What is Called2Love?
Tom Bartlett and his wife Ginni, are the leaders of Called2Love, a Discovery Church support group helping those who have a friend or family member in the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) lifestyle understand the issue and find loving solutions.
This is one of the most complex conversations of our time, why did you get into it?
This issue is very complex and I never thought that it would be part of my life or that God would be leading Ginni and myself to start a ministry for parents and friends of those involved in the LGBT lifestyle. Ginni and I know that we are not experts nor qualified to give people advice or solutions, we only want to have a place for people to be able to share what they are feeling, to know that they are not alone and to offer a safe place for them.
I hear you have several LGBT friends and family members, how has that impacted the work you do?
I have a family member who is gay and has been with the same partner for over 25 years. I loved her before I knew she was gay and I love her and her partner even more today. There is nothing that we would not do for each other. My daughter came out about 6 years ago and she is planning on marrying her fiancé. Ginni and I instantly told her we loved her no matter what. There was no hesitation in how we felt then and how we feel now.
No matter what you read or how much you hear about this issue, nothing can prepare you until it becomes part of your life, till then it’s always someone else’s issue. I’ve seen to many parents and family members turn from their children when they have found out they’re gay. The pain that, that can cause is overwhelming, we must remember that no matter what we are called to love first.
You mentioned that recently you had a near death experience, what was that like?
In April I had a heart attack and as of today I have had 4 heart catheterizations and 8 stents. As I laid in the back of my car having the heart attack the first thoughts were “thank you God for forgiving me my sins” then everything seemed to fade and all I felt was thankfulness and love, there was no shame or worry. I used to wonder how many times God forgives and now I know with all my heart that He forgives us until we are with Him.
Do you think the church will become irrelevant if it doesn’t accept homosexuality?
I don’t think that the church will become irrelevant, but I think this is an issue that can’t be ignored. We can’t just hope it will go away, there are too many people who are suffering because they have nowhere to turn. That is why we went to Berry Johnston and started Called2Love.
It is our desire to have a place where people can come to feel safe in sharing, to hear God’s voice, to hear how others are coping and if necessary how to love their friends or family again.
All I know is that I’m an expert at sinning and a novice at forgiving, I need other peoples help and I need to know I am not alone.