WASHINGTON — Two survivors of the 2016 Pulse nightclub mass shooting who no longer identify as gay are inviting Christians to repent for how the church has treated LGBT-identified persons in the past.
Before approximately 200 persons at the Sylvan Theater near the Washington Monument for the Freedom March, Angel Colon and Luis Javier Ruiz shared part of their own journeys out of homosexual lives and into the Kingdom of God. They made a point to offer repentance and ask for forgiveness on behalf of the church to LGBT-identified persons, expressing their heart to reach out and believing that a move of the Holy Spirit is at hand.
Taking the stage together in the 80-degree heat, Colon stressed that God has given believers authority to shake the foundation of the nation's capital and to proclaim to the nation that "change is possible in Christ."
Even as the shooter was gunning down dozens of people that night in the nightclub in Orlando, Colon tapped into that authority. As bullets flew and bodies started falling all around him, he drew upon the faith he was raised in and began to declare that he was not going to leave the nightclub dead. Colon was shot several times that night and was unable to move.
"As I laid on the ground ... I prayed to the Lord. And I started prophetically speaking [over] my life and said 'Lord, I am not leaving this building dead tonight. You promised me that I had a purpose in life. You promised me that there was a ministry in my future," Colon said.
"You promised my mom that [the] baby inside of her womb was special and had a purpose in his life. So tonight I am not leaving here dead, Lord. I am leaving here alive. And when I leave here alive I am going to worship you for the rest of my life."
He elaborated that true deliverance and freedom in Christ means that when temptation to sin comes, as it does, to face it and say: "I don't want you, I want Jesus."
Colon met Ruiz the night of the Pulse shooting and had no idea that nearly three years later they would be in ministry together, a ministry called Fearless Identity.
"We have learned what true peace is. We have learned what true happiness is. We have learned what true love is in Jesus Christ, that our identity is not in our sexuality but it is in Jesus," he said.
A move of God is at hand among those who have been set free from sexual sin, those at the Freedom March stressed.
Ruiz, who was also born into a Christian home and raised in the faith, credited his parents for their faithfulness.
"The reason that I'm here is because I had a mother and a father that never compromised the Gospel, that prayed and prayed and believed not in my situation but in my destiny," Ruiz said, receiving cheers from the crowd.
"It wasn't a gay to straight thing. It was a lost to saved thing," he said.
"One thing that the LGBTQ has, and it's really good, is that they didn't get to choose. It's not like the Enemy came to my bed and said 'Hey, fill out these lists of sins and we're going to work with them for the rest of your life.' No, I didn't get to choose. But the Word of God now shows me that now I get to respond to it. "
Ruiz added: "Even though I might be tempted every day, I choose Jesus. Because he is the only man in my life. He's the only man that didn't sleep with my best friend. He's the only man that has been loyal to me. His name is Jesus, and that's who I choose."
The Pulse shooting survivors both knelt down and led those gathered in a prayer of identificational repentance, asking the LGBT community to forgive the church for previous generations of rejection and mistreatment of them in years past.
"We want to ask forgiveness for how they have treated you. This is a new day, baby. And we're coming in love, we're coming in relationship. We're coming with Jesus," he declared.
"Father, I thank you for what you are about to do in America ... I believe that something is being birthed out of here today. Lord, we want you back in the forefront of America as we stand in the front lines of society and culture."
Colon told The Christian Post in an interview following his words Saturday that "God has given us authority and power to rise up against anything else that is not in His will. And that change is possible."
Joshua-Perez Rijos, who is from Orlando but was not present at Pulse that night yet is part of Fearless Identity and traveled to Washington to be a part of the Freedom March, commented that this movement is about equipping the church on how to love again.
"It's going to teach the church how to love profoundly, with a genuine love, a book of Acts type love. The church has lost that because of culture, religion and doctrine, but the Lord is rising on people who know how to love people back to life," he told CP.
The first Freedom March, founded by Jeffrey McCall, a former trans-identified male prostitute, occurred last year in Washington, D.C., at the same location. A subsequent march was held in Los Angeles in the fall. Next month, the Freedom March will take place in St. Paul, Minnesota.
On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen, killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in a mass shooting inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Police shot and killed Mateen following an approximately three-hour standoff.