I want to speak on a breaking subject. Christians like to take paved ways. We really like good roads, we pray for good roads, we don’t like bad roads. When there are pits, bumps – we complain and grumble and declare “In Jesus name, let there be good roads!” But I like bad roads, because someone has to love them. And it’s not about the car, but these are the places that must experience transformation. And before this road can experience transformation there must be someone who will walk on it, not once, someone who can inspire other people to follow him on these roads, who will build up these roads. So I like bad roads as well as difficult Bible passages.
And there is one term that came to me today, called “COMING OUT”. If to take definition, it means the process of revealing and voluntary recognition of one’s belongingness to sexual minority or the result of this process. The term COMING OUT is primarily applied to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people, who have stopped concealing their sexual orientation or gender identity from other people. It literally means “to walk out of a wardrobe”, meaning “to walk out of dark place, reveal oneself”.
Today I want to declare the COMING OUT OF CHRISTIANITY. And though it may cause some people go mad… I want to say that I am normal in the sexual sense. I am not promoting gay society. I have a family, a wife and three children – I am quite all right here. But I want to do a couple things. The time has come when we must make the COMING OUT in Christianity, walk out of the wardrobe.
I studied some of this subject on how it happens with people who start to experience their homosexuality. And I am speaking this in Asia. And there are many people like that here.
Not long ago we were in Israel with brothers and sisters, and interestingly it was the time when gay parade was starting, like a marathon, and was supposed to happen in many cities of Israel, and we saw it in the very first city. This gay parade started in the territory of a secondary school, and the school students were serving this gay parade selling different items with the symbols, cool drinks, dressed in the rainbow T-shirts. Different people of the society were performing, many adult and elderly people. Some were openly demonstrating their same-sex marriage, like the two men holding a boy by the hand on both sides, their adopted child, a boy with two fathers. It is a shocking scene for people who are not into the issue.
But seeing all this brought an idea to me that this is an open crowd, people who have done their coming out. Some have determined to reveal themselves in places where in social politics there is no persecution or criticism for this, though the society still resists the thing.
It is interesting that in Europe they make their coming out at the age of 10-13, children. Can you imagine how much power this movement has gained that a person can publically announce that he is a gay. In Russia it is between 30 and 40, and all the names are registered who have done it publically, especially if the person is public.
But what I want to hit by speaking on this, by taking you on this bad road, - are two things: first, that the church may do the COMING OUT and that it may go to the people who are still the wardrobe.
Once I was in Korea at a conference, and they assigned a translator for me, a girl from Uzbekistan. She shared that her mother had been a doctor here in Tashkent since the Soviet times. And the mother has many doctor friends in Tashkent who make operations to girls on restoring their virgin condition when they are about to get married, so that they can do that as virgins, but in reality they had been prostitutes here in Uzbekistan. When she was sharing this – and I don’t intend to speak bad of the land – I thought, Oh, Asia may not be inside the way we think of it from the outside. And there are places here is well with gay people. And we have been to such places when we were only starting our ministry here. And we are not to show off as holy people who do not touch this kind of thing, and you are not interested in this because you are too holy. You know, Jesus worked with this kind of people.
In Israel they’ve been doing those gay parades for years in Jerusalem, and Satan is thus mocking the Holy Land. And in the book of Revelation the Holy Spirit doesn’t even call the city Jerusalem, but it is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where our Lord was crucified. – May be this time has already come, when Heaven cannot even pronounce it as Jerusalem, but it’s Sodom and Egypt.
I think such Sodom and Egypt is present in each big city.
And if to have this spiritual view, and Angels, of course, know it and have it, at this LGBT community in Tashkent. I think, we would see thousands of people. And what is the Church doing? What kind of an attitude should the Church take towards them? I am here today so that we may begin to open the gate. When were turn away, laugh and giggle and make jokes about them, God will never use us for them.
When we once began working with drug addicts, we didn’t laugh at them. Many of us and myself were drug addicts in the past, and for me it’s a sacred thing. We rented an apartment, invited them to stay, we didn’t know how to work with them, they would take shots in the toilet, smoked in the balcony – all these things went through us, and I myself often spent nights in the rehab center. You were to lay down your soul. Nobody laughed at drug addicts. And when we allow ourselves to laugh at this kind of people, we are not ready to be used by God.
I don’t want to waste my time today, so I know this Word is not only for Tashkent or Uzbekistan, it is for the Body of Christ.
And COMING OUT is done when a person wants to publically announce his sexual or gender belongingness – think, what kind of a step it is. Some stars lose their popularity and fans after they have done this.
But before we start to accept this kind of people in church we must change ourselves. They actually decided to start their own churches. You know there are hundreds and thousands of churches in the world where pastors are gay or lesbian. They openly read in the Bible that God is love, they have replaces some words and so forth – that is they are trying to get in Heaven some way.
There were several people in my life who were gay or lesbian and today they are Christians. I know such people, but they are very few. But seeing and realizing that there are millions of this kind of people, who are not hiding, and how many there are who are still hiding, because of, say, religious aspect. You know that it is strictly condemned in Judaism. And were last time in Tel Aviv, in their headquarters, in the park where they feel free, drink, smoke marihuana, and there were old ladies and young girls…
I think it’s time we stopped sighing over these things. It’s time we stopped shaking our heads thinking we are far away from this. I think, it’s time for us, first of all, to make our COMING OUT, to walk out of the wardrobe and start seriously praying for these people and working with them.
I think and I am convinced, that as soon as we change they will show up. They are just waiting till the church is changed. They simply don’t know it themselves.
And I want to say to this kind of people, I just hope, I’ve reached this point, that I absolutely do not judge you.
You know how the process of self-identification happens? When a person starts to realize who he is in the sexual sense and eventually becomes an open gay. This is very important. And we are on the bad road, remember.
First thing is pre-feeling, when a person feels different from everyone else even before his sexual maturity. A child can experience that.
Second is doubt – this is the next stage. Doubts in ones heterosexual identity, which happens in teen age. A teenager feels he is different from others. Third is acceptance of your own identity, which may not actually happen do to hostile social set up. That is through his whole life a person may be gay, but live with his wife and have children. I think, I know people who are right now fathers of many children, but inside they are homosexuals. But due to the social set up and their own religious convictions they are not able to cross to the other side – to make coming out. I think, if they lived in a different country they would do it, because their faith is not enough to set free from this completely.
The fourth thing is identification as representatives of sexual minorities, defined due to sexual and emotional background, integration of their sexuality in their self image. Self. Who is myself?
Today I am for them. I am for them not to agree with their works. Today I want to make a call for the Church to make the COMING OUT. Today I want to make a call for the Church to make the walking out of the wardrobe, because in our wardrobe there are many skeletons as well. To walk out of the wardrobe and go to those who are still in it. And we can find these people in Tashkent, even tonight. But the church doesn’t want it. And that is a problem. But I believe that as soon as we change they will show up. I can feel their spirit.
In our church in Russia there are many people like that sitting in a meeting. Some of them were raped and they don’t speak out that. There are guys who write letters to us, who don’t identify themselves, who they are. There are girls – and it may be somewhat easier with girls, because it’s not that much disgraceful as with men in Russia, where there is homophobia – they are mothers now, though they used to be lesbians. Some are not all right, struggling all the time, but they keep coming to the church, and I greet them. I even don’t know all of them. I keep hearing that they are adding, but I am not interested in their past, I do not feed on other’s sins. I don’t have that under skin itching. I have the growth of the heart of Christ. I want to grow in Jesus and not shake my head sighing over things. But I am so happy that today among our folks we have people from this wardrobe. But I am sad about thousands of people walking around us and we don’t even pray for them and are not ready to accept them.
I want to share a few points that we believe in. There are false understandings: in order to work with homosexuals you have to be one of that community – No. You don’t have to be an ex-gay or have friends like that or know the secret things of this - you need the HOLY SPIRIT! If you are filled with Holy Spirit and love you can work with homosexuals, even right now.
The second false thing is we need to come to this – No. Now is the time when we can work with them! If they come to us, and we have the Holy Spirit, and we have the openness and understanding, and we are ready to accept them, ready to embrace them, to serve them and love them like any other person – they will get saved. Holy Spirit will do His work. Therefore, do not wait till homosexuals repent and then reach leadership level, who you will then ordain for this ministry. Such one may possibly be least effective in this ministry. And possibly, those who know nothing about it will be most effective.
I had meetings with several such people in my life, and felt ill at ease, not being able to understand why, was a little confused. And it was a little scary, because you keep thinking, what is he thinking of you… But we have to go through this. This is bad road with pits, bumps and rocks. And someone has to make it even. And I want to be this kind of man. I love such places. This is the pioneer spirit. Let us make it! Let us take in prayer – some are holding their heads with both hands – let us pray for these people. I think, there are people among us who know the issue not from this conversation. If you’ve been struggling, it’s not sin. If you have fallen you have the Blood of Christ today that you wash yourself with. You should not feel ashamed. You must use this, take the sward of Goliath, and realize that you may be the right person to let out these strategic secret plans.
So these two things must go with us today: The Church of Jesus Christ, make your COMING OUT and walk out of the wardrobe!
And second – let us go into the wardrobe to those who are hiding their, to pull them out of there.
Let us begin praying: Lord, give us the ability to change, in order to accept these people; grant us to be an answer for them, so that they don’t seek love in the wrong places, but find the true love in Jesus Christ. When we are ready, they will show up. As soon as we have prepared, they will come. And Lord, give us the ability to serve them. In Jesus Name, Amen.