Hope for the Hurting

When my wife and I joined Elijah Company (EC) we said, “We need help and hope.” We were so broken and hurt. Going into our first meeting, we felt like the Samaritan woman at the well, and Jesus was asking us for water (John 4). We were reminded of Jesus’ words to her in verse 10: “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” However, we didn’t feel worthy of God’s help. Like many, we wanted a reset button for our family. Instead, we received the gift of living water from God: words of truth that bring us the hope and healing we needed.

Focusing on God’s Truth

This month, I’d like to share a couple of these words of truth that we have learned and are learning through the ministry of EC. First, we need to keep our eyes fixed upon God’s truth. One of the most common thoughts a parent has when a child identifies as LGBTQ+ is “I must have done something wrong.” Parent guilt is real, and it is from the enemy. I have battled this myself, and it is one of the reasons we got involved with EC. In these times, it is important to direct ourselves back to God and His Word. An important scripture to claim daily is Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” This truth brings us hope and helps sustain us through the struggle.

The Battle is The Lord’s

Second, we must remember who is the actual enemy. In one of our EC devotions, we studied Deuteronomy 20:1-4. The Living Bible says it this way: “When you go to war and see before you vast numbers of horses and chariots, and an army far greater than yours, don’t be frightened. The Lord your God is with you…For the Lord your God is going with you. He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you the victory.” As parents and family of loved ones identifying as LGBTQ+, we can easily feel that the whole community is the enemy. That is not accurate. Truly there is a high degree of organization in the LGBTQ+ community, especially through social media and chat rooms. Oftentimes, our loved ones are coached in their words and behaviors. However, our enemy has always been the evil one, Satan. Peter identifies this for us in 1 Peter 5:8 where he names our enemy as the devil. In other places, he also refers to the devil as Satan, slanderer, and adversary. The LGBTQ+ community is filled with sons and daughters who have been told lies from the evil one. Every one of them needs our prayers. Let us remember Ephesians 6:12: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Let us respond as in Ephesians 6:13: “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

Joyful Hope

As I close, I’ll say what we in EC remind each other of regularly. We claim the words of Paul in Romans 12:12 when he says, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.” These words represent the essence of what we experiences in an EC meeting. We acknowledge the hurt we carry for our loved ones. We are joyful in the knowledge our Lord has a plan, a future, and a purpose for our loved ones. The truth of God’s Word sustains us in our grief. Finally, being faithful in prayer maintains our hope.

Thanks be to God!


Elijah Company is a prayer-based support group open to parents, families, and friends of loved ones who are overcoming unwanted same-sex attractions, who struggle with gender confusion, or who identify as LGBTQ+. Each time we meet we have a devotion and time to share and update one another on our lives. Then, most of our time is dedicated to praying for our loved ones. If you are or someone you know is interested in joining the group, contact the office.

Elijah Company

Elijah Company is a prayer and support group for parents and friends that have loved ones who identify as LGBTQ.

Why is it called Elijah Company?

The name come from the last verses of the last chapter of the Old Testament. Malachi 4:5-6a says, “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents.” We hope to see the spirit of Elijah be present through this group. One of the greatest horrors parents can face is watching their child wander from the Truth. Yet in the midst of heartache and what feels like devastating loss on many levels, there is hope. As hearts are healed, transformed, and turned towards our children, we wait in expectancy for the Holy Spirit to also turn the children’s hearts back towards their parents and—most importantly—back to their Heavenly Father. This is not limited to parents, however. As we are bonded together as one family through the blood of Christ, we can join hearts in praying for the return of all God’s sons and daughters.

If you come to Elijah Company, what could you expect to find?

You would find other parents who love and care with you about your son or daughter. You would find other parents who are further ahead of you in the journey of walking with a loved one who identifies as LGBTQ. You would find other parents growing in their own faith as they move along on this journey. You would find other parents who are learning what it means to walk in truth and love. You would find parents wrestling with situations and attitudes and searching for God’s answer. You would be learning that mercy triumphs over judgment.

What are some of the things we do in our time together each week?

Our time together is rich! We are family to each other. We listen to each other and are able to empathize. We point each other to the scriptures that sustain us, encourage us, and give us hope. And we pray for ourselves to become more like Jesus to our sons and daughters, not compromising the truth, but extending mercy.

We love the Lord. He is our Rock. We pray for our children and those impacted by sexual sin to be released and set free. We are the watchmen on the wall waiting for them to come home to the Father.

If you want to join us, we’d love to have you! To find out more, send an email to jmersberger@outpostministries.org

HOPE2019 Conference: A Reflection

Stained glass window shot from inside. Features a cross in the window frame as the center of the pictureI stand amazed at the relentless way that God meets us in our need. He met me in a profound way at the Restored Hope Network conference HOPE2019 this past weekend. I didn’t expect it; in fact, I expected my responsibilities to naturally exclude me from times of ministry and encounter. When you have to be Martha, it’s easy to lose hope for moments of Mary. In the midst of my busyness, Jesus heard my hearts’ cry–the desire I had to sit and receive–and He met me there.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 NKJV

It was Saturday afternoon, and I was making my umpteenth run in and out of the sanctuary. Camera batteries had to be charged, cables exchanged, questions answered, and leaky toilets dealt with. Announcements ended, the keynote began, and I found myself drawn to sit and ignore the clamor for a moment.

As the speaker started, I actually felt panic begin to rise in my chest. Not there, Jesus, not that pain. I have to teach a class in 30 minutes. If You touch that part of my heart, I won’t be able to keep it together. Despite the overwhelming desire to bolt, I stayed.  I gave Jesus my weak ‘yes’, and let Him work in me.

Thirty minutes later, you could find me weeping at the altar, but not out of panic. I was surrounded by the people who love me most: fellow laborers for the gospel, friends-in-arms. I was ministered to, held, and had incredible promise spoken over my life. Jesus began (another!) good work in my heart, and I know that He will be faithful to complete it.

When you seek the Lord, He answers you. That small, unspoken cry of your heart, He hears that too. I heard this theme in the stories, the testimonies of transformation, the sessions, and so many conversations in the hall. Often His answers come at inconvenient times, in uncomfortable and humbling ways, but He answers you. When we let Jesus in, and give Him permission to touch those deepest, darkest wounds, He brings healing.

You could not help but be moved by the stories of transformation that were shared this weekend, and I was awed and humbled to be counted friend among so many who have persevered against incredible odds. They really have overcome by the word of their testimony and the Blood of the Lamb, and continue to do so daily.

I am so grateful for the Restored Hope Network and Outpost’s membership therein. Obviously, there are organizational benefits, but really, my gratefulness arises because of the incredible people and leaders in this network. They are different, set apart, a caliber all their own.

I also want to thank every single member of Outpost’s staff, and many of our participants, who gave their all this weekend to help run the HOPE2019 Conference. I am so grateful for their tireless efforts in registration, running the bookstore, serving lunch, manning AV, and so much more. In particular, special thanks to Joy K. who poured herself out endlessly as one of the conference leads.  If you think of them, please pray for the refreshing and protection of the Lord. It was an honor to be the host ministry for HOPE2019, and I am looking forward to next year’s conference in Seattle.

The Power of the Cross

Recently, I have experienced difficult circumstances and losses that have left me reeling. Life has been so unpredictable and painful, and the challenges just keep coming. This has made me think about how we navigate this world as broken, sinful human beings, who so badly need a savior, a comforter, and a refuge from the storm. How do we turn from our own self-sufficiency and our attempts to fill the hurt and broken places with something other than the healing love of God? This is where the cross enters the picture.

The power of the cross is that we have a great High Priest, Jesus, who can sympathize with our weakness, who has been tempted in every way but is without sin, who enables us to confidently draw near the throne of grace where we are able to receive God’s mercy and help in our time of need (Heb. 4:14-16). This is a powerful passage, but one we know too well and can minimize when thinking of ourselves and our circumstances. If we read this passage with fresh eyes, we see a hope that we can be met and held, no matter what. We see the way to the Father opened by Jesus’ blood. We see that Jesus has bought us and we are HIS! Because we are His, we can have the confidence to come before Him in obedience and trust, even when things are hard. As I have struggled with the difficulties of this past season, I want to share some passages from Hebrews that I found very helpful.

Hope, The Blood and The Way

When our feelings and circumstances overwhelm us, the first thing we need is hope. Even when we are in the darkest places, overwhelmed by our pain; when we feel lost at sea, drowning in our sin and shame, we can have hope as an anchor in the storm. Hebrews 6 says God gives us His promises to encourage us as we lay hold of the hope set before us and flee to Him for refuge. This hope is an anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast (vv 17-19a). Using a promise from Hebrews 4, we can draw near to God to receive mercy and help. Instead of struggling like one who is in a sinking ship, we can lay hold of this promise as an anchor to weather the storm. We can turn our eyes towards Jesus in faith that He is with us, and that there is a future beyond our current stormy situation.

The second thing we need in this unpredictable life is the reassurance that Jesus’ blood is enough. When we are hit with shame or feel the weight of our sin, the Holy Spirit reminds us that Jesus shed His blood to set us free. Hebrews 7 speaks of how Jesus saves us completely and forever, and that it is He who always lives to make intercession for us (vv 24-5). Jesus is our Advocate before the Father, who understands us in our weakness and claims us as His blood-washed bride. Hebrews 9 talks about how Jesus, through His own blood, obtained for us eternal redemption, that our consciences may be cleansed of dead works to serve the living God (vv 12,14). By Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we can be set free of so much–our past, our hurts, and our sins–that we might walk out of darkness and into light. We are new creations in Christ, even when we struggle, because we are saved and cleansed to the uttermost.

The third thing that we need is a way out or a way forward when we feel lost and overwhelmed by our sin. We have already seen Hebrews 4, where Jesus enables us to draw near the throne with confidence.

It won’t be overnight, but Jesus saves forever and completely, so we can continue to give God our “yes” in the now and the not yet. 

So Jesus not only intercedes for us, but he made a way for us to enter the throne room, for us to have access to the Father. Hebrews 8 tell us that Jesus mediated a new and a better covenant, one based on faith in Him and not obedience to the law (v 6). He calls us to faith and shows us the way into God’s presence, where we can receive the kind words and healing love of the Father into our broken hearts. It isn’t about legalism or following rules, but trusting that Jesus will show us the way as we walk closely in relationship with Him.

Our Part: Draw Near and Hold Fast

Now we have hope to anchor us, our Savior’s blood to cover us, and the way forward opened, so we can approach the throne. What is left is only our participation. Hebrews 10:19-23 is a summary of what has already been discussed, but there’s an important addition. We are called to draw near and to hold fast. Our part is to give God our “yes”–our submission to His working in our lives–and to believe when it gets hard. In my darkest and most rebellious times, when I felt farthest away from God, I prayed to be willing to be made willing. In His mercy, He answered my prayer, and worked in my heart to accomplish this. God is faithful to answer our “yes.” Like a kid who scrapes her knee and runs to her father, we have that kind of access to God. We can keep coming back, choosing to return and follow Him until the end.

The power of the cross is that the way is open, the blood has covered us, and we have an anchor in the storms of life. Even when we feel a million miles away from God, we get to choose, again and again, to say “yes”: to believe God and to take Him at His word. We are clean, we are healed and being healed, we have been freed from the power of sin and death, we are being made new. It won’t be overnight, but Jesus saves forever and completely, so we can continue to give God our “yes” in the now and the not yet. We may look like a mess on the outside, but the cross is enough. It is not our work, but our “yes”–our submission, our surrender and letting go–that allows God the opportunity to do something powerful and real in us.

Staying the Course

God has been good to us at Outpost Ministries. It is no small thing to be a ministry to the sexually and relationally broken and still be bearing fruit after 41 years. Our fruitfulness is especially remarkable given the reality of the front lines ministry we do and the major shifts that have taken place in culture. We begin the year with gratitude in our hearts to the Lord for His leadership and provision throughout the years. And we are looking forward to the future and staying the course, knowing that God is with us every step of the way.

Speedy Justice

In the fall of 2012, the Lord spoke to my heart from Luke 18:1-8, the parable of the persistent widow. In this scripture passage, Jesus clearly teaches us that in the context of night and day prayer, He releases justice speedily to His elect ones. As I read the passage, it was as if the word “speedily” jumped off the page. “Lord, you mean we can speed up the process? Human beings can play a role in partnering with You in the release of justice?” The answer was, “Yes”! God had my attention.

You see, I had seen many of our clients fight for long periods of time to get justice for their souls. The warfare around getting free from unwanted same-sex attractions was intense. The enemy wasn’t letting go without a fight. This passage of scripture gave us insight into how to fight back. The answer was persistent, consistent prayer.

Biblical Justice

The Lord loves releasing justice. “For I, the Lord, love justice . . .” (Isaiah 61:8a, NKJV). Justice is when God makes the wrong things right. Though not an exhaustive list, Isaiah 61:1-4 gives us one of the best pictures of what justice accomplishes: Good news is proclaimed. Broken hearts are bound up. Captives are released. God shows favor to His people and vengeance to His enemies. Those who mourn are comforted and made glad. What has been torn down is restored.

Speedy justice for our participants is to experience the healing of their hearts and the restoration of their families. It is to be set free from the bondage of homosexuality. It is to become grounded in the truth of who they are as God’s image bearers. Speedy justice is the taking hold of their authority as sons and daughters of the Father. And it is to be made fruitful.

We said “yes” to the Lord and began the task of marrying night and day prayer with inner-healing ministry. The warfare intensified, but we started to see justice prevail in new ways. People’s lives were transforming. Our staff was growing. Our finances were increasing. God was blessing our efforts.

Now, I am more convinced than ever that times of corporate and personal prayer are key to overcoming life-dominating issues. There are many other helpful tools I wholeheartedly believe in that we use for the journey—Christian counseling, 12-step groups, life-giving community—but when we spend extended time in intimacy with God, we get more. God accelerates the process.

Not a Formula

I want to be careful not to make this formulaic—if you do “x,” God will do “y.” It is not a formula at all; God desires relationship with us. Prayer is dialogue with God. It is a conversation that involves sharing our hearts with Him. Our primary goal in prayer, however, should be listening. We are transformed from the inside out by hearing the voice of the Lord through His Word and through the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit.

Discerning God’s Voice

God is always speaking the healing word. Psalm 107:20 says, “He sent His word and healed them, And delivered them from their destructions.” The Lord is quick to release truth that will set us free, but we have to be receptive to it. It can be hard to hear the voice of the Lord in the midst of all the clamor around us. There are so many other voices that demand our attention.

This is where Outpost comes in. One of the main skills we teach our participants is to discern the voice of the Lord from all the other voices—especially the voices of the world, our flesh and the devil. Our participants learn to have life-giving quiet times with the Lord and to obey what He is speaking to them.

Leann Payne, in her book The Broken Image, wrote:

 Listening to God is the most effective tool we have in our “healing kit,” for by it we know how to collaborate with His Spirit. Teaching others to listen is one of the most valuable lessons we as spiritual directors can give them; by this freedom to hear, they pass from immaturity (being under the Law or laws) to maturity (the walk with Christ in the Spirit), both as persons and as Christians. The Lord Himself becomes their chief counselor and guide, and our vocation is made easier (pg. 134).

Corporate Prayer

When we pray together, we receive more revelation of the love of God. In Ephesians 3:17-19, the Apostle Paul prays, “. . . that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (emphasis added). God desires personal prayer and corporate expressions of prayer. Thus, we teach our participants how to do both.

We provide a place for corporate prayer in the TCJHOP Prayer Room. In the Prayer Room, our participants are able to join with the greater body of Christ in a unified cry for justice—not just for themselves, but for the believers in the Twin Cities and beyond. As we pray together, we receive more of God’s heart for those we are praying for. As we pray together, we are set free from the prison of being only self-focused.

Looking Forward

One of our main objectives in the coming year is to make our resources more accessible to the region. Requests for speakers and our Distinctions Seminar are increasing. Outpost North in the Brainerd Lakes Area is going strong under the leadership of Angie Klein. We have planted groups in the South Metro that we hope to grow in 2018. As the Lord gives grace, we will consider the possibility of expanding in the east and west.

Even as the tide of culture continues to embrace gender and sexual confusion, there are still those who are seeking our services. Young people are still making different decisions about how to deal with their same-sex attractions. Instead of embracing them and living them out, they are striving to bring their sexuality under the lordship of Jesus Christ. God is meeting them in their obedience and restoring their souls. Jesus Christ has life-changing power! We have the privilege of witnessing this process week after week.

As I look forward to the future, we are staying the course. We will continue to strive to make prayer central to all we do. From the overflow of what we receive in prayer, we will do the work of inner-healing ministry. Thank you for partnering with us in this essential work, and blessings on you in 2018!

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