After "coming out" I found myself alienated from fellowship with other believers because of the long-standing views on homosexuality that exists in almost every mainstream congregation, especially in the Bible belt of Oklahoma. Now God has blessed me to be a part of an awesome congregation of like-minded believers that have come together to form the family of Diversity Christian Fellowship International.
Located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, DCFI had its beginnings in July 2000. Through a variety of circumstances God brought us out of another congregation to begin a new work. Our goal was to form a fellowship that was based on the Word of God, not politics and agendas. We had good intentions but at the time lacked the direction as how to proceed. But God blessed our efforts.
After meeting in a clubhouse of a member's neighborhood association, we moved into a storefront property to have regular services. Typically twenty to thirty people were in attendance on any given Sunday. And we pressed on. In August, after only one month at our new home we realized we could no longer be accommodated at that location and began searching for a larger facility. God gave us favor with our landlord who released us from our lease with no penalties.
How we found our present location is nothing but God's handiwork. One of our members was forced to take a detour due to construction and drove by a church that was for sale. It had sat for two years with not one single offer. We made arrangements to view the property and instantly knew it was where we belonged. But it belonged to a Bible Holiness group, and we were fearful that we would be unable to obtain it. But God was at work and we were able to negotiate an agreement to purchase the property. At one meeting God provided more than $1,500.00 for a deposit, and we moved in.
Things haven't always been easy. Following God's direction never is, so it seems. There were various things that God led us to change, including the structure of the leadership of the church. Again, God brought things into line with His will. It was a shaking that resulted in several people leaving the church for a time. But God began to move. When the politics and agendas are out of the way, God can do awesome things.
It's been a year and six months since we began this journey. God has been faithful. We joined a fellowship of other like-minded churches, called Grace Ministries, now Joshua Ministries. We have experienced an outpouring of His Holy Spirit like we've never seen before. And we've outgrown our facility again.
We've seen more than twenty people accept Christ as their Savior in the past month! In the last six months we've gone from an average of thirty people Sunday mornings to over seventy! A nationally known "mainstream" minister even agreed to speak at a recent revival meeting, with full knowledge of who we are.
Even as I write this, we are in the process of beginning plans for a new sanctuary to accommodate the growth we are experiencing. We are working on an HIV resource project for the community. We have state-licensed counselors in our congregation and are working to develop a community counseling center that is affordable for everyone.
We offer traditional Sunday school classes, regular worship services, ministry training classes, and weekly Bible studies to help those who are unable to attend at regular times, regular congregational prayer meetings, and even more things in the works. We created a "Coffee Shop" fellowship area that is open at specific times to provide additional opportunity for our people to enjoy each other's company. We are a congregation geared to worship, with an "old-time" Pentecostal flavor, with just a hint of Charismatic flair. We strive to provide a variety so that everyone in our vastly diverse group feels included.
If you're ever in the Tulsa area, you're invited to drop by for a visit. But be warned, many stop by, but most stay.
Brad Stanley is an ordained minister through Diversity Christian Fellowship International, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He operates as Assistant Pastor as well as Director of Music for our congregation. He attended Southwestern College of Christian Ministries, a Pentecostal Holiness college, for three and 1/2 years prior to his "coming out."
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