From LGBTQ/Gay Lifestyle to Jesus Christ- Interview with Stephen Bennett Show Transcript


James Egidio: 0:31

Hi, I am James Egidio your host of the 99 Relapses podcast. The podcast that moves you from recovery to discovery through the grace and mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In episodes number 18 in 19 titled Identity and How it Defines Addiction, I discussed that when you go through an out of control addiction you lose self-identity as to who you are and what defines you as a person and as a child of God. This leads to adopting and adapting to the world and worldly ways of self-identity and reassurance, which becomes self-reliance and willpower and the problem of control rather than submitting to God. My guest lived a drug and alcohol filled LGBTQ gay lifestyle for 11 years, from 1981 to 92. Today, 32 years later, he’s married with two grown children and is witnessing and spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, to people in the gay community through his ministry, which is, can be found online at It is a blessing and an honor to have on the 99 Relapses podcast, Mr. Steven Bennett. Thank you, Steve, please.

Stephen Bennett: 1:51

Thank you,

James Egidio: 1:52


Stephen Bennett: 1:53

Good to be here.

James Egidio: 1:54

Thanks. Share with the audience a little bit about what your lifestyle and what you’ve been through and what led you to your conversion experience with Jesus Christ.

Stephen Bennett: 2:03

I was short version, if you will. I grew up with a mother and father. Two, a brother and a sister. And I was the first born child and my father was a great provider, but my father was not very much emotionally there for me because my father was he was an alcoholic, he was a functioning alcoholic. My father was also an incredible inventor. And you, James and probably everybody watching this podcast has my father’s invention in their house, which is pretty cool. My father invented the lock on the tape measure back in the 1970s and that was his claim to fame and both my mother and father, they, there you go. I’m glad you had it cuz I was gonna get one in the garage and I forgot to get it, so thanks. But my my dad was a wonderful guy and my parents were byproducts of the fifties. They met at a burger joint, fell in love, got married in 62 out, came me in 63 and they did their best, if you will, but my father always had, that passion for women and passion for the bottle, all of his married life. And there, that caused a lot of problems. And again, as the firstborn child, it seemed for some reason my father did not like me. I could never understand the reason why he loved my brother and sister, but I just was not important, it seemed to him. So I was named after my grandfather, my maternal grandfather. And my grandfather was very much like my father figure for me. He loved me, he hugged me, he kissed me. He took me everywhere, did everything with me. I was the firstborn grandchild and I was his namesake. I was named after him. Steven Martin, not the Steve Martin you’re thinking of, but Steve and John Martin Bennett. And anyhow, growing up I always felt a little bit different and awkward as a boy, I was a nerd and a dork before those words were even invented. I laugh at my own school pictures when I look at them. but I had, the gelled hair, the dippity do, if you remember that, the pink dippy do that ladies used to use, I had the high water pants, the white patent leather shoes, and I was a nerd and dork before those words were even invented. I had no idea how to play any sports, baseball, basketball, football, zero soccer, none of them. And anytime it came to Play those at school, I was always one of the last kids picked. But let me tell you something. I could sew a mean pair of curtains double lined with tassels everything because my mother taught me how to do that. And she actually became my mother and father figure for me because she was like a woman running into a burning house thing that her husband was not there for me. And she was both mother and father. It’s not always the best, but thank God, she did the best that she could. So anyways, I did a lot of things growing up that were non-gender conforming, if you will. I associated and felt more comfortable with the girls than the boys. They seemed sometimes like a threat to me, and I never really fit in. I always looked at them as being, strong and masculine and I was skinny and nerdy and dorky and so I always wanted to be like them. But God had blessed me from the very beginning. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home, but God blessed me with the talent of art. And I believe I got that from my father. Cause my father was probably one of the most creative men that I ever met. And I had that gift of art. And I actually used my art as a weapon going through school because once I did art and I like competed in art contests or everything, that’s when all of the boys liked me. They all. Really liked my art and so did the girls. So that’s what I really used as a defense mechanism, if you will, to be accepted during that time. But I was, of course teased, made fun of called Queer, faggot, sissy, all of those names that are very derogatory and not nice and bullied. I was bullied on the bus going to school. Many times I would cry. I didn’t want to go on the bus when my mother would put me on there, but I did. And so school was a very difficult thing for me. Then come along, my father with the tape measure that you showed, he hit it big. He was like Dick was it Dick Van Dyke from Chitty, Chitty Bang, Bang. My father had his good inventions, but there were some that were, a bit of a doozy, if you will. And but that one really hit it big. And my father was able to get out of the little house. We. or living in at the time. He built a beautiful home in a prominent Connecticut town. We had two acres of land, and the house was gorgeous and my father was very eccentric. He built a, we had a roller scanning rink in our basement. My father went roller skating once. He loved it so much. he was a great provider and he did all things like this, so we built us a roller skating rink in the basement with disco lights. I’m talking like professional roller skating, rink, disco lights, jukebox. And, we had the Lincoln Continentals and the El Dorados too. Jim Croci song says bad Leroy Brown. So we had a fun, it was fun growing up in that family. And there were always parties going on at our house, always with liquor, of course. But, it was it was a fun time growing up. But again, as I started to mature a little bit and started getting toward the age of 10, 11, 12, whenever puberty kicked in, I noticed that I was not looking at the girls the way that I should be, or most people were, I should say I was looking more at boys. I was looking at that, which I was not. I was looking at the guys who were masculine and, muscle bound and dark haired and, all those kind of things. I, I wanted to look like Keith. I wanted to be Keith or be David. So I was looking at that and then when we moved, when my father sold that invention, we were moving to a new town. I figured it would all come to an end. The names, the teasing, all of that stuff would come to an end. But soon as it got to the school, things were fine for maybe the first couple of months, I can’t remember the exact timing period, but sure enough, all the teasing and all the name calling and everything started once over again. And that was when I was in fifth grade. We moved to the new place. but what happened in sixth grade would be life changing for me. I knew zero about sex. Zero. My parents never talked about anything, never told me anything. And I slept over a friend’s house one night and woke up to find a guy on top of me. And I was so afraid. I had no idea what was going on. I should have knocked the guy’s teeth out, but I didn’t. And I felt guilty from that point forward because it was my fault that it, this happened, that it was allowed to happen. And I remember it being the winter months during that time, and I ended up running out at four o’clock in the morning, barefoot in the snow, just crying over what happened. I didn’t understand it. I couldn’t believe this even happened. This was such a thing. And that for me really threw the monkey wrench in my life from age 11 on. Add to that, now again, a father who is getting more addicted, if you will, to alcohol. My father was drawing further away from me and I was not very masculine in, in those years following. And I became a recluse. I stayed in my room, I did my artwork, I read my books. I listened to music and, I hung around a lot more with girls. And finally it was time to go to high school. I ended up going to an all boy Catholic high school, wrong place to send somebody who’s struggling with same sex attraction. Of course, I never shared that with my parents at the time. And I found out that a number of priests there were actually molesting several of the kids. And I was never molested in school, thank God. But it was just a very difficult time for me in school, being around all guys, which I felt very, distant from at the time. Come time to go on to college. I ended up going to Pratt Institute, one of the top art schools in the country and in, in Brooklyn, New York. And I was gonna be Stephen Bennett, artist to the Stars. I wanted to do paintings and portraits and just travel the world and everything. And when I got to the school, I found out that everybody there was gay and lesbian. And I don’t even think we had transgender people that I can remember back then. I’m not saying they didn’t, it didn’t happen. But I just remember gay and lesbian people with pink hair and every kind of tattoo you can imagine, or facial body tattoos, etc, piercings. And I felt at home, even though it was so weird, I felt, we use the word podunk here. I came from a po dunk town, which like people really didn’t know. But when I got to school I felt like I found my niche, if you will. And within the first couple of months, I met a very handsome architect student who was a friend of mine. And I, we made friends there and he invited me to a party one night and I ended up going with him. And I had alcohol for the very first time in my life. Actually I had it a year earlier. My grandmother, we went on a trip to Italy, that was my present. And I had a glass of beer and my grandmother used to go, oh, I gave him the alcohol. I’m the one who started it. No, she wasn’t but I had alcohol that night at this party. And I, I didn’t wanna drink it, but he said, listen, if you wanna have a good time, he goes, just have some punch. And I never tasted that kind of alcohol. I had beer before. But anyway, just tasted normal to me. And after about two hours, I was so blitz I couldn’t even move. That’s how drunk I was. And if you remember the old Bugs Bunny cartoons with. The monster and the mad scientist when they break the big bottle of ether. Yeah, I felt like that. So I’m walking, it was pouring rain. I’m running across the street with this guy and I’m running, I’m going to get you rabbit. felt like he felt like that guy. I said, I wonder, my father drinks. This is amazing. Yeah. It’s fantastic. And so anyways, we end up getting upstairs into his room and we’re sitting on, in the dorm, on his bed, just talking, and all of a sudden his hand comes on my knee and he starts drawing a circle on my kneecap. And he’s just weird. And he said, I just want you to know I’m gay. What do you think about that? And I, Hey, if it’s, if that’s what you’re into, that’s, has nothing to do with me, that’s fine. Little did I know that night, about a half an hour later, would be the first time I would engage in my first homosexual encounter that I a willing, willingly engaged in. And the next morning when I woke up, besides having one of the worst hangovers of my life, everything about the molestation just came right back. It was there in front of me. And I was like a mental case, if you will. And I know that’s, I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, but that’s the way that I felt. That’s the way that I felt that I was really going crazy. But a couple of days later, I came out as gay. I told everybody I’m gay, and I was welcomed by everybody. It was wonderful. It was great. Here I am, I have this, this very handsome boyfriend at school. I’m doing amazing. And in school, I’m one of the top art students in my class. And all of a sudden, the guy, it’s time for winter break and the guy invites me to come to visit him. And I ended up going back home and my parents were so distraught that I left on Christmas day to fly out to go see this guy where he lived. And I broke my parents’ heart that day. They knew something was really wrong, and I ended up going there. And the day that I get there, the guy dumped me. And I was stuck in the wintertime for two, two weeks because there were blizzards I couldn’t even leave. And it was a real time for me of just crying and understanding what the heck is going on with my life. It’s all falling apart. I ended up going back to college, started drinking heavily every night. I’d go down to the Paki store right in the corner and get a $4.95 cent bottle of Granny Apple wine. Must be a lot more today, I would think, but $4 and 95 cents. And I would just sit there and cry and listen to Crystal Gale records. Listen to old love songs and just cry and cry. Finally, I was just almost having a nervous breakdown, if you will. I was depressed and everything, so I called my parents on the phone. I lied and said, I’m doing horrible in college. I want to come home. And I did. I left school and I came home and from that point forward, I was the, in my father’s eyes, I was the black sheep of the family. They had spent over $10,000 to put me in one of the top art schools, and I just threw it out the door. So when I came home, found out many of my friends from high school and people I knew were gay, of course they were. And I started hanging out with them. They introduced me to the gay bar the first time I ever was at one. And that began my life, my lifestyle for the next 11 years. I would be, I lived for the night. I would be at the gay bar constantly. I would go there drinking, dancing. And back in the eighties it was a very promiscuous time for most everybody in a gay lifestyle. And it’s a miracle I even made it out of the eighties alive so I said, if you grew up in the eighties and you made it out alive, gay, straight, whatever, God bless you. Because he did good in, in that respect.

James Egidio: 15:39

I agree.

Stephen Bennett: 15:40

Yes. But it was a time for me, it was totally agree. Yeah. Doing a lot of drugs. Cocaine, drinking. I did some female drag shows. I dressed as a female drag performer. Back then, I was just doing everything. I had the best gay, lesbian friends and during that time, James, it was probably close to a hundred if not more. Men and women. Men actually there. Some women but men that I was with. And it was it was a very promiscuous time for me. I hate to say I got some STDs back then which are gone. Thank God. And. it was, I was actually with people too who were HIV v positive. I didn’t even know that was introduced as the grids disease back in the eighties. We thought it was some Doctor,

James Egidio: 16:23

hold your thought for one minute too, cuz I you’re mentioning this and it’s interesting and I have a real quick question about that. Is it seems like too, from what you’re describing, that because of the relationship you had with your father where you were alienated and isolated from him, and then especially when you came out you came out to, out of the, basically out of the closet per se they say. And you have this whole new world where you were welcomed, like you said, when you went to these clubs and Yeah. It was like a, this whole subculture. Correct? Yes. Yeah. So you felt welcome, I felt, you felt okay, this is where I’m really accepted. Absolutely. Sure. Yeah. So go ahead. I’m sorry.

Stephen Bennett: 17:08

No. And that’s the way it feels like, a lot of people are looking for a family to, to associate with, to, to be part of. And everyone wants to be part of something. And so for me, that was my family. I ended up coming home, I was living at my parents’ house going out to the gay bars. My father came up to me one night and he said, listen, you better be home by 10 o’clock tonight. And I laughed at my father. I laughed. You kidding? It’s Friday night. I went out. I didn’t, I don’t go out till 1130 at night. I came home after two o’clock, two o’clock, three o’clock in the morning that night. And my father was outside waiting for me, and he beat the, you know what, out of me. he always hit with the back of his hand. And my mother was grabbing him, screaming, saying, Bob, stop it. You’re gonna kill him. and my father just kept beating me and he’s saying, you are out of here tomorrow. I don’t care where you go. You are just out of here. I was 19 and the next day I moved out. I had moved into, my grandmother had an apartment. I moved in with her and I just said, fine. And I just continued on with my lifestyle and the craziness for the next 11 years, if you will. And it got so bad, and I’m getting to the point of when Christ came into my life. But no, that’s right. Take your time. It got so bad with me that I had multiple partners, I had 15 apartments during this 11 year period. 15. I was so irresponsible. I had great great art career in front of me. I was doing a lot with a very well-known celebrity and traveling with her and everything. But I threw it all away because of the alcohol, the cocaine. The gay men, I just threw it all away. I, and I was so irresponsible. I was the most flakies person you ever met. Some people may say that about me today, but it’s not true. back then. Yes it was. And so I ended up one night finally in this new apartment. I couldn’t afford a phone, a $30 a month phone, but I could afford a $325 a night cocaine habit. Explain that one to me. Yeah. One night I looked in the mirror and I literally saw a, I saw me for what I was I was drinking, I was drugging. I had bulimia, which is not very, prominent with men, with some gay men. Yes. I was trying to, I felt I was fat because one night James, my father told me, he said, dv, sit down. He was drunk as anything. He goes, how come you can never get a girl who was skinny or pretty? they’re always ugly and fat like your mother. And you know what? That broke my heart because my mother was the most beautiful, loving, caring person. She was the drive behind my father and his inventions and everything. And for him to say that about her, it just, yeah it killed me. But what I thought my father was ultimately saying is, because my father didn’t like me, it seemed maybe I’m the one who’s ugly. Maybe I’m the one who’s not attractive looking. And maybe I’m the one who’s fat. I was far from fat. But that caused me, I believe, to go. And when I started the problem with the eating disorder, I go to McDonald’s and get three number 10 value meals. They’d be in the toilet 10 minutes later. Wow. And it was a way of me controlling my uncontrollable life. My life was so out of control. I thought I had everything, all my ducks in a row by barfing. and it was just, it was a sad time for me, a sad life. And I ended up one night going on this cocaine for a three day cocaine and alcohol binge. And finally I ran down to the corner. I, on a Monday morning, there was a payphone there. I ran down to the corner and I saw this, there was this big billboard on the train tracks about calling for help and, 1-800-cocaine and I can’t remember, cocaine or something. I ended up calling them and I’m put on hold for 10 minutes, and I just hung up and I just, I called the local hospital and I immediately, entered myself in there. I detoxed for several days and then I ended up going to a drug and alcohol rehab. This was back in 1988 I believe 1988. And I thought finally my life is gonna get together. I had a job. My health insurance paid for that. I was in an outpatient program and within the first week I drank lady kept saying, you gotta get all the alcohol outta your house. And nah, no I’m fine. I have a, partner who’s in there, a friend who’s my partner at the time. And I ended up drinking. And I came and I told her the very next day that, I drank, she goes you have to leave the program. And I said, but this is gonna save my life. I need. She goes, the only thing what we can do, Steve, is you need to go into the inpatient program, which I did. And I ended up going into this program for 90 days, and it was life changing for me. I was able to get clean. I didn’t drink. I met some nice friends and I was going to AA meetings every single day looking for that higher power, which today is Jesus Christ, of course for me.

James Egidio: 22:05


Stephen Bennett: 22:06

but it was it was a really difficult time. And after that the counselor said to me, Steve, you need to get your spirituality back. Now, I never had spirituality. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home. My parents were, do as I say, not do as I do. And they would make us go to, the Catholic church and Catholic classes, catechism and all that stuff. And my parents were just, it was hypocritical, very hypocritical. So I, I couldn’t get back, which I didn’t have. But there was a little Catholic church across the street and it was in a prominently black neighborhood. And I think that’s where my love of Black Gospel music is. It’s my favorite music in the world today. I love Black Gospel music, And I ended up going to this church and there was a Black Gospel choir. And I listened to them sing and just the passion that would come out of them. And then every time the priest would talk and I don’t wanna offend any Catholics here, but I never believed a lot of the. Other stuff that this guy, they, that was going on there, but the, when he would read the Bible I think they might have called it a homily or whatever. Yeah. When they, when he would read the Bible, I was really listening and listening to what he was saying and I always wanted more And I’ll never forget one night going to a a retreat. I met this wonderful girl there and she was beautiful. She was from Columbia Bogata, I think Bogata Columbia, and she was just beautiful. And we became boyfriend and girlfriend and we were together for about maybe two years, I think it was. And we were running the youth group there. And everything was going fantastic. She knew about my drinking, my previous drinking drugs, bulimia, all that kind of stuff. But the one thing I didn’t hide, or one thing I did hide from her, and I didn’t tell her about of course, was my homosexuality. And I just tried to change. And I really liked this girl. And I remember one night going to a retreat and they had a little nun, sister Peggy, who’s no longer here, but Sister Peggy. It was three o’clock in the morning. We were up for 24 hours and we’re in the church basement. She brings out these little stones and puts them all out and brings out these little flower app aplique do you say the like little stickers, things. And she said, Steve, I want you to come and get a flower and put it on the rock. And she says, and that represents you as a new flower, a new creature growing and choosing Christ the solid rock. And then she said to me, I’ll never forget these words. She says, choose life. And I went up there that night and I got that rock and that little flower put it on there and get it. Chill, even when I think about it now. Yeah. Because it was life changing for me. Beautiful. Now I end up after a couple years with this gal doing the youth group, She ended up going back to Bogota for the summer, and I just felt abandoned, if you will. And so that night, what do I do? Stupidly 99 relapses. Your sign says, I think this was number one, or so. Yeah. I didn’t drink or do drugs, but I went back to the gay bar and that night I met a man that I fell in love with from very first night we were together and we would be together for the next three years. I just, I didn’t call my girlfriend back. I didn’t call the people I left the church. They had no idea what happened. It was so irresponsible of me, but I felt comfortable now. And his family all accepted me. I had come out to my parents when I came home from college. I neglected to say that. And my mother was crying and saying, please don’t tell your father. Of course he knew. Cause my father always told me, he goes, don’t you bring your faggot friends around here? And I’m just being raw and real with what, what was said. And so anyway, I ended up this guy named, we moved in together. Life was great. His parents accepted me, accepted him. I had gay friends, straight friends, was going to the clubs every now and then just to dr not to drink, but to dance and have fun. I didn’t drink at all, and we just had a wonderful time. And it was a really I look back if I, in, in my secular mind, if you will, if I wasn’t saved, it was a wonderful time. Listen, the Bible talks about pleasure of sin for a season, but I didn’t know Christ or anything. I had no idea what sin was. Leave it to a Christian to show up at your door and ruin the party for you, That’s exactly what happened. I had a very dear friend Kathy, who shows up with a bible in her hands.

James Egidio: 26:23

She’s a buzzkill right at the time. She’s your buzzkill.

Stephen Bennett: 26:26

Yeah. I like, what the heck? She goes. can I come in and talk to you about Jesus Christ and your homosexuality? And I’m like, what? What do those two things have to do? Each o with each other. Now mind you, I was going to the Catholic church every single Sunday with my boyfriend. We’d go and we’d felt so, proper and living living like a saint for the one day and then living with the devil for the next six. Sure. But so she showed up and my partner and her hated each other like the plague. So he ran to one side of the house. She’s sitting in the living room with me, and I’m sitting there and she’s got the Bible in hand. She remember her being a little nervous. She just became a Christian. Let me just share this with you. So Kathy, time Kathy, I would say, and I’ve told her this directly here. I said, which Hazel is showing up my daughter to lead me to Christ? Because Kathy was very much into reading cards, reading tea leaves. Yeah. Telling you the future. Sure. Was always gonna marry her. She said all this stuff. And it was really funny that I thought, here she is showing up to tell me about Jesus. I had no idea that she got saved and she got saved at a place she was working at from two other people, Wayne, and a woman named Irene. And they both led Kathy to Christ one day. And Kathy, she had a transforming experience. And Kathy was saved. Kathy is saved amazing woman. So she shows up at my door with the Bible and she had a boyfriend at the time, which I didn’t, I never met him before. But she starts going through the scripture verses one by one. Now if you wanna tick a homosexual off, which I don’t encourage you to do, start at Leviticus 18 or 20.

James Egidio: 28:05


Stephen Bennett: 28:06

Now she’ll not lie with another man as with a woman. It’s an ation combination. And she just kept going on and on and she, every scripture verse. I’m sitting here like this and I’m ready to kill and strangle it. that’s what, so finally she says to me, Steve, she goes, okay. After she shares all of this again, I’m red in the face. I’m so mad, James. And she says, like here. She gets on her big Christian fishing pole. But when you’re gonna catch the big fish on Yeah. Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, be born again. Be saved. And have a new life in Christ. Go to heaven and be happy forever after. Yeah. And although the wall had come down while she was sharing with me, because I was really listening to those verses Sure. The one verse I wanna share though, which we, she shared with me. Please do. Which is unbelievable. Yes. His first Corinthians six, nine to 11. Now I’m gonna paraphrase. Yeah. Read it. You could even read it. If you have your Bible there, read it. I do. I do have my Bible. Yeah. Read it. That’s true. My trust bible is right over here.

James Egidio: 29:08

I have all day

Stephen Bennett: 29:09

I don’t, but anyway. Okay. I’m goofing. Anyway. My Bible, I’m a jokester if people don’t know it, so

James Egidio: 29:15

I love it.

Stephen Bennett: 29:16

It’s, anyway, so the Bible says 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, and I prefer to read the King James. It says, know you, not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Now, here’s the next word, is being not deceived. Two words pop out of there for me, James. unrighteousness and deception. Those are so key in that verse. Sure. And it says, neither the fornicators nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate. Some bibles say, or abusers of themselves with mankind, some say homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetes, nor drunkers, nor revilers nor extortioners shall inherit the kingdom of God. Now, I fit into a number of those I don’t know about you of, but I

James Egidio: 29:58

Of course I did too. Yes, absolutely.

Stephen Bennett: 30:00

was guilty. I was right there. She was telling me. But then, Verse 11 is the one that was life changing. She said verse 11 and such were some of you, but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified made right in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God. And I said, what did you just say? Did you just say that I could change That Steven, yes. You were not born gay. I had never ever heard that before. Of course, now with Lady Gaga or so born that way, and all the bologna that’s being promoted out there, I had never heard before what God says about this. We’re not going that way. No, I didn’t choose that. And that’s a whole nother conversation. But anyway, so I said, what do I need to do? So she, that’s when she got the Christian fishing pullout. She saw that my walls came down. Said, would you like to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and all that stuff? Immediately the wall went right back up again. Yeah, I said I was born a Christian. I believe in Jesus. I love Jesus. I love Jesus. it’s going on and on, and I’m, all this stuff. And so obviously I had no idea what I was talking about. So she knew it was a losing battle from that point. So she said, she called me Steve Obe, that was my term of endearment, if you will. So she said Steve Obe, I’m gonna leave you with the King James Bible. And she said, I’m also gonna leave you with a book by Hal Lindsay called The Late Great Planet Earth. You may remember that book. And that book was phenomenal. Now, the reason she left that book is cause remember Kathy was in the reading cards and everything. That book was all about prophecy. Kathy loved bible prophecy. She could not put the Bible down from what God was saying all about the prophetic. and she said, this will tell you, the beginning and the end and what God says he will bring to pass. He always does. She said, read this book, start reading the Bible. And also I want you to pray every day and say to God, if you are real, make yourself real to me. And I did that. I really did that every day. I started reading the Bible. Now the Bible says that the natural, excuse me, the natural man doesn’t receive the things of the spirit of God, their foolishness unto him. So I tried reading the Bible. Now I’m reading the King James This ye ya. Yeah. Yeah. I can’t understand half of it. Talking about divers diseases. Is that something people get when you go on the water? I had no idea a about a lot of this stuff. However I can understand, love your neighbor as yourself. I’m not that dumb. So little by little I was starting to, the word of God was starting to sink into me and I found this girl had a wicked devious plan. My friend Kathy. She was ge feeding me that word of God where the Bible says, so then faith cometh By hearing and hearing by the word of God. It began to change me from the inside out. Now, I did pray the day she showed up, and it was probably a year or so later. I’m laying in the bed Now, my partner, by the way, he was the athletic one. He always did the sit-ups at the end of the bed. So he’s doing his sit-ups and everything, and I’m reading the Vive, all this and all that, right? And all of a sudden, one night when I’m reading that, James, I got tears in my eyes. I had no idea why, no idea what was going on. I excused myself. I went to the bathroom that was in the room and I just started bawling. I started wailing and I’m thinking to myself, what the heck am I doing in bed with another man? I could not, what have I done with my life? And is that word of God that began to change me little by little and the Holy Spirit clearly was drawing me. Yeah, I was praying every day. And again another conversation. The things that God was showing me when I would pray that prayer, what he was doing, it was scaring me like this, God is real. It’s really scaring me because be careful what you pray for. It was really happening. So I came to a point in my life, a crossroad where I needed to understand can, oh, am I gonna resolve this? Am I gonna become a Christian? Am I going to be gay? And then I had this brainstorm. Maybe I can be a gay Christian I thought that would solve the whole problem. I could be both the best of both worlds, right? So I ended up going to Provincetown, Massachusetts, one of the largest gay subcultures up here in the northeast. The whole town is gay. It’s totally gay. And I ended up going there, and that was back in 1991. I was there for that summer, and I’m reading the Bible every day. I am praying, God is working in my life. And I went to Provincetown to see if I could find out really who God is. Can someone tell me about who the real God is? Now I end up going to a church, one of the churches there that was down near the water, and I believe it was an Episcopal church. And I go in there and there are all lesbians in there, robes and everything, lesbian ministers. And they’re singing the great hymns of the faith and everything. And I’m looking at all the people and I’m saying, look, this is not for me. It’s not for me. And I ended up going then to the Catholic church, the big Catholic church, where I thought maybe they’ve got the right road map, if you will. And I go in there and there’s all gay guys holding hands, walking up, smiling, giving each other a kiss. As they go to the priest, they give the priest a kiss. Taking the communion from him and then kissing each other while I said, you know what, this is not for me either. No. So finally, I was doing my artwork there on the beach. I’m an artist, as I had shared. So right behind where I did my artwork at the kite shop, there was another church, the Universalist Unitarian Church. Now, I had no idea what that was. Maybe that’s they’ve gotta have the answer. I go in there and the gay men’s choir are singing Broadway show tune I’m just wild about Mary Gosh, what the heck is going? This town is nuts. So anyway, I fit perfectly in there. I finally decided, I said, you know what? Forget this. Forget this stuff. Now, I had cheated on my partner, then he cheated on me. It was just for the summer months. I called him back. I on the phone, I said, forget this Jesus business. Will you please take me back? I left him. I left my job, I left my family and I left everyone that summer to go and find God. Of course. I didn’t find God at all then. So he said, yes, I’ll take you back. And he bought a new home. So I moved in with him and I ended up moving my art business to a local mall where I did my portrait working, caricature and airbrushing and all of that. And life was good again. It was, it calmed down. I, I may have put God on the back burner, but he wasn’t done with me yet. And it was probably around right before Christmas. I had bought some Christmas presents. I was by myself in his house and I was wrapping presents, listening to looking for not looking for Christmas, but looking for radio station with some, carols and stuff on it. And that’s the very first time it came across Christian radio. Local radio station here in Connecticut, W I H S in Middletown, I’ll never forget. And they were playing a song and all I heard were the words of this singer. About men marching for their right to sin. And that was me. I knew he was talking about me. I found out it was Scott Wesley Brown’s song called This Little Child. And the words are unbelievable to that. So I felt like the Hebrews sword, the Bible talks about came and jabbed me. And, but not to leave me there dead and dying and bleeding. But the, it was a double-edge sword. And God had a plan. He had a plan for that. Amen. So over the next two months, now, I am worse off than when I was before because now I am going crazy. I am going crazy about everything. And all I could describe James is that Christmas and New Year’s, 1991, I felt dirty. I felt I was, I hated myself for who I was, for everything that I was. And we ended up going to a party that night. A very dear friend of mine who was a lesbian, I say, was because she got saved too. And we go to church with her now, and here we are, 40 any years later. But anyway, that’s beautiful at that party they were all gay, lesbian people dancing, with each other, drinking beer and booze and EF frolicking and everything. And I was there with my partner and I just wanted to cry. I just wanted to die. I wanted to go home. And couple of days later, I ended up calling my friend Kathy on the phone, and my partner wasn’t home. I was in the bedroom on the floor. I’ll never forget this. I was crying. I was praying. And I called her on the phone and I just, I had it with all this stuff, with Jesus, with the Bible, king James Deval this, the books, everything. I had it. And so I called her on the phone. I said, Kathy, I am going to Provincetown where I was that summer and I’m moving back there to live as a gay man. That’s who I was born to be, and that’s who I’m gonna live as. And here are these Christian people. Always has a page number and a verse from the Bible. She said, Steve, I’m gonna share one thing with you cuz with Kathy and I we’re like brother and sister. we’ve known each other forever. Sh I used to take two steps forward, three steps back. But now she was saved and she’s quoting the Bible to me. So I’m now crying even more. And she said, started reading me from the book of Romans. She said, Steve, I’m gonna read you from Romans chapter one. The Bible says three things. If you go back to Provincetown and you live there, God may give you over to your sin as the Bible says, right? Make you a reprobate in his sight. Reprobate means eternally damned. I don’t know. As human beings, I don’t think any of us has an idea of when someone else we were asked to share the gospel with everybody. So Job, we have no idea who’s saved in. Who’s not God. God knows their hearts. And lastly God, may you ever seem, allow you to believe the line Lima, your reprobate in his sight. And I forgot the other one. Anyway, I, it, there were three things in there, and basically it scared the heck out of me. Sure. And I’m sitting here crying. She’s got me in my worst vulnerable moment. And she says, do you wanna pray and ask Jesus into your heart? She said, you may not understand this Steve, but God will. And it’s almost like the song, I could look back now on that, like the song from Carrie Underwood, Jesus, take the wheel. I was take, I was driving my entire. and I was a wreck at it. I ruined everything. But when it came was I willing now to give everything over and let Christ do the driving and take control. So I said, what must I do? It what must I do to be saved? They said, what do I need to do? And she goes, I want you to pray with me right now. And she led me in the Salvation Prayer. And James, at that moment that I prayed, nothing kooky or spooky, but I physically felt like a ton of bricks came off my shoulder. Sure. And I felt peace like you would not believe. Sure. And the next words out of my mouth, and I can clearly remember were, I’m leaving him now. This is the man that I loved, who I lived with and who I was with for years. And within the next, she couldn’t believe what happened. Kathy couldn’t even believe him. Within the next two days, I was out of his bed sleeping on the couch. And within the next two weeks I was on my way in Walk with Christ. Everybody. Now I’m telling, I remember going at the mall where I worked. There’s a lady who worked at the shoe store. She goes, you look so happy today. What happened? I said, I prayed to receive Jesus last night. I’m not gay anymore. And she’s laughing. What? What? Now I’m finding out I’m meeting all people everywhere. Everyone is saved. I’m saved, born again outta the woodwork, like cockroaches, There was this lady Vanda at the pizza shop where I worked, and Vanda Uhhuh was so crazy. She always had, back then they, they still smoked. So she had a cigarette hanging out of her mouth at the pizza place. Yeah. I’m born again. And and she goes, I go to a wonderful little church. You gotta come with me. So I forget, I’ll try it. We end up one night going to this church. It was an old porno shop. Wow. That she, that, that was, and it was converted now into a little storefront. And they were all empty chairs and the pastors sitting in the corner den playing, the keyboard. Yeah. And all of a sudden the people started coming in and Vanda walks in with her tambourine and we walk in, I’m sitting down and I’m watching everyone now. They’re Pentecostal, obviously. Everybody is Yeah. Clapping their hands, banging their tambourines. Vda dance is out the back door. I am not lying around the parking lot and back in the front door. I look that way when I see her going, What the heck?

James Egidio: 42:55

That’s beautiful. I love it.

Stephen Bennett: 42:57

Oh my gosh. So anyway, no disrespect to Pentecostal on my cousin. No. But it’s nice. You wanna know. Anyway, I told Von, I said, this church is not for me. Yeah. Anyway shortly after that I moved out of his house and I found a little apartment in the area. I did not know the area at all. And I remember going in there, there was a polish. Managers ran the place. And I said, would you mind if I just have a moment by myself in here. And I was just praying. And as I looked to the wall, there was, it was empty. It was a little apartment, but there was one little plaque on the wall I’ll never forget. And it says, you have a friend in Jesus. And I just started bawling my eyes out and I said, this is it. This is it. So I moved into that apartment. Things were going great for the first couple of months, and probably about three months. And I’m reading this Bible, by the way, every single day. I can understand every single word of it, because I had the spirit of God. Now the God, the Holy Spirit, sealed me at the moment. I pray to receive him. And I am reading that Bible. I’m laughing, I’m crying. It’s God wrote this book directly to me. I can understand everything. It was helping me in every respect you can imagine, except one little thing. I did everything this girl asked me to do. I went here and there, traveled the seas far and wide. Just the next day over the Provincetown. And I end up leaving the man that I loved. And I, now, I’m still struggling. I’m still lusting after other men. And I’m saying, what the heck is going on? I did everything you asked me to do. Why am I still struggling? And I ended up I ended up reading Matthew chapter six, where it’s the Lord’s Prayer. Everybody knows Lord’s Prayer. And I read the part where it says forgive us our sins or trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And I started really thinking about that. And you know what, James, there were two people in my life who I hated more than anything. and there was one who I loved more than anything and hated at the same time. That was my father. And then the person who molested me, I would’ve killed him if I saw him. I would have, I simply would have. But God at that moment showed me that I was carrying bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, and everything that went with it. The first thing I did, I got a pat out and I wrote a letter to the guy who molested me. And it was, I probably spent an hour writing that letter and covered it in tears, is covered in tears. And now those are scars by the way, that although I no longer struggle, those are scars that I will always have for all of my life, what that guy did to me. But I wrote him this letter, and at that moment, I forgave him. I lifted the letter up, and I prayed, I forgave him. and then I ripped the letter up and I told God, I will never, ever go there again. It was over and done. Do you know what? It wasn’t gonna be that easy with my father. My father was alive and well, this guy was alive too, but I never wanted to see him. But I called my father up on the phone. They lived about 45 minutes away, and I said, dad, it was a Saturday morning who I knew he wasn’t drinking. He didn’t drink till four 30 in the afternoon. I said, can I come over and talk to you? He goes, sure. So I went over that Saturday morning and I was a little bit nervous and we were in the kitchen and I said to him, daddy, why did you always tell me that I was no good, that I was stupid, that I would never be anything. You always put me down. You always called me queer and faggot and all those names. It’s you didn’t love me, but you loved my brother and sister. Why was it different with them? What was different about me? And then my father says to me, James, Stevie, there’s something I never told you, and I’m like, oh my gosh, here it goes. Am I adopted? Not that there’s anything wrong with adoption, but I was just so what is he gonna tell me that’s gonna shock me? So my father told me, he said, when you were born, he said, you might remember, he goes, the relationship I had with my father was horrible. My grandfather was a very bad alcoholic and my grandfather, I remember him and my father on a Sunday morning drinking at nine o’clock in the morning, maim, bring a shot glass and they’d be drinking Seagram seven together on a nine o’clock on a Sunday morning. So I remembered the kind of man my grandfather was. He was just, he was a, I guess monkey, see monkey. Do you know? That’s why my father became that way. My, there were five brothers in the family. My grandfather’s first child was named after him. They had the same name, Edward. And my grandfather absolutely loved and adored my uncle. He was everything. And I remember one time that, that my father had called my grandfather on the phone when we were living in that house in East. And after my father sold his invention, he said, dad, you are gonna be so proud of me. I made this invention, this lock on a tape measure that’s gonna make millions. And he said, I built this beautiful home. You’re gonna be so proud of me. I want you to come see it. And I remember my grandfather on the phone, he was on speaker phone saying, you are nothing but a piece of, you know what? And I will never, ever come to your house. You will never ever be as good as your brother Edward. And my grandfather hung up on my father. Wow. That is the very first time I saw my father crying. Wow. And it’s just broke my heart. And my father said, I never wanted you to go through what I went through. And he said, when I got to the hospital and when you, I saw you in the bassinet, which shows my father wasn’t there when I was born. he said, I looked at the name and it wasn’t, my father wanted me to be named after him because my grandfather hated, did not like most of the other brothers. There were problems there. But he said to my father actually my father, when he got to the hospital, my father saw on the bassinet that I was not named Robert Jr. I was named Stephen John Martin after my mother’s father, who I adored. And my father was so hurt, so brokenhearted that his firstborn child did not carry his name. I have baby pictures of my father holding me that I just really, I think are precious. And I of course say both my parents are gone now. And I could see the love my father had for me, but something changed. And my father said when I saw that name, he said, I hated you. I really resented you. I resented your mother. I resented your grandfather. I had nothing back then. Your grandfather, was spent all the time with you and your mother. I felt it was a conspiracy against me. He bought you everything. Gave you everything. And he said, and when your brother and sister came along afterwards, he said, that’s their child. And these are my kids. Wow. And he said, I’m sorry. That’s the way I’ve treated you all your life. And I was 28 years old and he said, it’s too late. And ICE was really thinking. I was crying. And I realized the Bible said about honor your father and mother, that you live long upon the earth. And I said, daddy, I love you. I said, don’t ever put me down again. Don’t call me stupid. No good. Don’t make fun of me. I said, you are my father. And I love you. And I love you till the day you die. Or I die. And that day, James, my father, for the very first time, he hugged me. I, he hugged me before, but my father, he gave me a kiss on the cheek and he whispered in my ears, Stevie, I love you. Yeah. And that was life changing for me. Sure. It was like Coca-Cola. I had the real thing. Now for all those years I was looking for the love of my father and the arms of other men, not sexually Yeah. But in the arms of other men. And now I had the real thing. Sure. And from that point forward, everything had changed. Shortly afterwards, I ended up Kathy had introduced me probably two years earlier. I went to a prison worship night when I was gay, I was with my partner. And he introduced me. She reintroduced me to this girl Irene, who helped lead her to Christ. And I saw her and she was just so beautiful, blonde hair, blue eyes and all she did was talk about Jesus. Her beauty was more on the inside, just everything. Jesus. Jesus. I ended up falling in love with Irene in a matter of less than 12 months. After I left my partner and I got saved and I ended up on Christmas in 1992, Christmas Eve. I had asked her mother if I can have permission to marry her cuz Irene’s father had passed away when she was 12. I said, you know my entire story, mrs. K, my entire past. Would you gimme permission to marry your daughter? She said, I would love to have you as my son-in-law That night I got down on my knee and I asked Irene, I said, would you glorify God together with our lives? And would you be my wife? Now here’s what a Christian woman said here. I already bought the ring with my, one of my other gay friends at the time.

James Egidio: 52:00

I’m getting teared up listening to this too. It’s amazing. It’s a beautiful story.

Stephen Bennett: 52:04

I like crying like a baby. When we bought this ring, I can’t believe you’re marrying a woman. It’s comic Yeah. So I ended up ended up giving Irene the ring and here’s what a Christian woman said she wanted to say. Yes. She shares her story. And when we, when I preach around the country, she says, I wanna say yes. I’m not saying no, but I need to pray about it. Are you kidding me? And this time, pray about it.

James Egidio: 52:27

That’s the last thing you wanted to hear, right?

Stephen Bennett: 52:29

Come on. So anyway, a month later, which it was the end of January and the end of January is when I got out of the rehab I had gotten sober. I got out of the rehab and that’s when it was probably around January 26th or something. Anyway I think it may have been the same night or very close to it. But anyway, she goes, I want you to take me out to dinner and I want you to ask me the same question again. So I was really thin and trimmed back then, and I was all dressed up in the time. My hair was way past my shoulders. It was longer than hers, I think. And we ended up going out. to the Marriott and I didn’t have much money, so I got a hamburger and fries and whatever she got. And I got down on my knee and I see the waitress over there is looking and I asked Irene, would you glorify God with our lives and would you marry me? She goes, yes, I will. And so I gave her the ring, gave her a kiss. The lady comes running over, she goes, did you just get engaged? And I said, yes. You, the manager of the house said Everything tonight on the house is free for you. And I’m looking at her, I said, you mean I could have a steak dinner? And now you tell So that’s funny. We will just beware next time. Order your steak dinners anyhow.

James Egidio: 53:38

Or don’t order anything until it’s on the house.

Stephen Bennett: 53:40

That’s right. That’s right. So it was a pretty amazing night.

James Egidio: 53:44

That’s beautiful.

Stephen Bennett: 53:44

And Irene and I, we were that was in January we got engaged. And what year was that? 1992. Wow. 19. I was saved. Saved in January. we got engaged Jan in January of 1993. It was a year later, and and then we got married on June 13th, 1993. We were outside at a restaurant. Everyone’s paying all this, tons of money for these, per plate, $150. We had not, we had nothing. Yeah. I asked my parents, I said, listen, I, can you give me some money, please so I can get married? And so my parents said, all we have is $2,000 as we can give you. I said, I’ll take it. And with $2,000, she had a budget of 125 for her flowers. She we were penny pinching. We got our rings with the service merchandise. I don’t know if you had them back then, but

James Egidio: 54:29

I remember that Sure.

Stephen Bennett: 54:31

25 buck rings. And we went to this restaurant where it was $16.95 a plate. They had the biggest spread. It was the best wedding I ever went to They had the food like you would not believe they had the carvings, the carving stations. They had all the goodies. Sure. Everything. It was amazing. I did the music. I pre-recorded it. My brother-in-law was the mc. I think we had about close to 200 people who had come, or maybe a little bit less than that. It was such a beautiful day, and I’ll never forget, we were, it was outside where we got married in the gazebo at the restaurant. Asking my testimony and all these people are looking at me and they’re looking at Irene coming down. And it’s, I was, it was very comical because I’m looking at the people. It looked like they all had the, they looked like deer with the headlights coming at them like, isn’t he gay? And I remember the pastor saying, Steve is a 2 Corinthians 5:17, a new creature in Christ. And he’s on and on and they had no idea what was going on. But Irene and I, we got married that day. I carried her over the threshold and we were best friends. But that night we did it God’s way. And the next morning when we woke up, our friendship was solidified. We were one. And it was the most beautiful, holy, romantic thing ever. Anyways, we have been happily married. It’s coming up on 30 years. Beautiful. And all the gay activists say, ah, yeah, you’re never gonna last. You’re gonna end up at the gay bar. Thank you. Here we saw almost 30 years later, by God’s grace and will, I don’t struggle whatsoever with this. Now I have other issues. You asked my wife about my piles of clothes on the floor, and, everything. But we’ve been blessed with two kids. Beautiful. My daughter, who is 24, whose middle name is after Kathy, who led me to Christ. and my son, who is 22 and his middle name is after me. Cause I didn’t want to go through the same thing that I did with my father. Yeah.

James Egidio: 56:27

And you’ve made a lot of headway since then too as I had mentioned in the opening of this show, you started a ministry called sbm That’s where can be found. Yes. Tell the listeners and viewers of the 99 Relapses podcast, a little bit about your ministry

Stephen Bennett: 56:45

Absolutely. Yep. So we’ve been in ministry James for 23 years.. It, it’s been a wild ride because of course the LGBTQ issue has morphed into so many different things. Sure. We use a wise serpent as, as general as doves. But the very first year, Irene and I. Married at our church, I was sharing my testimony and I remember we got a call from Concerned Women for America. Some people may remember Beverly Lehe, who was still alive. Her husband is the one who, Tim Lehe, who wrote All the Left Behind series, and they called and they asked for a donation and we didn’t have money back then. So my wife basically says, we don’t money silver or gold, have I not? But she says, my husband used to be gay and I’m sure he would love to be able to speak with you. That’s all she had to say. So once that happened we got a call from Concerned Wound for America. I did a radio interview with them. Next thing I know they, and again I say this humbly, they put me on the cover of their magazine that month and the radio interview went everywhere. Sure. That began the ministry now of SBM Worldwide, which is basically to reach the LGBTQ community for Christ. That’s all we that’s what we are about. It’s sharing the love of Jesus. What I went through, because this, these were my people, if you will, my family at one point, and I want them to come to know the truth. I can’t change them. I’m not about doing that. I’m just about, Jesus just tells us, which I love in and John 3:16-17, which everyone knows, God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believed it then to him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. God came verse 17, God came not in the world to condemn the world, but that the world threw they’re condemned already, but the world threw him might be saved. And that was life changing because now I realized I don’t need to go out there and condemn people. I don’t need to, no, I just need to love them and share how Jesus could change their, Jesus. They just need Christ. and Jesus will do any work He’s gonna do Jesus. I’ll le I’ll let God be God. How about that? Thank God I’m not God. I say that all the time. But that’s what the ministry has been about. So my, most of my time during the week is spent with gay and lesbian people. I’ve, we’ve gone, Irene and I have gone out to dinner and taking, met transgender people a number of times. I preach around the country all the time. We’ve been to Canada, we’ve been to Israel for Jerusalem, for gay world pride in 2006 where we brought 12 evangelists and met almost 10,000 people. Gave out rainbow wristbands that had the Romans road on them, gave out free Bibles and shipped them all around the world. When we got back, it was a pretty intense and awesome time, but just showing the love of God. And we’ve been doing that and Irene runs the Parents group ministry now since 2007. There are a lot of saved parents. who have children who once claim salvation in Christ. And now they said I am, I’m gay, or I’m lesbian, or transgender. And many parents are just brokenhearted now about what’s, how the kids are treating them and what they’re doing. So Irene ministers to the parents during the week I minister to all the LGBTQ. Now this is gonna appear backwards for you. Yep. But Irene wrote a book and I did the artwork on that No, I could see it. It’s actually in the right. Yeah, I see that. Yeah. So it’s until your product comes home, encouragement along the way, it’s an amazing book written to parents, fam, spouses, family members and friends who have a loved one who identifies as L G B T Q and how to be patiently pray and wait and what to do and what not to do during the, that time until your prodigil comes home.

James Egidio: 1:00:26

Is that offered on Amazon?

Stephen Bennett: 1:00:27

You can get it on Amazon, you can get on our website. Okay. I also have tracks. if I can’t share a track that I was gay I put my face on there, my mug. So when you hand them out, people won’t think you’re gay. Amen. And it’s a really great track and it shares my story, but it all it also shares the gospel message in there and it shares some of the some info on how and why we believe people are not born gay. You’re not born transgender, and how and why people end up down that path. And if they’re only sensitive enough and willing to listen, just hear me out. That’s all I ask for, just hear me out. If they’re willing to do that, I think it will be pretty eyeopening. We have found that there’s many l LGBTQ people who have got so many issues going on and underlying things. They’re trying to fill it with drugs, with alcohol, with sex. Sure. With gambling, with all other different things. But again, Jesus is still in the business of changing lives. I’m far from perfect. And when I say that is because when you have one finger pointing at the person, I’ve got three pointing back at me, so I’m talking, I’m preaching to myself here too.James Egidio: 1:01:34

Yeah. Yeah. I want to ask you a question. What advice do you have for someone who’s listening to this episode or watching this episode? Who is struggling with homosexuality, orran, or is it a trans transvestite? Transgenderism? What advice do you have for them as far asStephen Bennett: 1:01:52

Call me. Call me. I would be willing to speak with you personally. When you call here, you’re not gonna get, listen, I clean the floors, I clean the toilets, I do everything. I answer the phones. Call me. Yeah. The phone number’s +1 800-832-3623. I’ll say it one more time. One 800. Eight, three, two, three, six, two, three. You call me. I’d love to hear your story. If you have, if you’re struggling with either any of these issues, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, you’re questioning your sexuality, but you’re also questioning you. You want a relationship with God. You want that relationship and you wanna know the truth. There’s a lot of bologna out there. As our president says, Malarky, there’s a lot of malarky out there. But let me tell you, Jesus loves you. Jesus can change your life. And God is no respecter of persons. What he’s done for me, which deserves nothing. I’m nothing but a dirt pot. What he’s done for me, he will do for you because he loves you. Yeah. And again just please, I would love to speak with you personally so they can call me or contact me through the website, which is sbm There’s dot com Yeah. Button where they can email me if they want to.James Egidio: 1:03:06

Yeah. Because we live in a time now where they’re trying, this is trying to be, they’re trying to make this the norm. And as I opened up this episode and mentioned, that we’re not to be identified by the world or the world’s standards, but that there’s a God out there that loves us and that we have to pursue ’em. And, to break that barrier, not allow the world to identify you as to who you are, to know that there’s a loving God out there that’s, that, that wants a relationship with you, a real true relationship out with you. Amen. And he’s not gonna let you down.Stephen Bennett: 1:03:39

Yes. Let me tell you how, let me share this one little, I, when people who know me know I talk in rabbit trails, I’ll tell five stories at once. If you can keep up with me, you’re good. anyway, talking about God never letting you down. There was a gentleman when I was living in Provincetown, Massachusetts and looking for God, but I was still actively gay. There was a guy who worked across the street at this bar, which did drag shows. And he was a hawker, if you will, but he was very handsome. He was muscular, he was built, he’d come out many times, he’s wearing a little sailor hat, no shirt, little pair of shorts. And he was going home with people every single night. And I’m gonna be raw and real here. I said to him one night, working across the street, I said, what about me? When is it my turn? And he goes, baby, all you had to do is ask. He goes, I’ll see you on Friday night course. I’m so excited now. So on Fri Friday night, rolls along, I hurry up and close up my art shop outside that I was doing there at the kite shop. He came across and got me. And we go back to his house and I’m have to admit, I’m excited about what’s gonna happen that night. And when I walked in there, his whole bedroom is done like Adonis. They, their columns and curtains. It was just, it was. Outlandish. Anyway, I didn’t care what it looked like. I just was excited about what was gonna happen. And to be honest we got into the bed and he says, goodnight, baby. He gave me a kiss and turned over and went to sleep. And I’m thinking to myself, what the heck? I said, is something that matter. And he turns around and looks at me and he goes, baby, you’re too good. I had I was so hurt and brokenhearted by what this guy said. The next morning I got up, I left, it was six in the morning. I got up and I went back to my apartment and I was just really upset the whole entire time about what happened. Talk about the goodness of God. The most important part of this about the goodness of God is several years later, I found out I inquired about him. Whatever happened to him. They said, Steve, he died from hiv aids. Oh wow. That guy was HIV positive and I could have been infected that night Sure. And documented it from happening. So when you talked about God, the mercy and goodness of God is there for everyone in any way. God is not a respecter of persons. Yeah.James Egidio: 1:05:58

Amen. Amen. And through your ministry, do you have any stories without naming names of people some success stories of people that you witnessed?Stephen Bennett: 1:06:07

Oh, you better believe it. You better believe it.James Egidio: 1:06:09

Just maybe any one in particular that stands out to absolutely. That would be great.Stephen Bennett: 1:06:14

The very first time I ever at a church was at Friendship Baptist Church in Castleton, Vermont. And it was a Baptist church and the pastor invited me there. He never, he didn’t know much about my story except, a friend who went there, told him. And he brought me downstairs for, he goes, I don’t even know what your beliefs are. I said, listen, trust me, we’re good. We’re on the same page. Anyway, I gave I preached that morning. I also gave a concert on Saturday night, the night before. I have, I’m a music the Christian recording artist. I have three, three music CDs out. And I had given a concert that night before and sharing my testimony with a lot of people. I used to these evangelistic concerts where I’d sing and share my testimony throughout the songs interspersed. Anyway, at the very end a woman had come up and she said, I’m a mother. And she goes, would you autograph this CD for me? And I felt a little uncomfortable doing that because it’s about God, it’s not about me. But I did autograph it and she said, I wanna give this to my son, and hopefully one day my son will listen to this. Because on my CD I always put my testimony at the very end. It’s recorded. So when people listen to the music, By God’s Grace. Two songs play nationally on Christian radio during the holidays, during Christmas and Easter. But this particularly is, was evangelism. And she said, I would love for my son to hear your testimony. It was probably about I’d say maybe 10, 10 or 15 years later, maybe 10 years. We were holding a conference at our church at the time, Haven Rest Baptist Church. There was a young couple there a man and a woman, and the guy raised his hand during the time when we were, asking questions and stuff. And he said, do you know who I am? And I said, I have no idea who you are. I said, should I? And he said I just wanna let you know you came to you came to my mother’s church about 10 years ago. Gave a concert, she bought a cd, and you autographed it. and she said, I, one day I want my son to hear this cd. And he said, I listened to your cd. And he said, I prayed and received Jesus Christ. And he said, my life is totally changed. I’m saved. I’m saved for the Lord. And this here is my wife to be. She is. We’re engaged and we’re buying a horse farm here in Connecticut. Wow. I was blown away. I started crying. Of course. There are many stories like that of Yeah. What God has done. And again, I don’t claim it’s not, like Paul said, no, whether this I baptized this one or I have no idea. Yeah. It’s, that’s not up for us. I’m not looking for glory on that. It’s all about, but by God’s grace, I will share this, is that over the last 23 years we’ve had the, and I say this very humbly, we’ve had the privilege of being on every secular show on ABC, CBS, NBC, the Today Show. Yeah. I was on the with Joy Behar on one of the, Yep. Yep. And also with Anderson Cooper, I shared the gospel and gave him my track and not even knowing he was gay. I shared the gospel with Rosie O’Donnell a couple of times. I hate to say she’s really the queen of mean, but that’s okay. God could still change her heart. And yeah. Had the privilege of being on, CNN around TBN all the Christian broadcasts, Daystar and everything. And even the O’Reilly factor, which Bill O’Reilly was mean to me. That’s okay. I saw that. But God it’s all about for God and his glory. Yeah, it is. Use those things to bring us to where we are right now. And again, we’re just loving people as Jesus would loving them during the gospel. And that’s all we have to do. Look, I’d be the rest of the business. It’s amen that. Yeah.James Egidio: 1:09:47

And it’s interesting you say that these shows that you were on, and this was, I, cuz I saw, I went back and I looked at some of the stuff that you had done as far as interviews were concerned. And we’re living in a time now where those very same outlets have taken a different approach. They won’t even give us voice as Christians now they wanna censor us on all this kind of stuff, and then they want to make, they wanna normalize the gay scene. And that was gonna be one of my questions is what’s the biggest challenge that you have in this climate, this social climate when it comes to your.Stephen Bennett: 1:10:24

I hate to say this and I don’t wanna sound like I’m begging here for money, but the biggest challenge really, James is financial support. Simply because a lot of the people who’ve supported our ministry when we, when I was on the O’Reilly Factor are our email jumped almost 20,000 people that very night from the time that aired, right? And we’ve had a lot of elderly people who have supported this ministry over the last 23 years who’ve gone to be with Jesus now. And it dwindles. So that’s why when we go out to churches and preach, hopefully the churches, a number of them will support us as missionaries to the LGBTQ community. And there are people who will support us. We have mom and Pops, $10 a month, $20 a month, every dollar is so important. People out there who are praying people, please pray for support for the ministry you want to donate. We would love too. Of course, take your donation and help you in any way, simply go to Yeah. But God is our provider and we put our trust and faith in him and see what he’s gonna have in this next chapter of our lives in, in reaching the LGBTQ community for Christ. Of course. I’ll just I’ll end with this. The latest of course now is this transgender movement. And that we can do a whole nother episode on, but sure. That is probably the most difficult it’s difficult because again I believe people are dealing with a number of issues when it comes to that. And again, Christian parents are just brokenhearted and devastated. But again, yeah, it’s all we could do is it doesn’t change for gay, lesbian, transgender, it’s loving people as Jesus would and just pointing them to Christ. It’s all we can do.James Egidio: 1:12:00

Yeah. Yeah. And again, too We live in a time where even the churches are not preaching the gospels and they’re conforming to the world and the worldly ways when in turn they should, and I’m not saying every church is guilty of this, but when they should be preaching the gospels and Yes. And preach the fact that homosexuality is sin and call it for what it is.Stephen Bennett: 1:12:28

And a lot of ’em don’t do that. Simply does.James Egidio: 1:12:30

And a lot of them don’t do that. And I always said Satan shows up to church every Sunday. That’s the thing is calling it for what it is. It’s sin, and it’s no different than the sin that I’ve, I commit or committed. And we have to repent for that. And it’s all about the gospels of Jesus Christ. And it’s all about, the only change is Stephen Bennett: 1:12:50

they don’t want, they don’t want to. They don’t wanna offend their woke. That’s the, I use their woke. They just they’re secret sensitive and it’s all about money. And you know what? I don’t wanna be any part of that. If that’s the way your church is, I want nothing to do with you. No. I want people who are willing to preach what the Bible says, whatever it says. I love expository preaching, so God bless the pastors who are out there, who are not wavering when it comes to this issue. Absolutely. And again, absolutely. Let me just mention and I’ll, and hopefully we can end with this, but if anyone wants to bring me to your church, I preach around the country. I’ve been to 42 states right now. Hawaii is not one of ’em. Anyone from Hawaii, gimme a call. But all seriously we’ll come on a love offering basis and if you just let me know. I would love to come to your church. I’d love to do to share my testimony, what God says. Maybe sing a song or two, A worship song for Christ. Yeah. And also my wife is an amazing speaker. She’ll be able to speak to parents, spouses, family members and friends who have loved ones who identify as L G B T Q. Sure. And and even meet with the youth group. And there’s a lot of times we’ll do a pizza party and we’ll meet with the youth group and ask any questions because again, when you hear these kids know a lot more than you do folks. And so we want to be able to make sure that, they’re not being influenced by the culture. Yeah. So anyway, we are here to help you. Simply go to, call me at +1 800-832-3623. And we would love to speak with you.James Egidio: 1:14:21

Yeah. Again, my guest, Steven Bennett, I really appreciate. It’s been a blessing. Thank you. To have you on this show. The 99 Relapses podcast again is website is sbm Thank you so much for listening and God Bless.