Tag Archives: College Park Baptist Church

I Once Was Blind But Now I See

Following in Believer's Baptism on 11.05.1995 at College Park Baptist Church in Las Vegas, NV. Pastor Bob Williams <><

Charlene following in Believer’s Baptism on 12.05.1995 at College Park Baptist Church in Las Vegas, NV. Pastor Bob Williams <><

Part 2 in The Charlene Hios’ Story

Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me . . .

True are the words of the great hymn Amazing Grace. This song is one that speaks such truth that it rings with clarity into a person’s soul. On November 5, 1995 it struck a chord in me as it was played as the invitation song at College Park Baptist Church in Las Vegas, Nevada. I walked down the aisle that Sunday morning in obedience to the call of Christ Jesus. Turning away from one’s sins and turning towards Jesus is so cleansing. It leaves you feeling like a little kid without a care in the world. Then, following in believer’s baptism, another act of obedience creates an even cleaner sense in one’s very being. This was me at the end of 1995. I was and still am a sinner saved and cleansed by grace, God’s grace, God’s amazing grace. Thank You God for Your grace!

Change and Obedience

Tim Wilkins of Cross Ministries in North Carolina coined the phrase:  The only place change comes before obedience is in the dictionary. I heard Tim speak this phrase as he gave his testimony of how God took him out of his homosexual life. Tim was at a coffee house turned church on Sundays in New Orleans back in 2001. That year the Southern Baptist Convention was there.  I was a messenger for my church and Tim was there for the convention as well. I had gone to this particular church that Sunday to hear Dr. Richard Land preach. Tim’s phrase on ‘change not occurring without obedience’ has been something God has used in my Christian walk just as He has used the words to the great hymn Amazing Grace.

Grace, obedience, and change; three important words in the life of those who are in Christ Jesus!

The Lie Begins

With all of the above said, let us now go back to the late 1970s. I believed in God. I feared Him. I also prayed to Him each night before going to sleep. Jesus was not known to me then.

It was Columbus Day weekend in 1978. I was serving in the United States Air Force and was stationed at Carswell Air Force Base which was located in Fort Worth, Texas. It was this weekend that I personally stepped into the life of one who identifies themselves as a homosexual, a lesbian, a self-proclaimed butch. I experienced the lesbian love of a woman that weekend. I was almost twenty years old and had never been with anyone sexually before in my life.

I Didn’t Do Something Wrong, Did I?

It was the beginning of living a lie, a lie I lived for almost twenty years. Regretfully a lie which sneaks itself into the lives of so many each day. I remember trying to figure out what this was that was happening to me. It felt right, it felt good, so therefore I determined there must not be anything wrong with being sexually active with another woman.

However, deep inside of me, I felt there was something wrong about this new experience in my life. If there was not a sense of immorality here why did I sit there after it all happened and try to figure it all out.  But I was able to push that thought aside, the thought that I had done something wrong.

Rationalizing it Away

As I continued trying to figure it all out, I went through what little I knew about homosexuality. To the best of my knowledge I had never been sexually abused by anyone. All the men in my life were great for the most part. I was even engaged to one.  I really liked his company yet, there just was nothing there physically, there was no sexual attraction.

However the more I thought it out I realized that I had always had these attractions to women, these magnetic draws towards them. Time after time I would imagine them holding me tightly. The need to be held by them turned into sexual desire as I matured into a young woman. I longed to be held, to be touched, to be caressed by the different women in my life.

 Today I understand why those attractions were there but back then I was a twenty year old woman who was full of sexual desires and when lust is present we are pretty good at rationalizing things away.

Transference of Guilt

What I had done was wrong. Making love to a woman was wrong. Deep inside of me I knew this to be so. However, almost in an unconscious manner, I swept aside that underlying voice telling me it was wrong. I rationalized it away.

My conclusion was that God must have made me that way. I was born a homosexual person, a lesbian. In my mind this explained it for me. This took it off of me and placed it on God. God made me this way and I believed it and unknowingly walked into a life against God.

  I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.

My eyes always brim with tears as I think of my wretchedness, my blindness, and God’s amazing unmerited irresistible grace. How blind I was!

Before coming to such wonderful peace which comes only from a true, close relationship with Christ Jesus, I was a wretch who just could not see that God’s very words told me that the way I lived my life was not what He, God, had intended, it was sex outside of God’s design for marriage, it was homosexual sex, it was a sin.

The Tract My Sister Gave Me

My Sister Joanne and Me

My sister Joanne was the first in our family to come to a personal relationship with Jesus. She was concerned about her whole family–none of us knew Christ personally. (Praise God, eventually we all came to Christ. I can securely say when I die I know that along with my Mom and Dad, and the rest of my family, I will be with Jesus.)

Troubled by my sinful life, Joanne sent me a tract which spoke of the unnatural relationship of two women together sexually.

 “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.”

Romans 1:26-27 NASV 1995

Confusion

I felt such confusion as I read these words in that little tract. Back then I could not grasp these words of the Apostle Paul. They made no sense to me. How my heart breaks looking back as I remember and reflect with you on how lost and blind I was. I was a prisoner to the lie of homosexuality. I was a slave to this sin. How ironic that back then I felt so free. I did not realize how false that feeling of freedom actually was to me. The god of this world had me right where he wanted me, blinded to God’s word, blinded to the Gospel of Christ Jesus.

Almost everyday now I have conversations with those caught up in this same lie. My heart goes out to them. We discuss how they perceive these same verses in Romans. The lesbians I speak with say the same thing I did, that there is nothing unnatural about being with women sexually. After all, didn’t God make them that way? They do not see their chains of captivity.

After reading that tract a second time, I tossed it in the trash. “Geesh Joanne! You just don’t get it!” I thought. I told Joanne that my being with a woman was so natural to me. I told her that this Scripture was wrong about women with women. It did not pertain to me. What I did was completely natural.

Double Standards?

However, I operated under a double standard. I did agree, in the reading of the tract, that two men together sexually was wrong. It even turned my stomach. Here I was a sexually active lesbian, believing that women having sex with each other was natural but it was not natural between two men. The scales on my eyes were thick! In my distorted view, God’s word did not pertain to my sexual situation but it did hold true for men being sexually active with each other.

I praise God for my sister’s diligence. Joanne learned that arguing about this with me was not working, and instead she started praying for me. Almost twenty years later, when the scales finally fell off my eyes and I saw that homosexuality was sinful and not what God intended, I called Joanne and thanked her for her prayers. I thanked her for telling me the truth even when I would not listen. Again, I thanked her for believing that God would answer her prayers to open my eyes to the sin I believed was natural. Praise God!

Hope in Prayer

Can you pray away the gay? This is a question that many who struggle with their same sex sexual attractions ask me. I share with them the story of my sister Joanne praying for me for almost twenty years. I share with those struggling with their unwanted sexual attractions to the same sex to lift that attraction up to God. Lift it up in prayer. Capture the thoughts and give them to God.

Healing and answer to prayer will happen however it could take an instant but more than likely it can be awhile. Personally, once I realized homosexuality was a sin, it took a good five years for the sexual thoughts to get out of my head. Do they come back? They did, occasionally, they tried to get back into my thoughts.

Now, today, I no longer am sexually attracted to the same gender. And yes, I am attracted to the opposite gender.

 I am a child of God, and sin no longer has me in captivity.

Conclusions

The sin of homosexuality effects all of us, not just those caught in its power. I myself personally know of its blinding lies as does my entire family. I was so deceived that I convincingly argued the lie that I was born gay. Some members of my family still believe I am gay and am just deceiving myself that this is a former condition.

Freedom is possible. I am a living witness to this fact, as are the thousands of others who have been unchained from captivity. The power of the Holy Spirit’s convicting is the key to unleashing others from this sin.

First the Church must reflect the love of Christ Jesus. First we must love the homosexual as God loved us!

In his letter to the Corinthians the Apostle Paul speaks to the freedom that is possible. In verse 11 he specifically states this hope for us today.

1 Corinthians 6:9–11 (NIV):

9 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 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Post originally appeared on Earthen Vessel  An Online Christian Journal

What Happened To Me In Vegas Has Not Stayed in Vegas or Born in the “City of Sin” and Born Again in “Sin City”

December 1958

My Parents Charles and Norma holding me

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 charlene@bridgingthegapsministries.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!