FROM PERFORMER TO PASTOR
By Asian Beacon
The LGBTQ community is still something of a taboo in Malaysian society, as the country is rather conservative. Yet despite this, there are those who seek, and reach out to those who belong to this community. Among them is Pastor Edmund Smith, through the ministry that he and his wife, Amanda Smith founded, Real Love Ministry (RLM) in 1996, to minister to those in the LGBTQ community. They also have a church called RLM Fellowship which reaches out to LGBTQ groups, and is based in Malacca.
Pastor Edmund explained that change is possible, as he himself was an ex-transgender, as a living testimony of what God can do in a person’s life.
The ministry that he started has been sustained and prospered by God for more than two decades already. This lead Pastor Edmund to host the 13th RLM Thanksgiving cum Fundraising event on 14th December 2018, as a thanksgiving to God and to appreciate the contributors to this ministry as well as an avenue to further raise funds for the LGBTQ ministries. This Thanksgiving cum Fundraising Event was a sold out, Pastor Smith happily declared and gave thanks to God for its tremendous success.
“This thanksgiving event get better every year and this year we had to turn a lot of people down. Every year we had several empty tables but this year all the tables were taken even before the tickets came out. This is how it should be in the kingdom of God. Things are supposed to progress from Glory to Glory. Just like how I was transformed many years ago to this stage. What God did for me I want to do for others. I also use events like these to showcase the talents God has given me. Thanksgiving nights for example are times where we share people’s talents and works,” the pastor said.
The pastor who was once a professional performer, since the age of 13 till his calling, explained a bit of his background and his journey of deliverance from his transgender lifestyle.
“I started career as a professional performer when I was 13 and continued until I was 25. It was during this time period that I got involved in a homosexual lifestyle, being attracted by males, behaving like a female, dressing like a girl. I had many male partners, but none of them lasted. It was during this time that I was searching for something to fill the gap in me. I thought this could be fulfilled through a partner of a same sex relationship. But it was not so. Instead it turned out to be a nightmare, a string of painful heartaches, involving betrayal, cheating and depression. At the age of 24 I decided that I had enough with this lifestyle. This was God’s doing. After having done with my homosexual lifestyle I slowly began my Christian walk, as there were Christians who were reaching out to me. During this period of time of healing, God revealed to me the reason why I became a transgender. My father already had three sons. I was the fourth and he wanted a daughter as the fourth child. So I lived my life, believing that me as a male was a mistake. My father confirmed my belief for when he finally got a girl, the fifth child, he showered a lot of love for my sister but never to me. I didn’t think of this as the reason for my choice of lifestyle, but the Lord revealed this to me causing to me slowly to accept myself as I am. After that, I was inwardly healed. So, I don’t have to be a woman for a man to love. In fact, I can have men loving me, a brotherly kind of love, the agape type of love. Not the love the world gives, which is, lusting over the body. So, all these lies had to go. I stopped trying to be pretty and I started to be handsome,” Pastor Edmund explained.
He added that in order to find the root cause of why people choose the LGBTQ lifestyle you must know their background history.
“So many LGBTQ people if they are honest, will tell you their story, which links to their current lifestyle. But there are some who might not know their story like me and with the help of God, only then can the past be revealed,” Pastor Edmund explained.
It was then that Pastor Edmund got into a relationship with his wife, Amanda Amutha Perumal. He married her in 1996, the same year he started the RLM ministry. Today they have two lovely kids.
“I knew Amanda since we were 16. But I didn’t really have feelings for her then. Back then she was a Hindu. So, God had to work in both our lives before finally putting us together. In the end God both changed me and my wife. He turned me especially, a mess into a His message,” Edmund shared.
Coincidentally, once he had become an ex-gay, his passion to be a performer also left. But this was not because the line of work was linked with his lifestyle he explained.
“I still perform and even do it at church events and functions such as this Thanksgiving Dinner. But I can’t imagine myself being a professional performer, as a career now. After God showed me what He really wanted me to be, a ministry leader and a pastor, a real fulfilling life. I can’t imagine giving up all that for the sake of a performing artist. That would be nonsense. But don’t get me wrong, I still love performing arts through dance, singing and all that. For me to give my life to the Lord and His ministry is worth more living for. After this change in priority, I do still perform but it is a talent to be shared, to inspire and not an end or life purpose itself. I have even produced three CDs. The latest, I believed is the best, as it has a testimony at the end. I have also written a book as well. The book is basically, a collection of questions that I was asked everywhere I went and the response to each one of them. Since I travel constantly in and out of the country, I get questions all over the world. In this book the readers can find the answers to the questions that they might have towards the LGBTQ ministry and myself,’ the pastor explained.
Pastor Edmund also explained that even though his ministry is all about bringing change to LGBTQ individuals, the ministry does not force them to change. He explained that this is the attitude that should be taken if anyone planned to reach out to this community.
“For instance, I am a conservative in this LGBTQ issue. It is a wrong way to live. But I can accept the people who are in the LGBTQ lifestyle. Meaning, I don’t outcast them but be their friend. Yet all the while I desire for them to change and even greater is my desire for them to accept Christ. Because it is only through Christ that they can break free from their lifestyle. Introduce Jesus to them and a change will take place. Slowly but surely, supernaturally. But in order to do so, we have to be their friends first. To accept them not because we want them to change but accept them as who they are, just as Jesus would,” the pastor stressed.
He also explained that his ministry is specifically for those LGBTQ who are on their way to change.
“At RLM, we minister and help those who want to break free from the LGBTQ lifestyle. We reach out to those who want to change and not those who are comfortable in their lifestyle. There are those (LGBTQ) who don’t want to change but we welcome them to join us. But we won’t be able to pour our heart and soul to these individuals, as we have limited resources and time.
So we are wise to pinpoint and put those who are seeking for transformation as a priority. We have a lot of LGBTQ people who don’t want to change but join our sign language programme. For me this is the first step for them. To come even though they know that I am the founder of the ministry is an ex-LGBTQ is a good sign. Of course, there are those who are into extreme LGBTQ activities might not want to come. They are scared that we would try to convert them by force. But it’s not true. We don’t make people do anything they don’t want to do. Let the Holy Spirit work in their hearts,” he explained.
Pastor Edmund stressed that he being a person who has tried both worlds, he can testify that being straight is more enjoyable than being a LGBTQ. As such he said that those who feel that they need to change are welcomed to approach RLM to seek help and guidance.