The afternoon sun glinted off the polished steel of their 45’s as six State Troopers emerged from their cruisers. I knew this was going to be an interesting evening service. Baptisms and testimonies usually didn’t warrant such a display of civil authority. This evening Frank was among the candidates publicly confessing his faith and allegiance to Christ. And gays don’t leave the community without a stir.
Little did we know the long road that lay before that man. His faint voice so deeply punctuated with pain. Frank [not his real name] first arrived on our hearts and in our ministry over the phone late one winter evening. He cursed. He threatened. He cried.
As the months passed, the dark path he had trodden slowly emerged. After over six hundred different partners in sex, he tested positive. On his way to end it all, he stopped at our inner-city church-sponsored clinic. There he met the only friend he could trust forever.
Despair and hatred, bitterness and fear leave deep wounds on hearts and lives. Frank was a walking minefield of unexploded pain. He would slip into each service 15 minutes late. He fled at any sign of a conclusion. He often sat in the shadow of his hand seeking to hide his face and especially his eyes from view.
We must minister to men and women like Frank in our world. They live around us, work next to us, attend our churches -- and die alone. Modern day lost ones the Son of Man came to seek and to save.
Church historian Kenneth Scott LaTourette notes that when Paul came to the Roman world of twenty centuries back, he faced the gay community of each city. How did Paul minister to them? He gave them the same plan he gave any other sinner. God’s recovery program is sanctification! When Paul proclaimed Christ to those deep in the dungeon of sin, he offered a recovery program. The vice grip of sin could be destroyed and the sin appetite abated.
Did Paul see lasting change? Resoundingly the Scriptures say YES! The vivid reality of washed saints, cleansed from the filth of sin’s prison, is the grandest picture the first-century church passed on to us.
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