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Category Archives: Evangelizing
What Happened To Me In Vegas Has Not Stayed in Vegas or Born in the “City of Sin” and Born Again in “Sin City”
It was December of 1958, my mom lay on the delivery table in Lynn Hospital. I was ready to come out and meet her face to face however a blizzard was keeping the doctor from getting there. As the nurses told my mom not to push she told them there was no holding me back. Out I came! It was time! I had waited long enough, you see I was supposed to have been born on the 22nd of November yet I waited until the 5th of December.
From what I understand, Lynn Hospital is no longer there, how sad! I read on Facebook that it is now a grocery store. I wonder what aisle the delivery room turned out to be?
A little history on the City of Lynn. It’s about seven miles from Boston and is quite a historic town; it also has the dubious honor of being known as “The City of Sin” given its history of crime since it was industrialized.
Mom was a waitress at Becky’s Diner which was right across from the original General Electric plant, she also waitressed at the Pioneer Club in downtown Lynn, and a large hotel restaurant whose name escapes me at the time. Mom also worked as Cook at a Rest Home close to Tracy Elementary School where I attended. Oh yes and she also worked at the Lynn School Department. Needless to say Mom worked several jobs as well as attending night school in an effort to obtain her GED as she quit school in order to help support her family.
My Dad had died when I was about three years old. He and his brothers had a band, his nickname was “Rocky” and he played the guitar and I believe the bass. Dad also worked at the famous Lynn Shoe Factories. I want to say he was a “tanner” however I am not 100% sure of this fact.
Mom was a single mother who worked several jobs in order to support herself and her two young daughters. Regretfully Mom also enjoyed her drink and many a time my older sister and I had to experience her in her drunken state. Yet you must know this, Mom loved us very much and she cared about us otherwise I do not see her working all of these jobs, trying to better herself with obtaining her GED, and wanting to set a good example for her girls in not taking welfare. Mom was her own woman and a fighter.
Mom’s needing to work so many jobs and her drinking did not allow much time for her to spend with her daughters. She did spend time with us, I have pictures of the three of us at Lynn Beach, and several other pictures of the three of us together. We even went to the World’s Fair in New York in 1965. As I look at these pictures trying to remember the moment I only get glimpses. I want to remember her and times we spent together. I know she loved me yet I just do not remember much about my childhood mainly because she really was not there that much. This is one of the reason I attribute to my same-sex attractions. No, I am not blaming my mother at all, I am merely mentioning how I see this as one of the many factors that merged together which created a void for me.
There was always a boyfriend with us otherwise who would take the pictures. Smile! I do not remember who they were except one and he seemed to like my Mom. His name was Phil Petronni. He was either a grocery store manager or a butcher. He would bring Joanne and I gifts which included some delicious Ice Cream Sundaes along with many other things. Funny how I remember the Ice Cream Sundaes. Ice Cream is one of my comfort foods along with submarine sandwiches. We got our sandwiches from Dotties on Boston St. These are the foods we would eat when mom was not home to feed us. Though you must know she was a great cook and when she was home she made us great meals, my favorite being her chicken and dumplings, made from scratch of course.
Goodness, thinking about my Mom and my hometown brought back some memories. Thanks for visiting them with me. So let’s get back to the subject of this particular blog.
There is a ‘poem’ or a ‘ditty’ that goes with Lynn being the City of Sin. It goes like this:
“Lynn, Lynn, the city of sin, you never come out the way you went in”
Well, regardless, the city is where I was born and so I am proud of being from there. I mean, come on, I could have been born in Las Vegas, right? Well, actually you see I was actually born there as well but not until November 5th of 1995. No! I am not crazy. You see the term “Born Again” means that I came to realize that I was a sinner, and it had nothing to do with being born in Lynn, City of Sin! And this realization came not from myself but from the conviction of reading and hearing God’s Word.
You see if you do not repent of your sins and turn to God then regretfully you will not be with God in Heaven when you die. God and sin can not exist in the same place so if you have not turned from your sins and then you die you can not go to Heaven. Click on this “THIS” and it will explain it better than I can. Smile!
Believe it or not I was actually in Las Vegas, Nevada also known as “Sin City” when I heard the Word of God. I was attending a Southern Baptist Church that my parents, Mom and my Step-Dad were members. Yes, there are actually churches in Las Vegas and not just wedding chapels. Here is the website of the church I attended as did my entire family that lived there. http://collegeparkbaptist-lv.com/default.aspx
Part of my life-changing story which I like to share is that my parents, myself, my kid sister, and my kid brother were all blessed to beat the odds in Las Vegas. No I am not talking about beating the odds in the gambling casinos. Ha-ha, you see according to Barna Research, a well know research organization amongst Christians, once a person has reached the age of 18 and has not yet accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior (Born-Again) there is less than a 1% chance that this person will ever come to be “Born-Again”!
Well, my step-dad was 60, then my mom was 65, then my kid sister was 30, then me at age 35, and finally my kid brother at age 30. ( these ages are rough estimates with the exception of my age and my mom’s). My older sister came to Christ as well, as a matter of fact she was the first in our family to be “Born-Again” and she was over age 18 as well. She beat those same odds she just was not in Vegas though she too was born in Lynn the City of Sin. I think she was in Gilroy, California when she came to Christ. Gilroy being the Garlic Capital of the World. Ha-ha!
So you see I like to say that my entire family beat the odds and all of us but one beat the odds in Vegas . . . Praise God we all came to Christ, we all came to God.
Also, one last mention, God, over a 15 year period healed me of my same-sex attractions. It was one of the sins I turned away from at the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Change is possible folks. If you or someone you know struggles with unwanted same-sex attractions, know that there is hope, those unwanted attractions can go away but it is not easy. Start with prayer, which is basically talking with God, just imagine He is sitting right there with you and tell Him what is on your heart. And keep up the conversation okay? Every time you have these unwanted same-sex attractions, stop and turn them over to God in prayer. Ask Him to help you to understand why the attraction is there . . . again, do not give up, keep talking with God . . . He took the feelings away from me, again, it was not easy, but all things are possible with God okay?
If you need to talk you can call or email me, just let me know.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can call me at 415.465.0517. If you call it is best to leave me a voice mail. I will call you back I promise.
Have a blessed day now!
As I was driving the other day to pet/house sit for my new clients Arlene and Patti. I was in deep thought on how God is / has been moving in my ministry. My new house sitting clients are a lesbian couple I recently met through a mutual acquaintance and my ministry is about bridging the gaps betweeen the conservative Christian church and the Gay community. As I thought about the importance of building relationships in order to share the Love of Christ Jesus, suddenly my GPS, a Tom-Tom, brought me out of this deep thought, which is not the greatest thing to be doing while driving mind you!
“GO STRAIGHT! GO STRAIGHT!” the female voice coming from the GPS said to me.
I cracked up laughing as I could not help but remember how back in 1978 I would not have taken so kindly to this command. “Go straight indeed” is what I probably would have replied to this GPS unit. I probably would have thought: “How could they even program this machine to say something like that, how insensitive!” There is a good chance this would have set me off to writing a letter to the company who manufactures the GPS or perhaps even calling them to give them a piece of my mind.
You see from 1978 to 1995 I identified myself as a lesbian, a self-proclaimed ‘butch’.
Also I know I would have found a different voice who said “Go Straight” in a more politically correct way, though I do not know if that was an issue back in the late 70’s. Was it? I probably would have switched my GPS to the Australian Air Traffic Controller who would say in his cute accent: “Proceed forward at your discretion” The Australian’s voice is very calming and gentle and does not use the word “Straight” It would have made me more comfortable and less reactive.
Of course as far as I know there were no GPS devices back then but one thing for sure I can see that I have not really changed that much. When something upsets me I usually take immediate action, when I see or hear something that I think is an injustice I will react. Though I do not see this GPS as intentionally meaning to be offensive, it was just doing what it was programmed to do.
I could go in several directions here and for some of you, well I would imagine you already see what I am meaning but for those of you who do not see it let me unpack this just a bit further.
Back in 1978 gay folks, and as I wrote above, I was one of them, would speak in code or double talk or between the lines, however you might want to word it. I was in the United States Air Force and although I was quite a bold lesbian airman i would cautiously have said to a person giving me direction that I would prefer to go forward rather than proceed straight. If the person was gay they would give me a smile and tell me they liked my wording better and then we both would know the other was gay.
All of this is merely a reminder to myself that all of us might want to consider the words we use in speaking to those who are not of our same mind set.
I can remember being a new Christan, my mentor, Ruth, slid into the seat next to me. As she did I was shocked at the words out of her mouth: “S.O.B.!” “Ruth” I said, “Why are you using that kind of language?” I had her full attention, she smiled and asked what I meant. I told her that when I heard someone say “S.O.B.!” I automactically thought she meant “Son of a Bitch” (please excuse my language) Again, she smiled, her eyes so wide and kind, “Charlene” Ruth said, “When I exclaim ‘S.O.B.’ I mean ‘Scoot Over Baby”
As I communicate today in my blogs and on facebook and twitter I am always asking folks to “define” their words for me. I do not want to assume a person is saying one thing when they mean something totally different.
Let us not allow misperceptions of what people mean by the words they use to cause us to get mad at each other and call each other hurtful names. Hurtful in that there is separation and conversations stop. You see the language and the words we use today hold even more power than they have in the past.
So let us not call my GPS “homophobic” when it is not.
You would imagine that I receive a ton of questions in my line of ministry and one of them is this question. Charlene? Why do you call yourself “‘ex-gay”‘? Should you not identify yourself as a “Christian”?
Know that I personally do not like the title or label of “ex-gay” yet I use it for one reason and one reason only. That reason is because calling or identifying myself as “ex-gay” is a great witnessing tool. “Ex-gay” is a term that is quite easily understood. Well, at least at first. It is also a term that brings up many questions such as aren’t people born gay? How could you be “ex-gay” if you are born that way. You see what a great little witnessing tool it can be?
The other night I was blessed to be on a panel of “overcomers”. There were four of us “overcomers” who had come out of the homosexual lifestyle. We were attending a group meeting of Christian parents whose children identify themselves as lesbians or gays. While I personally like the label “overcomer” know that at the same time I realize that it was through my personal relationship with Christ Jesus that I now can be labeled an “overcomer”. Jesus really gets all the praise here! Without the healing power and strength of Jesus I would still be a prisioner to the sin of homosexuality believing that I was born that way.
My identity is in God, in Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit. I am God’s child whom He loves so much that He gave up His Son, Jesus Christ, to die in my place, to forgive me of my sins, to make me into a “New Creation”. The Holy Spirit convicted me that homosexuality was not something I was born with but something I had got lost in and must repent of it. I did repent of it, God forgave me of it, Jesus’ blood washed me clean of it. Praise God for healing me of it.
My identity is no longer in what I once was but is now in who I am through the healing power of Jesus Christ!
In today’s day and age of gay equality rights and in a culture that is affirming of homosexuality, most of us know someone who identifies themselves as gay or lesbian. This person may be your closest friend or perhaps a neighbor or co-worker. One question that is often asked of those whose ministry is to work with the issue of homosexuality is, “How do I witness to the gays and lesbians that are in my day to day life?” The answer here is quite simple: You witness to the gay or lesbian in your life the same way you would witness to anyone else in your life. You witness by sharing God’s truth, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Here are some thoughts to consider:
- See beyond their self-labeling of “homosexual.” See this person as your friend, be they woman or man, who, just like you, has fears, hopes, and needs.
- Be willing to listen to your friend. Let them see that you are not going to be like all the other “Christians” they have encountered who have deeply wounded them.
- Since there is no hope for your friend to come out of homosexuality without the power of God in their life, introduce them to Jesus Christ, not heterosexuality! It is through the convicting power of the Holy Spirit that the healing begins.
- Remember that you can not argue your friend out of their homosexuality.
- Once the discussion starts on their homosexuality remember that you do not have to be an expert on the subject matter. If you do not know an answer say so, then tell them you will come back with an answer; then do it.
- Be as gentle and loving as you would want to be treated.
- Allow God’s love to shine and work through you, and be patient.
- Change will come!
Charlene Hios is a licensed minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She is also the founder and president of Bridging The Gaps Ministries which provides direction both corporately and individually to those affected by unwanted homosexuality.
Charlene can be contacted through Bridging The Gaps Ministries.
Check out Charlene’s free access on-line book here at the Earthen Vessel Journal. (Go to search website and type in the name “Hios” to bring up the free chapters)
Follow Charlene as she shares with us her life-changing experience out of homosexuality.
Lesbian No More: One Woman’s Life Changing Experience
- Introduction to the book: Who Are You To Speak To This Matter?
- Chapter One: I Once Was Lost But Now Am Found
- Chapter Two: Wrestling With God
Buy Charlene’s DVD–a discussion with Kent Philpott:
Homosexuality from a Christian Perspective