Testimony

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Let me begin by asking you this question! Do you believe in miracles? I do! I believe every true salvation testimony is the story of a regenerated heart, where God has done a supernatural work in our innermost being. Contemporary Christian song writer and recording artist, Stephen Bennett has a wonderful song entitled “Do You Have A Testimony?”  *

The first verse says:

“Do you have a testimony, a day you can recall when you gave your life to Jesus: your heart, your mind, your soul?
Is there an hour that you know, when you were born again;
A new creation came forth and the old came to an end?”

When I first heard this song, my heart reply was oh, yes, I can recall such a day! Thank you, God! My testimony that I’m about to share with you is a true miracle that testifies of how God’s love, grace and mercy have truly changed my life from the inside out. And before I take you to the day I gave my heart, my mind and my soul to Jesus, let me give you a thumbnail picture of my life before that appointment with God.

I grew up in Des Plaines, Illinois, a northwest suburb of Chicago. My family consisted of my mom, my dad and my brother, who was 6 ½ years older than me. My dad worked hard for a construction company. My mom was a stay-at-home mom most of the years I was growing up. My parents loved us and impressed on my brother and me the importance of family.  My parents tried to raise us according to Judeo-Christian values. While they did not attend church very often, they made sure we went to Sunday school and as I got older, they were supportive of my desire to go to church and even be involved with the youth group. From early in my childhood through my high school years, I attended several different Protestant denominational churches. I believed in God, but I had not heard about having a personal relationship with Him.

Overall, I have good memories of my childhood. Concerning school, I enjoyed learning and challenged myself to get good grades. I had a happy characters.  Just before I entered junior high our family was forced to leave our country home and to move into town. This was a stressful time for the family. My tomboy days, however, were over and by the eighth grade my new best friend was one of the most popular girls in school. This was quite a change from my childhood days when my closest friends were boys. While I was well liked, I felt I could never measure up to my “popular” best friend. Her popularity remained throughout our high school years. Our friendship grew to be unhealthy, as she was very controlling and I became emotionally dependent on her. As we drew closer together and spent time alone together, same-sex attractions and feelings developed and it wasn’t long before we acted upon the feelings. I remember thinking when it first happened; we are just acting like when we used to act out the TV shows. During this period of time, I was still attracted to boys; so I dated and had some boyfriends throughout high school. But, my relationship with her definitely came before anyone else, male or female. I never thought about permanently living this lifestyle. And, I certainly didn’t think about it being homosexuality…because we never heard much about that lifestyle back then. During this time, I never had same-sex attractions for anyone else. We went to different colleges, which freed me up from my emotional dependency on her and the same-sex attractions disappeared.

I attended college from 1967-71, receiving my degree in education with a broad-field major in physical education. I participated in and excelled in sports throughout my college years, eventually leading to my induction into the UW-Whitewater Athletic Hall of Fame. While sports were an important part of my life, I also found myself on a search for spiritual truth. I would occasionally attend the campus Catholic folk/guitar masses. While I sensed certain things about those guitar masses were what God intended for a gathering of Christians, I still did not find the spiritual truth for questions that needed to be answered: Why were there so many different denominations in Christianity? What was it that was supposed to make us true Christians? That we had the same traditions when it came to Christmas and Easter? What about heaven? Where did it fit in all of this? I do not remember sin ever being discussed or hearing Jesus had died for my sin and sin was the issue and that Jesus bridged the gap between sinful man and a Holy God. When I graduated and got my first teaching job, I stopped going to church and searching for spiritual truth.

Now, as I talk about my college days, a very important question perhaps comes to your mind. Where did young men fit into my life? The very first week of college, I met a young man and we began to date. Those were complicated days, both in our nation and in my personal life. I really felt I loved him and vice versa. We were close to becoming engaged. I believe his main motivation for attending college was to keep from being drafted and going to Vietnam. At the end of the first semester of our sophomore year, due to poor grades and a lack of interest in college, he decided to enlist. But he flunked his physical! I was so relieved and excited that he was not going to Vietnam! But how quickly things changed and in a few months, something happened. Same-sex attractions and feelings surfaced for the second time in my life. This time it was for a woman who was my teammate on our basketball team. Our relationship crossed the line from an emotional relationship to a physical relationship as we acted upon these feelings. At this point I began to lead a double life; and finally I broke up with him after almost 3 years together. Another very short same-sex relationship followed… so while it was not my desire to just lead this lifestyle; these relationships were developing more often. I continued to lead a double life…guys still in the picture. And you must remember, during the late 60s and early 70s, almost everyone living the homosexual lifestyle was living it in the closet. I graduated…pursued my teaching career and left these relationships behind.

During my first 2 years of teaching, I dated a few of the single guys who taught at the high school where I was teaching. We had a great young staff that enjoyed spending time together after Friday and Saturday night school events. In the summer, I made a decision to play on a women’s softball team and I became good friends with a woman on the team. Soon, same-sex attractions surfaced that lead to a 3-year relationship. It was with this relationship that I chose to lead the homosexual lifestyle. We moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where I frequented gay bars and acquired a gay network of friends for the first time. While living in Florida, I had a very serious work-related accident. I believe God was trying to get my attention, in many ways. I certainly knew I was “lucky” to be alive, and I thanked God. A year after I recuperated from the accident, I moved up to Menasha, Wisconsin to take a teaching position that I held for 28 years.

So, I lead a lesbian lifestyle for about 15 years. I lived in the closet all those years not wanting people to know the “real” me. Initially, in the mid 70s, deep down inside I believed this lifestyle was wrong. But it was at that time that psychologists and psychiatrists made the determination that homosexuality was not a mental and/or emotional disorder, but homosexuals were born that way. It did not take long to buy into that lie. My thinking was this; I’m a good person and I was just created to love in this manner. It is also important to remember; I did not ask to have these feelings and attractions for women. They were just there! How could this be wrong? It was easy to convince yourself that you were born that way. Through the years I would occasionally go to church and even hear a sermon that said homosexuality was sin. But by the next day I would block it out of my mind and keep living according to my fleshly feelings, desires and thinking.

The homosexual/lesbian lifestyle is very self-serving and self-indulgent. My relationships lasted 2-5 years. It is also one of strong emotional dependency on another person. One of the partners is often very controlling of the other. These things were evident in my lesbian relationships. Alcohol was a huge part of the lifestyle I was entrenched in, both with my partners and with my gay network of friends. Finally, in 1986, I was deeply hurt when the person I was with left me for a relationship with a man and in just a year married him. I had always been the one to break up the relationship and I certainly had never had someone leave me to marry a man. I was “blown away” and it started me on a downward spiral into the pit. There is a hymn we have sung many times in church called “What Wondrous Love” which always reminds me of my situation right before the love of God rescued me. How I can relate to these lines:

When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down, sinking down.
When I was sinking down
Beneath God’s righteous frown
Christ laid aside His crown
For my soul…

By the summer of 1988 I had sunk almost into the pit of despair. I didn’t know if I was “on foot or horse-back” as the saying goes. I could not find relationships that made me happy; that met my needs. I almost had an affair with a man while I was having a physical relationship with a woman I really did not like very much. I had a huge void deep inside that needed to be filled! I was back living the double life and I had absolutely no peace in my life. My life was a mess! But this turned out to be a very good thing. God finally had me in a place where He could work in my life.

In August of that summer, I worked a professional golf tournament. It was my job to oversee the food service in a corporate hospitality tent. The vice-president of the corporation brought his daughter, Jill, to be the hostess for that week. She was a replacement for the corporate hostess who could not be there. She was God’s choice for hostess all along. And at the conclusion of the tournament, a group of us decided to go out for pizza. I rode with Jill and by the providence of God we lost everyone else when we left the country club. God had a plan. She took me to my hometown where I was staying with my parents and we went to my old high school hangout for pizza. During our conversation I found out she was raising support to go into full-time Christian work. I actually found it all very interesting. It also came up that she had never spent time in Wisconsin. When she dropped me off at home, I invited her to come visit sometime. As it turned out, in 2 weeks she came up for a weekend visit.

Saturday morning over coffee, religion and spiritual “stuff” came up. One of the things I told her was that I believed in God and that it bothered me that I was never confirmed. As we talked I felt lead to tell Jill the lifestyle I was leading and what had gone on the past 2 years. She said something like this; “Ruth, I believe it (homosexuality) is wrong because the Bible says it is. But

God loves you and so do I, but that is something you need to take to God.” She left it at that, never mentioning it again. On Sunday while we were out for lunch, she brought out the Four Spiritual Laws tract put out by Campus Crusade for Christ. She opened up to the page where there are 2 circles: one with self in the center and the other with Christ in the center. Each circle represents a person’s life. Jill asked, “Ruth, which circle best represents your life? Who is on the throne of your life? Who is in control?” I responded, “a little bit of both”, meaning a little bit of God and a little bit of self, probably because I believed in God and had occasionally prayed. The truth was self was very much in control of my life. We had a discussion for about an hour concerning some of the truths in the tract. I don’t remember any of the other specifics of our conversation, but I do know she did not ask if I wanted to ask Jesus into my life. She had to travel home that evening, so she gave me the tract and left me with “things” to ponder…one of which was this wonderful new friendship with Jill that was developing.

The next morning, Monday, August 22, 1988, I sat down in my favorite chair with a cup of coffee and read through the Four Spiritual Laws, cover to cover. It said I could receive Christ right then by faith through prayer. I prayed the suggested prayer and meant it with all my heart! One line in the prayer was “Jesus…take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.” Because of our discussion the day before I knew exactly what I was praying… Jesus, I want You in control of my life… I want You to be the Lord of my life… not me… I had only made a mess of it.

Immediately this tremendous weight of guilt was lifted off my shoulders. It was replaced with this incredible lightness of soul. I began to cry like a baby, tears of joy. I felt changed; forgiven; clean. I received such an incredible inner peace that I had never experienced before. For the first time in my life I knew God was not only real but also personal; and that I could have a relationship with Him.  It was a beautiful summer day and I walked outside with wet eyes and my neighbor happened to be standing in the driveway. “Ruth, what is wrong?” I told her I had just prayed to accept Jesus into my life. She started to cry and said she had prayed for me. You see, several years before I had lived in this duplex with a woman and she had lived on the other side. Recently I had moved back… another circumstance God had set up. She invited me to go to her church on Sunday. The Lord had a Bible teaching church lined up for me, for which I am so grateful!

Now, I must mention, there was one more important thing I did that day that jump-started my walk with the Lord. The tract suggested that you start reading the Bible; reading first the Gospel of John. So, as soon as I came back inside, I grabbed and opened my rarely used Bible that was sitting in a prominent position on my entertainment center. I found the Gospel of John and read the whole book that day. My eyes of understanding were open now with the Holy Spirit inside. This was the beginning of my thirst for the Word of God. I remember reading John 3:7 where Jesus tells Nicodemus he must be born again. I remember thinking, wow, that’s what just happened to me! I had no doubt. I was born again… praise the Lord! Here I am…almost 20 years later… a very different person… truly heterosexual in thought and feelings and identity. And to ever think I would be teaching God’s Word… overseeing the Women’s Ministry and more recently being called to a new ministry… Bridge of Hope Ministry (BOHM), is incredible! To God be the glory!

The purpose of BOHM is to share with the homosexual seeker the love of Jesus that can truly change them, as it did me… and share with the church how to minister to someone they love who is gay. So, while preparing my testimony for this website… I began to read my early journals it became apparent there were several things that helped me come out of homosexuality. You see… there are those who say you can’t change… it’s who you are! And to even try to change the homosexual is harmful to them. There are those who say they’ve given their life to Jesus… but then struggle for different reasons… and continue to lead the lifestyle… or walk with Jesus for a period of time and then fall back into the lifestyle. So, I needed answers to give the struggler and to those ministering to the struggler… what I learned early in my walk that helped me really never look back. I’d like to share a few of the things I learned!

The Bible said I was a new creature in Christ Jesus… I knew this was true as I was not the same person. I thought it was incredible that Jesus took all my sin upon Himself and gave me His righteousness. Wow, the great exchange. And with the homosexual lifestyle, there is often condemnation…either real or perceived…but after I was born again, I felt no condemnation, as I found this verse in the Bible. Romans 8:1 says “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” It became my life verse!

Concerning the sin issue…I learned not only was I a sinner (All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God), but that homosexuality is sin. When I was saved I was only thinking about the fact that I was a sinner. But it’s clear in the scriptures. (Lev. 18:22; Romans 1:26-27; 1Cor. 6:6-11) that homosexuality is sin. So, living this lifestyle was not an option…whether I wanted to or not.

I realized I had believed a lie. Homosexuals are not born homosexuals. 1Cor. 6:9-11 says…”Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards…will inherit the kingdom of God.” Then Paul says, “And such were some of you…first time I saw those words…they just jumped off the page. I realized the Bible doesn’t leave us to guess whether homosexuals can change or not. It tells us they can!

I learned faith is not a feeling. The believer must live by faith in the trustworthiness of God Himself and His Word. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. No matter what our feelings might be telling us or what the circumstances seem to be showing us…faith is choosing to take God at His Word…and being obedient to Him. Be a doer of His Word. So, the promises found in the Word are our authority…not our feelings. Our feelings can trip us up…our feelings are fickle. This was important, since I would have same-sex feelings and attractions to deal with for a few years. I didn’t want them nor did I want to act upon them. I trusted God, that He would complete the work He started in me. By faith I continued to be obedient to the Word, and my same sex feelings eventually went away.

I read and studied the Word of God. The more I did it… the more I wanted to do it! I wanted to know my God and how to live this new life. I found out… the Word transforms and sets you free from bondage to sin… sets you free to do the right thing.

The Bible says to come out from among them and be separate… and to flee immorality! So, I had to leave my gay network of friends; and have fellowship with Christians. Simply put, it’s not wise to play with fire.

Fellowship at church and developing friendships with Christians was important. Jill would disciple me through letters, phone conversations and visits. And God used our relationship to show me what a healthy friendship with a woman, without emotional dependency at its core, should be like. I would soon begin to deal with emotional dependency issues, so God also used our relationship to show me how a godly heterosexual woman acts as I had been identifying with lesbian women for 15 years. Then in time there were other believers in my life loving me and helping to disciple me in my walk with the Lord. This is so important for the ex-homosexual.

I came to understand emotional dependency had been a problem… something that I needed God’s help to be healed from. For those coming out of homosexuality, especially women, this is often the central struggle in the healing process… and one of the toughest to deal with…more so than the same-sex feelings and attractions. In order to develop healthy intimate friendships with women, I had to understand how emotional dependency makes them unhealthy.

I want to take a few minutes talking about this issue… I found the root problem leading to lesbianism is worshipping a person rather than God; a dependency on another person. This is not just a homosexual issue, however. Emotional dependency can happen to anyone. It even happens with those in the church.

How do you know when an intimate relationship…an intimate friendship is an emotionally dependent relationship? When all your emotional needs are dependent on one other person…and you believe that their ongoing presence and nurturing is necessary to meet your basic needs for love and security…and well-being. In other words, your worth, your peace of mind, your inner stability and your happiness are anchored on one other person and on that person’s response to you… you are emotionally dependent. These basic needs for love and security should be found in Christ! Unless the underlying spiritual and emotional problems are resolved… the dependency will continue.

Our dependency is to be in God! We forget that our only real security is in God. If in a dependent relationship, it becomes our desire to secure the friendship bond through manipulation in order to maintain the relationship, we will then be tempted by such sins as envy, jealousy, gossip, betrayal. These dependent relationships can lead to bondage greater than most people can imagine. If both people in a relationship are emotionally dependent on the other, there is great danger it will lead to an inappropriate physical relationship… women to women or women to men.

Here’s what we must remember… God knows what kind of friends we need… and what we can give to another person…because healthy intimate friendships are reciprocal. That’s part of God’s design for us. Wonderful God given friendships are emotionally satisfying… that’s good…there’s nothing wrong with that…these are blessings from the Lord… but they shouldn’t be emotionally dependent!! So, we prioritize loving God, keep our relationship with Him first and then concern ourselves with others. I’ve learned, as many have coming out of homosexuality… that you can succeed in dealing with emotional dependency issues, if we always put Jesus at the center of our relationships.

Last, I learned early in my walk with the Lord, spiritual warfare is a reality. First the enemy of our souls, the devil, will look to attack our areas of weakness …and for me, one of those weaknesses was emotional dependency. And at the same time, there is the battle between the flesh and the Spirit… ”For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh… I learned I must walk in the power of the Spirit and then I would not carry out the desire of the flesh (Gal. 5:16-17). Any immorality is the result of the lusts of the flesh winning out! The devil and our flesh are both enemies in dealing with emotional dependency or any lusts of the flesh or wrong desires. I had to deal with the fiery darts the devil would shoot at my mind… see, you haven’t really changed… etc. I had to take it to Jesus if I was struggling with some dependency issues… and cry out for help and find my strength and security in my relationship with God. We all have buttons the enemy likes to push… and he looks for the opportune time to tempt us.

All these things I learned are based on biblical truth and they helped me come out of homosexuality… without any real setbacks.

As I bring this message to a close, I must share what I believe had the greatest influence on my coming out of homosexuality. It was God’s love for me through the cross of Calvary. Singer/songwriter and worship leader Teresa Muller has a wonderful song called “Love Flowed Down”. Here are just a few lines from the song:

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It was for me, the blood that You shed
It was for me, the cross that You bore
It was for me, the love that was poured… down on Calvary

It was for me, that I could be free
It was for me, to live eternally
It was for me, that I could see
Love on Calvary, Love on Calvary!
It was for me.

The cross was personal to me from early on. All that He did… it was for me. I understood He loved me when I was still doing my own thing. I was so grateful… I felt I had been forgiven much…and that led to a sincere desire to worship Him and live my life for Him. (When I messed up, He was not there condemning me… His love still flowed down!!!!)

The Lord’s unconditional sacrificial love I could not find in any lesbian relationship… in any earthly relationship… period! No other relationship could heal my soul… no other relationship could cause my deep inner peace. And even when same-sex feelings & attractions hung around for a few years… I wanted Jesus more than my old life. The love of Jesus continues to change my life! After almost 20 years of walking with Jesus… His love continues to flow down… and it is for me!!

To learn more of my story and more detail about how the love of Jesus changed my life… and all the things I have learned to help the struggler and to help the person ministering to the struggler, I would encourage you to get my book, Love Flowed Down, on our online store.

 

 

 

The song you heard on our home page, is of course, Love Flowed Down, by Teresa Muller.  If you are interested in getting her CD, “Love Flowed Down”, or any of her other CDs, I encourage you to check out her website:  www.teresamuller.com.

1 Bennett, Stephen, “Let Me Show You Jesus, Sound Service Records, 2001.
2 “What Wondrous Love”, The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, by William Walker (New York: Hastings House, 1835). Words by Alexander Means.
3 “Have You Heard of the Four Spiritual Laws?” Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc., 2000.
4 Muller, Teresa, “Love Flowed Down”, Pneuma Music, 2004.
* Stephen Bennett’s ministry –  www.sbministries.org     (Recommend!)

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