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7/14/97 Couple’s friendship, concern helped homosexual find Jesus

WILMORE, Ky. (BP)–John Paulk still winces when he recalls the anti-homosexual protesters along the parade path of the 1985 “Gay Pride” march in Columbus, Ohio.
Dressed in high heels, white gown and bleached blonde hair, Paulk was riding in a red Corvette convertible driven by his male lover.
As he approached a bridge, chanting opponents held signs like “God Hates Homosexuals” and “Leviticus 3:5-6” — as if he was reading Leviticus in his spare time, he joked. But the banner that really angered him read, “Love the Sinner, Not the Sin.”
He thought, “‘I hate you. Who would want to follow a God like that?’ I wonder how many people have felt the same thing. Yet, inside this shell of a person was someone who was lonely, depressed and despondent, wondering if this was all life would amount to.”
That experience, and the Southern Baptist couple who led him to salvation two years later, convinced Paulk that homosexuals will never be converted by debates over their behavior.
The couple who witnessed to him used to bring Christian materials to the photocopy store where he worked. At first he scoffed, “Oh, yeah, Bible thumpers.” But they spent the next year befriending him, asking frequently about his life and inviting him to dinner.
After learning he was ill for an extended period of time, they found out where he lived and showed up with groceries and a freshly baked casserole.
“I can’t tell you what that meant to me,” said Paulk, now married and the father of a seven-month-old boy. “Nobody had ever given to me without wanting anything in return.”
Since they had never mentioned his openly homosexual appearance, he initially thought they were ignorant or stupid. Later he learned Tom and Linda (who don’t want their last names used) had been praying God would send homosexuals their way so they could minister to them.
Touched by their gifts during his illness, he agreed to let Tom return to his apartment one day to talk about Christ. His friend spoke in simple terms, Paulk said, comparing Jesus to someone picking up heavy luggage and taking it on a train for you.
“He asked if I died, would I go to heaven?” John recalled. “I didn’t know and it scared me. It drove me to investigate. But I said, ‘God can’t love me, I’m gay.’ Tom said, ‘I’ve known that all along.’
“He gave me the ‘Four Spiritual Laws’ and said God could love me as a gay, that being lost didn’t depend on being gay but rejecting Christ.”
He was also touched by Hebrews 5:9: “He (Christ) became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” (NIV). Suddenly Paulk thought how he wanted to please God with his life.
Soon after, his friends asked him to house-sit during their vacation — another significant step, since they didn’t know him well but trusted him to take care of their property.
“I tossed and turned for a week,” he said of staying there, “and became so convicted I went home and knelt next to my bed and said, ‘God, I will give my life to you and turn away from homosexuality and never do it again.'”
Not only did the couple lead him to Christ, they discipled him and taught him about daily Bible reading and devotions. When his first exposure to church left him too nervous to return, they held Sunday morning services at home just for him.
This kind of compassion is how Christians can reach homosexuals, many of whom are dealing with the consequences of considerable hurt, pain and sin, Paulk said.
“The best thing people can do is love them and treat them with respect,” said Paulk, who lives in Portland, Ore., and is public relations director for the Exodus coalition of ex-homosexual ministries.
“The best way to deal with it is not hit them with the gospel. Build a relationship with them like you would any sinner in need of Jesus Christ. Surround them with loving care and relationships.
“We can’t convince anybody what they’re doing is leading to physical and spiritual destruction. It’s the same with anybody making a decision for Christ. They have to want it for themselves.”

    About the Author

  • Ken Walker