A Courageous Lion

Courageous LionI wrote this blog in September of 2009 and am reposting it again in honor of “Makoto”. He was indeed a Courageous Lion and fought all of his battles with the strength and courage of a lion. I’m very sad to say he fought his last battle and is now gone home to be with the Lord.
His cancer returned and he died two days ago.
Makoto had friends all over the world and he taught the gospel to many people, some who accepted Christ and have in turn taught, and continue to teach others.

Sunday we had a guest speaker in our bible class. He is a friend of Russell and Jennifer. I first met him when he visited our congregation a few months ago. He is a very courageous man. He shared the sin he has been struggling with for many years. I applaud his courage and his honesty and I would like to see more people in the church sharing the things that can be so difficult to carry alone. This man, I will call him Makoto, which is a Japanese name meaning sincere and honest.

Makoto (now 37) was diagnosed with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in Japan on April 6th, 2001. He returned to Oklahoma one week later and within three weeks began chemotherapy. He went into clinical remission after six months of chemotherapy and then had a stem cell transplant. He also went through a rejection phase which affected his heart and his skin as well as caused his muscles to atrophy. He spent nearly four years in physical therapy to build his muscles/strength back up. He celebrated his 7th anniversary from his stem cell transplant on November 19th, 2008. (If my memory is correct he also had heart surgery).

Makoto told us that while never engaging in the homosexual lifestyle, he struggles with being sexually attracted to men. He shared events in his life that he believes caused him to have this struggle; and he also told us the first time he shared this with some of his church family that he was not received well at all and basically was encouraged not to talk about it or discuss it. That made me very sad for him.

Makoto shared a lot of information with us about support groups for men and women who struggle with this as well as several books on the subject, and an organization Exodus International, which is a nonprofit, interdenominational Christian organization. Exodus International promotes “the message of Freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ.”

We should not reject those who need our love and support simply because their sin isn’t the same as ours. It may be out of our comfort zone and we may not have the answers they need, but we can listen, pray with them and love them. This is why we need to be open and honest with each other. For example, I wouldn’t be the best person for someone to come to if they have a problem with pornography. I have never been interested in nor do I have a desire to view or read that kind of material. It is not an area of weakness for me. One the other hand, if someone tells me they are struggling with drugs or alcohol; then I’m your gal. “Been there, done that”! I can absolutely identify with that struggle and I can offer my support and I know exactly how strong the pull is.

Everyone in our congregation knows that I have battled that in my past. I have never kept it a secret and I have been able to encourage others who may have that battle in their life. If we, as brothers and sisters in Christ cannot trust each other with the very sins we struggle with, and if we cannot hope for encouragement and support, then I ask, who do we turn to and where do we go?

Is Makoto’s sin bigger than yours, bigger than mine? If it is, please show me in the bible where God has said one sin is bigger than another. Sin does not come in shapes, sizes and colors.  Makoto is a Christian, he loves God and he knows homosexuality is a sin to God. That is why he has not given in to his desire to partake of that sin.

I was so moved with compassion when Makoto shared his story. He told us that the suicide rate is very high for those who struggle with this, and especially for teens. The peer pressure from the world is “do what you want”. One is almost considered “abnormal” if you aren’t involved in some sort of sexual activity. It can be terribly lonely if you feel you don’t belong or don’t fit in, and rejection is extremely hurtful.

Makoto is not alone in this struggle. What would you do and what would your group do? I hope to hear from many of you and I hope that your church family  is one that would show compassion and love and be willing to teach them what God has to say about this subject and any subject contrary to what God wants for us.