🙂 Hello Anthony
My name is Helen Grebert and I am Sam’s mum. (Ben Greshams Sam’s mum).
God put this on my heart to email you and introduce myself for a few weeks now so here goes…
You are such an inspiration from what I’ve heard from Sam and Ben to all GLBT people (both young and old) and for that, I am very grateful. You have helped so many people realise that they can be gay and still have the love of God in their lives to encourage and guide them through good and bad times.
Sam only told his father and I that he was gay in April this year. He did not tell us why he left Grafton so quickly in October last year or that he was “thrown” out of the church that he planted and out of ministry.
We had so many unanswered questions about why he left so abruptly. As he is our only sibling, it came as quite a shock when he told us as there were no signs at all, however, after a few tears and him talking to us, we finally had the truth and the answers that we were missing.
Sam and I have always had a fantastically close relationship so it was good to get answers at last.
It just came to his father and I as second nature for us to accept Sam as a gay young man, as our love for our only son was of course, unconditional as is God’s love. His love for God had never wavered (just got “lost” for a short time because of how many Christian people he trusted here in Grafton treating him so badly – mainly through their ignorance of his same sex thoughts).
I realise from speaking to Ben and Sam that they are both very lucky young men of God to still have unconditional love from their parents and I find it very hard to comprehend that there are so many young people out there (and in Freedom 2 b(e) that have parents who don’t want to know their kids anymore because they are gay. (I have actually met some of them and been out to dinner with them and they are just adorable). I just wanted to jump up and give them heaps of hugs and kisses as the “mum” figure as I find this a very sad situation for them.
I also loved reading your book and there were quite a few similarities between your story and Sams relative to the churches attitude so it hit home for me especially too when you both went from being very successful and respected Pastors to virtually nothing as far as the churches were concerned. This made me feel very sad as Sam, his father and I put so much love and support into helping Sam plant the church that God had placed on his heart to plant. I realise now that God’s plan was not for Sam to continue in the church, but go out into the community and preach and encourage all GLBT people that you can be gay and Christian and still keep your faith and grow in God’s love.
Sam had the following Bible verse on his wall from a very young age and this, I believe, is why God chose him to do so many things from such a young age (preparing him for what is yet to come) ie Assistant Youth Leader, Youth Leader, Singer in Youth Band, Owner/Manager Christian book shop for 2 years and Pastor (and he is only 22). He also healed me of a serious illness when he was only 12 or 13.
The verse is: Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity (1 Timothy 4:12).
Anthony, what can I say about Ben. Even though I have only known him for a short time, I have read his story and basically everything on the net, seen his interviews and spent quite a lot of time talking to him. I know he has come such a long way in such a short time because of his love and passion for God. He is just gorgeous and I know that his parents are so proud of him too. (My sister actually went to school with his mum). He is such a beautiful young man and a very welcome “son” to our family. His love and friendship for Sam has been such a blessing and they have overcome such a lot in their relationship so far and it can only grow from here. I truly believe that God intervened between these two and I thank Him for that.
I am hoping to march with Freedom 2 b(e) next Mardi Gras (if I am allowed) as a very proud mum of a young gay man.
I have told a few people about Sam being gay – my boss, my family and also my 81 year old mother. They were all very accepting and said that “Sam is Sam and always will be just the same person that he always was”. My mother met Ben on the long weekend and actually knew his grandmother so it’s a very small world (especially here in Grafton).
Well Anthony, thank you for letting me share my story with you and you are truly a blessing to all GLBT people (both young and old).