Allen, Hod

My Journey to Worthy

I’ve been asked by many to share my story. Because it is a very personal one, I am able to see the miracles and the guiding of God’s hand as I look back where others may not be able to. I’m ok with that, but this is an acknowledgment to those who are reading that it may not be riveting or grand, but I assure you if nothing else, it is 100% true.

God called me to the ministry at an early age. I also knew that I was “different” from other boys when I was very young. I have often looked back with interest wondering which came first; God’s call to the ministry or my realization that I was gay. I do believe that the call to the ministry came second.

In my pre-teen years, I developed a serious phobia of death/funerals/graveyards etc. and felt that that fear would exclude me from the ministry, because there was no possibility of me standing that close to a casket to officiate at a funeral. That settled it in my mind: there would be no ministry for me. Then, when I was 14, a man died whom I deeply respected. I also loved and respected his wife. My family were leaving to attend the funeral and my parents, knowing my fear of death, had told me that my attendance wasn’t expected or required. I felt so ashamed of my fear and felt that my absence might offend or sadden the widow, so I asked them to wait a minute as I rushed to pray at my bedside that God would take my fear from me. Immediately, my fear disappeared, and I went to the funeral and have never had any fear of death since. This is the first time that God revealed himself to me: The God who hears children and answers their prayers. At the moment my fear disappeared, I also understood that my iron-clad excuse for not going into the ministry had also disappeared.

As a teenager, I reconciled my homosexuality with my Christianity by believing that God was being gracious to me by calling me to the celibate ministry as a solution to living my life honourably. God had convicted me that dating girls would be sinful because it would require presenting myself in a false light and I understood that allowing a girl to believe that I loved her (or allowing her to love me) would not only be sinful (because of the lies), but also very damaging and unfair both to the girl and to myself. I wasn’t so righteous that I didn’t try a couple of times anyway. I never got any further than holding hands with a girl at convention and then corresponding with her for a while. It made me feel so horrible and false and it terrified me to think of how I might convince her of my attraction if we were to ever get beyond hand-holding.

I’ll skip a few years here to just after my 23rd birthday when I was accepted into the ministry (I offered at 17 and then again at 22) and continued active for 3.5 years until I had a debilitating nervous breakdown. It manifested in the form of severe depression which I had never experienced before. At 26, I had never had so much as a “down day”. It was a life-changing event to say the least.

While in the ministry, I had a short “summer mission” with James Abbott, one of the older brothers in the area (he was 72) and witnessed his struggle with his nervous health. He was a difficult man to be with, and I had been warned of it beforehand. What I recognized is that he was in agony but was helpless to make any changes in his life because he had spent over 50 years in the ministry, and he knew nothing else. I could tell that he was trying very hard to be kind and gentle with me, but it spurred me to pray daily that if, for any reason, poor health would prevent me from being able to minister effectively, God would cause that to happen in my youth while it would still be feasible to choose a different path. This is the third time that God revealed himself to me. The God who hears and answers the prayers of young adults.

You are likely saying “Hod has forgotten to tell of the second time that God revealed himself to him”, but no… I had to tell it in that order because it flowed best that way. The 3.5 years that I was in the work were not always easy for me, but they were rich and full of revelation. I soon found that I loved preparing for every sort of meeting but especially gospel meetings because God was always waiting for me in that place of meditation. I would just open my bible and read some verses and then close my eyes and thoughts would rush in to my heart. I would look forward to Gospel meetings with anticipation, because I was never sure of what I was going to say until I opened my mouth and words would fall all over each other to get out. I was often surprised at what I ended up saying because sometimes, they weren’t even close to what I had meditated on before the meeting.

So, God revealed himself to me by drawing very, very near to me as I meditated and speaking through me as I spoke in fellowship meetings and gospel meetings. One time, in Newfoundland, my co-worker was sick, and I had to take a gospel meeting alone. He told me to open the meeting for testimonies, so I did that, but only a few of the congregation would speak, and I quickly understood that God had not called them to preach the Gospel. He had called me to preach the gospel. I began to speak at 25 minutes past the hour and the next time I looked at the clock, it was ten minutes to the next hour. I had spoken for 25 minutes without even noticing. God was very much with me.

After spending a year trying my hardest to be able to minister again, I went to my overseer and told him that I wanted to try again. He was so kind and said that he appreciated the willingness of my heart, and tears rolled down his face as he told me that he did not think it would be wise for me to continue in the ministry. He told me that some people simply did not have the nerve force for that kind of a life, and that I would be far better off to pursue a “normal” life. His tears are what convinced me that he had my best interests at heart, but I spent the next 4 years in hopes that I could return, all the while fighting depression and various physiological illnesses which made my life very difficult. I was finally able to accept the fact that I was never going to be able to return to the ministry, and that understanding freed me and allowed me to move on.

For my entire adult life (and a good part of my childhood) I prayed twice a day that God would make me “straight”, that He would “take the cup of homosexuality from me”. While I was in the ministry, I was so happy and receiving so much from God that denying my sexuality was easy. I was busy with what I saw as the most important work in all the world, so self-denial felt like nothing in comparison. I made that prayer daily regardless of my lack of struggle because I was so ashamed of that part of my identity.

I was terrified of what might happen if anyone found out. I had nightmares about someone finding out that I was gay and being put out of the ministry because of it. I remember sitting in a meeting at Freetown, PEI convention and noticing that a man (an elder of a church in New Brunswick) was staring at me very intently and I panicked as I irrationally assumed that somehow, he had me figured out and that I would be asked to leave the ministry in shame. Looking back, I expect he had severe stomach cramps and was trying to make it until the next hymn to go to the bathroom.

After I left the ministry behind me, I was left without a purpose in life, nor could I credit God with giving me the option to live my life honourably. He had taken that from me. I could no longer legitimately reconcile my homosexuality with my spirituality. My depressive episodes continued relentlessly, and I continued to pray that God would make me straight. I had proved before that He is capable of answering prayers; I did not doubt that He could, but I doubted that He WOULD answer this one, because, by this time, it had been well over 20 years that I had been praying for help with this issue and had not received so much as a whisper of an answer.

When I was 37, my answer did come, and it was not at all what I had expected. I had come to my wit’s end and went to Glen Valley #1 convention with an ultimatum for God. If I did not receive some sort of an answer about how to deal with my sexuality or if God did not remove it from me, or at least give me some consolation at that convention, I would walk away from it all. I don’t think I actually intended to turn my back on God, but I could no longer believe that God intended my life to be as miserable as it was.

In the first meeting, the key speaker stood up and began his message by saying “Have you prayed for something for many years and not received an answer, or even an acknowledgment from God that He has heard you? Have you asked for God to fix something or change something or cure something and He has offered no relief from whatever it is?”

My heart was hammering in my chest… every cell of my body was listening in case I missed the answer to my prayer.. this minister was answering my prayer! He went on to say “Perhaps you need to pray that God would help you to be content with whatever it is that you want changed or removed. Maybe it is there for a reason.” I have no idea what else that man spoke on, but as soon as the meeting was over, instead of going to lunch like everyone else, I went straight to my tent and got on my knees and said “Father, if this is what you want, help me to be content with how I am” and at that very moment, it was like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders…from my LIFE, and I “heard” God say (not audibly, but I “felt” the words) “I have not made a mistake”.

God revealed Himself to me for the fourth time very forcefully by answering a prayer that He literally instructed me to pray. He showed me that day that I was as worthy of His love and of living and loving just as much as everyone else on the face of the earth is. Those words “I have not made a mistake” have taught me so much and have had such a profound effect on my life since that day on my knees in my tent at that convention. Those words have allowed me to see so much more of the beauty of God that words could not possibly begin to tell.

I have not had any more than a random day of depression here and there over the years since that day. My severe depression stemmed from my belief that was horribly flawed and that I did not deserve to live life to the fullness that other people did…I did not believe that I was worthy of God’s love to the extent that he loved others by giving them life partners and families and fulfillment. What I have come to understand is that my whole idea of worthiness was wrapped up in God calling me to the ministry and once I was no longer in the ministry, my life had no meaning and no purpose. I know He called me there and richly blessed me while I was there, but He wanted to show me that my salvation, His love for me, His acceptance of me had nothing to do with my calling to the ministry. It has been a wonderful journey of slow understanding on my part, but each step of the way has been just another, deeper understanding of the beauties of His love and my worthiness of it. Not worthiness because of anything that I’ve done, but because He has loved me from the foundations of the world.

I continued going to meetings until the summer of 2022. I stopped going because someone took issue with the fact that I was a homosexual with full part in meetings. I do not know who that person is, and it doesn’t matter. I had decided years before that if such a thing were to ever take place, I would take it as my cue to leave. I loved the Sunday morning meeting I attended, and I still do, and God has continued to lead me into clearer vision and deeper understanding since I left. I’m blessed with a loving partner who has taught me so much about love and respect which fits so perfectly with the love and respect of God.

The God that I have known and loved my entire life is not a god which creates someone with the capacity to love and then forbids them of that love under threat of hell fire. God has taught me through life experience that no one can be Hod as perfectly as Hod can, and that living authentically is honouring God in the most basic and loving way possible. I learned early on in my journey that denying others the privilege of knowing my authentic self inhibits relationships from growing any deeper than just the very surface. God wants us to enjoy deep, meaningful relationships while we are here on earth, for that is how we learn of Him and grow in love.

Thank you for reading this far. Whether you believe me or not is not important…the important thing is that you believe that you are worthy of God’s love.

By Hod Allen
Vancouver, BC Canada
December 2, 2023