. It started out as me attending once a month, and quickly moved to every week. I also became very involved with the online ministry, expressing the deep things of my heart with people across the world who would pray and help me along the way. We laughed, cried and grew together. I had no idea I could learn so much from people who I had never met. I had no faces to put with the names, but they meant the world to me. The following year I was able to attend my first Living Hope youth retreat. It was a very powerful event in my life and I have been to every one since then.
My parents also stayed involved with Living Hope, making the long drive each week to listen to the preaching and talk to other parents who had walked through this struggle. Living Hope changed their lives as much as it changed mine. It provided a safe place for them to express their fears and doubts in a place where they wouldn’t be judged.
Soon even my middle brother began attending, partially to gain understanding, but mostly to support our parents and me. Two years and many healed emotional issues later, I was ready for a next step. I was ready to continue growing in my faith and transition into the man I knew I was called to be.
In September of 2012 I moved into the Hope House. The next year was filled with countless conversations with Ricky and the guys at the house. My whole way of life changed as I now lived in close community with people who were dedicated to following Christ and walking in obedience to Him. I was called on to be a man. From the daily, mundane tasks of house upkeep, to the decisions I made in my walk with Christ, I was constantly called upward to walk in my Godly identity. It wasn’t easy to be in a state of highly accountable living, but the fruit’s of that season are clear in my life today. I completed the program and moved out of the house, ready to start a new chapter.
I often compare my year in the House to heart surgery. I took a year out of my life to allow God to work and move as He willed. I knew that after the Hope House I would be stronger and more fit to engage a broken and hurting world the way Christ wanted me to.
I can honestly say that every aspect of Living Hope has touched my life in one way or another in the past three and a half years. I’ve been to LHM meetings, participated in the online support forums, participated in retreats, brought my family, referred my friends, and lived for a year in the Hope House. It has changed my life! I’ve been blessed to see many men and women walk ahead of me and into a life of freedom and sexual wholeness. Now I’m blessed to say I am one of them.
I’m not perfect, nor are any of the ones who came to this ministry before me, but I can honestly say I’m the most content and stable I’ve ever been, and that is a direct result of the work of Christ through the ministry of Living Hope. Not only has it changed my life and the life of my family, but also my family and I have had the privilege to refer people around us to the ministry and point them towards Christ in the area of sexual and relational brokenness.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16 ESV)