Ex-Gay Missionary Interview

Audio Interview Link: http://www.fln.org/news/features/detail/hometown-heroes-matthew-karchner/

“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.'” Mark 16:15

Missionary Bio Link: https://castawayministries.org/about/missionary/

Myanmar Mission Overview

Myanmar borders Thailand to the west. Isolated from the world until recently, its rich culture remains undiluted. I was honored to speak at Innlay (Lake) Baptist Church on a raised platform above monsoon season flood waters- first encouraged, then shared testimony, a call to compassion for those who struggle with same sex attraction and gender identity, shared the gospel with a call to receive Christ (to repent and become a born again believer in Jesus). Many prayed to give their lives to Christ. Praise the Lord. 🙏

A dog rested at the foot of the platform. Pastor said the dog is an honorary church member and howls along when certain hymns are sung. That is what I call rich culture!

Armed with the Bible in Burmese and Google Translate, my wife and I street witnessed. Occasionally we encountered someone who could speak English. Although there was resistance to the gospel (much more than other countries in the region), some received with gladness. We connected with a number of people via social media for follow-up. Praise the Lord.

Side note:  In photos to follow on Castaway Ministries’ Facebook page, note that I am wearing a “lungyi” and “thanaka” (see below links). Interestingly, in past gay life, I don’t recall wearing a skirt or helping carry a purse… not until I married a woman. Haha!

Finally, God used this mission to grow me and my wife closer as a missionary couple. Thank the Lord for Rebekah.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myanmar
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longyi
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanaka

Click here to watch the Video: Myanmar Mission Overview.

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Key Initiative: Serve the Church

FB_IMG_1497842747234-1Friends:

Thank you for your prayer support.

Considering the sensitive nature of this ministry, providing a public blog update is a challenge to say the least. We apologize for any lack of clarity. Please feel free to contact us with questions.

Castaway Ministries purpose is:  “To share the gospel of Jesus Christ by word and deed in the U.S. and abroad. To teach.”
We consider our primary costumers (those we are called to serve) to be:

  • Those who struggle with same sex attraction and gender identity
  • Families & friends of those who struggle
  • Churches who want to reach out

A few weeks ago, my wife and I attended her friend’s wedding outside of town. There on a Sunday, we prayerfully researched local churches. During food & fellowship after the service, we encountered a very sensitive SSA situation. The Lord opened the door to help.

These and similar situations have reiterated that we need to actively pursue speaking engagements at churches.

We do this primarily through testimony and song. In short, the message is:  “Stop beating up the broken.”
We aim to:

  • Be the Voice of the Broken- to stand up for the young man or woman in the pew who feels alone.
  • Build compassion through awareness for the reality of these struggles.
  • Encourage churches to accept the broken and provide a compassionate safe place for them to come to know Christ and grow in Him.

We plan to generate a growing list of churches that preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and are willing to accept the broken.

We piloted with two churches. The Lord led to a church with whom I had a previous relationship dating back to 2011. Pastor agreed to add us for the Sunday service. I shared testimony and a call to compassion: ‘(testimony)…Praise the Lord… Maybe people will accept me now that I have a wife. But there are many others out there who have repented and given their lives to Jesus but continue to struggle. Maybe it’s not God’s plan for everyone to have a wife. I don’t know what it’s like to be you until I have been you. You don’t know what it’s like to be me until you’ve been me…. Please have compassion…’ My wife and I then sang “Amazing Grace”.

Now let’s step back for a moment and imagine this ministry. A man walks into a church and claims that God changed him from a sinful gay lifestyle to a monogamous heterosexual lifestyle. My wife standing there in the flesh gives Doubting Thomas something he can see and touch. Without my wife next to me, this type of ministry is only marginally effective. Praise the Lord for my wife.

“A man who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” – Proverbs 18:22

Would you like for us to visit your church or ministry? Please click here to request.

The Lord is driving to do more. We need your financial support. Click here to Donate to Castaway Ministries.

Ministry Update

As much as I have wrestled with trying to paint a Norman Rockwell portrait of this ministry, it just can’t be done. It’s nontraditional, and I would not be doing it unless the Lord had led after 6 years of training.

God made each of us (Genesis 1:11:27). He loves each of us (Luke 12:7). Although some of us look cleaner than others, we are all sinners (Romans 3:23). A prostitute’s sin is no less forgivable than a pastor’s sin (1 John 1:9Acts 10:34).

Please Note: I apologize in advance for using the term “ladyboy”. The term is not considered derogatory in Thailand, is more specific than “transgender” and less labor-intensive than stating “Male to female transgender” repeatedly.

As much as I have wrestled with trying to paint a Norman Rockwell portrait of this ministry, it just can’t be done. It’s nontraditional, and I would not be doing it unless the Lord had led after 6 years of training.

God made each of us (Genesis 1:11:27). He loves each of us (Luke 12:7). Although some of us look cleaner than others, we are all sinners (Romans 3:23). A prostitute’s sin is no less forgivable than a pastor’s sin (1 John 1:9; Acts 10:34).

Please Note: I apologize in advance for using the term “ladyboy”. The term is not considered derogatory in Thailand, is more specific than “transgender” and less labor-intensive than stating “Male to female transgender” repeatedly.

 

It’s difficult to express in words how strong Thai and Cambodian cultures are. In the West, we expect parents to support their children… sometimes into adulthood. In Cambodia and Thailand, your children are your social security. Young people commonly move from the countryside to the city to make money to send back to their families… sometimes taking a “whatever it takes” approach.

Many ladyboys in Thailand are prostitutes. (Same applies in the U.S.) According to one man who moved from the poor Cambodian countryside to Bangkok and now lives as a ladyboy, his decisions to begin taking hormones, have surgery and become a prostitute hinged on the need to make money for his family. Previously he had been dating women and had no attraction to men. It seems there is a noble aspect in his mind to the choices he has made.

A common challenge in sharing the gospel in the West is that people do not want to admit they are sinners. It is refreshing to share the gospel in an environment where sin is so blatant.

‘I take money for #™™*%&. Of course I have sin,’ remarked one.

The Lord uses the Cambodia connection (lived there before moving to Thailand). He has led to 3 Cambodian ladyboys who live in Thailand and feel isolated from their beloved culture. Through even a simple Cambodian greeting or mention of a common food, the Lord can provide comfort and build a bridge.

 

They say that a ladyboy in Thailand makes roughly $30-$90 USD per date. The bars are overflowing every night of the week.

For perspective, a professional in the Cambodian countryside can make roughly $100-200 per month.

When first approaching a ladyboy on the street, I am viewed as a “customer”. This makes for an interesting dynamic.

The sex tourism industry abounds in Pattaya, a Thai beach town. Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. Two recent nights there yielded rich ministry experience. In evangelizing, we focus on those who may typically be overlooked (ex. LGBT community). But in doing so, we do not purpose to overlook others. The gospel is for all and applies to all.

 

Freeze Frame Moment: Young man in corset and heels up the steps at the entrance of a strip bar raises a fist and shouts “Prah Yesu! (God Jesus)”, commencing the 2nd night’s walk throughs.

Although many scoff, the gospel of Jesus Christ is being shared, and people are being called to repentance. Interestingly many have been exposed to the gospel in the past. Sometimes it appears we are united in response to a praying mother or friend.

Bottom line is this ain’t rocket science, and it ain’t Matt. It’s the Lord at work.

PRAISE THE LORD for his undeserved favor for all!

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Nana Plaza, Bangkok

Survival Guide for the New Believer

The Bible refers to people as lost sheep. We need a Shepherd. Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11). Accept no substitute.

Your pastor, dad, mom, best friend, etc. may help point you to the Shepherd, but remember that none of them is the Shepherd. If your dad disappoints you, Jesus did not disappoint you. Your dad is a sinful human (1 John 1:8), and he disappointed you. People will always let us down.

Although perhaps varying in degree across cultures, it seems to be much more common to follow someone we can see rather than to follow Jesus. So we find ourselves following a curious blend of Scripture + someone’s opinions.

The Bible is the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Before taking a stand on issues “in the gray areas” (not clearly condemned or approved in Scripture), seek the Lord (James 1:5-6).

Movements react to one another, and out of these wars come strong opinions that are not necessarily those of the Shepherd.

Truth is difficult to hear. Despite appearance, the majority is not following Jesus. If your faith is dependent on your pastor’s walk or your someone else’s walk, you will fall when they stumble.

New believer, you have entered a war. A strong relationship with Jesus is vital. You must be willing to stand alone.
Talk to Jesus daily. Read the Bible daily. The Bible is not a text book that we study for a while and then put away. Go to church weekly. These are not optional. These are requirements.

Be careful out there, friend.

See Hebrews 4:16; 1 John 1:9; Philippians 4:6; Hebrews 4:12; Acts 17:11; Hebrews 10:25

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,”   – Ephesians 6:11‭-‬18