BARTLESVILLE, Okla. (BP) — The enemy meant to destroy them, but today they’re intent on destroying the enemy.
In 2013, Francine Perry, a member of First Baptist Church in Bartlesville, Okla., started a Bible study, named Come Grow with Me, with 25 women who met in a home for several years. Today, that study has grown to nearly 140 women from area churches who meet weekly in First Baptist’s worship center.
It was during the growth of the Bible study that Francine and Paul Perry and their daughter Laura were going through the trial of their lives — dealing with issues of Laura’s sexual identity.
After nearly nine years of living as a transgender male — including years of hormone treatments, surgeries and gaining legal status — Laura was left empty and disappointed. She knew no amount of surgery would make her a man and admitted she was living a lie. Laura stepped out in faith, left her partner, job and entire life to surrender her life to Jesus Christ . Today she lives in freedom — redeemed and restored.
To celebrate the two-year anniversary of Laura’s coming home, Laura shared her testimony to a group of nearly 200 people at First Baptist. Her Sept. 12 testimony, titled “Former Transgender Set Free by Jesus Christ,” can be viewed at www.comegrowwithmeonline.com.
Laura explained that she wasn’t the only one transformed through this trial. Francine, who had always described herself as a “doer and fixer,” tried everything in her own strength to help her daughter. She finally admitted, “I had no plan. This is something I can’t fix.”
It was a pivotal moment for Francine in surrendering to the Lord. Laura recalls that it was the change in her mother, along with the Word of God Francine was teaching in her Bible study lessons, that God used to change her. “God used all the things I went through to change my mom. Our stories are deeply interwoven,” Laura said.
It was this group of women in Francine’s Come Grow with Me Bible study who prayed fervently for Laura for years. They welcomed her home with complete acceptance and even provided funds for her to buy women’s clothing.
Inspired by the miraculous answer to their prayers, a prodigal prayer ministry began. Now, as many as 40 women from several local churches stay for one hour after Perry’s Bible study every few weeks to intercede for prodigals. Nearly 500 people’s names from all over the world are listed on cards in a basket they call the prodigal prayer basket.
Francine noted, “I want to be available to other moms who are walking through a deep, dark valley because of the devastating choices their adult children have made. The need is great and growing at a rapid pace.”
For each session, the prayer leader prepares a handout of selected Scriptures and prayers based on those Scriptures. As women voice their prayers throughout the room, they pray specifically for protection from wrong friends, wrong influences and wrong spirits trying to seduce and lead astray. Laura attends both the Bible study and prayer time.
To date, 16 names have been prayed out of the basket. To celebrate, the prayer warriors sing a chorus from the hymn “Ring the Bells of Heaven,” quote verses from Psalm 34, and have a time of praise.
Peace and joy now shine through Laura’s countenance. “As much as I wish I had not hurt my family or sinned and rebelled against God, at the same time I wouldn’t change a thing,” she said. “God has worked an incredible miracle in both my mom and me through all of this pain, and as a result, both of us have a radical, transforming faith that neither of us had before.”
It’s the Perrys’ hope that other churches will include prodigals in their prayer ministries. For more information and resources, go to www.comegrowwithmeonline.com or contact FreeFromLGBT@gmail.com.