Deceived, Then Totally Freed!
Life for me, growing up in southern California was wonderful, basic, above average and quite eventful. My parents were still newly married with two children and welcomed my grandmother's offers to keep me. Soon my grandparents began to raise me. My grandfather spent a lot of time away from home, especially on weekends. This left my grandmother alone. She asked if she could keep me. My parents consented and that is how I came to be raised by my grandparents.
My grandparents did an outstanding job of seeing to it that all of my needs were met. Grandmother attended to most, if not all of my home training: helping with my homework, making sure I kept my room clean, and doing my daily chores. Grandpa would often take me with him on Saturdays while he did the necessary errands of getting the car washed, shopping for himself, or visiting other family members. My grandfather and I didn't talk much; however, if I were directly involved in causing a problem, he did not hesitate to let me know just who was the boss. My parents, along with my siblings, lived about five blocks away. As I got older, I began to spend more time with them, mostly on weekends. Overall the memories were warm. I remember big dinners on Sundays and barbecues on some Saturdays and holidays. Our house would be packed wall-to-wall with family members and friends.
When I was about eleven years old, I had an experience that set me on a collision course of sexual brokenness. My grandparents were very loving people, so when a need arose in the family that they thought they could meet, they did. A great-aunt had a son who was about to be released from a correctional facility and who needed a place to stay temporarily. He came to live with us. My cousin was about nineteen years old, tall and dark, with a natural muscular build. He slept in the same room as I did though we didn't sleep in the same bed. Things were good in the beginning of this arrangement. I really liked him. One night, after he moved in, my cousin began to talk to me about sexual things and how they worked in prison. Being preadolescent, I was very curious as to what this "sex stuff" was all about. For me it didn't matter who introduced me to it -- I wanted to participate. After talking to me and asking if I wanted to try it, the act took place. As I look back, the things that stand out most were how he talked to me and how he embraced me. In fact, that is what I liked most. My cousin talked to me. There was no other adult male that was talking to me like they wanted me to understand things. That's what I really needed and wanted, yet hadn't received from my grandfather or father. My response to my cousin was to have a very real affection for him. The things that made me vulnerable to it were the separation from my natural parents and having my grandmother basically in the role of parenting me. Regrettably, I took my cues from my older cousin and passed the abuse down to his younger brothers as well. (They say that the abused become the abusers.) I promised candy or whatever if they would let me abuse them. The younger of the two allowed it. The older cousin, who was my age, didn't. He thought the whole idea was sick.
Prior to that first encounter with my older cousin, there were a few significant things at work in my life. During my younger years I distinctly remember words which were spoken that damaged my heart and soul causing me much confusion and surrounding me with a dense fog of misunderstanding. My friends would call me punk (meaning homosexual), sissy, and would say that I was acting like a girl. This was all because I didn't want to slam myself into someone else over an oblong-shaped ball and yell, Touchdown!" Even my grandfather use to say, "Tuck that shirttail in. You look like a woman." An aunt said to me once, "You act like an old punk." "I'm a d---- good one!," I responded. What did it all mean? What was it all for? Who gave them the right to cause me such heartache and despair? The words hurt, but what did they mean? Was I a punk? Was I a sissy? Was I a homosexual? No. I was a child, growing up with other children who didn't have a clue as to what those names meant. They were repeating what they had heard. At the same time, I had no defense to combat what had been said. Who says words don't hurt you? Words are powerful. Proverbs 18:21 says, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it shall eat the fruit of it." James 3:6 says, "And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. So the tongue is set among our members, spotting all the body and inflaming the course of nature, and being inflamed by hell."
One day, in about the eighth grade, I remember writing on one of my books, L.O.B.S., Lover of Both Sexes. A bisexual spirit was trying to take up residency. At the time, I was clueless. I hadn't been with a girl, and wasn't sure I wanted to be. I absolutely hated Physical Education in junior high. I didn't mind the actual class so much, but I couldn't focus with all the undressing and group showering that took place at the end of class. Many times I wouldn't even dress for class. It was embarrassing to me and I was afraid how I would respond to all that visual stimulation. I was already looking at guys some anyway. This was too much. Also, junior high was the place where romance was blossoming all around. If you didn't have a girlfriend, you were either a punk or a nerd. I could dance really well (sort-of the Cha-Cha King) which was something all the girls liked. At the school dances, I never lacked for partners. I had a couple of girls in my life then who were good friends and that was about the extent of it.
When I turned fourteen, my grandparents moved away to Oklahoma. They gave me the choice of moving with them or moving in with my mother and siblings. (My parents had separated.) I chose to stay with mom. Things changed drastically. I had been like an only child with all of those comforts. I had my own room, clothes and personal belongings that I didn't have to share. I had privacy and money to spend when I needed it. Now I was one of several children who shared a room. I had brothers who would sometimes wear my socks and other clothing without asking. My personal belongings somehow disappeared. I had no privacy and no money. That summer I got a job with a community action group which enabled me to have the spending money I wanted.
Not long after, my family moved to Compton, California (home of the infamous Piru gang and several glorified rap artists). I met a few people who introduced me to the world of partying. One of these individuals was old enough to be my grandfather. He was very nice to me and several other young men. There were dinners and parties, nights on the town, drinking, and getting high. I was coming home with gifts that were becoming quite the challenge to explain their source to my family. These gifts cost me though. I had to pay with sexual favors. As much as I liked him and liked all the gifts, I didn't like having to do these favors for him. Though I mentioned this to him, he told me that this is what all the gifts were about. He wasn't giving them for nothing. I could have almost anything I want though if I were willing to do these favors for him. I could have money, clothes, anything, if I were willing. At times, being treated nicely caused me to feel loved by the older man. Sometimes I felt the way I believed sons feel when their fathers spend quality time with them. But the reality was that I was not his son, but his lover. For every right thing that God has created and given to us, there is a counterfeit that is totally left. God's Word says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end proves to be the way of death!" (Proverbs 14:12). When we don't know God's way, we can aimlessly wander becoming involved in any and everything. It feels right. It seems right. As we look around us, we see all of the people we know involved in a variety of things that please only the flesh and which leads only to death.
As time went on, I got involved in several short-lived relationships. As my promiscuity escalated I dealt with venereal disease and body lice. I know it's gross, but it's true. This is proof that if you dance to the music, one day you're going to pay the piper. God was merciful to me through it all and soon I had an opportunity to meet Him.
When I was about 19 I was a member of a very popular gospel choir. We sang about the Lord, traveled about, and received many accolades. There were three people out of 16 of us who really had hearts for God. One Saturday night we sang at the home church of one of our members. Though the members of the group weren't particularly spiritual, that night as we sang it was as if God Himself said to me, "Enough is enough." (I now know it was the Lord.) The Holy Spirit was really ministering to me, filling me with His presence, instructing me to come back the next day and become a part of this fellowship. So the next day I was there, ready to turn my life over to Jesus. I could hardly wait for the altar call. I was so excited. Finally, after the dynamic singing and excellent preaching, the altar call was made and I gave my heart to Jesus.
I felt so good that day. It was as if I were floating on air. The most wonderful thing I could ever do, I had done. It was not without a big price, though. I was involved with a guy who, until this point, had been very supportive and encouraging. Then, I announced my newfound love for Jesus and my plans to leave homosexuality. He didn't have a problem with me loving Jesus, but he did have a problem with my decision that we could no longer be intimate. Boy did that ever strike a horrible chord. I even had Scripture references to show him and to explain; however, this was to no avail. We had a mutual friend who lived downstairs. He insisted that we talk to her because she had the low-down on these kinds of things. We went. She lit a joint and my friend let her know what was happening. She began saying it was perfectly all right for us to stay together in a homosexual relationship. God understood and would not hold it against us. I then spoke up with Scripture references, but my friend joined in with his comments. It was not a pretty situation. I left and went back upstairs convinced that I was right. I was determined that I wasn't going to be swayed. It was definitely time to go. That night we talked until there were no more words. I decided that I had to leave. I didn't know where I was going or how I was going to get there. I attempted to gather a few things to take with me, but he told me to leave them. Not wanting to cause this conversation to get any more intense, I put the things down. As I sat awhile, the thought came to me to call the pastor of the church. While my friend was in the other room, I called the pastor and explained that I was in a pickle. He instructed me to meet him at the corner near the apartment in five minutes. I hung up the phone, picked up the clothes and made a mad dash out of the front door. Before I could get to the bottom of the stairs, the apartment door flew open and my friend shouted, "Where do you think you're going?" As I got about three quarters of the way down the street, I heard his car peeling out of the driveway. At the same time, I saw another car approaching me rather fast. Dropping the clothes for the last time, I ran toward the car. Just as I got to the corner, the car turned my direction. It was my pastor! The back door flew open, and I jumped in. My friend's car was moving very fast and nearly rammed into the side of us. We sped off, but he followed. It took several blocks before my pastor (and now my hero) was able to lose him. I was put up in a motel, given a job lead, and a little cash. The next day I went and got the job. I had a beginning. What a mighty God we serve!
We live in a time when there is no excuse for ignorance, naturally or spiritually. Many of us who come to Christ still struggle with major issues in our lives because we haven't realized who we are in Him and we're unaware of the help that's been provided. "Ask and it shall be given, seek and you will find, knock and the door shall be opened unto you." We've heard it, said it, then stopped believing, never to return. That's the problem, we don't continue. This Scripture, along with many others we know, show a process. They require that we repeat them as often as possible, meditate (which is to ponder or reflect) and to plan. I discovered years ago that for me there was no instant deliverance or quick fix. I had to take a realistic look at my sin and get the help I needed. I've seen that in the church as well. Shortly after I got out of that living situation, I found that even the church had men and women who had sin in their lives as well. I found that there were men and women who would have desire for me as well. The church wasn't necessarily a safe-place for me. I saw the struggles of others as well. Eventually though, I found some help that I needed through Desert Stream Ministries. Desert Stream helped me walk back through my life and to begin to put the pieces together -- the pieces that had been lost as a result of many years of struggle to find out who I was. There was an extensive eighteen week course which dealt with things like: a Biblical view of homosexuality, the role of willingness, forgiveness, sanctification, growth and fellowship, lust, rejection, etc. Thank God for His leading to such a dynamic ministry. I don't know where I'd be today had it not been for Desert Stream.
After attending Desert Stream my life took a few left turns. I was married while attending and not really equipped emotionally to handle the problems we had as a couple. Eventually, after many arguments and finally a big fight, I left home, returned to the lifestyle for another bout with rejections, loneliness and impersonal sex. As terrible as all of that was, it was what I was familiar with. I continued in homosexual behavior for several years thereafter. My church attendance was very low and rare. I knew I needed God, but I was and felt so far from Him.
In the winter of 1989 I received word that my grandmother was ill, so I drove to Oklahoma to be with her. Shortly after my arrival in Oklahoma, I asked grandmother if she wanted me to move there so I could be with her. Her answer was "yes," so I did. About 6 months later she passed on. Rather than moving back to California, I decided to stay in Oklahoma. I found a church in the area, began attending regularly and met and befriended a few people. My struggle continued, however. It was like I was hitting and missing. I knew I needed to be more responsible with my life but couldn't seem to be. The Gay Scene in Oklahoma was just as decadent as it was in California but with fewer choices. Soon I became frustrated and desired again to be the man that God had called me to be--set free and celibate. The pursuit for me to be that man was renewed. After the bombing of the Murrah building in April of 1995, I was invited to a church in Midwest City, OK. It had become evident to me that it was time to leave the church I was attending. This new church was spirit-filled, Christ-centered and balanced. The pastor was a gracious man with a real heart for God. It was a welcome change and something I needed. The Lord led me to be a part of that place. I've been there almost 3 years now. It was there that I met and married Kimberly Lynn.
I had prayed for a mate and had been seeking God's direction concerning that. I got to know Kim shortly after. She was the youth pastor at the time and I was helping out with the kids. I really liked her and saw her giftings. I was interested in a total relationship... I knew I didn't just want a sexual one. Our relationship grew slowly under much prayer. Then we spent a time apart seeking the Lord as to what His will was in it. After a time apart, we talked again about marriage. Then began to plan. I knew I didn't want to date her. I wanted to follow God's leading and to trust God in that as well. This was a mutual agreement for us. We wanted committed relationship and to trust God for the outcome of it. We talked to the pastor about it and sought his counsel. He knew Kim well and was beginning to know me. He was able to see that marriage would be a good thing for us. So, on May 18, 1996, we married. We look forward to all that God has for us, and pray that His will continues to be done as we seek Him with all our hearts.
Through all of this I realize that healing is not always immediate but that it can be a process. I'm willing to do whatever it takes to follow that process... for as long as it takes. God is my Everything. I've really gained perspective
Steven Hunt, now deceased due to complications stemming from AIDS, was husband to Kim Hunt and employed by First Stone Ministries.