Couple Freed from Homosexual, Eating Issues

PFOX_SafeRICHMOND, Va.—John and Donna Lawlor struggled with issues of homosexuality in their marriage, but ultimately found healing, restoration and forgiveness. Now, they are working to help others overcome similar issues, including sharing their story with those who are hearing impaired.

The Lawlors are just two of several speakers committed to the Safe Exit program from Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX,, the nation’s leading advocacy organization that offers love and support to families and friends of individuals with unwanted same-sex attraction and gender confusion and also supports the ex-gay community.

“Like the Lawlors, people struggling with same-sex attractions and homosexuality often turn to the church for help,” said PFOX Executive Director Regina Griggs. “But, unfortunately, many churches are not equipped to handle this complex issue, and either give discouraging answers or no answers at all. The goal of PFOX’s Safe Exit program is to help churches become places of safety for those struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions and gender confusion, while also being a place of truth that helps them in their journey.”

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John Lawlor grew up with a physically and emotionally abusive alcoholic father. His parents divorced when John was 5, once his mother discovered that his father had been sexually abusing the children in the family. One of John’s older sisters also molested John at an early age. The pressures of raising seven children alone weighed heavily on John’s mother, to the point at which she became suicidal and hospitalized. John, at 16, was then in charge of the family.

“Throughout my life, I had always found it easier to build friendships with males rather than females,” John says. “I wanted someone to love me. I wanted someone to trust me. There was a hole in my life that I could not fill. Two people told me early on that my attraction to my own sex meant that I was a homosexual. One was a stranger. The other was a psychiatrist, who told me that I ‘needed to come out of the closet’ and promote my homosexuality and lifestyle.”

Eventually, John left home for a job in Miami and became involved in his first long-term homosexual relationship, which, he says, he knew was wrong. When the relationship ended, John was devastated and lost his job and home. He turned to the Miami Rescue Mission for help and found the Lord. There, he also found Donna, who played piano for the mission, and married her. But he never asked God for help overcoming his same-sex attractions, nor did he leave the homosexual lifestyle completely. A disturbing dream helped him start to fight against his homosexual tendencies, but he again allowed himself to “entertain impure thoughts,” and after eight years of marriage, his lustful thoughts increased and he was ready for divorce.

Convinced of his plan, he wrote a letter to a former homosexual lover and met up with him, but was overcome with guilt, confessed everything to Donna, and asked her to forgive him. John knew he still needed help and found it through a church revival, which included a presentation from a ministry that focused on overcoming lies and surrendering to God.

“I choose to give up the homosexual lifestyle and serve a living God,” John says. “Homosexuality destroys everything it touches; your relationship with God, and with your family. Homosexuality kills. It can kill your body, but more importantly, it can kill your soul.”

John’s wife, Donna, was raised in a Christian home but experienced hurt when her father had an adulterous relationship and her parents divorced. Donna went on to become a college student, studying Spanish and the Bible. At a friend’s invitation, she began playing piano at the Miami Rescue Mission, where she met her future husband, John, who was in the process of leaving the homosexual lifestyle.

Years later, and after the Lawlors had two children, Donna was shocked when John told her he wanted a divorce so he could return to his homosexual partner. She sought help from area churches, but pastors and counselors were ill-equipped in homosexual relationship issues. When John returned to their home and their marriage, Donna forgave him, knowing that her sins were as great and as damaging as his struggles with homosexuality.

“I had to forgive John,” Donna says, “because according to the scripture in Matthew 6:15, Jesus said, ‘but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your father forgive your trespasses.’”

When John was struggling with homosexuality, Donna was struggling with eating issues and obesity. In 1996, she says, they both “came out of hiding ourselves with our sins.” Donna lost 170 pounds in six months, and the couple traveled to Cross Over Ministries in Lexington, Ky., for a season of healing in their spiritual lives.

“Since that time we have grown in many ways,” Donna says. “My experiences with having a spouse who struggled with homosexuality helps me understand many … who still believe the lies told them by Satan and worldly counselors.”

Safe Exit offers curriculum, expert speakers and ongoing support to churches that want to open their doors to those struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions and gender confusion, and to support those who’ve left the homosexual lifestyle. The Lawlors, along with others, will share their personal stories as Safe Exit speakers for interested churches.

Griggs says thousands of men and women with unwanted same sex attractions and gender confusion make the personal decision to leave behind their former gay identity and often approach churches for help in their journey.

Besides Griggs and the Lawlors, other Safe Exit speakers include:

  • David Pickup: a licensed marriage and family therapist in California with extensive background in talk therapy who serves as president of the International Institute for Reorientation Therapies.
  • Chris Delaney: an ordained minister through International Ministerial Fellowship who has full-time ministry experience through Channels of Love to those infected/affected with AIDS; he has also worked with Agape Outreach Ministries and founded Joseph’s Coat Ministries, which reaches out to men and women struggling with same-sex attractions.
  • Denise Shick: an author and the founder of the ministry, who grew up with a transgender father.
  • Melissa Ingraham: a licensed mental health counselor in New York who works with women on depression, anxiety, confusion, gender identity and unwanted same-sex attraction issues; she also previously identified as a lesbian. Melissa is the wife of ex-gay ministry leader Garry Ingraham and the mother of two children.
  • Garry Ingraham: the executive director of the Love & Truth Network ministry in New York. Love and Truth Ministry works to equip Christian leaders to develop safe and transformational environments for the vast majority of Christians experiencing relational and sexual brokenness. Garry struggled with same-sex attractions and pornography addiction throughout his life.
  • Dave Edwards: after experiencing childhood scars involving an absent biological father and an abusive step-father, David spent seven years in the homosexual lifestyle.
  • Bonnie Morgan and Phyllis Trapp: identical twins, one who lived as a lesbian and one who did not. Bonnie found healing when Phyllis introduced her to a Christian music program.
  • Flo Hubbs: lived as a lesbian for 14 years; she received healing through an evangelist and a support group of women; Flo’s testimony is featured on the PFOX web site, and she currently leads a PFOX group in Illinois.

Churches interested in finding out more about Safe Exit can visit


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