“He, She, Them, and Me”

Small rock on big rock with plant growing

A university encourages workers to list their preferred pronouns in their email signatures. A barista wears a full face of feminine-looking makeup while speaking in a deep baritone voice. A teenager orders a breast-binder online without her parents’ knowledge. A kindergarten student declares he wants to be a girl and is allowed to use the girls’ bathroom at school. All of these situations are becoming regular occurrences in our world. Responding to this increasing confusion is often overwhelming. Even thinking about how to respond becomes overwhelming for me. It seems that every day brings a new type of confusion, a new name people are giving to themselves, a new idea of what is means to be human.

In many ways, none of this is surprising. Our world has spent the last 50 years teaching that there is no difference between men and women, that gender and identity are social constructs, and that the world of ideas and feelings is somehow truer than the physical world we inhabit. We have been told that our identity is not given to us by a loving, good, and faithful Creator, but instead is constructed by each person out of their own feelings, ideas, passions, and beliefs.

What do we do in response to those who have believed the lies and have been led to a place where they are at war with their bodies, actively seeking to re-create their bodies into a new physical image in order to match their mental picture of their “true self”? How do we share the Gospel of hope and healing with people hurting in such a profound way? Thankfully, the answer is not overwhelming.

Rooted in God’s Truth

First, we need to be rooted in God’s truth, which starts with understanding God’s intent in the original design of humanity. Genesis 1 teaches us that God created humanity “in the image of God, male and female He created them.” This verse reveals the fullness of our identity as men and women and is fundamental to our theology of the body. Being made in the image of God means being made for relationship; being able to reflect the nature and character of God on the earth; being set apart from the rest of creation; being made sons and daughters of God through the redeeming work of Christ.

We also see in Genesis 1 that being created male or female is a distinction that matters to God. In fact, our biological distinctions teach us about true masculinity and true femininity. Men and women each exhibit true femininity and true masculinity, but in a unique way informed by their bioligical sex. True masculinity, reflected in the male biology, is the strength to initiate and form meaningful relationships. True femininity, reflected in the female biology, is the capacity to receive and nurture meaningful relationships. Both sexes exhibit strength and nurturing, but how they do so is intended to complement their biological sex, not to war against it or disconnect them from their gender.

These God-given distinctions show us that our identity is fundamentally connected to our physical body, and is not a disconnected mental reality. As we root our identity in our God-given embodiment, we are free to come into alignment with God’s design for our life, and to walk in the good works that God has prepared for us; works that match up with the interests, passions, and personality God bestowed when He knit us together before birth and reflect the nature and image of God in the earth.

Rooted in God’s Love

Second, we need to be rooted and grounded in God’s love so we may speak life and truth to those we encounter. As Paul notes in Ephesians 3, when we are rooted and grounded in God’s love, and understand and know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, we are able to be filled with all the fullness of God. Walking in the fullness of God through the power of the Holy Spirit allows us to see people through the eyes of God, gives us compassion for their confusion and pain, and reminds us that the real enemy is the prince of this world, who is seeking to steal, kill, and destroy lives at every turn.

People who identify as transgender, non-binary, queer, gender-fluid, or otherwise need to experience the unconditional love of God. Many that I have met are looking for belonging; they do not feel like they “fit”, either with their same biological-sex peers or even with their own body. Many whose stories I have read have been victims of trauma or neglect; they are seeking an escape from the pain of those experiences. Some are also just needing to be seen; they have been ignored and overlooked for too long and are trying to stand out and be noticed. Sharing the deep, unconditional love of God is the first step in showing people that God sees and knows them, that God can heal them, and that God wants to make them part of His family.

Ministering in Love and Truth

Looking at the bigger picture, many in our world are lost in a sea of confusion about identity. They have believed the lie that their body is just a shell for the “real” person inside rather than understanding that their body is as much a part of who they are as their mind is. They have believed the lie that feelings and interests define one’s identity rather than recognizing that identity comes from knowing we belong to God. They have believed the lie that we each must construct our own identity rather the relying on our Creator to show us who we are.

Our role, then, is the same as in any other ministry. First, to live our own lives deeply rooted in the truth and love of God, allowing God to transform our own hearts and minds as we grow into our new creation. Second, to share the unconditional love of God with those we meet. Then, as we build relationship with people, to be available to hear their pain, grieve with them, and share the truth of the Gospel.

Ministry in a world of confusion does not need to be overwhelming, even as our world dives deeper into darkness and disorientation. We can stand firm in truth and love, caring for the hurting, and bringing the hope of Jesus to all we meet

Simon Says

Dave RSimon says, “Retire!” This month, we acknowledge and celebrate Dave Rasmussen, former director of Simon Ministries, and Outpost’s Married Couples Coordinator. Dave is a man who has faithfully ministered to Jesus, his wife Diane, and to many other married couples for nearly 20 years.

Humble Beginnings

I first met Dave Rasmussen in 1997 at his intake interview for Joshua Fellowship (JF). Back then, JF was the only group at Outpost Ministries. It was for any and all men struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions who sought to align their sexuality with their spirituality. We met on the second, third, fourth and fifth Mondays of each month. The first Monday was open to anyone and all people interested in learning about and participating in Outpost programming.

After several months in JF, I asked Dave if he and his wife would be willing to share their story of faith and healing at one of the open meetings. He immediately agreed to do that. Completely unbeknownst to me, Dave was shaking in his boots—not because of the prospect of sharing his story, but because he hadn’t shared “enough” of his story with his wife, Diane.

So he scurried home, shared “the rest of the story” with Diane and started to prepare to share. Well, the open meeting was a smash hit, both for Dave and for Outpost Ministries. We have a saying around here, “There is no transformation without sharing.” Dave and his marriage were transformed because of that open meeting in 1998. It was a catalyst that propelled both Dave and Diane further in their healing journey together.

Simon Ministries is Born

Dave and Diane later started an outreach of their own seeking to help married couples dealing with issues of homosexuality. They named their ministry Simon Ministries after Simon of Cyrene, the man the Roman soldiers conscripted to carry the cross of Jesus. For 15 years, the Rasmussens would minister faithfully out of their church to these married couples, lead Living Waters groups, be the regional representative for a national ministry group, and correspond with and mentor many people by mail and email.

Joining Forces

Then in 2012, through a series of practical decisions, Simon Ministries closed its doors, and Dave came to work at Outpost. He brought the renamed Simon’s Refuge ministry to married couples with him. He has continued much of the same ministry activity at Outpost, additionally overseeing the Caleb Spirit ministry for men over 30.

Leading the Way

This month also marks Dave’s “real” retirement. He first retired from a telephone company back in 2003. Dave is actually the first person ever to retire from Outpost. In the 1970s and 80s, the ministry saw several leaders leave because of burnout. In the 90s, we saw the death of our beloved ministry leader, Joe Hallett, who had lived a life with AIDS for many years. In retiring, Dave is setting a new precedent for ministry leaders here. We are now on a new leadership trajectory, and Dave is leading the way!

Standing Out

In an age where the sanctity of marriage is disregarded, and one’s feelings, attractions, and self-determination are king, Dave and Diane’s commitment to Christ and to one another stands out in noteworthy brilliance. We gratefully acknowledge Dave’s commitment to Jesus Christ and the fulfillment of His mission alongside us here at Outpost Ministries.

Congratulations on your retirement, Dave! May you and Diane have many happy and healthy years together, enjoying all of God’s blessings in Jesus Christ!

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Voices Q & A: Husbands and Wives

fork in the roadQ: If a husband struggles with same-sex attractions, why should he stay with his wife? Wouldn’t they both be better off going their separate ways?

A: Diane and I were committed to our marriage. We loved each other. The gay community was about youth and good looks. Diane loves me unconditionally!

There was always a voice inside me that said what I was doing—sexually acting out with other men—was wrong. I also had other people in my life who would be affected, especially my sons, and also my siblings, my in-laws, my mother, my dear friends. Their relationships were more important to me than my selfish, carnal desires.

Divorce was never an option for me. We knew it would be a battle, but we persevered, thanks to our Lord Jesus.

As Robert Frost once wrote, Diane and I “took the [road] less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

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Learning to Trust: A Wife’s Journey

wedding ringsI am the wife of a man who struggled with same-sex attractions in isolation for more than 25 years of our marriage.

I am also a sister, niece, godmother, aunt and neighbor to individuals who have identified as gay. The Lord has wanted me to deal with the issue of homosexuality and to experience the pain He feels for His children at a deeper level than most people. But the Lord first had lessons to teach me and wounds to heal in me before that could take place. Two of those areas in my life were in trust and forgiveness.

My husband Dave and I were high school sweethearts. He was gentle and kind, and I fell in love with him on the very first date. He was safe! I needed someone who was safe after being sexually abused by my grandfather for two years as a child. I needed someone I could trust, and I could trust Dave!

However, one month before we were to be married, Dave came to me and told me that he dealt with same-sex attractions and had also contracted an STD from a man. He expected that I would call off the wedding. I did not! I was naïve, and I loved him too much to let him go. We both assumed marriage would change him.  But my trust in him was broken.

I resorted to trusting in alcohol to kill my pain. I began parking outside gay bars because I was paranoid about what Dave was doing. Six years into our marriage, Jesus came in and, as our Lord and Savior, took over both of our lives. I had to learn to trust the Lord, and He gave me the ability to completely trust Dave again and no longer doubt his fidelity.

I needed to trust God after eight years of marriage and no children. We then adopted the first of our two sons—a special needs child with hydrocephalus, a son given a prognosis of severe retardation. I had to trust God for what He was going to do in my son’s life, if anything!

I had to trust God when, after 10 years of marriage, He blessed me by allowing me to become pregnant—telling me in prayer “this child is sanctified by Me”—only to take that child away by miscarriage the very next day. I cried out to God because I could not understand why. Then a dear friend told me ‘sanctified’ means, ‘taken from the world and given back to God.’ I had to forgive God for not giving me what I wanted. Then in my arrogance, He humbled me to ask for forgiveness for not trusting that He knew what was best for me.

In the two years following, I had to trust God when my son went through brain surgery and when the Lord took two more children away through miscarriage. Dave, with the stress and pain he felt at home, decided to get away and think about whether or not he should end the marriage and go into the gay life.

It hurt too much to keep this secret anymore. I confided in a man who was mentoring Dave that he had left. I also told Dave he had to confide in his mentor about his struggle before he even thought about coming home. I put all my trust in God that He would work this out in Dave. He did! Dave’s love of God and love for his family was strong!

He came back and said that he was ‘in it for the long haul.’ He started his long healing journey of being ‘called out’ of homosexuality. I was able to forgive him and trust in Jesus.

In 1997, Dave asked if he could go to Outpost. Within a few months, I joined him at what were at that time open meetings, and I gained such a love and respect for all the men there. After a few months, Outpost leaders asked us to give our testimony at an open meeting. Five days before we were to give our testimony, Dave said we should discuss what the other was going to say so there would be no surprises! That was when I found out about David’s numerous anonymous homosexual encounters for almost 27 years of our marriage. He assumed I knew and asked for my forgiveness. The day had come when I would need to forgive the most! The first words out of my mouth were, “I can’t!” Then God gave me another lesson in forgiveness: He showed me all the times that my Lord had forgiven me. Within 30 seconds, I told Dave, “I have to forgive you!” It was an act of my will. I did not feel like forgiving, but I put my trust in God, and I did.

The next few days were the most intimate times with God I have encountered in my life. With my extending forgiveness to Dave, Jesus could start healing the pain and grief I was experiencing. I cried out to God with my feelings of anger and betrayal, but my times with Him ended in love. He brought me to Colossians 3:14 in Dave’s Promise Keepers Bible, “Love is more important than anything else; it is what ties everything completely together.” I screamed at God, “Why didn’t you let me know this so I could help him?!” Jesus gave me parts of Psalm 91, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, My God in whom I trust.’” Then He changed the next part for me, “’Because (she) loves Me,’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue (her); I will protect (her), for (she) acknowledges My name.’” Then the room filled with the sweet presence of God, and I heard his voice saying, “I kept this knowledge from you for your own protection and for David’s. Your trust had to remain high. The decisions were David’s to make until My healing was complete. Your trust must still be strong. The old man has gone away and a new creation stands before you. Look not to the past but to the road I have laid before you both! Keep your eyes on Me!” Little did I know what that meant!

The Lord had us go through the Living Waters Program, where I learned to forgive my childhood abuser. He led us to start our own ministry, Simon Ministries for married couples, attend Living Waters Leadership Training, and begin leading the program in our own church for eight years.

The Lord has allowed me to share with those who have been sexually abused, those who have gone through infertility, miscarriages, adoption, those working with special needs children and now with wives whose husbands are struggling with same-sex attractions. Since Dave has been ‘called out’ of homosexuality and daily walking out his healing with Jesus, the Lord has taken us from coast to coast to share our testimony.

We closed Simon Ministries in 2010 and joined forces with Outpost where our healing first began. Dave still works with men dealing with SSA in the group CalebSpirit. I am working with wives struggling with forgiveness and trust in their marriages in our group Simon Refuge. I enjoy watching Jesus at work!

As a side note, we adopted a second son, Paul, who is a joy to us. But our first severely retarded son, Luke (we gave him a physician’s name), graduated from a Christian high school with a 3.0 GPA, has a college degree from University of Northwestern—St. Paul, worked for Billy Graham at Amsterdam 2000 and was just married on May 6th. His doctor stated that she had never seen a child reach normal let alone surpass it! To her, Luke is a miracle!

The Lord has loved me so much He has given me walking miracles in my house. I especially thank Jesus everyday for the gift of David as my husband. Last September we celebrated 45 years of marriage, and I would not change one minute of it. I have learned trust, forgiveness, and unconditional love and we have brought each other closer to God.

Join us for Called Out of Darkness on October 10!

Called Out of Darkness Celebration 2015Please join Outpost Ministries for our 12th annual Called Out of Darkness Celebration, featuring testimonies of freedom and hope from those impacted by homosexuality.  This year’s Called Out will be held on Saturday, October 10 at 7 PM and hosted by Hope Presbyterian Church, 7132 Portland Ave S, Richfield, MN 55423.  Expect an evening of passionate worship, inspiring testimonies and heartfelt thanksgiving to the One who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). Admission is free; an offering will be taken.