When people ask me how FOTOS (now “Lead Them Home” was founded, I always say, It was founded upon the unconditional love and acceptance of my mother and father.
I was blessed and now the Lord has called me to offer this same blessing to others: Christ’s unconditional love and acceptance.
God may not tolerate sin, but He suffers long for ALL sinners: “Or do you show contempt for the riches of God’s kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that it is God’s kindness that leads you toward repentance.” (Romans 2:1-4)
The word toward has deep significance for me because I see in my own life how long I ventured via God’s rich kindness toward a final surrender of my entire heart and life to Christ. Others may have seen the sin in me, but my Heavenly Father and earthly parents saw their deep, abiding, unconditional love for me. And this mercy set me free.
When we as evangelicals hear the words set free, we think only in terms of being liberated from slavery to sin. Yet I am speaking of a different kind of meaning: I am saying that my parents’ and my God’s mercy set me free to hear the voice of God calling me toward the Cross. They did not pull me toward God; nor did they push me away from God.
In the blanket of unconditional love and acceptance, I was free from having to try to prove myself worthy or lovable. I knew I was wholly loved and accepted. So when spiritual anxiety presented itself within my heart by the power of the Holy Spirit, I knew that it was God speaking to me. I was not confused into thinking that my problem was one of rejection by my family or the church.
But many LGBT+ persons are not so blessed in this area. Many have been rejected or condemned in varying degrees by evangelicals and even their families. For them, the anxiety within is perceived as coming from this rejection. In that state, who among us could discern the voice of God. “If I speak not in love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” In other words, I distract others from God or push people away from Him when I speak in a voice imbued with judgment and condemnation — even mild forms of it.
This is what I call lateral distraction. Others — anyone who feels judged by the church! — perceive judgment in our relational interaction with them. And if God is pursuing them through any form of spiritual anxiety, this calling of God toward the Cross is misunderstood as rejection coming from other flawed human beings.
God calls, but they miss the call. Because of condemning voices. Because of this lateral distraction.
Thus, I was set free to heart God’s voice calling me toward the Cross, precisely because those closest to me did not distract me from God by their rejection or condemnation of me. I was blessed in this way, and this blessing — this mercy, this long-suffering, this kindness, this tolerance, this patience — literally set me free to move toward repentance or surrender of my life to Christ at the Cross.
So our ministry is founded upon the Biblical theme and doctrine of “blessed to be a blessing.” God first expressed this model of following God for the sake of others in the calling of Abram in Genesis 12. Jesus reiterated this model of following God saying, “To whom much is given, much will be required.”
I am responsible to pass along the blessings God has given to me…
Jesus once said, “Those who are forgiven much, love much.” Thus, my love for LGBT+ persons springs forth not from some desire to water down orthodox Christianity and the Gospel of Christ. Rather, it springs forth from Christ’s call upon those of us who know Him and His Amazing Grace to water up the Gospel that those feeling judged by the church might more clearly be able to hear His voice calling to them to receive this same Amazing Grace.
Those who feel judged by the church are not excluded from the invitations of Christ. They are being invited to receive the greatest invitation in the world — the gift of salvation. It is a gift by the way: “our Father will have mercy on those He chooses to have mercy on.” Thus, who are we who have received salvation by the mercy of our Father in Heaven to pre-determine that some are automatically excluded from receiving this same free gift?
Unless we dare to risk measuring another’s heart when Christ warns that He will measure our hearts with the same measure we use upon others.
Even this realization is a tangible way in which I am set free: I am set free from falling into judgment due to what I refer to as “church culture.” Church culture has inherent biases that shape our witness into fundamentalism instead of truly abiding in Christ through whom all spiritual fruit multiplies.
When I let go (or repent) of church culture with all its biases (which are like chains), I am set free to move beyond the external package of others to engage them with the great hope that Christ desires to bring them salvation as much as He desired to bring it to me.
When I live this way, my trust is wholly in Christ. I am set free to fully bless others as Christ has blessed me. This in no way denigrates Biblical doctrine or Biblical morality. It simply moves my way of interacting with relating to others toward a position of winning them toward the Savior of their soul; instead of pushing them away from this One and Only Savior of the World.
FOTOS (now “Lead Them Home”) is founded upon the reality that many in the LGBT+ community have never truly heard the Gospel (the Good News) of Jesus Christ. Having been blessed, our ministry’s calling is to be a blessing to others — particularly those who have been tugged and cajoled with “clanging cymbals” until they, feeling unloved by God, ultimately ran from God.
Our mission calls us to ensure that the ground at the base of the Cross is flattened so that those feeling judged by the church might move toward Jesus Christ. Follow along with us, my friend.