As far back as I can remember there was this different feeling inside me that attracted me to the same sex, I can remember being 5 or 6 and thinking why can't I be a woman? Then I could get married to a man. The draw was already there and there was nothing I could do about it. As I grew older I went through the phase of having posters of men on my bedroom walls. Mom and Dad never questioned, and I guess they just thought that was what a teenager did.
I had my first experience with a guy at the age of 12; nothing to write home about but enough to know I liked it. But on the other hand, I knew my parents would kill me if they ever found out. So that's about the time I started getting into church, I had been in the church every minute the doors were open, but had never accepted Christ as my savior. On July 16, 1969 I ask Christ into my life. I believed that God was going to immediately change everything that I felt inside. Heck, that's what the preacher, Sunday school teacher, and parents said, so why not believe it? So as time went on, I just suppressed everything that I felt inside, assuming that if I got involved in church, surely God would take away these feelings that I had. So around the age of 16, I help start a youth choir at church, started up vacation bible school, and started taking piano lessons so I could be more involved with the church. Soon I even helped lead an adult choir at church and continued to volunteer for just about anything there was to do. During that time, I thought I had to do more to please God so he would take this away from me.
I was involved in sports in Junior & High School. Between basketball, church and all the other High School activities, I didn't have time to wonder about anything else. Like all the other basketball players, I thought the more I made it with the girls, the better off I would be. Heck, I didn't know anyone else around me that felt the same way. So I started dating girls and having sex with them I told myself that I had to like it (everyone else did), and maybe this was a phase that I was going through.
As my Senior year ended, I was still having problems. My Father got sick and he wasn't able to attend my graduation, which was really sad for me. As the next few months passed, it made me feel guilty because maybe it was God punishing my Dad for the things I was thinking. So after graduation I took Dad back and forth to the doctors a lot. We honestly became real close. Dad decided to buy me a organ for my 18 birthday even though my Mom didn't want me to have it. It was Dad who encouraged me to play the piano for a local gospel group. I remember him saying God has given you this wonderful talent, use it. But that December, my life suddenly came to a halt. Because on December 27, 1974, I lost what I had just really discovered and learned to treasure -- my father. I went through a lot of things at that time, thinking maybe God had done this to punish me for the things I was thinking.
Well, as the next two years went by, my best friend in High School came out to me. I was nervous and yet kind of glad. I had found someone that felt the same way I did. What a relief, yet all along I was dating a girl that sang in the Gospel Group that I played with. During that time, I ran into so many men that were in the same shape I was in, wanting the same as I did, but were afraid or didn't know what do. I guess they felt the same way I did. I remember a night in May of 1977, a friend took me to this bar. I had gone to High School with her and had gone up to see her for a Saturday night. I remember we had gone to several bars that night, all straight, and this was all very exciting for me as I had never been to a places like that before. But as the night just about ended, she said heck, let's go to one more just off-campus place. They have some wonderful entertainers. I thought, cool, just another place among many that I had never been into before. We walked in, it was dark, and there was this show going on. I was shy back then and didn't notice the people. I just looked at the girl singing and said, what a beautiful girl. My friend looked at me and started laughing. Randy, she said, you really need to get out more. That is a man and this is a Gay bar. I remember looking around and seeing all these men and women hugging on each other. The first though came to my mind was, God is going to send a bolt of lighting down on me here for being in such a place. I was scared to death, and as my friend calmed me down I got to thinking -- man, all these people are like me and thinking the same things I did.
Of course, I left that night and went home. The next morning, I was at the altar repenting of my sins. But you know, as the week went on I just kept thinking about what I had seen. More people like me. You know what, the next weekend was Memorial Day and I was up there in that bar by myself. I did not have the nerve to go and talk with anyone. If they came and talked with me, I was very short with them. I think they thought I was stuck up, and that wasn't even the case, just nervous. Well, I spent the next few months just going when I had the chance, finding more about this lifestyle. It was so interesting to find more people just like me.
Well about the time I was dealing with all that, I was also trying to be what my mom wanted me to be. I had start having more sex with the girls, not that she wanted me to do that, but plan ahead for my wife and her grandchildren. I was dating, and just about the time that I came to the knowledge of what and who I was, my girlfriend came and told me she was pregnant. Well, the only thing I could see was God trying to show me something--I was supposed to be married and have kids, and what else could it be? We were married one week after my 21st birthday. I knew down deep I would never be happy, but I was doing the Christian thing. The next June my son was born and we named him Adam. Adam was born with a birth defect. Again I thought God was punishing me by giving him this hair lip. I can remember saying, God, have I been this bad that you would take this out on my child? So I said I am sorry, God. Just make Adam better and I will do better. I will be husband, father and anything You want me to be. In September, Adam was scheduled to have what was the first of three surgeries throughout his life to fix his hair lip. I remember praying that morning, God take care of Adam and his surgery, because for the past several months I completely stayed away from anything that had to do with the other lifestyle. Well Adam's surgery went well. Praise the Lord! After surgery, I left the hospital and went to check on my mother; she had been very sick. Once I got to the house she said her left arm was numb. We rushed her to hospital. They told us so many things that could be wrong. After a week in hospital, we took her to a Chattanooga hospital where they said she had a brain tumor and recommended doing surgery in two days.
I remember being at work and talking to my Mom. She told me she was going to have to have surgery, and that the doctor had come in and told her without anyone there to be with her. I can remember that day like so many other days driving down the interstate crying, saying: this must surely be my punishment because I have been so bad and God was not pleased. He was going to do whatever it took to get ahold of me. I remember praying to God as I drove to Chattanooga: just give me the tumor. I rather rather just go ahead and die. My mom was a super person. I wish that I could just have a small part of her personality, warmth and caring that everyone loved and admired in her. So the next few months for me was a living hell. I hated everything. I resented God for what I was feeling inside of me. I hated God for doing this to my mother; she hadn't done anything--I had. I was just miserable inside. We had our ups and downs over the next few months untill it got to the point we knew Mom didn't have long to live.
I remember one evening Mom said: close the door. I want to talk with you by yourself, with no one else listening. She told me that life is so short and that she knew I was unhappy. That I would have to learn to love myself before I could make anyone else happy. And that I should listen more to the Holy Spirit and not as much to men. She knew that I was "special. " She didn't understand but trusted God in my life. She also said during that time: "Keep God first in your life and everything you do and you will come out shining. " As I sat there I was just thinking how much I was going to miss her; it was always Mom that stood beside me. Maybe not understanding, but because she loved me. As long as I live, I will never for get those words she gave me that night. I never spoke with her again. She slipped into a coma that night and passed away on July 16, 1979.
From there my life really started to change. I knew that I could no longer be married, because it wasn't me, and I knew that I had to be me. Still not understanding how God worked in this plan, but to be happy, I had to do this for me. In November 1979, I divorced my wife. What a relief. I was still down on myself, but I felt happy even though through it seemed like my entire family had turned their back on me. I could only remember "Keep God First. " Right after that I started going to this little country church: I was scared to death that they would find out about me. One night, the pastor, after preaching the message went to the altar. He stayed there what seemed to be a hour; it was probably 10 to 15 minutes. He got up from the altar and came and sat beside me and said, "I have heard things about you, and I asked God if they where true and if we could use you here. God just told me to use you. " After he left I thought "God told him to use me." God knows what I am. In my mind, I was thinking now that doesn't makes any sense, but I went along with it and thanked God for letting serve him by playing the piano.
It was about a year after mom died that I met this man of my dreams named Carl. When we first met, I knew I loved him. I knew what poets and song writers where describing in their words. I was obsessed with him; I was fulfilled by him. I felt like I was the person I was always meant to be whenever we were together. My heart would race when I even thought about him. It was far more than a physical desire, it was an emotional completion. I had never experienced anything like it. Hearing the preacher preach God's condemnation of the homosexual lifestyle while I was playing the piano in the same church was not hard for me, but people were talking. I stopped playing the piano for the church because of what they where saying. The next several years I would be in church awhile, then leave for awhile, all because of guilt. I repeated this back-and-forth pattern several times just trying to make myself and Carl happy. As I look back now, I realized God was with me throughout it all because He had plans for me.
In April 1994 the most exciting thing happened that change my entire life. I had been going to a local church on most Sunday mornings to get filled and the teachings of Christ. Well it so happens I went back that night, having a lot of problems with home and my partner. I told God that tonight is the night. I was praying, singing and worshipping Christ. I said, "God, I am not leaving this place till I get a answer!" I must have that answer tonight: is it Right or Wrong? Well about that time the pastor said: "Randy, come up here! God has a word for you." I thought, "Yeah, the pastor has heard about me he going to cast the demons out of me." Like they haven't tried before. I went up he said, "I don't know what is going on with you Randy, but God does. He says you must go to him through the spirit and pray to him through tongues. " I had never done that before but the pastor said "You have come so close before but cut if off. Before you had been afraid of it. Well tonight, if you want a answer you must have faith all the way even through prayer!" So I started praying, crying and worshipping with my hands raised and all I remember was I was started praying in tongues, and after I finished, all the pressure that I had was lifted away. Now here is the best part of it all--a man who had been praying with me started giving me a message through tongues and a gentleman besides him interpreted. The message I got from God was this: "Child, no longer fear what man has taught you; start listening to what I have to say. I created you as I created you, not by mistake but for a plan, and that plan is to tell my children that have been cast out and felt not loved that I love them. Have no fear, from this day forward I will give you a tongue to speak freely of the love that I Have for each of my children(and He has). From this day forward I will put people in front of you to witness (and He has) Let the people see Jesus in you when you speak and when you pray; be a ray of light for others (and that does happen). If you follow my lead I will have great rewards for you in heaven as well as on the earth." And you know what, I have never been the same since that day. Totally awesome is God.
After that night I prayed to God and asked what can I do? I believe that He started the ground work for what is now called Hope For All Ministries. God led a person into my life within the next few weeks which I will never forget, Dolly Hamby -- a pastor and friend who prefers to simply answer to 'Sister Dolly'. Sister Dolly helped me start a small bible study. I remember meeting her and her partner Kay for the first time; it was love at first sight. Through that bible study we realized that God was working. During the next 7 months, God moved and the Devil tried to destroy it. In December, God laid on the hearts of some of the Bible study group to start a new church and name it Hope For All Ministries. I can remember thinking: WOW, how totally awesome is our God. We started praying, then decided that the first Sunday in January would be our first service.
I couldn't wait, but then something else also was happening in my life. The Devil didn't like what was going on and knew and hated what God had planned for me. On December 27th, the anniversary of my father's death, the pain of loss came over me again. My partner of over 14 years chose that day to tell me that he was leaving. My life came to a halt and for a short while the old self came back in and thought, "What did I do now, God?" Let me say that during the 14 years with Carl, I learned and made mistakes, but I would never take back the years that I shared with him. He will always will hold a special place in my heart that I know will never go away. Through those years he put up with a man that was scared to really give love as much as he did, and always tried to understand the things that I was going through. You know, sometimes we do not understand God's plans with our lives, but after a lot of my prayers, and prayers from church members and many tears, I knew and felt the calling of God. He knew what he had planned for me with Hope For All Ministries, and so I accepted His call and went on doing His work.
Since the start of the church, I have become more of what God wants, still learning more everyday what God wants for my life. I have been able to talk and come out to several close friends, though with my blood family I have not been able to talk much about it. I will continue to pray for them for understanding. The most important person that I ever came out to was on February 15, 1997. It was a long night, and after talking with my son Adam about how things were going on in his life, I decided that at 18, it was time he knew what was going on in his Dad's life. I just trusted God to make it O. K. When I told Adam, he just grinned and said he knew and that it didn't matter to him and that he loved me, and not to be ashamed of who I was. He was proud of me! All my fears had ended. God touched both our lives that night and because of that we have become closer than ever before.
If you are out there today and reading this testimony, remember this is Randy's relationship with God. Nobody's else's. You must go to God and let God teach you through the spirit how to wipe out man's teaching and let the Holy Spirit work through you. If you are wondering, "Can I do this?" Let me challenge each one of you to give God a chance. You cannot make it happen. I didn't choose to be Gay, no more than a heterosexual chooses to be straight; it just is. It's like telling a heterosexual after he goes to the altar and gets up, he must be gay now. It doesn't work that way, God doesn't work that way. So go to Him just as you are. Test God, try God, the Bible teaches us that, and see God work in your life. He has in mine.
Yours in Christ