I was set free from same-sex attraction in 1981. I began publicly sharing the story of my freedom in 1988. Since that time, I am often asked how to minister to people in the LGBTQ community. My best advice? What would Jesus do? In the most simple of terms, I would encourage all believers to do what was done for me.
Jesus met me right where I was but loved me enough to not leave me there. Every believer can do that. And just in case you are saying to yourself, “That is not my ministry,” let me remind you that if you are a believer in and follower of Christ, you are indeed called to be a minister of reconciliation, simply by virtue of your status as a new creation in Christ.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:17-19 NASB).
What does that mean? Simply put, we are all called to live our lives in such a way as to help others become reconciled to God through faith in Christ Jesus.
How do we practically do that? I had a friend who was willing to put feet to his words, one who was willing to walk toward Jesus with me no matter how long the journey. He simply built a relationship with me. He told me he did not know how to help me but that He knew the answer to my identity issues would be met in Jesus. He committed to be a shoulder to cry on. He committed to be a sounding board. But the most profound commitment he made to me was this:
“When you fall, I will help you up every time if you will let me.”
It was simple kindness as demonstrated by his commitment to me relationally that led me to repentance. And, by the way, that man still walks with me to this day.
We are not commanded to agree with those we minister to, but we are commanded to love them right where they are. Love is the laying down of life for another—not taking part in their sin. We can all do that. I actively minister to those I do not agree with without compromising who I am—without violating my conscience—just like Jesus did for me.
Jesus is the Savior. Jesus is the Redeemer. We are simply called to deliver the Word by being willing to invest our lives in the lives of others, regardless of how messy the journey might be. What if every Christian home in Oklahoma saw itself as a hospital for Jesus? We could affect the culture overnight.
You do not need to know all the steps to freedom to help someone to Jesus. You can be a safe haven for them to share their hurts and disappointments. You do not need to know the answer to every question asked, but you can encourage those you minister to by being willing to walk toward Jesus with them—in spite of how messy it might be along the way—and let Jesus reveal the answers they need. Jesus is THE Answer.
It was the loving kindness of a friend who loved me right in the smack-dab middle of the mess of my life who helped me find the Savior and Redeemer of my life and identify. You can do the same.
Read the life story of Dennis Jernigan in his autobiography, “Sing Over Me,” and purchase his new recording, “First Love,” at www.dennisjernigan.com.
Dennis Jernigan is available to share his story and music with your congregation or group. Contact Annē Kay at 918-685-2268 or [email protected]
For help in how to minister to others, go to www.dennisjernigan.com/needhelp for helpful posted articles.