This past weekend, a large group gathered in Washington, D.C. for a “freedom march” to celebrate being “freed” from lifestyles of transgenderism and homosexuality. The gathering included a man who survived the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting, and who subsequently left his life of homosexual promiscuity to embrace the Christian teaching on sexuality.
“I don’t want to tell everyone it’s a ‘gay-to-straight’ thing because God is not calling me to that,” Luis Javier Ruiz told NBC News. “I feel that I want to live in a life of purity. I feel that through loving Christ, he will walk me out of any situation. I love the LGBTQ community, I love my family. There’s no hate here, there’s love.”
By attending the march, Ruiz and others took a risk, as many in the LGBT community saw the event as a threat to their own freedom. When Ruiz decided to publicly announce his attendance at the march, he was met with scorn and threats on social media.
Much of the event involved those who had formerly engaged in a gay lifestyle sharing their powerful testimonies.
“I can’t tell you that it was this cakewalk and I didn’t have desires,” one man explained from the stage. “The gospel doesn’t promise us that we will no longer be challenged with temptation, but He says that when temptation comes He will make the way of escape.”
“Through the power of the Holy Spirit, he gives us the enablement to say no to sin. Sin will ruin your life. So let us pray and have faith in the God who can do all things,” he said.
“I’ve been delivered from homosexuality, bisexuality, promiscuity, alcoholism — sin in and of itself,” another woman declared. “Brokenness. So many things. But I must declare the works of the Lord in my life because people need to know that He is real. God is real. Jesus is real. He really died for you and he really loves you.”
The organizer of the event, Jeffrey McCall, is a former transgender activist who now declares that his once-promiscuous lifestyle is a thing of the past.
Donning a red shirt with “#Jesus” across the front, he took to the stage before a crowd at the National Mall to vow that he had fully abandoned his 12-year period of homosexuality and said he was instead committed to pursuing Jesus with his whole heart.
“Everyone has marches, all kinds of views and opinions,” McCall said of his event. “So I said, ‘I don’t really know about a march for people coming out of the LGBTQ [community] to follow Jesus so I want to do that.’”
“I want all these people to have their story told,” he added. “So I said why don’t I provide an outlet for people to march and have their stories told?”
McCall had spent two years living as a woman named “Scarlett” after years struggling with his sexual identity as a young man. But one day, everything changed. McCall was convinced that he had a spiritual experience, with God speaking these words very clearly: “You will live for me.”
Both McCall and Ruiz have denied engaging in the controversial “conversion therapy,” a practice that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation. They don’t claim to be free from their past temptations, but rather the freedom they’ve experienced has come from casting their sexual burdens onto Christ.
The event was co-sponsored by Christian organization Voice of the Voiceless, which exists to “defend the rights of former homosexuals, individuals with unwanted same-sex attraction, and their families.” The president of Voice of the Voiceless, Daren Mehl, said his personal journey from homosexual to a heterosexual orientation was a matter of spiritual transformation.
“I didn’t convert, as in go through a program,” he said. “I saw Jesus about who I am. I found grace to Jesus to live according to my values and belief.”
Mehl explained that he still has the urge to return to the gay lifestyle, but insisted that “God gives him the grace not to do it.”
“It was refreshing to hear people speak of the victories, not the negative,” said pastor Fredi Cleveland, who attended the event to support those who had chosen to speak out about the profound transformation that the Lord had effected in their lives. “It builds us up,” Cleveland added.
“I don’t push anything on anyone — I just want our stories of freedom to be heard because we’re such a small minority,” McCall told Newsweek. “We are not trying to do any conversion therapy, we are trying to do the Holy Spirit… when we make mistakes we confess it and we just do what the scripture says.”
(H/T: NBC News)