Way before the new year started, and way before I went to Passion Conference, I decided to form a Bible study in my home. My friends who were there for me thought it was a good idea to keep myself busy and focus more on what God was trying to teach me through my hard time. My best friend was all for me being a leader of my own Bible study.

The only problem I had was that my church had already forbidden me from being an official small group leader, and I had to abide by the rules they set before me. Somehow I figured a way around it and become an “unofficial” leader.

My church started a series about most prophecies in the Old Testament pointing to Jesus in the New Testament. Each week, we looked at a specific passage and dove deep into what those passages meant and how they were relevant in our lives. I decided to use this series as a guide for in-depth discussions to help my friends understand more of Scripture and train them in more biblical knowledge.

I asked my friends if they’d be interested in meeting up every week to go over these messages, and everyone agreed to attend.

I even told most of my friends about my fears from my past and entering into this role as a small group leader, but they gave me words of encouragement, saying I was doing the right thing.

Attendance was pretty good the first couple weeks! About 8 to 10 people came to my tiny apartment, and I led them in discussion about the most recent message, challenging them to apply Scripture in their everyday life. Seeing their faces light up when something clicked and watching them participate in discussions brought joy to my heart, and all my worries slowly faded away.

As the weeks passed, a female friend entered my Bible study. I’d known her for a few years, and she knew that I struggled with same-sex attraction (SSA). She had strong leadership skills and a bubbly personality. She was very encouraging and a total extrovert.

We’d had a falling out two years prior, though we’d mended that relationship.

After knowing this woman for so long, I was a bit leery about her addition to my small group. She had great personal qualities, but she also had a tendency to manipulate a group of people to follow her and do what she wanted. Not only that, she was also a huge flaker.

Me being me, I always give people the benefit of the doubt. I thought the trial she’d previously endured had changed her heart, and she’d learned not to be manipulative, seeing the importance of being faithful in the long run.

But this person would be the one to end my small group, adding even more pain to my year of trials.

Weeks turned into months, and I could tell my friends were less interested in coming to my small group every week. At first I thought people started having busy schedules with work, school, or other engagements, but I received text messages from people saying they went to this woman’s house to do another Bible study on the same night.

My small group diminished until it was no more.

What I thought was a total “God thing” to help me through my life and financial crisis ended up being a big flop. I felt like a total failure, my mind reminded by all the stuff I’d endured when told I couldn’t become a leader because of my past.

I had to deal with that nightmare once again.

When my small group ended, my best friend was there to listen to me. He listened to how hurt I was and how upset I was by everything that went down. I wanted to confront this woman, but I couldn’t. Yes, there were opportunities to do that, but I’d always extended the benefit of the doubt to this person.

I’d hoped that God would show her how what she did really affected me in a bad way.

Nope, that never happened.

For a week, I tried calming my mind and emotions over everything: how much a failure I’d been as leader of a small group, how to get a job, and how to sell enough things to pay next month’s rent without reentering prostitution.

One day, I noticed something strange on my best friend’s social media account. This same female who’d ended my small group was in his picture hanging out. Another picture had her initials with a heart wrapped around them, along with a picture of him walking in the forest with her.

The thought popped into my head as my heart sank.

They’re dating!

Have you ever started something, convinced of a “God thing,” only to watch it fail? What do you do when you feel like a total failure?

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  • Matthew,
    Keep fighting the good fight bro. I’ve had doors that had been open slammed in my face. I think the biggest was trying to be a missionary. I had people challenge and encourage me in it. I felt like it was the way God was leading me. I went to school for it. I led short term mission trips with my church and got involved with the church’s mission board. I did my college internship in Papua New Guinea with a big mission organization. I married a girl from school who had a heart for missions. Every time I tried to become a full time missionary both as a single man and as a married man, i found the door closed.
    I heard a sermon by a former pastor from my church. It has really stuck with me. He said, ” Do the next most obvious thing for God.” He’d found himself in a similar circumstance trying to get into missions and having the door shut. So he started pastoring a church and got involved in local ministry. God blessed his efforts and that church.
    I appreciate your candidness and bold honesty. I believe God is using your story to help other guys. This blog, this website, the podcast, and possible ministry opportunities that come through it may end up reaching and blessing way more people than a small group Bible study ever could. Keep it up! 🙂

  • It’s heart breaking to see something that has the fingerprints of God on it collapse. However, that doesn’t mean God wasn’t in it. It just meant that, by His design or by the consequences of someone’s actions (in this case, your female friend being shady), it wasn’t meant to last forever. I’m sorry your friends turned their backs to you again. It is heartbreaking to see how they didn’t realize how their actions were affecting you.

  • Well, Matt, we’ll see where this story takes us. And by now you already have the benefit of hindsight. But, just so we leave no stone unturned, you obviously were not a failure. You had 8-10 people attend for weeks and saw their understanding opened. In the end, they made the choice to leave. Had nothing to do with you and everything to do with the flake.

  • Actually, you start again. Just because you so called “failed” doesn’t mean that the journey ends there. In every trial, we rarely are victorious. Why is that? The reason is that no flesh shall glory in His presence. That means that when we are faced with any trail, we will fail miserably, but our victory comes when we turn to Jesus in our trial and ask Him to be victorious through every situation and IN THAT WE STAND. We do not do anything without Christ, “without Me you can do nothing. When you ministered, the glory of God was on Christ, when the woman arrived, your micro congregation was focused on what she was saying. They were attracted to the awe of her voice, the way she was speaking and she fluted them out of your apartment and into your hers. I have a sister that was like this, BUT the situation is in reverse. She was certainly the bubbly person, and people were leaving other home groups to go to her apartment because she brought some zest into the way she presented things. She didn’t mean for them to come there, as she wasn’t like that. But that all came to a halt when the Pastor shut her down as one of the leaders. They were getting jealous and they didn’t want her to arise above them as that is what was happening. That troubled her and she slowly went downward. Eventually she became a drunk and now after years of that, she has come out of that and on the path to recovery in the LORD. The problem that my sister didn’t have was foundation strength to keep her up when things would go awry. I started off in life early with trials, and I thank God for what He allowed to come into my life. “I wound, and I heal, I kill and make alive, I the LORD do all these things”. God wounded me to be a homosexual so I can be what I am today, an example of redemption, a testimony of His exploits through me, that in the end, men would see Christ and be saved. That is what you are all about Matthew. That Christ may reveal Himself through you. It’s clear the mantel of a teacher is on you. Instead of looking at what happen, ask the LORD how it can be prevented next time. His answer would be, “Matthew, above all, be yourself, and LOVE ME”. If people leave a group, pray that the LORD add more. Just like a small puddle, it dries up, but more rain is added to it, and then more rain and then it becomes more than just a puddle, now it’s a pond. “Nothing is impossible to him that continually trusts in God”.

  • There are times that the internet community seems both “close” and “distant”…what a distressing juxtaposition of experiences! How much I wanted to step into your room…give you a big hug…cry a bit…go for tea…(that’s the Brit in me)…and just talk. So, here I am, click-clacking away on my keyboard, feeling no real love being passed on, but oh, oh, oh, how I am infusing my words with every hugging thought I can muster! May there be those in your life who step in and bring a Heavenly Hug…you know the kind, when you just felt as if Jesus just hugged you! May that happen for you, Matt…as I sit in the relatively safety of my own turbulent world, atop my ship, watching yours get storm-battered. Praying…praying…and sending the huggingest thoughts I can!

  • Matt, as an INFJ, it is hard for me to forthright with people. I tend to overly euphemize my ideas/thoughts and err on the side of being too diplomatic. I enjoy how forthright and honest you are. And, since I appreciate forthrightness, I don’t see your articles as mean spirited or vitriolic. Rather, they are refreshing and encouraging. I have two close OSA friends who are INTJs and I so appreciate that they “call it as it is” — how salubrious! I am slowly learning to do the same.
    Thank you for sharing about your struggles so honestly. I am a virgin, thankfully, but appreciate hearing from a brother who has been involved in prostitution. If my circumstances had been different, I would have likely done the same thing! And through your experience, you know God in a way that I do not. I love how you highlight God’s goodness in rescuing you from such a lifestyle. Truly He does seek and save the lost.
    So, thank you, friend, for being willing to share boldly, and also for being willing to “call us out” if you deem it necessary. We don’t grow unless we are challenged. Keep on sharing!

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