Mike Haley was once a male prostitute. Now he works for the conservative Christian organization Focus on the Family, sharing its vision of redeeming families, communities, and societies worldwide through Christ.
At Monday’s convocation Haley shared his personal story of redemption, which included a father who called him worthless when he couldn’t live up to his dreams of becoming a macho athlete, being a victim of sexual abuse from age 11 to 18, and living the homosexual lifestyle for 12 years.
Now the director of the Gender Issues Department of Focus on the Family, Haley said many times what a long “process” it was to leave homosexuality, but how God is still in the business of changing lives.
Haley, now happily married and a father of two sons, had a long road to recovery with many obstacles along the way. It was with the initial help of a mentor, later to become a close friend, that he was able to leave the lifestyle behind for good.
“He would not leave me alone. … I would move, he would track me down, he would send me birthday cards. I literally remember getting cards in the mail that would say, ‘I don’t even know if you live at this address, but I want you to know I love you, that God loves you and that change is possible.’ I would write back the nastiest, ugly letters and say, ‘Leave me alone, I was born this way.’”
The man, Jeff Konrad, challenged him to present the evidence.
As Haley took him up on the challenge and poured into all the studies, “the very foundation upon which my entire life was based absolutely began to crumble,” he said. “I saw these studies had never been replicated, they were full of research bias, it’s on and on … I came to the end of myself.”
(Some of the letters the two wrote are included in the book, “You Don’t Have to Be Gay,” by Konrad.)
Referring to the Bible story of the prodigal son, Haley said, “One of my favorite parts of that story is when the prodigal son comes to the end of himself, where does he go? He goes home. Why does he go home? Because he believes that he can.”
Haley said the church must learn to embrace people like himself.
“Let me tell you there are many men and women like myself who have grown up in a conservative Christian environment,” he continued, “that when we come to the end of ourselves, we don’t believe that there’s a safe place that we can return — we don’t believe there’s a church that’s going to take us in and allow us to go through the process.”
It was through Konrad, he said, that he saw “a very different Jesus than I had ever been exposed to.”
In closing he gave his own challenge: “I’m hoping that you haven’t heard the story of an ex-gay man, but instead what you’ve heard is the story of a powerful God ... who will go out of his way to reach one that many believe to be beyond his grasp ... and that it often takes somebody within the body of Christ, like yourself, that’s willing to get out of your comfort zone, to reach out to somebody that’s different than you, that may gross you out, that you may not understand, so that you can help that person to see … that God’s grace is sufficient.”
Haley was introduced by Dr. Daryl Pitts, Counseling Pastor and Director of Freedom Ministries at Thomas Road Baptist Church. Haley was scheduled to speak at a Freedom Ministries session later on Monday. Click here for more on Freedom Ministries at TRBC.
Haley also serves as chairman of the board of directors of Exodus International, the world’s largest Christian ministry offering support to individuals who want to walk away from homosexuality. To read his full testimony, click here.