October 8th, 2009 by M. French

Wayne Hobson wrote a piece on Dr. Brown and the Coalition of Conscience for the Charlotte Baptist Examiner on the subject “Does God Hate Gays?” His series of articles looks at how various Charlotte groups view the GLBT community, and chose Dr. Brown and the COC to represent an “opposing, yet compassionate message,” comparing and contrasting our group with the approach of others that bring a hateful and arrogant tone such as Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church. Hobson writes:

We will present two views on the gay community. The first view is that of church groups and organizations in Charlotte that represent a conservatively opposing, yet compassionate message.

The second view is that of complete intolerance and rejection of the LGBT community.

Dr. Brown and the Coalition have been a strong voice of opposition to activities that to many, is a sign of moral decay in the Charlotte area. I chose Dr. Brown as a representative of the first viewpoint on the gay community because it was his group, the Coalition of Conscience, that protested the Charlotte [Gay] Pride celebration back in July.

During an interview for the article, the author asked Dr. Brown a pointed question concerning God’s emotions toward the GLBT community:

Q. How do you think God feels about the gay/lesbian community?

A. Dr. Brown: “God loves all people. He sent His Son and Jesus died for them. The same God opposes sins and calls people to repent… But we [the Church community] must do better to convey God’s love. Many gays have felt that they are rejected by the church and given no hope.. [Many gay people] have been hurt and wounded by those professing Christ. If anyone wants to do harm to them [LGBTs], they’ll have to go through me”.

“If anyone wants to do harm to them, they’ll have to go through me” is a bold declaration that shows no hint of any hatred for the LGBT community. In fact, I’ve talked to a number of gay rights opposers over the years and none of them have stated that they would protect gay people while opposing gay activities like Dr. Brown has.

Throughout our 25 or so minute conversation, I sensed no hatred or anger towards the gay community. Instead, I only sensed compassion and conviction.

“Compassion and conviction” are two adjectives that permeate the lives of Jesus followers everywhere. Let’s come out of the closet, and let the world know this is who we really are and how we really feel. Fred Phelps and his Westboro “community” may have their message, but we have ours. Let’s get that message of God’s love into our community!

Posted in News, Revolution & Justice Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

April 17th, 2009 by M. French

Editor’s Note: To listen to Dr. Brown interview Jeff Johnston, the man who’s story is told in the ad, click here.

An ad submitted by Love Won Out to a San Antonio newspaper was rejected for being offensive. According to CitizenLink:

Newspaper Rejects Ad for Love Won Out Conference

Leading up to Saturday’s conference in Texas, Focus on the Family’s Love Won Out team attempted to place an ad in the San Antonio News-Express.

But the ad — which features the testimony of Jeff Johnston, who used to identify as homosexual but no longer does — was rejected and deemed offensive.

Gary Schneeberger, vice president of media relations at Focus on the Family Action, said the newspaper clearly has a double standard.

“There are a number of ads in the Express-News that are very offensive not only to Christians, but to families,” he said. “Ads for strip clubs and lingerie models, to name just two.

“With those kinds of ads, they don’t worry about the offense to the community, but in this case, the story of a man who says, ‘I used to be gay and now I am not,’ is somehow deemed to be offensive.”

There’s still time to register for the conference, which takes place Saturday at Westover Hills Assembly of God in San Antonio.

The conference is led by those who have overcome homosexuality and other experts from across the country. They will share the hopeful message that change is possible for those dissatisfied with living homosexually, and offer encouragement and practical help on how to love gay-identified relatives and friends without compromising biblical truth.

After numerous calls and emails to the newspaper from the public, Focus on the Family released the following responses to the answers the newspaper was putting out:

Paper That Rejected Love Won Out Ad Not Telling Whole Story to Readers

The San Antonio Express-News has been inundated with calls and e-mails from subscribers upset that the newspaper rejected an ad Focus on the Family sought to place announcing its Love Won Out conference this Saturday, April 18. Many who have contacted the newspaper’s publisher, Tom Stephenson, have received in return what can only be described as misleading e-mails.

To get the truth on the record, Focus on the Family Vice President of Media and Public Relations Gary Schneeberger offers the responses below to Mr. Stephenson’s claims:

Tom Stephenson wrote: Thank you for writing and for giving me a chance to set the record straight. I don’t know if you have seen the ad in question or not but I suspect you have not. I say that because none of the people I have asked had seen the ad and have been relying on information working its way thru the airways and cyber space to lay criticism at the feet of the newspaper.

Gary Schneeberger responds: It is true, many of those who contacted the paper late last week had not seen the ad. But they did hear the text of it, thanks to KSLR radio host Adam McManus, who read it in its entirety on the air. The ad is nothing more than a photo of a smiling Jeff Johnston of the Love Won Out team accompanied by his story of how he used to struggle with same-sex attractions and was able to overcome them through prayer, counseling and events like Love Won Out.

Also, it bears mentioning that it is unusual, to say the least, to criticize people for not seeing an ad – when you’re the one who refused to let them see it.

Tom Stephenson wrote: Here’s what I can share with you. We received a request to run an ad promoting a conference on April 18 for Focus on the Family. We rejected the ad as presented and offered to work with the organizers to come up with alternative ad copy. They rejected that offer.

Gary Schneeberger responds: This is not entirely accurate. It is true that the paper rejected the ad, but there was no attempt to “work with” us until after Mr. Stephenson was inundated with phone calls from upset subscribers. In fact, Mr. Stephenson initially refused to discuss the reasons for his refusal of the ad with one of our senior executives.

Tom Stephenson wrote: We reached out to them a second time and again offered to run an ad promoting the conference. In fact, we offered to run two ads for the price of one. We have not heard back from them on this most recent offer.

Gary Schneeberger responds: The “second” attempt was actually the paper’s “first.” Their offer to reconsider the ad was, according to a publisher’s representative I personally spoke to, contingent upon our “reeling in the copy” of the ad and “focusing it more on the event.” I asked if that meant removing Jeff’s personal story and the word “homosexuality” from the ad. I was told “yes.” We declined the offer because to make the changes they demanded would have rendered the ad meaningless. Love Won Out is about precisely what the ad reflects in its original form – the hope that people can overcome their same-sex attractions.

I was further told that the reason the paper wanted the changes made was because “there is a homosexual community (in San Antonio) and they will be offended” by the ad in its original form.

Tom Stephenson wrote: Sorry for all of the misinformation regarding this ad but I must tell you we have repeatedly reached out to the organizers of the conference to come up with an ad that works for both of us. We are very willing to accept advertising promoting their upcoming conference.

Gary Schneeberger responds: It is not untrue to say the paper is “willing to accept” advertising promoting Saturday’s Love Won Out event. What Mr. Stephenson is not saying, however, is that it will only accept such advertising if it does not include Jeff Johnston’s story of overcoming homosexuality – and that’s like saying he’ll only accept advertising for Wheaties if they drop their “Breakfast of Champions” slogan.

Posted in News, Sexuality & Gender Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

November 28th, 2008 by M. French

Andrew Yeoman, a writer here at VOR, recently released a book entitled ‘Jesus Ministry” available at Amazon.com [click here to order]. We asked him a few questions concerning the work:

How would you summarize your book?

The book is summarized as ‘A Call to an emerging generation to live out on the earth the radical life & mission of Jesus’. In other words, it’s in some aspects an elementary but hopefully a startling call to clear away the paraphernalia in churches and see the glorious Christ of our salvation . It is a call to re-embrace the simple centrality of Jesus again, without the add-ons – so to speak.  I purposefully made the publication more of a booklet rather than a full book, in order for it to appeal to young people (especially those who wouldn’t normally read a book), for them to see it, pick it up and read it within an hour or two… and by His Grace, be impacted & ignited.

What was the motivation for writing ‘Jesus Ministry’?

My motivation was a visitation from the Lord a number of years ago, where the Holy Spirit literally possessed my heart with a glimpse of His will for a new Jesus-People to arise, moving in authentic New Testament Christianity. I am very aware that quite a few people recently have predicted a ‘new move’, whilst others talk about it – it is almost the ‘in thing’, and yet much of it is rhetoric without substance.  My firm belief is that it will take a key paradigm shift in the hearts of leaders to firstly return to New Testament discipleship as Jesus prescribed, and an authentic deepening of the Spiritual life, which will in turn be passed on to those they lead. Many are ‘promoting’ a new revival movement, and much of it is with good intentions but remains frothy! I believe the Lord wants young people to get deeper into the Word and encounter the Spirit of God in a way the Puritans, Reformers and early Pentecostals knew, and do this without fleshly weirdness. At the same time, I am not promoting as some do, a nostalgic or romantic ‘things aren’t what they used to be…’ kind of attitude either. (There’s lot’s of that around!) I believe God wants us to carry the deep truth & revelation of those who have gone on before but have it as a present reality today, and express it for this generation. I am not calling for an ‘old fashioned’ thing as some are, neither am I looking for new weirdness. Rather, a return to ‘Jesus centeredness’ (if I can make up a word for it) – to be expressed in a radical way for this time, just as Godly young saints did in past generations.

So yes, my motivation was that moment in God a few years ago, which infected me with these things somewhat, and it has stayed with me ever since, and by His grace, until I die.

What do you want people to come away with after reading it?

A burning desire to begin to get deeper for the things mentioned above to become a reality. I really believe God is not looking for numbers in and of itself, but rather is looking for unknown personalities to link in with God and link up with those with like passion. I am longing to see New Testament teams formed out of this rising generation, that will come into a genuine understanding of Apostolic & Prophetic ministry, and how that functions in missionary endeavor, rather than in the surface ways we see today. After all, this is the Jesus paradigm in the Gospels and the Pauline paradigm for us in Acts – so my question is – ‘Where is it?’

Ten to fourteen years ago the fire fell in the West, of which I was privileged to be a part of. My life was changed completely. However, as in every move of the Spirit, the fruit that comes out of it in years to come is vital. I do not believe God is looking now for another Brownsville or Toronto, rather he wants to take those of us who knew of that work, mature us, test us, prune us further, deepen us, and then cause us to reproduce others, who though may not have experienced those moves firsthand, certainly come into the same intensity. Then for a ‘new thing’ to arise… new wine and a new wineskin for what He wants to do in terms of Kingdom ministry. If the experience of 10 years ago did not produce a ‘Jesus obsession’ in our hearts then we must re-evaluate. Praise God, I know hundreds of fruit bearing and ‘Jesus – centered products’ of the revival, still ministering today. However, some others may have missed the heart of visitation – Jesus and His Kingdom. That’s what I pray will now take place, and if the book can a have a small part to play in that then AMEN!

This book is short, to the point, and hopefully Spiritually impacting. It could have been deeper in some ways, and simpler in others, but I was mindful of the audience in terms of getting the balance right. It could have been written better, but I wanted to keep some of the rawness of the material to connect with those who God wanted to speak to. God willing, we will hear in years to come of those impacted, stirred and changed.

You mentioned a desire to see authentic New Testament missionary teams formed, are you starting to see that happen with the ministry you’re leading, ‘Europe Ablaze’? Or is it more of an ideal you’re shooting for?

The answer is probably both. We are certainly beginning to see emerging ministries functioning on the front line, as it were, but it is also very much at a starting stage. We are at a learning and development time. For the Church it is crucial to train and raise up ministries, but being careful not to put our ideas as to who, what or when. Remember it was the Holy Spirit who separated Saul & Barnabas in Acts 13, in the moment of His choosing. I am feeling the challenge of the need to learn more how to perceive God’s grace at work in different lives, how to nurture that and release it at the correct time. It is vital to remember it is Jesus who gives gifts to His Church, and it is the Spirit that is at work as He wills, not man or a leader. We leaders need to pray for grace to get the balance right between training, leaving the Lord to do the needed unseen work and getting the timing of release right.

I guess in conclusion, the more NT mission takes place, the more NT Churches can be planted, and that will in turn produce more vessels for ministry, as with Paul and Timothy. It is a spiritual cycle. So at this present time we are encouraged by what we are seeing emerge in young ministries but are certainly longing for more. The above principles will be crucial in seeing that ideal become more of a reality.

Posted in News, The Kingdom of God Tagged with: , , , ,