The ID Story

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ID began with two men in a coffeeshop, the elder discipling the younger, encouraging him to deny self and pursue Jesus week after week. They prayed, studied the Word, practiced confession and accountability, and enjoyed a true Christian brotherhood that spanned the 30 years between them. They battled demons side by side, rejoicing in victories and interceding for each after defeats. And both men grew closer to Jesus in the process, learning to love the One who led them both.

Brian: As the elder in this story, I came to that coffeeshop as a man revived, having just been on a two-year journey from bondage to freedom. For most of my life, I had struggled in secret with feelings of same-sex attraction which warred against my faith in Christ and threatened my marriage.

Yes, I was married to a woman, and together we had three children. I loved my wife and treasured our family. I loved God and was committed to my faith! But I still battled homosexual desires and an addiction to gay porn, and the cost of that struggle was the joy of my salvation and the blessing of abundant life in Christ.

Why did I remain, trapped on that battlefield, reliving the same battles year after year? Because I had no Christian brothers fighting alongside me; I was too afraid of rejection and condemnation to let them in. Instead, I tried to fight the battle alone, in secret. I needed brothers to hold me accountable, to pray for me, and to encourage me.

What changed? I surrendered the battle to Jesus and let the Spirit of God lead me into the light. Confessing my sin to brothers in the church, I repented and began to practice accountability and denial. I learned to carry my cross. When that happened, I experienced healing and deliverance better than anything I’d hoped for. I had prayed for years that God would take away my feelings of same-sex attraction. But He did something even better: He showed me that He loved me just as I am, flaws and all, and that He wanted to use my “thorn in the flesh” for His glory and even for good. That first coffeeshop meeting was the beginning of this revelation in my life.

Ben: I came to that coffeeshop by divine appointment, too. God had been working in my life through mentors and friends for several years. But that September evening, I came looking for an empathetic ear. While I had already received tremendous amounts of freedom through the openness and vulnerability that life with like-minded friends provided, I was still ravaged with questions that arose from not fighting this battle alongside a brother who was able to fully know and understand what I was experiencing.

Growing up, I was blessed with godly parents and siblings who did, and still do, love each other and me. When I was about 10 or 11, I opened up to my parents about my same-sex attraction and constant battle with gay pornography. By God’s grace, they took the news in stride, deciding to love me and pray for me. As the years passed, however, I began to isolate myself more and more, believing the lie that I was the only one fighting this type of battle. The lack of grace-filled conversations in the church on this real-life struggle took me deeper into a place of guilt and shame.

But God never gave up on me. Throughout my teen years, He faithfully chased me down time and time again until, during the spring of my senior year of high school, I met Jesus.

I began to fall in love with the person of Jesus. His consistent love for me, in spite of my faithlessness to him, intrigued me. I kept coming back because I knew that despite the war that my fleshly desires waged, He wouldn’t give up on me. The words of Apostle Peter rang in my head constantly when I tried to turn to my idols. “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life” (John 6:68 NLT).

This continued into my freshman year at my Christian college where Jesus continued to be faithful, blessing me with loving friends who poured into me and allowed me to be open and honest about my struggles. This step in my journey, voicing the state of my heart without fear of condemnation, was pivotal, but I was still lacking something: an empathetic brother.

As I entered the coffee shop that September day, I had absolutely no idea what God had in store. I didn’t know that I was about to meet someone who was going to help me learn what true discipleship and Christ-likeness means. I didn’t know I was about to become part of a spiritual family who would love me so well they would literally give me a seat at their table.

But God knew! It was all part of His plan for Brian, me, and others we had yet to meet.

As we continued meeting on a regular basis, we experienced the Gospel as Jesus truly intended it to be, enjoying the freedom that comes from walking in the light and carrying each other’s burdens.  We began to ask, “Why stop here, God? How can we help others like us?” The answer was Imago Dei, an outgrowth of the Gospel experience God had begun in our lives.

Through “ID,” God multiplied His good work in us as we reached out to other Christian brothers in our church who struggled on the same battlefield, creating a community committed to denying self in pursuit of Jesus and fully persuaded of His goodness and love for us. Our hope is that this ministry will be a symbol of love and hope, a reminder that the Gospel not only saves us but sustains and sanctifies us in spite of our brokenness. There is hope in Jesus Christ for those who experience same-sex attraction and questions of identity and gender. His grace is sufficient for the struggles we face in this life; His strength is made perfect in our weakness!

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