Story of Jaco Ferreira
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Regional Representative for Africa
It has been quite difficult to write this testimony. At first I did not understand why it was so hard. I am usually quite in love with my own voice and words and musings... the fruit of a good dose of narcissism I'm afraid. And when Guy asked me to write something I was initially quite excited to share my life story. But when I sat down to write, I found myself stuck in a morass of academic facts about homosexuality as well as a load of assumptions about myself. Sentences would start with something about me (or what I thought was "me"), but then end with some detached facts about Same Sex Attraction. I even showed my first attempts to some friends, and all of them struggled to read it and to find the true me reflected in the testimony. I was puzzled, disappointed, even shocked at my inability. Why couldn't I write something that was simple and true, instead of an over-long essay that was complicated and contrived?
Then after a recent battle with impurity (which I am sorry to say I lost), it just somehow hit me. I couldn't write the testimony, because I was trying to portray someone that isn't really me at all. Unfortunately I was more concerned with trying to impress you and to try and be some "ex-Same Sex Attracted" Spiritual Superman. The real me just wasn't getting through the static of this ideal model of a person that got stuck in my head. So, my apologies for trying to fool you. I literally have to take deep breaths to remain self-controlled as I write this. My need to create something fancy and awe-inspiring is tremendous. Isn't that sad? I don't even know you, and yet my habit of pleasing and impressing (and even fooling) people still remains such a temptation!
And that just about sums up who I am (sinfully-speaking): People-pleasing, hoping to be more than I think I am, not trusting that I am good enough to just be me. Whether I am "lecturing" about Same Sex Attraction, visiting an x-rated website, arguing with other disciples about some point of doctrine or even just trying to make things happen at work, the great temptation in my life is to try and be more than what I think I am. And to achieve that I'll beg, borrow, steal, lie, and even fake my own righteousness. It has taken a lot of battles just to realize that dying to myself, and living in and for Jesus means to step away from this Super Self obsession as actively as possible. One of the ways to do that is to stick to the facts about my life, and not to get all poetic and creative in my testimony.
So here are a couple of prayerfully written facts about me:
I'm South African.
My grandparents' generation is responsible for Apartheid (a system of racial segregation in South Africa). This cultural inheritance often serves to make life difficult. I was definitely raised with racial prejudice, and even though most of my friends are black, I regularly still need to check my assumptions about and responses to black people.
I'm 31 years old. I feel like I wasted my 20's on trying "not to be gay". I definitely did not enjoy fighting the battle back then. I think it is because my motivation was at least partially wrong. I wanted to please my parents, I wanted to be this super-spiritual disciple and with that I exhibited lots of false humility and lots of self-reliance.
I use to be a singer, but now I own a small business in the leather industry. At the moment I am entrenched in survival mode. The economic twists of the world are hitting us very hard. I don't deal well with the extra stress that is caused by these financial problems. When the going gets tough temptations to visit porn sites and to look at guys lustfully increase ten-fold. It often feels overwhelming and can be exhausting to battle.
I noticed my struggle with SSA very late: only when I got to University. I'm not sure why that is. I think before then I just put the whole idea of sex and sexual interaction completely out of my mind. During my teenage years I wasn't interested in girls (or boys for that matter) at all. I remember masturbating purely for masturbation's sake, not having much sexual fantasy attached to it... But at the age of 21 it hit me like a brick. I watched my first porn, started noticing guys, became obsessed with one or two guys whom I knew to be gay, and eventually tried to "come out of the closet". One afternoon I phoned my mother about something quite arbitrary and just burst out crying. I told her about my struggle. Within two hours she and my father were on their way to me (my university was an 8-hour drive from my home-town), and the worst week-end of my life followed. My father screamed at me and warned me that I would be disowned and rejected if I decided to go through with it. I felt like they did not want to see or hear me. They were just interested in making sure that I was "fine": fine meaning: not gay; a good, straight, Afrikaans, Christian boy. And honestly, after that I decided to be what they wanted me to be. Even though I used Christian terminology, I fought SSA to please them. It was only when I became a disciple that I realised that I had really deceived myself about my relationship with God all along. I continue to discover how much I deceive myself in these matters. How much I rationalise! Some days I find myself completely overwhelmed by the lingering desire to be gay, to rather be with a man. And recently I seriously struggled with impurity and intensely indulged in pornography. I struggle to stay away from that kind of gratification, and I have to get someone to phone me and check up on me whenever I'm alone around the internet. If I don't do that, the result is always the same, no matter how much I try to convince myself that "this time it will be different".
Intellectually I have a good understanding of who I am in Christ. The fact that my true self is hidden in the humility of God, that I am an image-bearer of the living God, is just amazing and sometimes even more overwhelming than my desire to sin. This knowledge is, however, still far removed from my instinctive response to life. If I don't stop, consider, get advice, and quite deliberately choose another path from the one straight ahead of me, I would instinctively respond like a selfish, insecure, God-forsaken person of the world. And this is true when I face homosexual, financial or relational temptation. I just can't do it by "gut-feeling" anymore. I have to take premeditated steps in my approach towards life, otherwise I'll continue to live a life of sin and destruction and isolation.
My best friend's name is Shoni. He plays an essential part in my life. I let him know when I'm going to be at work late, alone around the internet. He phones or sends an email to help me keep my mind on track. I also mail him my schedule and after-hour plans. The idea is for him to point out potential "danger zones" and to hold me accountable for the decisions I make. I'm still learning how to be fully open to Shoni. It's tough to tell him about my feelings and anxieties, and even of old childhood memories that still hurt, but we're getting into one another's lives to such a degree that it is becoming easier and easier. Even though we have only recently started this process, it is already making a big difference. I know he's keeping an eye out, praying for me, helping me carry a burden that I've carried alone (and very badly) for years. I know that Christ himself is present in our interaction, helping me, strengthening me.
That is my story for now. I hope to communicate with many of you in the coming months.
© Strength in Weakness Ministries All Rights Reserved
PO Box 20041, Orillia, Ontario L3V 6H2 Canada (705) 259-3331