The recently released American Family Association's “In His Image” documentary on homosexuality and transgenderism has spurred the conservative Christian advocacy organization to make this week “Prodigal Prayer Emphasis Week.”
The film tells the stories of people who have identified as LGBT and left those lifestyles by God's power. The prayer week was launched after many who saw the documentary asked for prayers for their own “prodigal” family members. AFA's effort runs Nov. 16 until Nov. 20.
“If you or someone you love is wrestling with same-sex attraction, transgenderism, or other issues of sexual brokenness, prayer is the first step,” an AFA announcement states. “Our prayer team would be honored to pray over your request.”
“In His Image: Delighting in God's Plan for Gender and Sexuality" has over 325,000 views online. Upward of 2,000 people have committed to participate in the week-long prayer effort. AFA has made the film available online for free. Churches pay no licensing fees but need to take up a free-will offering if they wish to do showings.
The Rev. Michael Brown, Ph.D., who hosts the nationally syndicated “Line of Fire” radio program, narrated the feature-length documentary released in October.
He said in the film that those who identify as LGBT ask in churches, “Does God hate me?” and “Will the Church reject me?”
Brown, a proponent of Messianic Judaism, explained that “some professing Christians … bring a message of hate rather than love.”
“They not only disagree with homosexuality, but they have a loathing and hatred for those who practice it,” he warned.
The video showed snapshots of Westboro Baptist Church protesters carrying “God Hates Fags” signs.
The video began with the story of Stephen Black, whose sensitivity and creativity as a boy led to bullying. He was also same-sex attracted and engaged in a homosexual lifestyle.
But he became involved with a highly committed group of Christians and received Jesus as Lord. He wondered if he should remain gay. He opened his Bible, seeking wisdom, and the pages fell to Leviticus 18:22: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.”
He now heads First Stone Ministries based in Oklahoma, which helps LGBT individuals attain “freedom from homosexuality and sexual brokenness through a relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord.”
Most of the film is about the transgender community, According to a study by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute, 41% of transgender individuals attempt suicide at some point in life. They are successful in that at a rate 19 times that of the general population, found the Karolinska Institute of Sweden.
The film also features the story of Laura Perry, who grew up with a devout mother but felt her faith was legalistic rather than loving.
As a child, she was molested by a boy and became “highly sexualized,” pushing friends into having sex with her.
“I was almost like a prostitute without being paid for it,” she recalls in the film.
Perry had a double mastectomy and took large doses of testosterone. She went by the name “Jake” for nine years. She eventually met another transgender individual, and they moved in together.
“It was like I was going to be happy one day, but I never got there,” she says of having one surgery after another in attempting to become male.
Her mother, Francine Perry, was upset and agitated. She and her husband had done much right in parenting but she felt troubled that their daughter identified as another sex and left behind God.
The Lord had some startling directions for her, she remembered.
“If you want Me to work on her, then you go, sit down, and you focus on your relationship with Me,” she recalled. She did just that and believes it made her faith more loving and genuine.
Francine Perry’s church asked her to lead a Bible study. As it grew, the church wanted her to record it to post online. Her daughter Laura could do that and needed the money, so she took the job.
“For the first time, I saw God’s love in the Bible, His faithfulness,” Laura Perry explained. “I saw Mom had really changed, surrendered her life to Christ and didn’t have religion but true faith. It was at that moment I knew the Gospel was true. … I had seen his transforming power in my Mom.”
Her mother’s encouragement to parents in similar circumstances inspired AFA’s special week.
“Prayer changes things,” she said. “As you submit to the Holy Spirit, I believe He will work in your prodigal, and you will see a miracle in their life.”
The film also featured Walt Heyer, an ex-transgender and founder of the organization Sex Change Regret.
Heyer’s grandmother made a dress for him when he was 4, and her praise for him as a girl – not a boy – began his interest in living as a woman.
He married and had two children but underwent gender reassignment surgery at 42.
“I wondered at the time, ‘Can surgery really change me?’” he asked. “It doesn’t eliminate being sexually abused, it doesn’t eliminate the crossdressing, it doesn’t eliminate the physical abuse” that led to his wanting a sex change.
Within a short period, Heyer’s boss fired him due to his transition and his wife divorced him. After three months, he was homeless and a “full-blown alcoholic,” he stated.
Then came the breakthrough: “I found the Lord Jesus Christ, who redeemed and restored my life so that I could give my testimony today,” he explained.
Heyer has lived as a man again for nearly 30 years.
Brown, once a leader in the long-running revival at Florida’s Brownsville Assembly of God, now has his daily radio show and regular columns published in The Christian Post advocating for biblical standards personally and publicly.
“God cares,” he tells those struggling with same-sex attraction and transgenderism. “He’s not indifferent to your struggles. He wants to see you completely whole from the inside out. That’s why He sent His Son Jesus to die for your sins and heal your brokenness.”
Brown urges friends and family to share their own stories of transformation with LGBT individuals in their lives.
“You have a unique opportunity to pray for them, to love them, to listen to them, to speak truth and hope to them,” he said.