Gay Pentecostal/Revival Kiwi in Japan

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Joined in 2008
August 5, 2008, 17:59

I am a 28 year-old gay pentecostal/revival Kiwi living in Japan.

I was born in London but grew up in New Zealand in a semi-charismatic Baptist church, attended small pentecostal churches in the renewal/revival/prophetic/apostolic stream during the mid-1990s and led a Christian group at high school.

I knew I was gay since about age 11 but as a teenager I thought that I could overcome gay thoughts through prayer, confessing scripture, faith, revival and the anointing. I went through a never-ending cycle of feelings of victory and then defeat, constantly condemning myself after hearing what some preachers taught. I attended the meetings of what I considered to be the most anointed ministries in the world, hoping that my orientation could be changed, but would feel a huge sense of hopelessless and frustration as my desire for guys and gay thoughts would always return.

I felt strongly that homosexuality was a sin, but at the same time I was never condemned or made to feel guilty by the Holy Spirit. When I was in the presence of God or under the anointing I only ever experienced unconditional love, joy and acceptance. I first spoke in tongues when I was 13 after reading a book on a revival in Asia and about a month later read a book on the person of the Holy Spirit and asked Him to become my best friend. I see now that the Holy Spirit has always been faithful to stand by me, that he was the One helping me to overcome guilt and shame, and that He has been leading me to a place of freedom and to believe the love God has for me.

In 1999 at age 19 I left NZ for the U.S. to volunteer at evangelistic events and go to a bible school affliliated with a well-known ministry, hungry for revival and the move of God. I eventually ended up working in evangelism for that ministry (which I still love and deeply appreciate).

At the bible school I struggled with gay thoughts almost daily. Even though I had numerous supernatual experiences, no matter who laid hands on me or how long I was in God’s presence my desire for guys wouldn’t go away (in fact it seemed to grow stronger!). Eventually I decided my only cure would be to marry, so I pursued a girl at bible school and we got engaged very quickly, despite having had an almost “audible voice” experience a few months earlier that I shouldn’t try to get married. The ministry leader was the only one who opposed our engagement, which I resented at the time, but am thankful for now. About one week before the wedding she broke it off, and I was devastated, not because I was heart-broken, but because I thought there was no other way I could be free from my desire for guys. That was the only time I ever contemplated suicide.

I soon returned to NZ, only to chase another Christian girl for the same reason. Eventually I enrolled at a university in NZ to study business and Japanese and finished my degree there, but soon stopped attending church. I felt that a secular career was the only thing possible because I could not overcome my issues and I did not want to “bring reproach upon the body of Christ”.

I came to Japan in 2004 and after two years of nearly driving myself crazy over my sexuality, decided to take another look at the verses that supposedly talk about homosexuality in the bible. I soon found that I had been deceived into believing a religious lie, and became very angry that I had wasted my youth fighting a part of me that God had created and loved. After finding a sense of freedom and acceptance, I felt a strong impression that “Until you accept yourself as you are you will never have power in your life”. I finally had my first real experiences with guys in May 2006 and quickly jumped into the Tokyo gay scene. I have been in a relationship since December 31, 2006.

After coming out to friends and some of my family last year, I did begin to find a lot of personal freedom and power. I began to feel confident inside about who I am as a gay guy in love with Jesus. Out of that confidence and faith I also began to experience the love and presence of God in my life even more than I had in the past. I learned that the kingdom of God was not about external rules and regulations (meat and drink), but “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost”. I was at peace, found it easy to believe God for the miraculous, and began to feel a genuine joy and love for people like never before.

(I kind of wish my story could end there on a happy note, and this is already too long, but wait, there’s more …)

From about August last year I found myself longing to feel more of the anointing and presence of God, so I began to download recordings of anointed meetings and worship to my ipod. Then in March this year I began attending a small charismatic church here (I had not attended a church since 2002). Because I told them about my bible school and ministry history, they soon asked me to lead outreaches and to speak at some of the services. I was nervous about ministering at first because I had previously thought that ministry and my being gay couldn’t mix, but I felt I should speak with boldness, so I did. The Holy Spirit moved and I ended up speaking for several weeks in a row. Since then the church pastors have asked me to become part of the leadership and to come on staff (which I have not yet signed up to, but have not refused either), but they do not know that I am gay.

The issue of my sexuality had not really come up, but this past Sunday the pastor preached strongly against homosexuality and gay marriage, sending me into an unexpected tail-spin on the inside. Maybe it was because I had just finished listening to Anthony’s audiobook last week, but I almost went into shock during the service because it made me confront the reality that everyone at the church thinks I am straight and I am not being honest with them, even though I am in a defacto leadership position. I was also angry, and began to wonder if I can continue to support a church with my time and money that condemns me and the community I care about. If I am going to lead them in outreach, it has to be with the unconditional love of God, not judgment.

So I am thinking about what to do. If I come out to the pastor and his wife, I think they would feel betrayed, having given their pulpit over to a gay guy without knowing it. I assume they would not let me minister again and my continued attendance would make them extremely uncomfortable. It could also be seen as an “attack of the devil” to discourage them from the outreaches the church is just starting. The pastor knows where I went to bible school and is now hooked up with that ministry, so there is also the possibility that word could get back there and also to churches I used to associate with in NZ. I am afraid of losing those relationships and being cut off or made to disassociate from the ministry in the U.S. and my bible school friends.

I am tempted to just “not take offence”, nod, smile and say nothing, and continue hiding my orientation while continuing to minister in the church, or I could just run away and tell them I have found another church (there are gay churches and interdenominational gay Christian meetings in Tokyo I could attend, but they are not charismatic), but I do want to have some integrity.

Now I am wondering whether I am strong enough to come out to the church, and then stay and be a witness to the fact that you can be fully gay and also be fully anointed and filled with the Holy Spirit. I hate the fact that everyday people preach against being gay without the Holy Spirit or anointing at all backing up or confirming that “word”, and that young guys and girls struggling with the issue hate themselves and commit suicide as a result. I believe there are thousands and thousands of gay Christians sitting in the pews of charismatic/pentecostal/renewal/revival churches and that if all of us came out, told our stories and then stayed in our church with forgiveness and love (not hiding or running away like I want to), it would be revolutionary and attitudes would change over time. I am just battling internally over whether I am ready to take that step personally.

During the service I did feel a peace about coming out, so long as I do it in a way that is gentle, and that even if I am rejected and unable to minister there, I can still minister healing and love to my gay friends (with 60 million men there are probably several million gay guys in Japan!). Before the service I felt the Holy Spirit saying “I will defend you” but I didn’t know why at the time.

Anyway, yesterday as a first step I sent an email to the pastor asking questions about his message, such as what approach he intends to use to minister to gay people during outreaches, whether gay people are welcome in the church and whether gay people are officially allowed to take communion, give into the offering or minister there etc. He replied that all people need help to be set free from sin and suggested we meet up privately to discuss it. A former pastor of mine also happens to be coming to Japan in a few days, so next week I will have an opportunity to come out to both of them (separately) if I choose to.

Please pray for me! Thank you all for your honesty and love. It is a real blessing and encouragement to me, especially now, faced with this dilemma.

Anthony Venn-Brown
Joined in 2005
August 5, 2008, 18:05

hi Rivers…..welcome….I think you actually may our first person from Japan.

isn’t it great that we can all finally connect like this. I remember when I first came out that there wasn’t a sole I know who I could talk to who would understand the issues I was facing.

I pray you get lots of encouragment here………I’m sure you will. it certainly helps i think to know what are not the only ones having to sort this out and that we are not alone in this journey.

you sound like a very together person……I have confidence….that it will all work out in the end.

of course the one thing we can’t….and wouldn’t do here is tell you how to live your life.

hope to hear more from you.

Joined in 2007
August 6, 2008, 13:01

Hi Rivers, welcome to the forum!

That’s quite a first post you’ve got there. Covers so much of the journey. And I like the fact that New Year’s Eve worked out so well for you. 😉

All I want to say about your current situation is to encourage you to hold on to that desire for integrity. Of course, what that actually means in terms of decisions you make, only you can know. But I’m sure that God will honour your desire to be true to Him.

Anthony Venn-Brown
Joined in 2005
August 6, 2008, 13:58

being open and honest is always the healthiest way to live i think. I certainly feel healthier emotionally and psychologically for it.

I guess the questions to ask about living honestly are: (read honest as coming out)

Why do I want to be honest and open?

Who do I need to be honest to?

When do I need to be honest about myself?

How would I go about being honest with others?

What purpose would it serve to be open and honest with everyone?

that should keep the discussion going for some time

😆 😆 😆

Joined in 2008
August 6, 2008, 18:29

Thanks avb and orfeo for your words. Challenging questions!

I feel like I am psycho-analyzing or preaching to myself in this reply, but just writing these thoughts down is helping me work through them and doing it in public might help others. I am sorry if I sound preachy. Trying to be more real. Please bare (bear?) with me.

It is obvious that God is dealing with me about honesty and integrity. I hated hearing the word “Integrity” over and over in Anthony’s audiobook and now it keeps coming up here!

I know honesty is an area that has always been a problem for me, often lying or hiding to protect myself, and I still try to justify it. A question I have been asking myself is if I am so accepting of who I am, why didn’t I come out to the pastor before agreeing to minister?

When I was a child I used to be so open and honest with my family and others about everything (to the point of being embarrassing) … until I started getting teased at school and was beaten up once (after kissing a boy on the lips at age 10 in front of school friends at lunctime!). I started to become very selective about the truth I would tell after that. I didn’t want people to be ashamed of me or end up in situations in which I would get bullied.

Also, before my parents got divorced I used to hear their loud arguments every night for several months and since then I have always tended to avoid conflict or making people angry or upset, but then not speaking up when I should has always led to problems.

When I came out to my friends, my sister, my bosses at work and old friends from high school in 2006 and early 2007 I found a real liberation, like I was rediscovering the innocence and freedom I had as a child, but then I went through a battle when I came out to my mother (we preached at each other back and forth via email for months and it got quite nasty). We eventually called a truce, but at one point I regretted coming out to her and I think I started to retreat again after that.

So after the initial burst of coming out to everyone and anyone, I guess I ended up deciding to continue to hide from others who might prove difficult (like my dad and stepdad) or could get hurt or become upset (Christians). I also started to fear that I was limiting my career or future ministry possibilities or that I was giving people an opportunity to put me in a box.

So by the end of last year I focused my energy instead on work and my relationship, but realize I lost my joy. I mostly stopped going out or making new gay friends and became very boring and isolated. That is also when I started reconnecting spiritually to different ministries again, but maybe I have been trying to substitute the joy of being open or having honest friendships with trying to be “spiritual” and am instead becoming just “religious”. I just need to be real.

With the pastor at the church now, I knew before I attended the first service that I might be asked to minister, but I guess I thought that me “ministering” was more important to God than 100% honesty, or maybe I was in denial, hoping somehow the church would just realize I was gay and accept it without me having to say anything.

I justify my silence by saying I am “walking in love”, being a “peacemaker”, or “walking in forgiveness”. I even have some convenient bible verses to defend not being totally open in my mind, such as how Rahab (the prostitute at Jericho and ancestor of Jesus) protected the Israelite spies by lying to those looking for them, or how Abraham lied about Sarah being his wife, etc. But I know the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth and that the truth sets us free.

I keep telling God that He “needs me” to remain hidden so that He can “use me” in the church and evangelism, but I get the feeling He does not share my fears about coming out to the church. God “came out” to the world through Jesus and knows it turns out OK.

Jesus had to deal with pharisees and peoples’ political and ministry expectations of Him every day and He didn’t shy away from telling them the truth, even though it ended up getting Him killed. Any pain I may go through is nothing compared to the pain felt when He totally “ruined” His three-year ministry reputation by being condemned to death on the cross as a sinner abandoned by God and was mocked by all those standing around. It takes death to have a resurrection. I need to follow Him.

Anthony Venn-Brown
Joined in 2005
August 6, 2008, 19:55

interesting analogy there about Jesus…..never thought of it that way before.

Joined in 2006
August 7, 2008, 08:24

Welcome Rivers and its been very encouraging and insightful reading your story 😀 . Being true to ourselves and people around us certainly takes biting the bullet many times over but that is certainly a challenge you are faced with at the moment 😯 .

The analogy of Jesus you gave is so true, it reminds me of Gods promise in psalms that he will give us “beauty for ashes” , that out of death, out of some part of us that gets burnt, he can bring about something good, even beautiful, even though at the time you go through it, it may be very uncomfortable. I trust that if God has spoken to you then he will come good for sure with what he has promised, even if you cant see it at the time maybe.

Hopefully the Pastors will reflect on the leadership you have shown and the ministry you have given and see that truly the annointing is on you and God is indeed ministering through you. If God was against being homosexual, then there would be no annointing but the fact that there was shows he loves us all. I know he will give you the wisdom, leading and the words you need.

Joined in 2008
August 7, 2008, 10:52


I just to want to say that I was actually thinking of you yesterday and hoping you would post here.

I think you are one of the sweetest people in the world. In the various posts I have read your comments are always so loving, encouraging and Jesus-like. I want to be like you!

It is like you have a big bubble of joy inside you that bubbles up and out and blesses and heals people who are hurting. “You know you’re on the level when the bubble’s in the middle”.

Thank you for your love and encouragement.

I sent an ultra-long email to my pastor at 1am in the morning last night coming out to him. I will let you know how it goes.

Joined in 2006
August 7, 2008, 12:40

Thankyou for your kind words of encouragement Rivers, you almost had me in tears……..without Jesus, Id have nothing, lets keep running the race to be like him 😉 God has awesome plans for all of us and we each carry an aspect of him to share, isnt it beautiful that we can? 😀

Will keep you in prayer about your letter.

Youth Coordinator
Joined in 2008
August 8, 2008, 01:46

Hey Rivers,


So great to have you hear with us. Your story is encouraging and full of God’s grace even through all of your challenges.

I will be praying for you. Even though we go through hard times, God is always in control, holding you in his hands and giving you never ending love and grace. He never changes. No matter what you face, always remember that God is greater and He loves you just as you are. 😀 😀

Have the best weekend over there in Japan!!!

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