Since 2005, I have been an ordained minister. I have a Masters and a PhD in Christian Clinical Counseling from Florida Christian University. In 2008, my family moved to Puerto Rico and began a congregation called Centro de Reconciliacion Internacional, which was a small but growing church. We also helped people through counseling and I had the joy to assist a lesbian couple. Through this couple that I counseled, God used them to open my eyes and began to minister to my heart about God’s grace.

I’ve been a preacher of God’s grace but I was unsure of what it meant for LGBT people. I’ve always been very open to other people’s hurt, but I was trained to reject homosexuality due to a wrong theological interpretation. When I was counseling this lesbian couple, God showed me that God’s grace was enough for them too. This opened my heart to search for understanding and I found the truth about God and LGBT people through intense search, study and prayer.

In 2010, I wrote a four-pieced series titled, “God’s grace and the homosexual (La gracia de Dios y el homosexual).” My friends on facebook, which were mostly from the Evangelical Christian Community, reacted to my work. Some agreed with the writings, but most of them rejected them because I explained that being gay was a sexual orientation. The persecution that I received was so intense and aggressive that I developed high blood pressure and heart palpitations. They called me all kinds of names. They cyberbullied me and I was emotionally affected and hurt. The same  people called members of my congregation and other ministers and spoke against me. We eventually had to close our church in 2011 and every member left us.

In 2012, we were completely censored from the church and began to meet in our house. We hosted a bible group called Casa de Gracia (house of grace), but being marked as a heretical minister made it difficult to bring people in.

In Puerto Rico, at that time, people were considering potential changes on employment discrimination laws towards LGBT people in order to protect them in the work environment and also to extend domestic violence laws to LGBT relationships. This gave us the opportunity to meet and work with LGBT people and lead the first advocacy group in favor of diverse families. That is how MIAC (Movimiento Inclusivo de Apoyo a la Comunidad) was born. MIAC is an nonprofit organization that advocates for inclusion.

MIAC made a call to LGBT people and allies. Our rally was going to occur at the same time the church in Puerto Rico was gathering for the “traditional family” and openly rejecting the LGBT community. During that time, through my facebook I was persecuted and threatened of being killed and burned alive, in front of the Capitol.

Around 300 of us showed up and walked towards the gathering on the south side of the Capitol. There were approximately 200,000 gathered for “traditional” family, based on their count.

We called this walk between a sea of people, David against Goliath. We walked on the south side and they walked on the north side of the Capitol.  We made all the newspapers. Our voice was heard and that was our intention, to give a voice to LGBT people, and let all know that God is with LGBT people too.

My husband and I were the first and only pastoral couple in the island that openly exposed our position of accepting LGBT people. The other heterosexual pastor among us was Jesus Molina from Chicago, and another LGBT pastor Pedro DeJesus walked with us too. But we remain the only heterosexual pastoral couple in Puerto Rico that continues to speak openly for LGBT acceptance and rights. We also continue to be censored in our country, and in the evangelical church that we used to be part of. We’ve been unemployed since all of this happened. 

But what we did not know was, that we had a LGBT daughter. One of our three daughters is a lesbian. And she came out after we did all this. I praise God, for God’s love and kindness, for the way that God helps us to understand our daughter’s sexual orientation. LGBT people’s causes became our family’s cause.

Even though our experience has been very hurtful, intense and painful, we find ourselves blessed to be part of what God is doing in this time in history of the church.  I continue to advocate for LGBT rights and share my writings through my facebook and blog. Also, I have helped many LGBT people to come out of the closet and be reconciled with God.

Yenan Silen

Yenan Silen is a Christian ordained minister and counselor, poet, and writer. She now resides with her family in Orlando, Floirda. Read more about her and her ministry here.

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