7.5.11 by Chiara Bonello
A Facebook event inviting people to listen to the testimony of three homosexual persons whose life has been 'turned around by the love and power of Jesus Christ' was 'hijacked', according to its creator, Gordon John Manche, a pastor of the Evangelical Faith.
There was a strong reaction to this event, with various people bombarding the Facebook page and its creator with negative comments.
A protest was to be held later today, by those who don't believe what Mr Manche is doing is right, but this was cancelled.
It was cancelled when the Żebbuġ police station informed the would-be protesters that anyone attending the event would be arrested, because the necessary permits had not been
Cyrus Engerer, who was helping to obtain the necessary permits, contacted police headquarters and was told that applications must be submitted 48 hours prior to a protest, according to Pia Micallef, one of the would-be protesters.
She also pointed out that the police said that if the protest is peaceful it may be held, however the Żebbuġ police then contacted Mr Engerer and informed him that any person protesting will be arrested.
The protest was cancelled, but Ms Micallef invited those who believe in the cause to continue to support it. The group intending to protest said homosexuality is not a sin.
They said that this man was promoting hate and discrimination through this event.
'Made new by the power of Christ', created by Mr Manche, invited people to attend 'River of Love Christian Fellowship' where three people will be giving their testimony of how their life has been turned around by the love and power of Jesus Christ.
The event was created at around midnight, between Thursday and yesterday, and was immediately the recipient of a barrage of critical messages, including that the freedom people need is that from people like Mr Manche.
It was online for several hours, before it was removed due to the fact that it was taken over by these people, Mr Manche said, adding that these people are trying to cast a bad shadow over the Evangelical Church.
He questioned what a comment, posted on the Facebook event 'Protest against Gordon-John Manche's homophobia', which said that they would not be going down without a fight, meant.
"Nobody converted these men, they changed by themselves, when they saw the love of Christ," he said, adding that of the five people who have left "this life behind, three would like to marry and have children."
"(The protesters) are not showing love or tolerance, despite accusing me of being intolerant and homophobic," he said, adding that they obviously accept everyone in their weekly meetings, even gay persons, and don't speak against people.
The thing is that whoever gives his life to Jesus Christ realises by himself that they do not want to live that lifestyle. "I didn't sit down with any of them and preach to them," he said.
"We preach about the love of Jesus Christ and the fact that God hates sin but loves sinners. Yes, we are against sin, and homosexuality is a sin, but we do not hate homosexuals and are not pointing fingers," he said.
Regarding today's meeting Mr Manche said it would be held as usual, and what happened was not going to put them off.
He said that this was a case of libel, but he would wait to see what would happen. He also denied rumours that his partner carries out any reparative therapy with gay people, in her work as a psychologist.
When asked about the current issue of divorce, Mr Manche said he was not 100% against divorce, as he supported the victims in some cases. Jesus Christ himself gives one open clause, in the case of adultery, he said.
"Naturally we don't believe that it is right to get married and get a divorce, just because one has got fed up," he said.
The meeting to be led by Mr Manche was also condemned by the National Youth Council, as it said that Mr Manche sought to indicate that members of the LGBTQ community can somehow be "healed" from their sexual orientation.
It said it recognises the challenges members of the community face on a daily basis, and believes that implying that they can or should change their sexual orientation to lead a moral life contributes to the spread of homophobia and an "us and them" mentality.
KNZ firmly believes that tolerance is one of the fundamental pillars of democracy and encourages the authorities, whether governmental, ecclesiastical or otherwise, to further promote respect for minority rights.