A New Dwelling Place
As pastor of The Dwelling Place in the village of Holland, Ohio, Josh Plaisance last year oversaw the planting of an Assemblies of God congregation in the nearby small community of Swanton. Currently, The Dwelling Place, located on the west edge of Toledo, is in the process of becoming a Parent Affiliate Church to an additional new work in Woodville, another small town. By next Easter, The Dwelling Place expects to start a fourth work in the metro Columbus area.
The 37-year-old Plaisance believes the expansion is an indication of God's mercy. Plaisance is well known and respected in his community, where he serves on the chamber of commerce board. He also is an AG area presbyter.
Such an existence seemed unlikely in Plaisance's youth. He traces the turnaround in his life to attendance at a church-sponsored community drama at the age of 17 in Wausau, Wisconsin. He accepted Jesus as Savior at a discipleship follow-up led by Kim A. Buckman, then youth pastor at Christian Assembly in Wausau. Three weeks later, Plaisance was baptized in the Holy Spirit at a Sunday night service.
Buckman spent many evenings teaching Plaisance the basics of the faith -- as the teen made a habit of showing up at Buckman home just as he and his wife Jennifer sat down to eat dinner.
"Sometimes you can just tell there is a call on a kid's life," says the 55-year-old Buckman, who now is pastor of Harvestime Assembly of God in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
Christian Assembly Senior Pastor Dennis M. Romine also discipled Plaisance in the early going.
A year into the mentoring process, Plaisance revealed that he had begun experimenting sexually with a hockey buddy at the age of 11, which developed into a lengthy homosexual relationship at 14. No one else suspected the secret lifestyle of Plaisance, who served as student council president at his school.
In the mid-1990s, few people talked openly about homosexual relationships, and the topic rarely arose in Pentecostal circles.
"Kim and Dennis supported me and mentored me and helped me walk away from the gay lifestyle," Plaisance says. "They said they didn't care where I came from; they were excited to see where God's plan for my life was going to take me. Kim and Dennis valued me as a person more than anything else."
The trio remain friends who regularly keep in touch today.
After high school, Plaisance enrolled at the Brownsville Revival School of Ministry in Pensacola, Florida.
"Before he moved to Pensacola, Josh had resolved his issues and had moved forward in his Christian walk," says the 65-year-old Romine, who has been senior pastor at Christian Assembly since 1991. "Through his own determination to become a student of the Word he was already maturing in Christ. He made his Christian witness known to everyone he met, even initiating off-campus Bible studies at his high school."
Plaisance's future wife Stacey learned of his past when he spoke at the Brownsville school. The couple wed in 2000, seven months after they met. They have three children, Aidan, 14; Bryce, 12; and Caylin, 11.
His children learned of his past struggles on June 26, the day of the Supreme Court same-sex marriage ruling.
Plaisance, who has been free from the gay lifestyle for two decades, has put accountability on all his electronic devices and he is transparent with a group of Christian men. He daily refers to Romans 12:1-2.
Plaisance doesn't shy away from preaching about sexual sin at church.
"There are no differing levels of sexual sin," Plaisance says. "If an unmarried man is having sexual relations with his girlfriend, it's as displeasing to God as two men or two women doing the same."
Occasionally Plaisance says he has the opportunity to minister to those in a gay or lesbian lifestyle.
"It depends on their attitude and the condition of their heart -- if they are open to change by the Holy Spirit," Plaisance says. "I can't say if you do these four steps change will happen. Circumstances are different with each person, but I know what the power of Christ has done in my life."
Plaisance believes Christians too often are either afraid to engage in conversation with gays and lesbians because they don't want to be offensive, or they are too apathetic to care about the person.
"Discussion about the lifestyle often comes down to either being so grace-based the truth is limited or so truth-based the conversation is limited," Plaisance says. "Grace and truth must be balanced and come together."