Your Testimony Will Free Somebody Else

Your testimony, your healing will free somebody else.

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

On Wednesday’s Voices Against the Grain radio show, we heard a powerful testimony of healing and restoration from sexual trauma and self-hatred shared by our blogger/devotional writer, Ana Martinez. For 22 years, she stuffed feelings of shame and guilt, starting with being molested at age 8, statutory rape at age 13, and raped again at 15. Growing up in her parent’s church and loving the Lord, she then walked away from God and His call upon her life. Today, she is a mom and bold woman of God involved in several ministries and has received freedom by sharing her story with others—so they too can heal. The episode, entitled “Christ: Your True Heart Healer, Soul Lover” conveys how deep, wide and unconditional Jesus Christ’s love for us. He is our special Valentine. No matter how horrific and dark your past or present situation, He LOVES YOU more than you can imagine. He died, rose and lives so you may experience true freedom, joy and peace —not bound by things of this world that enslave.

We were joined by Noel Bouché, president of pureHOPE, a ministry that provides Christian solutions in a sexualized culture. Noel discussed how they provide strategies to equip parents to help their children navigate in this digitized world, where images and messages of sexual immorality are rampant. pureHOPE envisions a world free of exploitation and brokenness. As a new partner with pureHOPE, Voices Against the Grain will join them to fight the proliferation of porn and sex trafficking in our society. To win this fight, Jesus Christ is our HOPE.

Ana Martinez, Chef and Voices Against the Grain Blogger

Ana Martinez, Chef and Voices Against the Grain Blogger

Noel Bouché, President of pureHOPE

Noel Bouché, President of pureHOPE

Immediately following the airing of Wednesday’s show, the calls, emails and text messages poured in from listeners (some in tears) who were positively impacted by the conversation. We could not have planned the perfect formation of elements that has begun the healing and restoration process for many since our discussion. God’s perfect timing unites situations, people and willing hearts to accomplish His purposes. Not a day sooner or later. Right on time.

Words cannot adequately convey what I feel in my spirit. In simplest words, I have a spirit of gratitude and humility that such a big God chooses to involve us in His greater plan. Thank you Lord. We love you.

Satan hoped that Ana would remain silent, ashamed and bound by her past. But God’s plan was already at work. In John 10:10 Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.” As referenced in Jeremiah 29:11, which furthermore says, “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD,” “plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

As Ana says, “No matter your situation, your story, know that GOD can restore you. HE can heal you. HE is our Redeemer. He has a bigger plan for your life greater than you know. He will turn around the darkest things in your life and make them beautiful.”

Just like Ana, sharing your story, your healing will help somebody else.

Listen to the show here. 

Christmas Post Office Push: Show Love

Ana Martinez, Voices Against the Grain Guest Blogger

Ana Martinez, Voices Against the Grain Guest Blogger

Like many people during this time of year, it was a must that I venture to the post office.  I needed stamps to mail my Christmas greeting cards. Guessing by the packed post office lobby, so was everyone else.  We all stood there patiently waiting in the long single line, mixed with other patrons looking to send out packages.  Suddenly a glimmer of hope: the clerks opened a register for stamp purchase only. I quietly thought to myself, “This is it; only one person in front of me now.” Like everyone else, I was in a hurry.  You would have thought they were giving away a million dollars, the way everyone darted for the line.  People began cutting in front of others, who had been patiently waiting longer than them.  This all got me wondering about how Jesus sees us, especially this time of year.  I read in a Christmas book before, “If I have a perfect house and give the perfect gift but do not show love to my family what good is it?”

Isn’t that so true? We can all become wrapped up in the Idea of Christmas and really miss the point.  Jesus is not concerned with how perfect your house is decorated, or if you mailed your greetings cards on time.  He is more concerned with your inward condition.  Are you showing His love to those around you? Even at the post office?  If we take a minute and stop rushing we might see that there are people hurting and many in need of a Savior. So I challenge you to take a moment and ask Jesus what He wants from you this year, for His birthday!

Luke 2: 13-14

13– And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14- “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”

About Ana Martinez

Ana Martinez was born in Michigan. When she was age 4, her parents Pastor Juan and Deborah Martinez founded the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship in Almont, Mich.  Ana grew up in the church and in a humble, loving Christian home.  Her parent’s faithfulness and commitment to ministry for over 27 years has been a testimony to her.  In her youth she was like the prodigal son.  She knows what it means to walk away from your call and to stray from the Word of God.  Her life experiences have taught her that God’s way and His principals are worth upholding.  She is a God-fearing Christian woman determined to do the will of The Lord.  Her heart’s desire is to reach the lost and win souls for the kingdom of heaven by sharing the Good News, according to Matthew 28:19. Ana truly believes people are hurting and need to know that there is forgiveness through Jesus Christ.  Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give ye rest.”

Ana has served on the Missionary Field, and has served in and led praise and worship, web design, children’s ministry and youth ministry.  Ana’s most recent initiative isGeorgia Peach Ministry, a non-profit she founded that serves widows and orphans.  Ana is also on the board of the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship. Ana is a private chef and has worked with professional athletes over the past five years. She is also an entrepreneur and is part owner in an interior design business, a chef placement business, and is entering into the food product industry.

Ana resides in Southern California with her three beautiful children and seeks daily to model this scripture from Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Love, Obedience and Not Judgment

Pride is one of those seven deadly sins that sneaks up on us. We think ourselves better than others if we don’t do this or don’t do that sin. We cast judgment upon others without knowing their story, or first extending compassion. Even those of us who strive daily to live holy and obedient to God’s Word fall short in one area or another. We should first seek to understand, and show love. Then instruct truth.  But before we can instruct God’s truth with others who are walking in darkness, remember: Without relationship with Christ, we have no witness and people cannot receive from us.

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Guest Blogger

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Guest Blogger

Luke 13:2- “Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?” Jesus asked. “Is that why they suffered?” (New Living Translation)

“Your sin is greater than mine, therefore what could you teach me?”

How many of us have uttered this phrase, or have at least thought it? In some fashion we all have had indignant attitudes toward individuals or their experiences, which we believed below our standing of living. This verse refers to sinners, but we have plenty of categories of comparisons, such as money, morality, and so on… In my case, I work to not cast a leering eye, a point of confession to become accountable for my actions. Who is next? For God isn’t interested in keepers of the law, or hypocrites. His blood shed for you and me cast out the law, so that we might have eternal life. Hence, no one is perfect, but we all should strive to live obedient to God’s word. He seeks those who desire to live holy. Here we will grow. There we will flourish. Only then will community of supporters populate, which will spread the glory of Christ. Amen

About Herbert G. Bowen, Jr.

Born in King of Prussia, Pa., Herbert G. Bowen Jr., accepted the Lord Jesus Christ at the tender age of 5. An active member of the Central Church of God in Charlotte, N.C. where he resides, Herbert serves as a youth/discussion group leader, where he has preached and taught Sunday school, as well  as Wednesday night service. In addition, he has preached at Second Baptist Church in Pottstown, Pa., Destiny City Church in Salisbury, N.C.  At his current age of 24, Herbert is the youngest board member on the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Leadership Council, where he serves to lessen the costs of tuition for African American students. Moreover, Herbert serves on the PureHope advisory board, where his commitment to “wait until marriage” fits perfectly with PureHope’s mission to bring a Christian solution to an immoral culture.

Finally, Herbert through the will of God writes weekly devotionals to combat the decreasing morality in the 18-30 age group a.k.a., “the transition gap.” This is an effort to re-introduce Jesus Christ to this spiritually starved generation. His devotionals go out to 2,000+ people and continues to grow under the Lord’s watchful eye.  He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Business Management. He provides business expertise to help others start their businesses.

Reparative Therapy or Repair Our Compassion?

The following topic is likened to the intensity of a powder keg few would touch with a 10-foot pole while wearing protective gear, encased in a fortified tank.  But I am not so intimidated to approach. I trust the Holy Spirit to deliver the message as He desires.

Last week, national news outlets buzzed with fervor and perhaps a hint of excitement that would finally dismantle Christians’ positions on the conversation of homosexuality and whether someone engaging in this lifestyle could ever become “straight.”

This Washington Post piece is one of many articles published featuring Alan Chambers, Exodus International president, who said God has instructed him to shut down the 37-year-old ministry that utilized reparative therapy to help persons reduce and remove feelings of same-sex attraction. In a public letter, Chambers apologized for his treatment of gays and not acting toward them in love as God would. He also said that though he gave over years ago to Christ his same-sex attraction and that he and his wife are happily married with children, he still at times experiences attraction to men.  Furthermore, in this June 21, 2013 Christian Post interview, Chambers replies to a portion of his letter by saying, “I cannot apologize for my beliefs about marriage, but I do not have any desire to fight you on your beliefs or the rights that you seek.” Chambers desires to promote “peace at all costs” and share the good news of the Gospel.

Apology letter from Alan Chambers, Exodus International president

Apology letter from Alan Chambers, Exodus International president

The news of Chambers’ decision to close Exodus International (notice I’m not calling it a ‘ministry’ as he did), gained steam as CNN’s Anderson Cooper (who has been public about his homosexuality), seemed thrilled that finally a ‘Christian’ organization has recognized they are wrong to try and change or pray for someone from being gay.

In reading the Washington Post article, it appears Chambers’ issue was not his belief that same-sex attraction is not God’s way for relationships—rather, it was Chambers lack of compassion, condemnation and brow beating of homosexuals that was the problem. This is something entirely different. My concern is that if this issue is not communicated clearly, it will only increase some homosexuals’ hate toward Christians for our prayers to help those overcome such lifestyles— and encourage the unwitting to support same-sex relationships/attractions (which is the enemy’s hope and trajectory).

Let’s be real clear here. There are a few issues within this situation requiring clarity.

1. Certainly, the techniques of reparative or conversion therapy seem questionable and inhumane. The techniques seem to do little to demonstrate the love and compassion of God. Chambers’ decision to close Exodus International was likely best as he and others within the organization need to re-evaluate God’s command to love one another and show compassion. A Christian’s walk is often challenged to show compassion and love for those who express and promote opposing views that contradict God’s Word.  As God’s Elect and Ambassadors of Christ, we are asked to “deal gently with those who are ignorant or misguided since we ourselves are subject to weakness.” (Hebrews 5:2)

Salt and Light Living

2. Don’t be fooled. While a Christian’s charge is to extend compassion along with faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, joy, kindness, love, patience, peace and self-control to those we encounter (family, friends, colleagues, strangers), it doesn’t mean we shy away from instructing God’s truth—even when it is unpopular.  While many images depict Jesus as a gentle lamb, He is also a brazen and bold lion. So we must be.  Christians have been called to be “salt and light,” dispersing truth in a world that would rather pursue gods and vehicles that allow more fleshly freedoms rather than pursue freedom in Jesus Christ. Matthew 5:13-16 says,13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

3.  Since the creation of time, humans have engaged in all forms of immorality. Homosexuality is only one of these forms and is not new to the scene.  Since God has made Himself known to man, people have invariably exchanged the truth for a lie (with enticements from Satan) to satisfy their flesh. Ultimately, God’s wrath against mankind has turned many over to their lusts (Romans 1:18-32).

There are a number of scriptures (James 5:16 about confessing our faults to one another to be healed to help overcome fleshly struggles) or Deuteronomy 30:19 (I set before you life and death; blessings and curses) that indicates God presents us opportunities to choose not to accept or become slaves to our dysfunctions and tendencies; to break free from negative generational cycles. Through Christ, we have opportunity to live free from bondage. Flesh will always want it’s way over the spirit. We cannot overcome such struggles in our own strength. Only in Jesus Christ can we have this victory.

All of us are subject to battles of the flesh. Reparative therapy is not a solution.  Demonstrating compassion toward those who struggle with the flesh and have not turned it over to God, is our charge. However, this doesn’t suggest as Christians show compassion, we should also support the ways of the world. God’s Word does not change to conform to the laws and votes of our society.

Today, people wait to celebrate or shake their fists at the Supreme Court’s impending rulings on Prop 8, same-sex marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Yet, yesterday, today AND tomorrow, God’s Word remains consistent in his creation of man and woman for fruitful relationships. It is Satan’s hope that Christians will unwittingly retreat from the truth in their pursuit to keep harmony among unbelievers. But we know Satan is only interested in gaining co-workers with him instead of leaving people to become co-workers of Christ.

Today’s answer to tomorrow’s challenges: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.”