The Lord does work in mysterious ways. I never could have predicted or expected this turn of events in my life.
Last August I was asked to take part in a “prayer journey” in the Toledo area. Not knowing the specific purpose of the journey, I agreed, thinking, “I know Toledo could use some prayer. Why not?”
To my surprise it ended up being a small group of concerned Toledoans targeting the strip clubs, massage parlors, and adult entertainment stores in the city. This caught me a bit off guard, and to be honest, when I found out about where we’d be going, I wasn’t too excited.
As someone who has struggled deeply with pornography addiction, I was not eager to return to “old stomping grounds.” Sure, there was a need to pray for the rising addiction to pornography in the city and in the world, but I didn’t want to be one of the crazy activists rising early on a Saturday morning to stand in pornography shop parking lots.
Prayer journeys have a way of changing you. I’ve done several around the world, and I know firsthand that when you “pray on-site with insight” God has a way of getting your attention.
October 6, the day of the prayer journey, rolled around and I drove from place to place, store to store, along with several others, crying out to God on behalf of the patrons and owners of these adult entertainment shops. It was a powerful time of prayer for many of us. Overall the whole group visited 18 locations to pray, mostly praying from our cars. (We were only asked to leave twice, and told one time that the cops had been called on us.)
I was gripped in my spirit. I knew firsthand that those shops were not “the problem”—they were a small part of a much larger problem in the world, the final outcropping of a silent epidemic that is sweeping the world. Still, praying on-site allowed God the time and place to stir my heart for those caught in the grip of sexual addictions.
I could hear God speak loud and clear, “I want to redeem their sexuality.” It thundered through my heart in a way that only God could speak.
Redeem our sexuality? God is the maker of sex and the one who designed it, and all its powerful pleasures, for the human race. Sin has taken its ugly toll on sexuality and twisted it into something it was never meant to be. I experienced in my heart that day a bit of the heart of God: He desired to rescue people from the destructive path of sexual perversion and give them the gift of sex as it was meant to be.
I wrote this in an email to our prayer coordinator after debriefing from the journey: “I believe God may be calling me to do something about this on the level of raising awareness and speaking to others about redeemed sexuality (perhaps even speaking on a widespread level). I believe the ethic of ‘not even a hint’ (Ephesians 5:3) needs to be lifted up in our churches especially, so the people will be able to embrace the healthy sexuality God is offering to them.”
Little did I know that doors were already opening . . .
As it turns out my girlfriend lives in Owosso, MI, global headquarters for Covenant Eyes, a ministry that provides software for internet accountability and filtering. I had heard of them before, but my repeated visits to Owosso over the past several months had exposed me more and more to their services and some of their personnel. Covenant Eyes is a resource now used by many thousands of individuals and many churches.
In November, as my ministry position in Toledo was coming to an end, I was looking to move to Owosso to be closer to my girlfriend. I applied at Covenant Eyes, not knowing whether they were hiring, looking for a job that would be local. As it turns out, they had a job description for a new position they had never filled, a position to monitor and provide resources through blogs. Not only does this position allow me to target an age group I’ve been working with for years as a campus minister, but it also allows me to work with a ministry that is helping those trapped in pornography addiction.
It is amazing to see the divine timing and circumstances behind this change of vocation. Could it be that years of my own struggle will be an aid to me to identify with others who are struggling? Could it be that my own struggle was fueling a passion in me to help others? Could it be that my ministry in Toledo was ending earlier than expected to make way for me to take this job? Could it be that God had me go on that prayer journey to get my attention and open my mind to this job? Could it be that meeting my girlfriend was for more than just our companionship?
God is doing a new thing in my life! Thanks to everyone whose been praying for me. Soli Deo Gloria – to God alone be the glory!