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Newfound Freedom, Joy, Peace, and Life

For over 30 years, I struggled poorly with my identity as a man as it pertains to sexuality, and I lived life trapped in the sin of homosexuality. I fought to “fix” myself and gain enough knowledge to do the right things to find the freedom I eagerly desired and knew God wanted for me. However, every effort I made found limited success, leading to a deeper spiral into sin over time and a decreased hope that I would ever be free.

I turned to several Christians in the church and Christian counseling, but what I found was not the truth of Christ. I was faced with those who thought the demon needed to be prayed out, those who enacted church discipline against me, those who thought I needed to pray and read more, and still those who didn’t want to get too close to the mess that was my life. This left me with a growing bitterness for the church, so I stopped attending for about a decade.

Then in 2010, out of His love for me, God sent a friend who invited me to church, and I got a renewed hope that God wasn’t finished with my life. The only problem was the conflicting messages from God’s people saying that I was too broken for God to fix. They didn’t necessarily speak this, they simply had attitudes saying they “didn’t want me around their children” and I was “certainly too much of a mess for them to befriend me.” It was okay that I came to church as long as my life didn’t bleed over into theirs.

I found myself more emotionally broken, trying harder to fix my life. Then, in 2012, my brokenness resulted in a lost job. Frustrated with life, I entered a one-year residential ministry for men wanting to grow in relationship to Jesus. I remained there for over 3 years and consistently heard of God’s grace and love. During that time, distractions of a job, phone, media, and transportation were set aside to allow me to see what was going on beneath the surface. I saw, that just like Adam and Eve, I believed lies that had formed over time. However, I continued to face messages of condemnation in the church.

Then, in 2016, God orchestrated a move back to the Tri-Cities and my college church home of Grace Fellowship. I knew I needed a small group to stay connected or I wouldn’t survive temptation I faced. Desperate to find a group, I walked upstairs to Re:generation one Monday night, and there, I found love, grace, and no condemnation by those in my group. As I met with God, He continually showed me His faithfulness and brought healing and renewal of my mind. Now, nine months into Re:generation, I have joy, peace, and purpose like I’ve never known! I am standing in deliverance from the homosexual lifestyle and living in the fullness of Jesus like I’ve dreamed for over 30 years! I realize this will be a life long journey, and look forward to continuing along the Ultimate Journey of being changed by and used by Christ. To God be the glory!

Barry Underwood 

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