Whosoever Believeth in Him
Whosoever Believeth in Him
by Candace Chellew

"I am a lesbian." I was 16 years old, staring into the mirror when I first uttered those words out loud. They were hard to say, even harder to hear. I knew by saying it I had to make a choice. 

My father was a Southern Baptist preacher, an evangelist who pastored several churches from Georgia to Virginia, and spent his later years holding tent revivals. I knew from sermons I had heard from many pulpits over my 16 years that being a Christian and being gay was a contradiction in terms. 

When I had the first inkling that I might be a lesbian, I began to pray -- fervently. I knew I could only be one thing, gay or Christian, but not both. I desperately wanted to be a Christian. So I prayed for God to make the choice easy ... make me straight. 

As I stood staring into the mirror that day I was convinced God had abandoned me. He had not listened to my prayer ... I had been forsaken to a life without God, left to wallow in my perversion. 

"Fine," I thought, "if God doesn't love me, then I don't love God. I can live just fine without Him." 

For years that's what I did ... or so I thought. 

With my first real relationship in crisis, my lover decided we needed to go back to church. I was dead-set against the idea, but she persisted. 

We found ourselves in an MCC congregation in Atlanta. The speaker that evening was Rev. Elder "Papa" John Hose. As he spoke, I felt the spirit of God surround me. I knew I was home. That night I discovered that I may have turned my back on God, but He had never turned his back on me. 

Thinking back to the three years I had spent not talking or thinking about God, I could suddenly see all the wonderful things He had done for me over the years. He saw me through job changes, relationship troubles, moves from home to home -- whenever I needed help, He had been there. 

I now realized that God had heard the prayers of that pained teenager. He had answered my prayer to be made straight. God said "no." I realized God had created me as a lesbian, and there was nothing that could change that! 

But, there was still the question -- how could I be gay and a Christian? I thought that was an impossibility! 

That's when I embarked on a search of the scriptures. Coming from a Baptist background where the motto is "The Bible said it, I believe it," it was a struggle to believe some of the interpretations that pro-gay scholars had come up with. But as I searched the scriptures for myself, and prayed for God to guide me in that search, I came to realize that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality, and instead has some wonderful blessings and lessons for gay and lesbian Christians. 

In 1996, I started a small magazine for gay, lesbian and bisexual Christians called "Whosoever." The magazine survived for only four issues in printed form, until money pressures forced it out of business. During that time, God put me in a place where I could learn the internet, and collect the resources and knowledge I needed to put Whosoever on the web. I thank God for the internet everyday. I see His hand in Whosoever. I do not worry about the number of "hits" my page takes on a daily or weekly basis, because I know God will lead people to Whosoever when they need to see it. This belief has been affirmed over and over again by the letters of thanks that arrive in my e-mail box everyday! Whosoever is a constant source of joy and wonder for me. It is God in action and it is beautiful to watch! It is my assurance that I am doing God's will! 

I've also had some negative mail arrive. It has been challenging, but also a great learning experience, to respond to these messages with love, compassion and intelligence. I have made several friends out of those who at first may have appeared to be enemies. One of them, a woman from Australia who struggles with same gender attraction and has vowed to be celibate, wrote this to me: 

"You are most effective in your ministry for God in the place where you are now... your heart is very soft toward the Lord and you'll do anything that He asks of you [please correct me if I'm wrong]. From the place you are at now... you have the potential of winning many souls to Christ and building them up in the Lord. The Lord wants us all to feel accepted by Him... hence He is using your ministry for this, as He is mine ... just in two very different ways!!! He also wants us to LOVE one another... we need to demonstrate this to each other as the Lord reveals His LOVE more fully to each of us!!!" 

I believe this best illustrates my point. We are all working for God. At times our work appears to be contradictory, but only God sees the big picture, we see "in a mirror dimly." Only God knows the whole truth. We cannot judge anyone else's walk with God, that is between the individual and God. We must love one another, with the unconditional love of Christ. That means loving those we perceive to be our enemies. 

Bridges Across is an intriguing project for me. I hope that we can set aside our preconceived notions of Side A and Side B, and honestly work together to bridge the seemingly unbridgable chasm that divides us. Our individual work may appear contradictory at times, but if we'll earnestly and honestly listen to each person's perspective, maybe we can find common ground, and a way to reach out together to those in need.

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"...whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."
-John 3:16

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text © 1997 Candace Chellew

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