WHEN THE WAVES OF DEATH SURROUNDED ME
(By: Willis Ward)
I never felt I could share my testimony because I felt too hypocritical. If people knew what I was, and what I had done, then they would reject me. I couldn't deal with rejection. I was an expert at reading people, figuring out what they wanted to see, and meeting their expectations. I held to a strategic plan to protect an image I had set up: "ME".
I was saved around the age of five, I mean, 'born again'. I knelt down by my mother and asked Jesus to forgive my sin and come into my heart. I believe He did. The main Scripture used was John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." From childhood I have known the reality of the presence of God in my life. Assurance of my salvation came when I was thirteen after reading John 10:27-29 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand." I believed my Heavenly Father was holding onto me. I wanted to follow Him, to serve Him. This relationship was real.
However, I was exposed to several pornographic magazines early on in my adolescence. A college friend of my sister's spent the summer at our home. I found pornography in his room. A secret ritual of looking at the pictures and acting out alone began. I used a mirror and opened myself to bondage.
I was teased a lot in junior high school. I was the school 'faggot,' 'gay-bob' 'queer.' I hated these words. Most of these words came from those who pretended to be my friends. I was taught not to fight. I learned to fear males my age and not to trust them. I refused to go to school for almost two weeks. I was ridiculed severely. The school counselor came to my house and took me for a walk. I told him I hated school and that everybody was saying I was gay. He said it was OK to be gay and praised me for positive attributes he saw in me. He was trying to help, but left me feeling even more alone.
I felt very self-conscious in Physical Education. Other guys seemed to be developing into adult men before me. I compared myself to them and grew envious. I felt like I was some kind of mistake walking around. I was locked in a hopeless cycle of self-doubt and compulsive masturbation. I was too ashamed and fearful to seek help.
I experimented homo-sexually with a friend when I was in the 9th grade. Overnight a friendship of several years was destroyed. This was a major step in my descent into my own private hell. I now began to think all of those people who teased me were right. I thought, 'I am gay.' I hated myself. Giving into self-hate and hopelessness my private world grew more destructive, plunging me into bizarre sexual experimentation.
I was a success outwardly. I was a 'nice guy,' an excellent student. I ran cross-country and participated in track and field. I attended church faithfully, even Wednesday nights. I was well liked by my pastor and his family. He wanted to be a father to me. He took me on fishing trips and brought me along to split and pack firewood many times. Looking back I wish I had broken down and let him see into the pain and confusion of my secret struggle. But I was too afraid and believed I would lose him if I said anything. I studied him to know what he wanted to see and I tried to meet his expectations.
I acted out homo-sexually again after my senior year of high school. My mind was tortured with guilt, fear, and remorse. I fled to California and found myself at the Bible school I was registered to attend. I would turn myself in and finally get some help. I would never return to Washington. I was met by kind, loving people. They saw a young man distraught with some sin in his life. I expected them to ask me what the sin was. I was too afraid to tell. My pastor drove down from Washington to pick me up. He asked as we drove home what it was that made me run away. Through some awkward guessing, I admitted it was something homosexual in nature. That was as far as my confession went. He told me I was probably starting to become sexually active and that some times guys experiment. He assured me I was forgiven and loved by the people back home. He convinced me to go to Bible school. I threw myself into Bible School. I was going to prove my love for God by being an excellent student. I worked very hard and did well in all of my classes.
I acted out sexually toward another guy while in Bible school. I was horrified by my out-of-control behavior and hypocrisy. I asked forgiveness from my friend and went forward in church to rededicate my life to Christ. However, I didn't reveal my homosexual struggle. I told myself I could manage it, so it was to be just between the Lord and me.
On May 16, 1986 I married Felicia. We were planning to go into the ministry together and to lead a blissful life. I didn't tell Felicia about my dark sexual past. God took us through a process of rending. We both felt betrayed and victimized for the next three years. Selfishness and self-righteousness were deeply rooted in my heart and had to be painfully ripped away. God used my marriage to humble me. Eventually I responded to the LORD in partial obedience and our relationship began to grow. We drew close. I began to enjoy this woman who had once seemed my worst enemy. We started going to a church that worshiped God freely and felt our relationships with God surge. God brought some very sincere and loving friends into our lives. I convinced myself I was doing well because twelve years had elapsed since my last homosexual "acting out."
I decided to complete my Bachelor's degree at the University of Washington in 1997. Part of the program was to obtain a computer and learn how to use the Internet to access U. W. resources, fellow students and professors. Soon I had a computer and was linked up. Soon after that I found myself again looking at pornography ' with the computer. This digressed into looking at homosexual pornography. I was afraid. I drove to my wife's work and took her to a park. I confessed to her I had been looking at pornography on the Internet. I asked her to pray with me. I didn't tell her it was homosexual porn.
Falling again on the Internet, after months of seeming victory, I grew frustrated. I was getting sucked into the sin that would destroy me. I became angry... I thought, 'if this Internet can do so much damage, maybe it can help me.' I searched for "ministry and homosexuality." God led me to First Stone Ministries in Oklahoma and to a minister named Stephen Black with First Stone.
Through Stephen's discipleship, God led me to confess my homosexual struggle with a trusted friend, with my wife, and with my pastor. Thankfully God had prepared them to hear and to extend grace toward me. I confessed to my church leadership. I also studied 'Sexual Healing' by David Kyle Foster. An accountability friend started meeting with me once a week to memorize scripture and to pray. I also actually flew to Oklahoma and spent a week with Stephen and his family. Stephen has been living in freedom over homosexuality since February of 1983. We spent the week in sweet fellowship centered on Jesus Christ.
God has pursued me to the end of myself and has established an intimate relationship with me. I can't praise Him enough! Hope for the hopeless, this is what God offers. He has rewarded me for humbling myself -- confessing my sin before Him and before others. He has led me into a place of healing and honesty. He has taught me to run to a secret place and spend time on my face before Him when I am tempted. He has made my wife my closest friend. He is replacing my fantasy world with real, trusting, personal relationships with other godly men. With all my heart I can say He is a good God! His gentleness and love are amazing.
The war continues. But I am aware of the enemy's devices. Satan and his angels seek to capture me again into lust and rebellion. Memories of past struggles are used in an attempt to unseat me. Powerful dark gratification is offered to replace intimate communion with my Heavenly Father. My wicked heart and flesh hunger for the unholy. The world spews sexual temptation in every form.
I want to ask you to please pray for my intimate walk with my heavenly Father. Pray I fight for God's high calling on my life. His high calling is not the degrading road of homosexuality. Pray I read my Bible, listening for the Holy Spirit's voice. Pray I go to my Father when I feel weak. Pray I pursue my wife and am constantly enraptured by her. Pray I continue establishing and maintaining right, healthy relationships with other men. Pray I memorize Scriptures --wash my mind with good thoughts. Pray I exercise holy boldness, sharing Jesus' love and salvation with others.
If you are struggling with sexual sin, I want to communicate to you the non-judging, non-condemning, unconditional love of Jesus and the Father. He loves you just as he loved the woman caught by the Pharisees in adultery. His word to the onlookers was "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone." His word to her was, "Go and sin no more." Sexual sin thrives in secrecy. You cannot tackle sexual sin on your own. You need Jesus. You need the Father. You need the Holy Spirit. You need the prayers and support of other believers (See James 5:16). You may need to start with a verse like John 3:16. I want to encourage you to be born again and to get on the narrow path God has provided that leads to life.
Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. You can even have that assurance RIGHT NOW! Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you...please don't make such a tragic mistake.
To get to know God, to be at peace with God, to have your sins forgiven, to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity, to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help you understand the importance of being reconciled to God. What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one. Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life, because in Christ, it is impossible to put a value on the worth of your soul in light of eternity.
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Remember: All that we do in this life comes back to our God-given purpose which is to serve and glorify God. The money and assets we accumulate, the fame and power we've attained or seek to attain - all of the things of this nature will one day pass away, but those lives of others we impact for Jesus Christ will last for eternity, and we will be rewarded for the part we helped play by impacting those lives ... for eternity.
(Matthew 6:19-21 is our assurance)