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My testimony: Christ's testimony
“The Spirit of God testifies to my spirit”

Michael Schnob's Story

 
My name is Michel Schnob and I am a member of St. Alban’s Anglican Church in Ottawa. I am also on the board of the Ottawa chapter of New Direction, a support Ministry for people who struggle with same-sex attractions, and for their families and friends.

The Holy Spirit confessed Christ in me as my Lord and Saviour in 1984. I am a 51-year-old man who has always been attracted to people of my own gender. Without going into any details, let me just say that before 1984, I lived my homosexuality to the fullest. Unlike some other areas of struggle and brokenness, from which God chose to set me free instantly and completely, that attraction did not disappear with Jesus entering my life. However, my view on same-sex attraction and how I deal with it has radically changed.

About one year after my conversion, the Lord revealed the “new direction” he wanted me to take in my sexual orientation. I had heard a sermon at my church on sexuality. I remember going to see a brother whom God had totally set free from same-sex attractions. He warned me that the truth would not be pleasant for me to hear, but that if I wanted to follow Jesus, I would have to give it up for Him. I asked my friend to show me in the Bible, what God said specifically on the issue of homosexuality. Knowing in my heart that the Word of God was the truth and was good, I made the decision at that moment, to try to obey God, if I intended to continue claiming to be a Christian.

Five years later, in 1989, I met and fell madly in love with a beautiful and wonderful man. The relationship lasted over six months. To quote Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times!” I was in a position of leadership in my congregation, which was a Christian Reformed Church. I made my sexual relationship known to my pastor and asked him to remove me from my leadership function, because of my rebellion. My pastor refused to relieve me permanently from my role, because he claimed he could see that I was not totally at peace with my affair.
Like Jesus, still my friend
During the entire time the love affair lasted, my pastor, and another minister who had been a friend of mine since before my conversion, kept in touch with me. I remember the latter coming to me when he first found out about my affair. He told me that if what he had heard was not true, he was praising God, but if, however, it was true, he, like Jesus was still my friend! I remember how that statement shocked me. In the ensuing months, my Christian friends never stopped having a good rapport with me, praying for me, and continually paying me visits. During that time, I did not stop going to church even though it meant being with people who made me feel so tormented about my love affair, not by what they said, but just because they stood for Christ. Looking back, I realize that God kept His very presence, His very Word in my face throughout that time, as a reminder of to Whom I really belonged.

As months went by, the fulfillment I found being with that man, gradually vanished, leaving an ever-growing void in my soul. More and more, I found myself longing for a home where that kind of homosexual relationship had no place. Like the prodigal son, I too had walked away from my Father's home and spent my inheritance. Like the prodigal son, I too, at one point, started longing to go back to my Father to beg Him to forgive me and take me back. But it took a dramatic event for me to finally walk away from that man.

My lover was not a Christian and would get annoyed because I was so conflicted as a Christian and a practising homosexual. Finally he gave me an ultimatum that I will never forget: He asked me to choose between himself and Christ. I could have either, but not both. Unfortunately, for a brief moment, which felt like an eternity, I hesitated. The event of Peter in the courtyard, denying Christ suddenly flashed through my mind. I too, by hesitating, had also denied the very Lord and Saviour who had died for me. Like Peter, I also saw the loving gaze of Jesus penetrating through me and calling me back, showing me that despite my abandoning Him, He had never, and would never forsake me. He had forgiven me and wanted me home with Him. I ran back into His arms without looking back.

The turning point

That was the major turning point in my walk with the Lord. Not only had I experienced life with Jesus, but also life without Him. Only then did I begin to grasp the depth of Jesus’ love for me, that truly “nothing could separate me from the love of God.” No man, or woman could match the intimacy of the relationship that Christ offered me.

About four years ago, however, I started to crave for intimacy with a real, live human being again. I was tired of resisting my impulses, and watching my Christian heterosexual brothers and sisters whose gender attraction could be channelled into marital bliss, being blessed by God. I also longed for a set of arms to hold me when I came home, and for me to hold also; to hear the sweet words "I love you", and also pronounce them. And since I was not attracted in any way to women, the choice was clear. I cried out to God and told Him I was tired of fighting. Couldn’t he change me if He wanted me to resist? But the feelings didn’t go away and I gave in to them.

I answered an ad in the local newspaper and met someone at a downtown cafe. I remember how easily that door had opened. I had thought God would stop me, or at the very least, would make it very hard for me to get what He did not want me to have.

Realizing how much Jesus loves me

As I was getting ready to meet my date, I promised myself that I would not talk about Christ under any circumstances. Yet I spoke of Jesus immediately and could not stop talking about the Lord for the rest of the evening. The man in question turned out to be a former priest, who claimed to still be a Christian. He told me I was a gift from God for him, an answer to his prayer. He was convinced that God was going to bless our relationship. I totally disagreed with him and had a gut feeling that the Lord would surprise me with the outcome of that evening. As I was verbally quoting John 17, the sacerdotal prayer, to the man, I suddenly realized how much Jesus loved me. I knew then, I would not go through with that potential relationship. I had been reminded of the intimacy with Jesus, which no human person could match.
 
I feel my sexual brokenness is what has kept me hanging on to Jesus for dear life. Like Paul, I always will need to rely on the sufficiency of God's grace. Like Paul, day in and day out, I find myself crying out, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Christ Jesus our Lord!” I also know that the Word of God is truth and must be upheld, because “The Spirit of God testifies to my spirit.” I have seen the promises of God gradually being fulfilled in my life. That is the strongest evidence of the truth of Scripture and of the reality of the living Christ in me. I am also aware that a work is being done in me about which I have no control, in fact, even despite me at times.

While I still occasionally struggle with lust, I also trust that “He who has started a work in me will perfect it unto the day of Jesus Christ.” Praise God!

Soli Deo Gloria! To God alone be glory!

Michel


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Story © 2004 Michel Schnob. All rights reserved. Used by permission.


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