There is another program (which is endorsed by Courage) that I have also been very involved with this past
year called "Journey into Manhood" or (JiM). It's a challenging psychology-based program that addresses the underlying root causes of homosexuality and it has had tremendous help to me in completing the recovery and reversal of this condition.
A few months ago, ABC Nightline approached People Can Change, the program's founder about doing a story. He asked for advice from all of us and several of us urged him to do it. After talking with the Producer, reviewing some of the past Nightline programs and talking with a media consultant, Rich decided that in this particular case there was a good chance we would get a fair presentation of our cause.
They decided to re-enact part of a weekend with past participants and allow ABC to film the experience. They wanted to interview one participant on camera and follow him through the entire experience (showing the program through his eyes). My friend Pret (Preston) volunteered for this role. He and his wife Megan prayerfully considered it and decided to go forward.
Twelve of us met at a retreat center near Houston to re-enact the weekend for Nightline's cameras. We all fasted and prayed for several days. Originally (with the exception of Preston), we were ALL going to have our faces blurred and voices disguised. However, Friday night in the cabin, 2 of my friends and I had a chance to talk away from the cameras.
We were discussing our frustration about how effective the other side seems to be in getting their message across. They seem to have the whole world convinced now that living a gay lifestyle is genetic, unchangeable, and even "healthy." All of us know now from our own personal experience that the opposite is true. In the past though, we had believed their message and this kept us trapped in self-destructive sin for a long time. My friend Ty said "Well, they are not afraid to show their faces and we are." I thought "Ok, well let's change the subject then." (I didn't like where the conversation was going;).
The Holy Spirit must have had a different idea though. That night three of us decided individually that our fear of NOT getting the message out was far more significant than our fear of any potential consequences from being seen on TV. The next morning the three of us told the ABC producer that we would allow our faces to be shown and fully support Preston.
I was still terrified of the idea. For a while I actually thought I could just passive-aggressively keep away from the cameras or stay far enough back that I wouldn't really be noticed. I figured at first that even though I was going to allow my face to be seen that I could still be just like a movie extra and no one would really pay attention or notice me on TV. At first, whenever I wanted to speak up I tried to time it for the brief moments when the camera was off (when they were changing tapes). As the day went on though I became more aware of Christ's presence and He gave me a lot of courage.
In the end the 4 of us did a group interview on camera. I was able to speak authentically and answer some pointed questions. They asked if I was just "suppressing my true self." I was rather passionate in explaining that I was far more "suppressed" back when I was in the gay lifestyle because that was NEVER who I really was or what God had created me for. My life has been infinitely better in every way shape and form since I turned to Christ and began pursuing His will for my life.
For some reason I felt fearless during that interview. Ever since though I've been a lot more nervous. I know the program will probably create some negative backlash from the opposing side, but I'm not sure if any of that will affect me personally. I haven't really told anyone about it other than in vague reference. (For some reason it was so much easier just talking to the 'nice lady with a camera').
They filmed us for 14 hours. No matter how they edit it, there will be parts that will embarrass and humiliate me. A priest from Courage explained to me though that even in a worse case scenario "God's work will still succeed even if the rest of the world sees it as a failure." The mission for this program is the souls that will be reached even if the rest of the spectators do not understand it.
Anyway, I'd really appreciate your prayers. I really hope this turns out well and gets the message out to those who really need to hear it. I know they will show the other side also, but I hope they give us a fair presentation. This will air on ABC Nightline sometime in the next 2-6 weeks (not sure when yet). The audience is about 1.5 million people.
"Lucky for me no one I know reads your little TIME magazine...or whatever it's called." - Derek Zoolander-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Update: The program aired on Monday November 22nd and they cut out our group interview (so I was only seen a few times in the background which was a relief:)