An Answered Prayer
By Cynthia Beaudry
As a baby, my mother left me in the custody of my grandmother and her partner so that she could pursue her drug habit. As a very young child, I remember feeling that she had chosen a life of drugs over a relationship with me. When she did want to spend time with me it was only so that she could go through my jewelry box and look for things to steal so that she could support her habit. Sometimes she would want to be parental and pick me up from school. She would ask my grandmother for money so that she could take me out to eat afterwards. All day I would wait in expectancy over the chance to spend special time with my mother. When the school bell rang I would wait eagerly. But as the noisy crowd of children and parents dissipated I would sit on the concrete steps of Mount Carmel Holy Rosary Elementary still waiting… and I was old enough to know that she wasn't going to show. My grandmother would eventually come get me, always with a look of frustration on her face. Despite experiences like those, I still desperately wanted a relationship with my mother who apparently had no desire to have one with me. I felt powerless to get what I deeply desired.
Being raised by my grandmother and her partner meant I was being raised in the gay community. This meant that I was exposed to some women who looked like men and some men who resembled women. Gender roles were blurred. My grandmother's relationship with her partner confused me. How come there were women in my life who seemed to love each other like a mommy and daddy did on TV? How come I had two women parents and none of my classmates did and why did I feel ashamed about this? If all the women I knew were married to other women, did that mean I had to marry a woman one day too? If I didn't, would my family disown me?
Feeling the rejection of a same sex parent and the confusion of being raised in a homosexual home were just some of the feelings that I experienced growing up; but, probably the hardest thing for me was feeling estranged from God. The relationship that I had with my biological father was somewhat difficult and contributed to these feelings. He was young, when I was born, and due to his involvement in gangs I barely saw him. Our encounters were brief, yet my desire for relationship with him was strong. Tragically, when I was four he was murdered and any opportunity that I had to know him vanished. In my young mind the only person I could hold responsible for this loss was God. To me, I felt unloved, abandoned, and forgotten by God. He didn't love me enough to give me a "normal" family.
Through a miraculous series of divine interventions, I became a Christian in 2000. And at that time I thought that dealing with homosexuality was a thing of the past. However, God had a different plan. So many believers that I knew were struggling with same sex attractions in the church, but didn't feel like they could tell anyone. Roommates, best friends, ministers, associates… the list just kept expanding. Because of my familiarity with homosexuality growing up I was able to empathize in a deep and very natural way with them because of the wounds and the rejection I endured early and throughout my life. Through this God gave me supernatural boldness and love to encourage honesty and transparency in my relationships.
But it was about this time when the passions in my heart began to grow faint. I found myself wrestling with internal conflicts about homosexuality. I had seen God move mightily in so many areas but I began to ask: Can God really deliver the homosexual? God was bringing people in my life and I wanted to offer them hope. In an answer to prayer, God introduced me to Exodus International and brought an incredible woman into my life that had walked away from homosexuality. I was truly able to see God's glorious power of transformation through her life.
A few years ago, I prayed and asked God to reveal my specific calling and ministry. But it wasn't until recently that he answered me. One evening after finding that several more of my close friends had come out as homosexual, I cried out in frustration: God, is everyone gay? It seemed that my life was surrounded by people who struggled. Then God responded to my heart: No. I could almost hear Him say it with a smile. This is just the ministry that I am calling you into.
These are the people that God wanted me to love and minister His grace too. My heart leapt within me. It was wonderful to have my prayer for purpose answered. And quickly, I realized that I was underequipped to live it out. That's where Portland Fellowship comes in.
God led me to the PF website and I applied for the Upper Room Program. The nin-month internship is designed to provide people with the skills they need to work in a ministry to those who struggle with homosexuality and it seemed a perfect match for helping me get the training I knew I needed.
I have been here for three months and I thank God daily for the work that He is doing here and the practical lessons I'm learning about ministry. The thing that I didn't expect was the internal work that He is doing in me. I expected to come and receive tools to put in my belt. I was actually quite shocked when God began to work on me in the process. Jim Thompson said profoundly: God does not use technicians, He uses human hearts. God is working on my own very human heart. And He is doing it through Portland Fellowship and its programs, through the living with others in community, through mentoring and so many other wonderful things that make PF so uniquely vital to the body. I am not even half way done with the training and I am already putting what I am learning into practice. I have already been ministering hope to the people I love. Last week, I was able to have a conversation with a dear friend of mine who struggles with same-sex attraction through an online chat:
Providing Hope does not mean having all the answers or having a simple thing to say that makes everything better. Hope involves believing that God is good and that He really does have our best interest at heart, at all times. I know, first hand, that knowing His Hope means going through difficult changes, while learning to love Him more than we love ourselves or our own past patterns of doing life. And I also have experienced that Hope means God does show Himself faithful through healing that I never thought possible. Praise God and the work that is done here at Portland Fellowship. My prayer is that all of us would allow God to engage us intimately no matter where we are in our own personal struggle with homosexuality.