LTH is an evangelistic organization so why do we visit university campus and high school ministries in largely evangelical settings? We do it for two reasons: (a) to equip evangelical ministries to more effectively reach beyond the Culture War aspect of homosexuality so they are best able to share the presence of Christ with the LGBT+ Community; and (b) to encourage young evangelicals who struggle with same-sex desire.
It is the latter point that I would like to spend some time on. These young evangelicals that remain in our faith communities are exactly the kind of youth and young adults that the church once pushed outside the church or the ones who often ran away from the church because of a lack of understanding.
Many of these youth and young adults are barely hanging on to their place in the church; they feel overwhelmed by the romantic desire, the hormonal peak, and the permissive culture we live in. Some have dual membership in evangelical and gay support groups on their campuses or in their public schools. A few have told me, I want to be home here. But honestly, I feel more welcome and comfortable in queer communities than I do in evangelical communities.
When asked the question, Does anyone in your campus ministry know about your same-sex desire? Approximately 50% of the time, the answer is no. Another 30% indicate that one or two other Christian friends know but that they really do not feel like they have the community-wide support they need. The remaining 20% have excellent support.
We have heard many tragic stories: many young adults have not confided in their parents and so they are living with uncertainty and fearful questions such as Will Mom and Dad understand; others have confided in their parents and the result was not too good; others are living isolated lives with many dark shadows of pornography and unsafe sexual escapades; and a few along the way have shared that a girlfriend or fiance are unaware of their attractions.
These are the young men (in particular) who at a very young age slowly open one door after another until they are fully immersed into a hidden or double life. The double life is a dangerous place to be: for both the struggler and his/her partner. The deception is bad enough – other people get hurt very badly. But worse is the private hell that these young people grow into – a life of denial and self-deception that prevents them from experiencing any spiritual peace.
Friends, we go to university and high school ministries because we want to lovingly warn of the dangers of the double life and plant the seeds of a safe atmosphere where any room for judgment is blown away. It is in the safety of the Holy Spirit that we have seen many, many young people share their private struggle with same-sex desire or bisexuality for the first time in their lives. For the first time, they are sharing with me along with one of their campus ministry staff leaders. For the first time, they now have an opportunity to get the support they desperately need.
Do you know what it is like to realize that you are surrounded by loving support within the church? It is the difference between staying in church and leaving to go find a surrogate family and new friends elsewhere. It is like stepping out of utter darkness and into a bright light of peace, and joy, and freedom. It is like rediscovering hope for the first time in a very long while. In the light where these young people finally are known, accepted, loved and supported, it is in this place that they can imagine living a surrendered life to Christ. Why? Because for the first time, they finally have true community with other Christians who they realize also struggle with sexual and relational brokenness…just like they do. They realize they are not alone. And sometimes, it’s enough just to know that you’re not alone.
This is why we go to university and high school ministries. This is a huge component of our ministry and we expect to continue to grow this area of LTH in the coming years.
To close, the university setting in particular provides a natural setting where Christians can more easily on a daily basis reach beyond the ‘walls’ of evangelical Christianity. The daily life is tightly intertwined with non-Christians and thus their opportunity to engage in outreach is quite natural and frequent. Many of us in casual suburbia could learn a good deal from the ways that many campus ministries reach out to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those beyond the church. They truly know how to fish on the other side.
To invite LTH to your university of high school ministry, simply contact us. Check out the LTH website where we have numerous references from our work in this area. We have worked extensively with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Campus Crusade for Christ, Chi Alpha and Navigators.