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Derek Paul’s Testimony
Derek Paul, Executive Director, Identify Ministries
Personal URL: https://www.facebook.com/derek.paul.7921
Ministry URL: https://www.facebook.com/Identify-Ministries-Inc-192932014592997/
YouTube URL: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCALShjfU9Io4ycRfMRSqcNw
Experiences: Formerly Identified as Gay, Disciple of Jesus, Healing through Jesus
First, I want to thank Jesus for meeting me where I was at and liberating me from the torment of my mind, identity and lifestyle and giving me the chance to serve him on this earth.
My name is Derek Paul and I am the Executive Director of Identify Ministries in Gainesville, Florida. We have been around for 4 years and our goal is to reach the homosexual with freedom through Jesus Christ through flagging, testimony and discipleship. As with many who form ministries of this nature, I have had same sex attraction from a young age…but in my world, you just couldn’t talk about things like this and I felt alone.
You see, I was raised in a pastor’s family with a strong church community; nevertheless, I developed same sex attraction from the age of 3 or 4 years old. Never breaking away from Mom and my older sisters and deciding to reject my Dad at a young age held dire consequences. From this young age, I found myself fantasizing about being held by an older man to protect and care for me and this became sexualized. Nightly, I would comfort myself to sleep by thinking in this way.
Even though I was from a religious family, I was never told about homosexuality until 4th or 5th grade, but instinctively I knew that this was not normal. Even as a child I recognized that only a mom and dad were together and had kids. And because of the high esteem I felt my family had to maintain, and the ridicule that could come to them, I decided to keep it hidden, never knowing homosexuality was an actual “thing”.
At 8 years old a miracle happened. Some evangelists came to our church for a revival. On the last night I felt the pull of the Lord to give this area of my thoughts to him following a statement by the evangelist where he said, “if you have something that no one can help you with but God, then come down and give it to him and let him in your heart.” That’s all I needed to hear because that night I couldn’t get there fast enough and had a supernatural experience with God through the Holy Spirit.
From that night on, I didn’t need to console myself through same sex fantasy, but through the next few years realized that something was still terribly wrong. I was still getting called names like girl, fag it, queer, and being physically harassed by my male peers. I had developed feminine mannerisms and vocal patterns that made my early internal turmoil public and plagued me daily. I felt unbearable shame and humiliation because I couldn’t change the way I sounded or my mannerisms enough to feel accepted. And this further ostracized me from my male peers and exponentially fueled the resurgence of same sex attraction.
By this point, I had heard bible verses of how homosexuality was a sin and at first thought I could change it, only to find that I couldn’t change these deep seated desires. You see when a God given need for same sex validation goes unmet, it doesn’t go away, it morphs into a way that can be more easily met. The world of boys was foreign, rough, and isolating for this sensitive, passive, and artistic boy. It was so much easier to fit in with the girls who were less physical, more sensitive, and aesthetic about the world. I understood them…for awhile.
I naturally found my place in the worlds of theater and competitive cheerleading. This isolated me from the masculine world and solidified my own feelings and interests. These genre’s aren’t bad, but as one can image, I was surrounded by more guys like me there, who through the years would come out of the closet one by one through my adolescence. At the same time, girls began to say things like, “yeah you can stay over, your not like the rest of guys.” I was flattered and yet felt judged as not good enough for romantic relationship. I felt like a third gender.
girls began to say things like, “yeah you can stay over, your not like the rest of guys.” I was flattered and yet felt judged as not good enough for romantic relationship. I felt like a third gender.
I was riding the fence, Christian and PK at home and at church, then struggling cheerleader and actor during daytime hours. This was mentally agonizing. Watching my friends come out was initially freeing. Then as the lifestyle set in, it was terrorizing. My friends’ personalities seemed to change quickly, they became depressed, materialistic, an catty. They stopped looking me in the eyes and were either looking at my body inappropriately or looking over my shoulder at the next guy. My heart broke as my dear friends contracted diseases and would isolate from their families and the church.
Even though I didn’t feel like it was in my nature to please God, I knew from experience that a life without him was not possible. I felt torn, old inside, a stranger, and like everyone seemed to know who I was, but me.
Eventually, I came to a breaking point. I had decided to leave the heterosexual world and go into the lifestyle. This meant I had to change colleges, reject my family and friends and move away because the mental struggle had become unbearable. I was still a virgin, but was done with it.
Then God happened. I began a friendship with a young woman at my church who had met God in a very real way. She had her own testimony of Daddy issues, possible pregnancy out of wedlock, and an inner healing that resulted from letting God into her mess. She demonstrated an unconditional love so different from cleaned up church people that I knew all my life. Little did I know that God had orchestrated this relationship and a totally different vision for my life would come as he determined it.
Well, our relationship became romantic, which was foreign to me, and we got married before I experienced any healing with was very hard. As many gays will tell you, marriage to an OSA partner doesn’t fix anything, sometimes it even exacerbates it. But, let me tell you, if you stick with God, He does change things. Based on my own experience with ex-gays, yes that’s a thing; Some of us just don’t stay with him long enough or believe what people tell us over what he says by His Spirit and his Word. Everyone whose best friend is Jesus becomes more like him. Your language changes, friends change, thoughts change, you become a new creature. Over time, I got help and healing through strong relational Christians, mentors, support groups, and the world of men. Gradually I saw that my view on the world had been twisted from a young age and I needed God to bring about drastic changes as only he could. I needed to grieve, connect with him, and connect with people the way He designed it.
The bible says:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! -2 Cor. 5:17 NIV
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. –John 15:7 NIV
When I was meeting with the best man from my wedding, we came across this verse:
1 Cor. 6:9-11. “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers with inherit the kingdom of God. And this is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
This was the first time I ever heard that the church was made of homosexuals that gave up their previous lifestyle for Jesus.
So while the narrative that “change never happens” is on TV and socially accepted as truth, change still exists for me and others because change and miracles are God’s specialty. Over the years, I developed stronger physical attraction for my wife than I have had for any man, I have found freedom for my identity as a child of God and peace for my mind. I have a growing family with three incredibly happy children that teach me daily how much God loves me, and now a ministry where I get to talk to people who are struggling with their sexuality and some who aren’t, but the Holy Spirit helps me to give each one something to bring more peace and freedom to them in a broken world needing redemption. While there are some who find similar healing without finding Jesus, Only He is the way, the truth and the life…and if you want those, you’ve got to repent and surrender OR there will always be something in the way of the freedom and peace you want.
I want to challenge you with the scripture.
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
And remind you that His ways are not our ways, or His thoughts, our thoughts. If your nature won’t let you into heaven, you can be born again by His Spirit and become something completely new. Then, heaven won’t be some foreign place, it will be your eternal destiny and home.
This story was submitted from MY VOICE / MY STORY form on Voice of the Voiceless (https://www.voiceofthevoiceless.info/My-Voice-My-Story)