Deliverance from Same-Sex Attraction
While growing up in Ohio, Sarah Mourer kept a secret she refused to divulge to anyone: she felt like a boy trapped in the wrong body.
Although those feelings eventually dissipated, the sensation of gender confusion and being different didn't.
"I felt like something was terribly wrong with me," Mourer says.
On the surface, Sarah seemed to have it all together as a straight-A student who finished first in her class. No one at the local Assembly of God church she and her family attended had a clue that the girl involved for three years in Junior Bible Quiz as well as youth group had serious problems.
As early as her elementary school years, Sarah battled suicidal thoughts. In high school she went binge drinking with friends. When she began injuring herself in college by cutting, friends convinced her to seek medical treatment.
In counseling, a psychiatrist prescribed antidepressants. However, Sarah didn't reveal the homosexual feelings behind her struggle. Her parents, Duane and Marla Mourer, never suspected anything amiss.
Despite her same-sex urges, Mourer didn't act out until college - with a girlfriend who attended the same church. Mourer lived in two worlds, leading a women's Bible study while engaged in a lesbian relationship.
A few years after graduation, Mourer, who by then also had developed a drug dependency, bought a house with another woman in the Pacific Northwest. As a full-time public school biology teacher, Mourer became the faculty adviser for the Gay Straight Alliance, a support group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students.
"I was tired of being quiet about it," Mourer says. "I became loud and proud."
Mourer's parents disapproved of the lifestyle their daughter revealed. Initially, Marla tried to preach to Sarah, but that proved ineffective.
"I thought I was born like that, so it wasn't an argument I would listen to," Sarah recalls.
"We realized we were not going to change her, only God could do that," Duane says. "So we put Sarah into His hands."
Marla kept a photo of Sarah in her Bible and prayed diverse Scripture passages over her daughter every day. Marla determined to keep the lines of communication open by periodically sending packaged baked goodies to Sarah - and her partner. Duane and Marla also enlisted the prayer support of a tightknit group of close friends.
Nevertheless, Sarah got engaged to her girlfriend, and the two began planning their future together. Sarah's partner purchased her wedding dress and the couple reserved a venue and hired a photographer. The two talked of having children through artificial insemination. Sarah requested that her father walk her down the aisle and give her away at the upcoming ceremony.
Duane knew as a deacon at Victory Assembly of God in Newcomerstown, Ohio, that he couldn't bless the lesbian nuptials by attending. Marla and Sarah's two older sisters, Michel Williams and Lisa Mason, also declined invitations. Sarah felt crushed, especially given that her fiancée's family saw no qualms with the relationship.
Mourer's parents visited in March 2012, five months before the scheduled union.
"We didn't have any agenda," Marla says. "We just wanted her to know we loved her no matter what. That wasn't going to change, regardless of her decisions."
Sarah sat her parents down to watch a documentary that concluded the Bible really didn't condemn homosexuality. Unconvinced, Marla recommended Sarah ask Jesus about his views on homosexual marriage.
That night in her bedroom, with her partner away, Sarah asked God to show himself if He was real. When nothing happened after a few seconds, Sarah vocalized, "OK, I don't think You exist." Immediately afterwards, Sarah says a muscular, large, red demon appeared at the foot of her bed. Although the evil spirit didn't speak, Sarah says he laughed creepily.
Sarah began screaming, as if someone was about to kill her. Although inclined to rush into the adjoining bedroom and rescue their daughter, Duane and Marla - knowing no one else was in the house - determined to stay put. Duane recognized the sounds of his daughter in the throes of spiritual warfare.
Meanwhile, Sarah became hoarse from screeching, as she sensed the entire room turning red and felt pressure from the demon in her chest. She grew more terrified, and fell facedown on the floor, crying out to Jesus to save her.
Although she attended church as a child and into college, Sarah didn't grasp until that night that she lacked a saving relationship with Jesus. As she detected the demon fleeing, she went into the bedroom where her parents stayed. Sarah says she heard God speaking clearly in her head, answering important questions.
Sarah says God explained the same-sex attraction began as a seed planted when she was 5 years old and she and a playmate acted inappropriately with each other.
"That built a foundation of lies that came later," Sarah says. She says God continued in the next few minutes with revelations she didn't really want to hear.
"I understood if I continued down the path I was going I would die," Sarah says. "I knew I had a choice to make and I needed to change. I wasn't a happy convert at all. I was mad at God for ruining my life."
Yet God answered the prayers Duane, Marla, and their intercessory friends uttered for eight years. In fact, that night Marla was baptized in the Holy Spirit. For more than a decade, she repeatedly had sought speaking in tongues.
"I was so desperate for God to intervene because it was more than I could handle," Marla says. "It just started to flow out of me. I was able to forget about myself."
Sarah understood she needed to tell her betrothed that the wedding must be canceled and the sexual relationship must stop. Initially, Sarah's partner railed at her for ripping their lives apart. But Sarah says God delivered both her and her partner from same-sex lust. Her former partner now is married to a man.
In July 2013, Sarah moved back to Ohio. She no longer goes on drinking binges nor is she on medication for depression. At 33, she is a full-time high school teacher who attends Victory Assembly with her parents and sisters.
Pastor Brent F. Heishman has known Sarah well since she moved to Ohio two years ago. He saw her occasionally for a dozen years before, when she periodically visited.
"There has been a tremendous transformation," Heishman says. "She runs after God with all her heart. She has a call to do missions work."
Heishman and his wife, Lisa, have been mentoring Sarah, who serves on the leadership team of the small, rural church. In the past two years, Heishman says prayers of attendees at Victory Assembly have led to physical healings of people in the church and in the community practically every week.
According to Heishman, Sarah has found a niche in effectively praying for young people going through circumstances similar to what she experienced.
"God is increasingly using her to encourage families who have sons or daughters struggling with gender identity," Heishman says. "She has a positive, nonthreatening way of doing that. She isn't a bridge burner condemning or ostracizing the gay and lesbian community."
Sarah says she now is attracted to men and is a firm believer that deliverance is available from same-sex attraction.
"I'm not a poster child for this," Sarah says. "People are being delivered all the time. Everyone's story doesn't look like mine, but parents grieving over their kids need to have hope."