Sunny Side of The Stream: Conference Offers Hope for Christians Seeking to Overcome Same-Sex Attraction and Other Identity Issues

At a previous HOPE conference, the letters F, R, E, and E are visible in the hair of an attendee who stands during worship.

By Aliya Kuykendall Published on June 1, 2024

Twenty-two U.S. states ban so-called “conversion therapy” for minor struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity. The District of Columbia even goes so far as to ban this form of aid for adults. This means pastors and licensed therapists cannot legally help people explore and address underlying issues related to homosexuality or transgenderism, and Christians are not free to pursue any form of therapy that will help them live in a way that lines up with their values.

The Restored Hope Network (RHN) is a coalition of ministries that helps those who want to overcome their feelings of same-sex attraction or gender confusion. The group’s annual HOPE conference, slated this year for June 21 and 22 at Jessup University in Rocklin, California, will feature biblical teaching and testimonies from people who’ve successfully overcome sexual sin and identity issues.

Speakers include:

  • Ken Williams — author of The Journey Out, a licensed pastor who journeyed out of homosexuality, and cofounder of CHANGED Movement, a community of friends who once identified as LGBTQ+ and now celebrate the love of Jesus. Ken has been happily married to Tiffany for nearly two decades and is the father of four children.
  • Melinda Patrick — Restored Hope Network board member. Patrick is the director of parent support for His Wonderful Works and host of the podcast, The Bridge Between Us: Loving Your LGBTQ-Identified Child Without Compromising Truth. Patrick’s daughter shared her experience of feeling same-sex attraction in 2011, which put the family on a journey Patrick didn’t expect. She understands what it’s like to grieve the choices of loved ones.
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  • Michael Laidlaw, MD — an endocrinologist in private practice in Rocklin, California since 2006. Laidlaw is an expert in hormones and became concerned in 2017 about a push to incorporate transgender ideas in the local school system. He wrote a 2018 article for Public Discourse, “Gender Dysphoria and Children: An Endocrinologist’s Evaluation of I Am Jazz.” He has spoken against transitioning children in California, Washington D.C., before the Florida Medical Board and before the British Parliament.
  • Sam A. Andreades, D.Min. — pastor, author of Across the Kitchen Table: Talking about Trans with Your Teen. Andreades found himself pastoring in New York City’s Greenwich Village, and led his church in engaging with the gay people around them in a loving and truthful way. This led him to found the Restored Hope Network affiliate, Higher Ground NYC, a discipleship group aiming to help Christians renew their minds in the midst of unwanted same-sex attraction. His 2015 book Engendered: God’s Gift of Gender Difference in Relationship grew out of his qualitative research on men who’ve struggled with same-sex attraction who are now married to women.

Ken Williams

Williams tells The Stream he plans to share his own testimony at the conference. A key theme in his own story and that of other overcomers is learning to know God as a loving Father.

“He’s good. That’s what happened to me,” he says. “I discovered how good He was and how kind He was.”

Sam Andreades

Andreades tells The Stream he will discuss Romans 1 and advise Christians how to deal with perversion in society: give grace to the perishing, build a theology of gender, roll out the red carpet to the repenting, and always expect God to move. He’ll also lead a workshop related to his book on talking about transgenderism with your teen.

Restored Hope Network affiliates serve those seeking the transformational, life-giving experience of submitting to Jesus as Lord in all areas of life, including their sexuality. Affiliates provide help through one-on-one or group care led by pastors or other believers; meeting with them in person, over the phone, or online; and discipleship care and licensed counseling. Network affiliates believe disordered feelings of sexual desire and identity originate from the sin nature and disordered development. Issues are dealt with through surrendering to God, resisting sinful desires, and allowing God to heal wounds of the soul through talk therapy, prayer, and the work of the Holy Spirit.

Anne Edward (formerly Paulk)

Despite what detractors and the mainstream media would have one believe, the Bible tells us change is possible — and many of the people who will be speaking at the conference, including Restored Hope Director Anne Edward, are here to tell that story.

“The last time I looked, we still live the United States,” Edward says. “Freedom to choose what to do with one’s life — and seek help that one wants — is a dearly held value. People looking for change should be free to find services and resources from counselors, schools, churches and ministries like ours to help them achieve their desired goals.

“We will remain here, fighting for their rights, even as governments try to disenfranchise them.”

Update on June 3, 2024: The dates of the conference were incorrectly listed as June 22 and 23 and have been corrected to June 21 and 22.

 

Aliya Kuykendall is a staff writer and proofreader for The Stream. You can follow her on X @AliyaKuykendall and follow The Stream @Streamdotorg.

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