Dear Friend,

Thank you for your interest in our ministry. This year marks the significant anniversary of 35 years of ministry. That means 35 years of lives impacted by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Here are some excerpts from an interview with the Founder of Harvest USA, John Freeman. We asked him to share some of his insights about the historic and ongoing impact of this ministry over the last 35 years. (You can watch John’s full interview in the video above!) I hope you’ll find John’s words as encouraging as I do.

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Harvest USA: John, how did our ministry start?

John: With the help and visionary leadership of the historic Tenth Presbyterian Church in Center City, Philadelphia, back in 1983, Harvest USA got its start through Bible studies and support groups with men and women from the LGBTQ community. These meetings sought to bring the love and transforming power of Christ to a hurting and, often, marginalized group of people. It was in these first small group meetings where I saw God begin to show up big time in hearts and lives. That’s when I became convinced that God wanted me here in Philadelphia.

Harvest USA: Would you highlight one or two powerful stories about what the Lord has done in the last 35 years?

John: Harvest USA has always been about the gospel and people. It’s been about seeing the “what if” in people’s lives; that is, what they could be if they came to understand the love of a Savior, who left the splendor of heaven to walk in the midst and muck of humanity, despite our sexual confusion and sin.

I remember sitting in on one of the men’s groups, and I was struck by what one man was sharing about what God was teaching him. He said, “I’m beginning to see that following Jesus isn’t a self-improvement program; instead, he wants to do continual radical surgery on my heart to enable me to walk a life of obedience, faith, repentance, and joy.”

Another man shared that he hadn’t tithed in years due to the guilt and shame surrounding his sexual sin. He had become a passive dropout in his church. Now, beginning to understand and abide in the love and forgiveness of Jesus, he said that he, like Zacchaeus, would be giving back fourfold to his church. That’s the power of the gospel at work, moving this man to worship God through giving!

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This is an exciting season in Harvest USA’s history. Our plan in 2019 and beyond is to continue, just as we always have, to help people in our offices. But we also want the local church to become a place where men, women, and families can find help.

So, we’re working on more resources to equip the local church—the kinds of resources that Harvest USA is known for—resources that leaders can use to help sexual strugglers in their churches. But we’re also creating new resources that churches can use to disciple their members in a biblical view of sexuality. And, we’re creating resources that parents can use to disciple their children in biblical concepts of sex, sexuality, and gender.

You care about the gospel work of Harvest USA, so I’m asking for your help. Would you pray for our future and the work that God has given us to do? We need God’s wisdom and help in all things, especially as we work to create these new resources for the Church.

Would you also invest in our ministry with a calendar year-end gift today by clicking here? $271,000 remains of our $500,000 year-end goal. Just as God used John Freeman’s vision to establish Harvest USA 35 years ago, we believe that he can do extraordinary and eternal things with each and every gift.

Let me close by saying that I’m very hopeful about where Harvest USA is headed! Whether you’ve known about Harvest USA for just a short time, or for all of our 35 years, thank you for believing in our ministry! And, thank you for standing with us as we move boldly into the future.

Ever grateful,

Tim Geiger
President

P.S. If you want to donate stock to Harvest USA before December 31, please contact Scott Pickering at scott@harvestusa.org or 215-482-0111, ext. 104.

“Judge not, lest ye be judged!” – Matthew 7:1 is the Bible verse most commonly used to peg contemporary Christians as hypocrites. Those who claim to follow Jesus pass judgment on others as “sinners,” while Jesus stands by chiding anyone who judges.

When we hear this argument made by other students on our campus, how can we respond?

What does it mean to not judge?

Look at Matthew 7:1-5:

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

Jesus’ words are somewhat difficult to understand. But perhaps we can make sense of them through an example.

Imagine if the Christian student group on your campus were to condemn homosexual behavior publicly, but then the group made excuses when two students were having premarital sex. Something would be seriously wrong. The group would be condemned by their own standard if they were judged the way they judge others.

In the same way, one of the biggest mistakes we can make as Christians is spending our time thinking about the sins of people “out there,” while we turn a blind eye to the sin “in here,” in our hearts. This is Jesus’ first point: Remember that you will be judged by the same standard by which you judge others.

But does Jesus mean to say that we shouldn’t judge others at all? Take a careful look at the story of the log and the speck. Read again what Jesus says. What is his point? If Jesus’ point were that we shouldn’t judge at all, he would say that you shouldn’t take the speck out of your brother’s eye, ever. But that’s not his point, and it wouldn’t make sense if it were. Taking the speck out of your friend’s eye is a kindness to him.

Jesus’ point, as before, is that we will only be able to see clearly to judge our brother (in a good way) if we first examine ourselves to make sure we aren’t hypocrites.

Judging actions, not condemning people

There’s another careful distinction to make when it comes to judging. While we judge people’s actions, we do not condemn people.

The easiest way to understand this is to think about how Jesus treats us. Jesus clearly condemns all sin, all the actions we do that show that we love ourselves more than him. But Jesus doesn’t condemn us—that’s the point of the gospel! Instead of condemning us for our sins, Jesus forgives our sins.

But forgiveness doesn’t mean that Jesus stops judging that our actions are wrong. They are! That’s why our forgiveness cost his life! But forgiveness does let us escape from condemnation for our sins. Jesus still judges our sins as wrong, but he doesn’t condemn us for them.

The same is true for other people, even if they aren’t Christians. Jesus offers forgiveness to all, just as we should tell all people about the gospel. When we bear witness to the truth that certain actions are sinful, we are judging people’s actions, but we aren’t condemning them.

How, exactly, do we judge rightly?

What does this mean for Christians?

  1. We are no different than others! Even if someone’s behavior is wrong, we cannot condemn the person because we’re in the same boat! We’ve done what is wrong, but Christ forgave us. That person can be forgiven too by trusting in Jesus! He or she can’t be written off as a “reprobate” simply because of a particular sin.
  2. Remember the positive side to judging.  When we talk to people about their actions or others’ being wrong, we should always keep in mind, and mention, if possible, that the gospel offers forgiveness for sin. We are often afraid to share the gospel with people because many people don’t respect religious views. But if we don’t share the gospel, the only thing others will know about Christians is what we’re against.
  3. Our primary focus should be on our own sins. The sins we should be most concerned about are our own, not others’. If we don’t take care of our own sins, not only will people ignore us when we talk about others’ sins, we may actually find ourselves in the place of the Pharisees, outside of the Kingdom of repentance and faith in Jesus.
  4. Love for others must motivate us. We must show love to others as we bear witness about the truth. It can be easy to think that sharing truth is in conflict with loving people. Most of us are tempted to do only one or the other. But in fact, speaking the truth is an act of love, and love requires speaking the truth. When we come to others with Christ-like love, we don’t bash people over the head with truth, but neither do we paper over people’s sin.

Our sin is dangerous, and God does judge it as evil. But we must remember in our own lives, and in the lives of those to whom we speak, that God does not condemn a sinner who trusts in Jesus. Though our sin is worthy of judgment, and even condemnation, God offers forgiveness to us, and to all who will believe.

June 21, 2018

“As Executive Director of Cornerstone Counseling Ministries (CCM), a nonprofit Christian counseling center in Easton, PA, I noticed that many of our clients were searching for support with their sexual struggles. I also noticed that many individuals and families in our local congregations were struggling sexually. So I reached out to Harvest USA for help, and they provided our CCM staff and local church leaders with the resources and on-site training that we needed.

Sometimes, as counselors, we get stuck in ruts and focus too heavily on our clients’ symptoms. Harvest USA staff gave us a refresher course on exploring the heart issues underneath symptoms like sexual sin. This teaching was vital to remember the whole person we counsel.

With the help of Harvest USA’s Parents and Family Ministry, CCM is also coming alongside local churches to offer a support group for parents whose children are struggling sexually and a support group for men who are struggling sexually. It is our goal now to work with local churches so they become safe places for our clients to reconnect and find support.

I would recommend Harvest USA’s resources and training to others because they are a trusted source that provides a biblical perspective on walking alongside sexual strugglers with grace and truth.” – Maria Greco

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Maria’s story is a great encouragement to me. Harvest USA equipped her; now she is helping sexual strugglers and local churches. You can learn more about how our ministry impacted Maria, CCM, and the people of Easton by watching the video above.

We depend on your financial partnership to develop resources and training to equip people like Maria, nonprofits like CCM, and your local churches, so would you consider giving a special fiscal year-end gift of $50, $100, or more?

Every gift moves us closer to raising our $300,000 goal by June 30. With your help, we can impact lives, families, churches, and cities like Easton.

 

For the glory of Christ and the good of his Church,

 

 

 

Tim Geiger, President

Ellen Dykas explains why you should read the new harvestusa magazine on Women, Sexuality, and the Church.
Click here to view and/or download a copy of the Spring 2018 harvestusa magazine.

In a Christian home, when a child identifies as gay or transgender, the hopes of a parent for their child are dashed. How do I relate to this child who is not the child I raised? How will we get along, when I cannot abandon what God’s Word says about sexuality? Where do I go for help? Chris, who leads our Parents Ministry, talks about what to do. Then, read a story from one such parent.

Click here to read a parent testimony:  How I Love My “Suddenly Changed” Child

Growing up, my daughter was everything a parent could hope for. As a child, she was incredibly bright, sweet, compassionate, blessed with talent and best of all as a child accepted Jesus as her Savior.

During the early years of high school, she suddenly changed. I didn’t know my daughter anymore.

Today, here I am with a young adult daughter, who is same-sex attracted and engaged to be married. I remember the “phone call.” I suspected something was wrong. She lived in the city, but she came home most weekends, and we used to do things together quite often. Now she was always busy.

I hoped it was a new boy, but it wasn’t. Her name is Amelia*. My daughter knew exactly how I would react and I did just that. We cried, we talked, and then cried some more. She asked if I would still love her and speak with her. I told her I loved her even more.

And I meant that. After we hung up, I threw a temper tantrum, screaming, crying, slamming doors, and pounding the floor as I lay there begging God to change what had just happened. I was physically ill, not only for “poor” me, but for her as well.

I had been in the bottom of a well for five years with her while she struggled with drug and alcohol abuse. With the help of Christ, she was liberated from the substance abuse, but all the while struggled with anxiety. I didn’t have the strength to get down in the well with her and drag her out again. God didn’t intend me to do so. This was His battle, and it was already won.

The next day I called a Christian counselor. I thank God I did. The counselor warned me that Satan would make me fearful for my daughter and the future of my family. And he did try. But I was bolstered that day with Scripture and reminders of God’s love for my family and me.

One thing my daughter knew, I spoke honestly with her all her life. I was encouraged by friends to continue being who God made me, her mom, and I chose to do just that. When we had hard conversations, I used words with her like, “I’ve never had a same-sex attracted daughter, and I don’t know how this is supposed to go.” Today, I may think a situation should be one way and tomorrow God shows me something different. I always listen to her side, and in love tell her, that while man changes his mind as he pleases, God never changes, and I won’t reject His word.

The counselor warned me that Satan would make me fearful for my daughter and the future of my family. And he did try. But I was bolstered that day with Scripture and reminders of God’s love for my family and me.

I want to show my daughter and her friend the love and mercy Jesus showed me. I don’t deserve it, but He gives it to me anyway. My daughter’s friend is welcome in our home, but there are boundaries. We’ve discussed and agreed to them. Because of this difficult discussion, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner together. We agreed to continue having difficult discussions and refrain from connecting the dots for each other.

I continue to encourage my daughter in every way I have in the past—in her career, hobbies, and especially how I see Christ still working in her life. I love laughing and sharing funny stories with her. She is very creative and has an incredibly different view on life. I love that about her and let her know it.

God challenges me to keep my eyes on Him and life eternal in heaven, not my daughter’s sin. This is about who I am as a believer and how He wants me to live. I get it now. I still cry and feel afraid. Then I remember I was not created to be fearful. God gave this dear child to me as a blessing, and I trust Him. He is ever faithful.

 *All names and identifying information have been changed to protect the privacy of this family.


This blog was written by a parent who attends our Parent Ministry Support Group. She wishes to remain anonymous. If you are a parent who has a gay or transgender-identified child, and you want help from a Christian perspective from Harvest USA staff and other parents, email Chris Torchia at chris@harvestusa.org. Click here for Chris’s video: Gay or Transgender Child? Where Can A Christian Parent Go For Help?

Over at Affirming Gender Sam Andreades began mentioning something the media doesn’t talk about: stories of people who transition and the results are nothing like what they hoped for or were promised by our gender-deconstructing culture. This second post from Affirming Gender mentions several more people who did transition and later regretted it.

Here’s Sam’s post of Alternative Trans-Stories.

There is no shortage of stories in the media of how wonderful it is to transition from one sex to another. But the microphone never seems to be handed to the people who did transition and then came to see a better way for themselves.  This lack has been addressed by Pure Passion Media/Mastering Life Ministries in their 105-minute documentary, Tranzformed: Finding Peace with Your God-Given Gender, now available on DVD. I have posted before about alternative experiences, but this movie presents us with a cornucopia of stories of going all the way and back again.

The production inserts a few authorities speaking about the matter. These include a Reformed Theological Seminary professor — Go RTS! — and some great footage of Joseph Nicolosi before he died, combined with some helpful history narrative, but the real treasure is the fairly in-depth treatment of fifteen sincere souls, opening up their lives to us and explaining what took them into trans-land and how they traveled thence to gender affirmation. Spoiler alert: Jesus Christ plays a starring role.

The documentary features three times as many guys as girls, which is true to life in terms of the numbers suffering from gender dysphoria. The stories come from around the country. (Although, apart from Maine, the North East is unrepresented. A reason for this, perhaps?) They are all great, and all different.

We watch Walt Heyer’s story of his grandmother cross-dressing him from four years old and how being molested by his father’s adopted brother led to feelings so strange he felt sure that God could not understand them. When he finally made it to the top doctor in this area, he was advised after 45 minutes to get sex-reassignment surgery.

Yet all of them also tell how they came to understand their decisions to go transsexual as leading not to, but rather away from, a realization of who they really are

We learn from Diamond Bell, who was introduced on his paper delivery route to porn by his molester, and how he moved to she-male stuff after he tired of regular porn. We meet Jeffrey Johnston, repeatedly sexually abused by his Dad’s business partner; Daniel Jones, whose mother told him very young that he should have been a girl; and Paul Pickering, who was molested by his mother’s boyfriend from 5 years old to 12 years old, and unable to tell anyone about it.

We learn how, when Kerry Potter’s parents found Kerry cross-dressing in the bathroom, their condemnation wrapped his problem in a blanket of shame; how Daniel Diago, after escaping from his diabolical father, met the Drag Queens and was competing in pageants by 18 years old; how Joe Grant’s gender dysphoria led him to homelessness in Georgia, looking for a way to commit suicide; how Antonio Prodegy’s dad, fresh out of prison, sexually abused him, all the while telling him, “That’s the way a father loves his son.”

The movie lets us walk with Joseph Cluse, sexually molested at Catholic School, gang-raped in the Boy scouts, who went on to pursue the trans experience for affirmation; and Arlen Upshaw who learned that he could get much more of the attention he craved by being a girl.

The women’s side presents us with similar tears: how Kathy Grace Duncan learned early that it was bad to be a girl; how Susan Takata’s rape at ten years old left her with no sense of boundaries; how Joann Grace Harley became the child least wanted; and how Linda Seiler developed her obsession with becoming a man.

All of them saw Jesus Christ as patiently working with them, giving them a new identity.

All of these stories, though told without fanfare, are heartbreaking (and I haven’t relayed the half of it). But they are necessary to hear, as the tellers certainly see their path to transitioning to the other sex as a beginning in these tragic events and unaddressed wrongs.

Yet all of them also tell how they came to understand their decisions to go transsexual as leading not to, but rather away from, a realization of who they really are. All of them saw Jesus Christ as patiently working with them, giving them a new identity. He took Linda on an eleven-year journey of transformation. Jeffrey came to loath his implants. Daniel Jones saw his decision to transition as an act of selfishness. Kerry came to realize that he wanted to know God more than anything else. Diamond was accepted and loved by Pastor Abner just as he was. A man praying for Daniel Delgado told him that he was God’s son, and he felt like a brand plucked from the fire. Antonio had an eight-hour wrestling match with the Almighty. Susan’s pastor convinced her that she wasn’t a failure. The Most High became Pa-Pa to Joseph, and Daddy to Kathy Grace.

You really have not seen anything like this documentary. If we want gender dysphoria and transsexualism to be understood, don’t these stories deserve to be heard also?

Our friend Sam Andreades of Affirming Gender has a couple of posts on something you rarely read about in the media:  Stories of people who transition and the outcome was not what they were hoping for. These transition stories are important because they present a reality that the general media blithely ignores. Our culture’s aggressive push to disconnect gender from biological sex, rooted not in reality but ideology, does not always lead to “authentic lives” and happy endings.

Here’s Sam’s post of Transgender Regret Stories and Where to Hear Them.

Talk about regrets of folks who transition to the gender opposite to their body of birth is liable to draw a blank stare from people today, maybe from you too. What? You have never heard of anybody regretting such a decision (or, more painfully, their parents’ decision) to adopt a self-chosen gender? You think that there are only stories of happy, now-wonderfully well-adjusted trans-people who have finally found themselves?

A leopard changing its spots always goes well? Stop for a moment and think. You’ve never heard even one story of regret in the media? Given the novelty of surgical treatment for gender dysphoria, the prevalence of suicide and comorbidity even after the operations, and just the complexity of the matter, doesn’t that strike you as a little fishy? Even a little bit?

You can approach the question of trans-regret from a data perspective. (But if you rely on scientific studies for the answer, pay attention to:

1) Longitudinality—that is, the cohort of patients over a long period of time.

2) Sample preservation—that is, how many of the people they operated on remained in the cohort.

3) Who is doing the study and who stands to gain from the results.

In fact, dear reader, there are many stories of regret, from which you can learn a great deal. But in our current environment, it is only the very most courageous who will tell them publicly.

You can also approach the question from a qualitative perspective, just being willing to listen to people who have regrets. In fact, dear reader, there are many stories of regret, from which you can learn a great deal. But in our current environment, it is only the very most courageous who will tell them publicly. The silence is deafening because it is so strictly enforced. Even as late as ten years ago, you could find a roundabout regret story in the New York Times, even with the word “Regret” in the title. That won’t happen today.

Yet there are public places to listen. World Magazine, in a recent bold issue, lets some of those stories out of the box with some excellent reporting. That issue also introduces Walt Heyer, a living vocal testimony of regret and a long-time opponent of the use of body modification to address gender dysphoria. In an upcoming post I will review one of his books on its own, but you can check out his resources at www.sexchangeregret.com.

Another place to look is in the heart of Denise Shick, who founded Help4Families and has worked with transfolks for over fifteen years. While not the most culturally engaging book ever, her Understanding Gender Confusion is well worth reading. The last part gives you chapter-length testimonies of the gender dysphoric who have come back and how they were redeemed. Note the themes.

These are some of the places where one hears voices of regret, beyond the din. I also know some of these regret stories firsthand from those I have worked with and walked with. Though I am not at liberty to discuss these cases here and now, I can suggest one more place, the best place really–the real gender strugglers in your own life.

Gender dysphoria is only going to increase, which means that it will be more and more likely that you will encounter close friends or loved ones who have made trans-decisions, and those who, with time, regret them. Be open to the experience they will share. Be willing to be involved. Offer the hope that is available to all people who have serious sadness about what they have done with their lives.

The stories are there. We would do well to listen.

Harvest USA brings the truth and mercy of Jesus Christ by helping individuals and families affected by sexual sin and by providing resources that address biblical sexuality to individuals and churches.

Affirming Gender is a new blog site that Sam A. Andreades, pastor, author, and speaker, has put together to create an online forum to discuss issues of gender and transgender. Sam is the author of enGendered: God’s Gift of Gender Difference in Relationship, a biblical and engaging study of how God has given humanity the gift of gender, and of the difference that gender makes in relationships and the rest of our lives.

A few months ago, Sam gave us a rich, in-house teaching on gender and transgender issues, and all of us here at HARVEST USA want to commend his ministry in this crucial area. Check out his new website, and start thinking about and exploring gender in ways that are both biblically solid and, perhaps, different than you would think. That this is a discussion on gender we need to have now is an understatement, given that we now read almost daily about gender being immaterial to who we are as persons or changeable according to the opposite gender we would like to be.

Sam is giving us permission to post some of his blogs that we think help our followers to think through these issues in theological and pastoral ways. Get to know Sam…he’s well worth your time online.

Here’s Sam’s post on affirminggender.com, dated December 31, 2016:

 I saw it begin at Yale in 1980…

It was in the campus air. Women’s Studies had begun as a field, laying a groundwork for Queer Theory in the 1990s. The people in the know would introduce it slowly, of course, to make sure it wasn’t completely abhorrent. It was the program to tear down the gender binary.

I noticed it in the women’s styles. Long hair was out. Wearing short hair as a girl was a statement. The style was not just easier to brush, but an attempt to cut off any sign that women differed from men.

There are several reasons for the destruction of gender, but this was one. The two camps of academic second-wave feminism (1970s–1980s) were battling about whether to empower women by showing them to be capable of supposed masculine traits or to seek equality by valuing femininity and what women do, working to reconstruct society’s values to value what women are. Neither side won exactly, but the resulting synthesis was a program to obliterate any sense of difference between the genders.

Some women resisted the program. Feminist author-to-be Naomi Wolfe was different, of course. Her incipient tendency to be a gadfly was evident even then in her long, full, flowing, brunette mane, which she refused to cut. She was annoying people even then.

Later-to-be Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, had just left the law school seven years before, with her hair intact. But she learned there, as we were all learning, that baking cookies was sub-par—if you are a woman, that is. That a calling of making a home for a family was for losers. In the process, we were being taught to disdain our mothers for the stability they made in their homes for us, the stability from which we went on to our great achievements.

They were right about there not being a difference in scalp hair. Men and women’s hair both grow long unless it is cut. As the apostle Paul recognized so long ago (1Co 11:14-15), “the nature of things” in Roman culture gave women of that time glory in their hair, as in American culture of the previous decades. So whose hair is long or short is not a matter of gender.

And yet it was.

Because gender is about relationship, ultimately with the other gender. Shearing that cultural artifact was about defying a practice that expressed a complement to men. It didn’t matter whose hair was short, but it did matter that there was some cultural way of expressing difference. And that was the point. Difference was to be erased.

But gender is all about making a difference. That is why Paul instructs the Corinthians to use the cultural practice to express truth about gender in marriage (v. 16). Erasing all distinction between women and men distances them from one another. And then follows the big mistake of believing that women’s problems can be solved without men, without reference to men, in spite of men.

But that will never happen. And that is why this blog exists. To call us in a better direction. For when you lose gender in relationship, you lose gender.

Welcome to the Affirming Gender blog, Post #1!

Updated 5.12.2017

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