(March 25, 2001)
On Easter a decade ago, Alan Chambers sat in a homosexual bar in
Orlando, Fla., drinking. It marked one more chapter in his struggle
with a lifestyle dating back to his childhood.
|Pastor Alan Chambers
counsels a teen-ager.
Even surrounded by alcohol, Chambers says he clearly sensed Gods
unconditional love and Gods desire to free him from his bondage.
"I remember sitting there saying, God, I want to be healed.
I want to be better. But Ive been at this for eight years. Ive
been praying for something for so long. I really need some kind of
At that moment, Chambers saw two Christian friends walking through
the tavern door. They saw his car parked outside, paid a cover charge
to enter the bar and went in to get Chambers out. They told him the
Lord had sent them.
Today, Chambers, 28, serves on the pastoral staff of Calvary Assembly
of God in Orlando, one of a number of churches in the Fellowship that
minister to young people struggling with homosexuality. In January
1999, with the blessing of Pastor Clark Whitten, Chambers started
such an outreach, called "The Fringe."
Chambers has been attending Calvary Assembly since 1995 and met Leslie,
his wife of three years, there. He now meets individually with 25
teen-agers for weekly sessions. Every six sessions he also meets with
their parents. He regularly offers online counseling and support to
about 300 young people by e-mail (email@example.com).
Whitten is grateful that Chambers can offer hope to youth because
of his past in a way that Whitten cant. "We believe in
Alan and what hes doing," Whitten says.
Besides his work with youth, Chambers directs Eleutheros, a member
of Exodus of North America, a network of Christian ministries to people
seeking freedom from homosexuality (http://www.exodus northamerica.org).
Chambers, with Whittens consent, relocated Eleutheros to Calvary
Assembly, giving the church a two-pronged means of outreach. Chambers
also serves on the Exodus board of directors.
Penny Dalton, another Exodus board member, is a longtime member of
Trinity Assembly of God in Middletown, N.Y. She helps direct Whosoever
Will Ministry, an endorsed ministry of Trinity Assembly which counsels
men and women seeking to leave the homosexual lifestyle. Both Dalton
and Whosoevers executive director, Elaine Sinnard, are former
lesbians. They found Christ in 1978 and determined to reach other
homosexuals with the gospel. Today, people from across the state drive
to Middletown to take part in Whosoevers meetings.
Participants enjoy times of praise and worship, a devotional, a teaching
time and breaking into small groups. There is a mixed group of men
and women and a mens group that deals specifically with sexual
abuse suffered during childhood.
Pastor Jerry Bricker believes Trinity Assembly has reached many people
who would never have been touched with the gospel otherwise. "Homosexuals
are in need of the gospel just like anyone else," he says. "Ive
met many people who have said, Im so glad to find a church
that is willing to accept people like us in our struggle and understand
that there is help for us. Sometimes churches are afraid those
people living in homosexuality will somehow infect their church. Weve
demonstrated that this is not true."
Dalton points out that accepting homosexuals into a church community
does not have to include accepting homosexuality.
"When people come in, we interview them first," she says.
"We stress very clearly that we base this whole ministry on Scripture.
Its a very difficult battle. But unless we proclaim the truth,
its going to be a battle the rest of that persons life.
Thats true for any bondage."
Chambers burden to reach out to young people goes beyond the
walls of his church. He is working with Charlaine Townsend at nearby
University of Central Florida to start a ministry to homosexual students
through Chi Alpha, the A/G campus ministry.
"We cant just scream and holler about the sin," Whitten
says. "We must be willing to offer Gods healing grace and
the opportunity for them to become healthy and find the support system
"One person in our church at the beginning said to me, I
know that a ministry like this is important, but why does it have
to be at our church?" recalls Bricker. "And I said,
Im honored that God has allowed us to have this opportunity.
That person is still part of the church and has come to understand
that that is true."