2. Healed by His Love
by Ron Dennis
Please study this disclaimer before reading further
I was born in Philadelphia, PA in August, 1938 and grew up in nearby New Jersey. In my earlier childhood, I felt very self-conscious about being Jewish. I was very insecure, and was frequently made fun of by the others at school. I didn't like sports, but loved music and the arts. My sexual desires were always towards other men. I can remember back in the third grade being physically drawn to certain older guys at school. I would go out of my way just to see them, to be near them. From the time I was about 12, I got sexually involved with other men, sometimes by hanging around the parks in town, waiting for someone to approach me for sexual activity. In the next couple of years, I came to a peace with myself that I was different and I liked guys.
When I was 15, our family moved for a short time to Los Angeles. One night, I was arrested for being out after curfew. I'd just briefly stopped at a gay party, talked with a few people and then left. Because I was arrested in the same block, the police phoned my mother and told her I'd been at a gay party. I was tired of living a double life, so when I got home, I spilled the beans. After I'd told her about my homosexuality, my mother cried for days. She wanted to have all my friends arrested for leading me astray. Even though I hated the pain my family was going through, it was a relief that the truth was out.
I had my first real emotional attachment with a man around the same time, falling head-over-heels "in love". When I found out that my partner was not being faithful to me, I was devastated. Even though we broke up, I resisted getting involved with anyone else for several years, being faithful and true to my former lover. I also started getting more and more into drinking.
Although my family soon moved back to the east coast, I returned to L.A. several years later and started getting involved in the bar scene. I met a fellow I developed an attraction for, and we ended up living together for about 7 years. My friend was a drinker, and although I didn't want to, I went along with him to do the things he liked. I tried to make friends outside of the bars, but it didn't fit in with my friend's life. I wanted to establish a life-long relationship. For the first few years, we had physical attraction and what we thought was love. But as time went on, the "honeymoon" wore off and we needed something more to hold us together, so we bought a house together. It was almost like building a material kingdom that would lock us together. However, we eventually broke off our relationship and sold the house, primarily because of drinking and lack of responsibility. It was a terrible time emotionally for us both.
Then I moved up to Las Vegas and within about 6 months, had a house up there. I was still reaching out, hoping that I would maybe find a lasting relationship. In 1971, I had a tragedy happen in my life which helped lead me to Christ. I brought home a young man for the week-end who really needed help. One Sunday night after I was asleep, this guy severely beat me, using a claw-hammer to hit me over the head a number of times. I was near death for several days, and woke up about 2 weeks later in the hospital. One side of my face was shattered, and my skull had been split open like an egg-shell. The doctors said I probably wouldn't live. They predicted that that if I did manage to survive, I'd be a vegetable for the rest of my life. But somewhere in the course of my recovery, I remember hearing the words, "God is going to heal you completely". I really didn't understand the fullness of that statement. My optic nerve had been damaged, and after it was determined that I would see again, the doctors said I would need corrective lenses. Within that year, when I went for my final visit and asked the eye-doctor when he was going to fit me for glasses, he said, "You don't need glasses." I asked him about my reading glasses which I'd had before the accident and he replied, "You don't even need reasding glasses." That started me thinking, "Wow, Maybe God has healed me completely."
About a year after the accident, I had an empileptic seizure. I was working for a large national corporation, and my employer requested that I go down to L.A. to get a physical check-up from the company doctor. While I was there, I got back into my old habit of drinking. I went to a gay bar with a friend and met a fellow there named Jim. We began a relationship and I started going down to L.A. every other week-end to see him.
Jim was studying for the ministry in the Metropolitan Community Church, the gay church in Los Angeles. They had a Jewish outreach and I'd drive down to the Friday night Jewish meetings and stay over until Sunday to attend the church services. I began to hear the Christian gospel -- I'd never heard the New Testament before. Although it was probably my emotional attachment to Jim that motivated me to attend church to begin with, God says about His Word that "...it shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire" (Isa.55:11). And it sure did! During the next few months, I started going to social events with Jim. We attended an MCC conference in the Denver area and visited other MCC churches. I met many gay people who were active in the MCC church. Also, on the way back home to Vegas from L.A., I'd usually stop in San Bernadino to visit a Christian family I knew. They gave me a Living Bible and one week-end, the wife suggested to me, "Why don't you pray and ask Jesus if He's real to reveal Himself to you?" So I did just that later when I got home. I started reading the Bible and noticed the correlation between Jesus' life and the Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah. I woke up on Friday morning of that week convinced that Jesus was who He said He was. I really believed it! I hadn't yet received Jesus, but it was a first step. Although I hadn't been for a long time, I went to synagogue that night. But I sensed an emptiness -- I knew something was missing.
The next day, I was working around the house. I hadn't planned to go to L.A. that week-end, but a voice almost audibly spoke to me. I know now it was the voice of the Lord. He said, "Go to Los Angeles". It was with such urgency that I was in the car on my way within about 10 minutes. When I arrived, I found Jim with another man, and it hurt me deeply. I realized that on the week-ends I wasn't around, he'd been involved with someone else. Even though it was a really awkward situation, I remember sharing with him before I'd left that I believed Jesus was real. On Sunday, I went to the MCC church and wanted to receive communion to get back into Jim's good graces. So I didn't do it, but I knew I needed to do something -- join a church, get baptized, or something. After the morning service, I got on the phone and called various churches listed in the telephone book. I'd say, "I'm Jewish and I believe in Jesus. What do I need to do?" I must have called some weird groups, because I got some weird answers. Finally, I gave up and got on the freeway, headed back to Las Vegas. I was about one-third of the way when the same voice I'd heard before spoke to me again: "Go back. Go back." It came with such emphasis that I circled around and headed back to L.A. I arrived back at the church just as both the pastor and Jim arrived at the front door. Jim turned to the minister and said, "He believes." The pastor replied, "Have him come and see me after the service." We went in and sat down. At the end of the sermon, there was an altar call and I went forward to receive Jesus into my life.
They gave me some good advice. "Go home and find a good Bible-believing church. Maybe one day we'll have our own church up there," they said. So after returning to Las Vegas, I found an Assembly of God church and started attending regularly. Up until this time, I had no conviction about homosexuality. I'd lived with it all my life and had learned to accept it. But I started reading the Word of God and discovered passages like Romans 1. It said my way of life was wrong. I went down to the gay church in L.A. and questioned the pastor. But his responses didn't bear witenss to my spirit and I started realizing how wrong it was. I culdn't talk about it with anyone else. I began thinking of myself as a non-practicing homosexual, and yet I was still not at peace. Finally, one night while I was praying, I committed the whole thing to God. Things within me started changing from that point on. The Lord was working on my inner man. I can't explain how He did it -- I just know He did. My fantasies sharted to change, and I couldn't hug another Christia man without feeling awkward and embarrassed. I thought God was doing a unique thing with me -- I'd never heard of anyone coming out of gay life. Then one Saturday, I heard an anonymous testimony of a marreid ex- gay on the radio and the man's voice sounded like one of the elders in my church. The next day, I walked up to him in church and asked him about it. He answered, "I thought I'd disguised my voice so well." It was the same person! We shared some of our experiences and discovered we both had a burden to let others know that God CAN change homosexuals. Then we met another brother whom God was changing and we decided to form a little ministry. This was in 1975. The Lord gave us the name THEOPHILUS, which means "The love of God". The next year, I heard from a friend about a conference happening in Anaheim, CA for people who were in ministry to gays. In June 1976, about 55 of us met there and formed a coalition of ex-gay ministries called EXODUS INTERNATIONAL. I've been on the board of EXODUS ever since.
I really praise God for what He's done in my life. He not only healed me physically, but He's healed me inside. I spent years looking for something solid and secure, but I was looking in the wrong place. I've found that security in Jesus Christ. He's satisfied every need of my life -- and that's something no other man can ever do.
Reproduced with thanks from a pamphlet published by:
True Freedom Trust
LONDON SE4 1EF
This page was created on 30 January 2001
Last updated on 30 January 2001
Reproduced with Thanks