Tag Archives: Living Waters

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture
Living Waters

Reach

‘Remember not the former things…behold the new!’ (Isaiah 43:18)

Living Waters is a long narrow cross-walk that always opens to Life. To be sure, it can hurt to face the uneven, perilous ground on which we were at once victim and perpetrator, oblivious to both! Eyes open now, we flinch at the poor choices we can still make in light of the Risen Christ. Growing up is hard, and dodging His call to follow onto solid ground offsets the weight of decisive obedience. Yet here lies our cure, our happiness: surrendering to the luminous Christ, His wounds yet visible, who alone has power to transform weakness into creative communion.

That’s why the transformation of persons with same-sex attraction will always remain the prophetic core of Living Waters. Only a third of our people struggle in that way, but those who discover Jesus in the depth of historic yearning for same-gender completion become the strongest, most sensitive lovers of the other sex. As such, we harmonize with Leanne Payne: ‘The healing of the “homosexual” is the healing of all persons.’

Case in point—after a passionate, liberating day at the cross in Manila where we faced the dishonor we incurred and extended to our ‘better’ half, I felt that we needed to celebrate the fruit of our suffering—the evidence of how Jesus trains the faithful to reach beyond personal healing into interpersonal gift-giving. His passion reclaims and realigns our passions!

That night, I asked two Asian couples (Filipino and Chinese) to share candidly of how Jesus through Living Waters communities in their lands helped forge family life out of what the world (and worldly church) would define as pretty raw material. Gratefully, Jesus has overcome the world.

As a young teen, Jerry received hope from his pastor that someday he would thrive as a husband and father. Sexual abuse, same-sex attraction and a promiscuous young adult life that resulted in an HIV diagnosis shattered the prophecy. In his late thirties, Jerry staggered into a Living Waters group to make peace with God. Sue—a leader on the team–did not like men as a rule due to historic wounds but she liked Jerry and somehow knew this was her guy.

After the group ended, Jerry and Sue began to date and he grew rather quickly in love with her; he began to fight for her honor. He won her over and after good counsel they married and immediately became pregnant. Sue released an egg from a medically-pronounced dead ovary, and the child (and mother) remains HIV-free. They can hardly wait for a second child.

Ben met Sara, a native Chinese woman intent on overcoming despair over the failure of men in her life, at the first Living Waters group in their big city. He had just arrived from America to fulfill an early call to serve China. Overwhelmed by the challenges of language, culture and tent-making, Ben barely remembers meeting Sara at that group. His first couple years were a dark night of just getting by, with intermittent return to porn use and lots of self-pity. By God’s grace, he rallied and forged a healing community to support his recovery, which had started years earlier in a Living Waters group in California. He began to pray: ‘Lord, I need a beautiful, smart, empathic wife if I am going to make it here.’ (I love the fact that Ben knew his SSA deterred not from the gift he was and needed to offer!)

He re-met Sara at a party and knew she was the answer to his prayer. They discovered a common language and commitment to wholeness; they soon married and now can attest to how much richer and expansive their lives are together. ‘We can simply give that much more to others.’ They are expecting their first child in a few months.

Jesus reclaims our pretty good broken lives and refines them in the fire of love. He asks us to reach beyond what we’ve known in order to discover the fullness of His will for our humanity. That always involves knowing the gift we are and giving it away.

Please take time to watch our new video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

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India Living Waters

India: God Answers

‘The poor and needy search for water but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst, but I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them…’ (IS 41:17)

It was a good sign. As I greeted my Thai colleague Sue and team at the Kolkata Airport, I looked behind her in line and saw a dozen Missionaries of Charity (St. Teresa’s team) gleaming in white robes, their eyes bright with Jesus as they awaited baggage check and a fresh advance in another region. We walk the path of blessed pioneers.

As Abbey and I motored our way up a dusty mountain to our destination of Shillong in the upper north of India—a finger of land surrounded by Bhutan, Myanmar, China, Nepal, and Bangladesh—I noticed roadside dust and clamor growing green as we ascended a mile high up the hills. Teeming with life, the city beckoned to us; after 40 hours of travel, we felt that strange blend of exhaustion and exhilaration and decided to walk to our first meeting.

What a reunion! Our hostess/leader Bobby is a dynamic, faith-filled wife and mother who simply believes God for the needs of persons in her city: she has started citywide outreaches to the poor, an orphanage she still runs, and now wants to ensure that the deep and often shame-shrouded needs of fellow Christians are met in a safe, merciful and effective way. Living Waters! She travelled twice to Thailand and once to The Philippines in order to raise up a team, and there they sat in front of us now, waiting to pray for our advance: beautiful, humble men and women who were growing whole together, now primed to release healing to others.

India Living Waters

Bobby and Family

Bobby recalled: ‘I was unsure if India was ready for Living Waters. We are an honor, family-based culture: we don’t talk about sexual matters or family wounds—these might dishonor loved ones. But when I returned from Thailand and told friends what I heard, they all started sharing deep, hard things. I realized that whether we like it or not, we need Living Waters!’

Before our first gathering, two fun things happened. Bobby gathered a group of pastors with whom we dined and discussed these issues. Their leader, Pastor Hamlet, reminded me of John Wimber—both wise and merciful men whom God blessed as founder/leaders of thriving denominations yet who only wanted to build up the whole body of Christ with the healing power of Jesus. Like Wimber, Hamlet prefers the Kingdom over church government. I love him.

Soon after our lunch I went for a long run up and down the narrow streets of Shillong and noticed an array of Catholic and Protestant institutions. I then discovered that Catholics had invested huge amounts of energy over the last several hundred years to bring the Gospel to these people—the Khati—and have left an array of schools and educational offerings for them. Further, Welsh missionaries landed there in the early 20th century, burning with the flames of revival ignited in Wales a decade earlier. This city is ready for Living Waters. I was so excited that I started running with a group of Indian soldiers and raced them to their barracks, tying for first with a man one-third my age.

Our conference was full of Jesus, tender and powerful in mercy to meet people in profound areas of need. We preached the truth of our own being-healed lives through the power of the Cross; signs and wonders followed. Like Ezekiel in the temple, the water levels kept rising. Because family is so crucial here, sons and daughters who were already receiving healing from Bobby and team brought parents who began to confess their wounds and failures. Families were being healed before our eyes.

I called up all persons who wanted to help release Living Waters in India; nearly everyone arose. Immediately I thought of Isaiah 41 where the prophet voices God’s commitment to answer the stifled cries of His people: ‘I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs’ (IS. 41: 18). As I shouted out these verses, I wept for I realized in a small way we were fulfilling God’s promise to the poor and needy. I saw waters cascading down the green heights of Shillong, throughout the thirsty byways of India.

Please take time to watch our new video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

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Humble Priest

Humble King

I sent out a series of questions to my favorite priests and Rev. Msgr William J King who runs a Living Waters group in his parish responded. Excellent priests exist and deserve our prayers.

“Dear Andrew, your email is a source of grace. Thank you.  It is a blessing for me to be spiritual director for a few priests and to work with the accountability group that you have met.  These inform my responses, below…

1. How has the ongoing exposure of your fellow priests impacted you?

I grieve for them, for many priests are disillusioned especially by a perceived absence of concern and fraternal encouragement from their bishops. Personally, I share that disillusionment and I am, frankly, angered by the dearth of leadership shown by our bishops.  I am different, I suppose, than most priests, since I spent 28 years in diocesan administration, with 24 of those years directly involved in these cases.

2. How can we the laity pray for you in this season?

Pray that we never lose confidence in a loving Father who called us to priesthood and sustains us in the likeness of His Son.  Pray that we never withdraw from being Christ to others, with confidence and hope and love instead of fear.

3. What for you is the worst aspect of this exposure? the best?

The worst aspect by far is the unrelenting, unremitting, unrepentant single-minded focus of the secular media on decades-old abuse within the Catholic Church, while turning a blind eye to current abuse in schools and other churches.  The obvious bias is ignored.  I wonder, where are the Catholic leaders who ought to be standing up publicly and pointing out this obvious and unjust focus?  Can anyone really and truly believe that abuse of minors, or inept handling of reports of abuse, occurred only in the Catholic Church and nowhere else?  Yet, this laser-like focus continues, without distinction between cases 40 and 50 years old, and cases today which are handled totally differently.  The unremitting reportage in this vein is having a clear impact on our people, even our most loyal parishioners, whose loyalty and confidence in the leadership of the Church is eroded by the constant reporting and repeating of stories involving old cases.

The best? I am completely confident that our loving Father will raise up saints in the midst of this crisis — saints to lead us into a new era of holiness and purity.  This crisis is also purging the Church of toxic clericalism, which starts with the implicit notion that priests and only priests should perform certain functions, and leads to a desire to focus on the institution of the Church rather than the people. This was one of the principal mistakes we made who were involved in handling these cases — we looked to the safety of the institution instead of feeling, truly feeling, the hurt and vulnerability of the survivors of abuse.

4. Might you give us keys you employ to stay present to Jesus and others amid what may be a new temptation to discouragement?

I beg the Father for the grace to see others as He sees them, not as I do.  When I offer the Mass, especially in holding the sacred body of Christ and His most precious Blood, I consciously call to mind the victims or survivors of abuse and pray that Our Lord unite their pain to His.

5. How have the rumors of a ‘gay’-infested curia impacted you? Is there a homosexual problem in the priesthood or do you perceive this to be a smear campaign?

The rumors are based on fact. My experience in diocesan administration has brought me into contact with this reality.  I am angered by this objectively, and yet I have seen the loneliness and isolation of priests in curial positions and other positions within the Church. At times I have given in to discouragement, to the point of entertaining (only briefly) the idea of pursuing a profession or career other than priesthood. The Father’s faithfulness calls me home as soon as discouragement enters my feelings, and I am grateful for that. I find myself refocusing my priestly ministry away from diocesan and Church matters and more toward individuals, and so I am extremely grateful for the spiritual direction in which I am engaged, and for ministries such as Living Waters in which grace is evidently overpowering the negativity.

6. As men not immune to temptation, has this crisis prompted you into finding new or renewed ways of ensuring clarity and accountability in your own commitment to chastity? Might you describe how you go about this?

I hear a renewed invitation to personal prayer and to prayer on behalf of brother clergy and for survivors of abuse. I find myself more ready to turn feelings and thoughts of impurity into intercessory prayers for victims of sexual abuse and pornography — a prayer for those whose purity was injured involuntarily..

7. Explain any risk you see in this season of priests fearing exposure for moral weakness and thus being more likely to hide from authority.

Priests are in fact reluctant to seek help from their bishops, fearing that self-disclosure will lead to removal from ministry. This fear, sadly, is based on actual action against priests who have self-disclosed and sought assistance in recovery.

8. How can priests best facilitate a culture of accountability and healing that will prevent sexual immoralities?

Priests must find other priests, and trusted laity, with whom they can be themselves: socialize, find enjoyment in healthy relationships, as well as discuss their own vulnerabilities.  Priests are, almost universally, lonely and overwhelmed by their inability to do everything they believe they must do in order to be “good” and effective priests.  This is a result of a misguided metric of what “success” means in priesthood: home visits made, classrooms visited, parish income, Mass attendance, hospital rounds, filling the obligation of the Liturgy of the Hours — when any of these fall, priests too often judge themselves to be failures and “self-medicate” their feelings of inadequacy through impurity, unhealthy relationships, pornography, or alcohol. This culture of equating overwork with success can be undone only by cultivating healthy and mature friendships within the priesthood and among laypeople. A healthy and life-giving prayer life follows, but I believe that it is the fruit of healthy and life-giving personal friendships, which can them model and promote a healthy friendship with God, and the embrace of a loving Father.

9. What good do you pray will result from this season of exposure?

A better-focused leadership in the Church, less concerned with the size and health of the institution than with the holiness of the people and faithfulness to the Father in abject dependence on His Providence.”

Please take time to watch our new video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

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conversion therapy

Nature Rebels

Nature rebelled at our Living Waters Training in Malibu Canyon last week. Charred by the Woolsey Fire just months earlier, the land struggled to absorb five days of driving rain. A stream on the property became a flood as the 20 member team prepped for the arrival of 35 participants. Upon arriving late, I called Dean Greer who calmly informed me that the team had been ordered to evacuate; as he (and Wayne, bless you man!) led the caravan out through the emergency exit, mud slid from the hills and rocks crashed down around them.

On the home front, the rebellion of human nature escalated. A ‘gay married’ actress on television railed against ‘conversion therapy’ as the reason why a young black actor (also ‘gay-identified’) was roughed up by thugs in Chicago a few days earlier. Her theatrical charms overrode any semblance of logic and the audience blew out the studio with cheers and applause. Desert Stream Ministries was pelted by requests from various media sources to weigh in on ‘conversion therapy’ as I awaited Dean’s next phone call.

I was struck by the insanity of demonizing any person who seeks to be reconciled to one’s gendered self and become fruitful. I reread an excellent article by a doctor who pointed out how supporting another’s effort to ‘change’ gender is nothing short of abuse, rendering the person infertile, mutilated, and severely depressed. I responded to one newscaster inquiring about the dangers of ‘conversion therapy’ with this paragraph:

‘As ‘conversion therapy’ has no actual meaning except to scapegoat persons who choose to grow beyond ‘gay’ and ‘trans’ identification, we at Desert Stream Ministries advocate for any person who in light of same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria seeks to become an integrated member of his or her own gender and a good gift to the opposite gender. One should be free to secure clinical and spiritual support for these goals.’

Meanwhile, Dean and team arrived safely a nearby church and kicked into high gear to ensure a warm welcome for the participants, including delegates from England, New Zealand, Kenya, China and Columbia. Through it all, we waited, unsure where the sixty of us might go the next day. 16 hours later we received the go-ahead to return to the conference site. Nature’s whiplash was no match for heaven’s intervention.

Where rebellion abounds, grace prevails for those who look to the Lamb. We followed Him more nearly due to the trials at hand. In weakness, Jesus became stronger, clearer, closer than before. We were ready for His touch. He dwelled with us throughout the week, full of grace and truth. The nations marveled as we welcomed the Creator and Redeemer as the very foundation of our selves—our freedom to offer ourselves undividedly.

‘Conversion therapy’? Yes, Jesus converts us as we humble ourselves before Him and each other, awaiting His healing presence. He’s the only therapist worthy of our complete surrender. At the beginning of the week, I received a picture of a sword hanging over us—the threat of weather, slander, even legal action for daring to profess that Jesus transforms lives. By the week’s end I could see the sword had become a gleaming Cross, shining and spinning over us and the whole of creation. As nature rebels, God prevails.

Please take time to watch our new video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

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Safe House

‘O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with sapphires…All your sons and daughters will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children’s peace’ (IS 54: 11, 13).

Our churches, lashed by identity politics and afflicted by abuse, need the Bridegroom to make us a ‘safe house.’ This is our last week of ‘Becoming Good News’; in truth, it is only the beginning of our becoming the Church ‘whose conventional appearance makes it a safe place into which one might take refuge,’ aka a ‘safe house.’

But how can a Church riddled with immorality become a sanctuary for the abused and identity confused? Responding to a rebuttal of his claim that the Pope and many Vatican officials covered for high-ranking homosexual abusers, Archbishop Vigano writes: ‘It is no exaggeration to say that homosexuality has become a plague in the clergy…It is an enormous hypocrisy to condemn sexual abuse, claim to weep for its victims, and yet refuse to denounce the source of so much abuse: homosexuality.’

Why pray for prodigals to come home to a sleazy celebration? Because God is raising an army of wounded healers who are intent on making that Church safe. Cowardly men in power cannot stop the Lord of hosts. He accomplishes what He wills. He wills to set captives free through His house, not in spite of it.

I write this at the end of a rocky finger pointing east off the Connecticut coast. We are lashed here by winds and rain as seasoned Living Waters leaders and new leaders-to-be gather. The range of churches–from contemplative Catholics to shaking Pentecostals—is awesome. We need each other’s gifts to become safe houses in our communities for every estranged son and daughter that Jesus is calling home. In response to our prayers!

We tell the truth about our lives—the disordered desires, abuse that divided us, shame that derided us—and the family of God whose pure hearts and clean hands helped reconcile us to the gendered gifts we are. No human powers can block what God is building. We are following His plan: humble disclosure met by Almighty mercy flowing through Christ’s members. Unstoppable. God does not need more clever administrators, more artful dodgers; He just needs willing hearts made tender and trustworthy by mercy.

We take our places–mutually submitting to bishops and pastors as we become ‘like living stones, built together into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ’ (1 P 2:5) Our sacrifice? The re-offering of our wounds, now visible to all–washed, set, becoming integrated into our good full lives. I submit to you this short film—Chaste Together (click here to watch)—that describes how Living Waters helps create a ‘safe house’ in local churches for the abuse and afflicted.

My hope is in Jesus. I am not discouraged by sleazy strains in the Church. I cannot answer for the accused. All I know is that God is mobilizing a healing army that will accomplish His purposes—‘to present to Himself a radiant bride’ (Eph. 5: 27), a bride who welcomes the wounded in mercy and truth.

‘See, I will bring them from the land of the north and gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the lame, expectant mothers and women in labor; a great throng will return. They will come weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them besides streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble. For I am Israel’s Father, Ephraim, my firstborn son’ (Jer. 31: 8-10).

We are currently in a time of prayer and fasting. If you’d like to pray along with us, let us know and we can send you a book or you can get it through kindle here: https://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Good-News-Andrew-Comiskey-ebook/dp/B07F95JKP5!

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