WASHINGTON — Declaring their testimonies of how Jesus has transformed their lives, formerly LGBT-identified young men and women gathered in Washington, D.C., Saturday for the Freedom March.
Gathered at the Sylvan Theater next to the Washington Monument for what has become an annual event in the nation's capital, the hosts of the march continue to see the Holy Spirit doing remarkable work in the lives of people who reach out to them.
Under mostly cloudy skies Saturday afternoon, Luis Javier Ruiz, a co-founder of the Freedom March and a survivor of the 2016 terrorist attack at the Pulse gay nightclub, recounted how the National Park Service had double-booked the Freedom March with another group called the Foundation for Creative Cultural Expression, an LGBT pride group. Though the double-booking was an accident on the part of the Park Service, Ruiz regarded it as a strategic God-move.
“A group of overcomers, free from the LGBT identity, now coming into a place where everybody here was for gay pride. I just love seeing the hand of God. Sometimes church is just too churched. This is part of evangelism, to bring people out so everyone can hear the Gospel,” Ruiz said in an interview with The Christian Post.
Live-streamed online to thousands and attended by 100 people, the ecumenical Christian event featured joyous worship music, prayer and the declaration of testimonies from those who once lived and identified as LGBT. Some described traumatic experiences from childhood and wounds from relationships that contributed to confusion about their bodies and sexuality. One man who shared from the podium described how he was sexually abused as a young child and was even trafficked. Through Christ, he was able to transform his life and he's now married to a woman.
Though statistics from reputable surveys have shown that many young people have fallen away from their faith — what some call "The Great Falling Away" — Ruiz believes God continues to be at work, drawing people into His family.
“What I love about this is that there are Baptists, Pentecostals, Catholics, all types of people coming together in the name of Jesus, saying that change is not only possible, but it’s real through Jesus. I get excited when I see an Adventist brother, a Church of God brother … it brings me so much joy to how the Lord is unifying the Body of Christ.”
Jeffrey McCall, who founded the Freedom March, said he's amazed by how the Lord is stirring among younger people. Since 2018, when the first march took place, their growing tribe of formerly LGBT-identified people has become especially close.
“We call each other, do Bible studies together, encourage each other … it has built a family, and it’s a young family,” McCall told CP.
McCall, who once lived as a trans-identified person named Scarlet and led a promiscuous homosexual lifestyle before encountering the Holy Spirit, said after he found Christ, he threw all of his women's clothing and makeup into a dumpster. In the past five years, he's observed how transgenderism and “gender identity” has consumed nearly everything, even among the LGBT groups. But he believes God is moving supernaturally and changing the minds of people.
“We were warned thousands of years ago [in Scripture] that the world is going to get darker, and so we have to be that light,” McCall said.
He added that while praying, he sensed God speak to Him about how the enemy mobilizes large groups to carry out his will, but the Lord can use a small remnant of people to execute His plans.
Sharing the story of Gideon, whose army of 300 men defeated the Midianites in the book of Judges, he said of the Freedom March: “We’re a small remnant doing the Lord’s will.”
Kim Zember, a board member of Freedom March, senses that the Holy Spirit has been drawing more people to hear about how Christ has transformed them and said churches are starting to do a better job of reaching people who identify as LGBT.
“As confusion is spreading throughout the nation and the world, not just within the LGBT community, but really just as a whole, people are seeking.”
Asked to describe what she sees God doing among the LGBT community and the Freedom March tribe, she replied: “To love His children back to His heart.”
She believes that a later shift has taken place within many churches. Until recently, Zember recounted that the moment she went to a church she was going to be told that what she was doing was wrong. “But I already knew that, but how do I walk this out? I’ve seen a massive growth within the Church desiring to be taught too. Leaders are saying: 'Can you help us?'”
"This is not rewriting the Bible," she assured. "This is ‘How can we walk with you?’ The Scripture says to bear one another’s burdens, not fix one another’s burdens. And so the Church is learning to bear one another’s burdens as we learn to do the same. That’s never celebrating sin, that’s never condoning sin. It’s bearing burdens because we know that when there is a heaviness that comes we’re supposed to bear that together."
McCall has long said that the march was partly inspired by the passage in Colossians 2:15 wherein the Apostle Paul explained how Jesus “made a public spectacle of [the demonic powers and principalities], triumphing over them by the cross.” In that same vein, following the worship and testimonies from the stage, those gathered marched from the Sylvan Theater and looped the reflecting pool near the Lincoln Memorial.