Skip to comments.Former Homosexual Healed of AIDS: The Story of Matthew C. Manning
Posted on 11/22/2002 10:28:34 AM PST by Russell Scott
Former Homosexual Healed of AIDS: The Story of Matthew C. Manning
Delivered from his homosexual lifestyle by the miraculous power of God, Matthew Manning chose to forgive those who had sexually assaulted him. As a result, Matthew experienced a deep spiritual and emotional healing. But while his soul was undergoing rebirth, his body was inexplicably deteriorating. The medical world soon discovered the problem: HIV-positive. AIDS. Despite the pronouncement from medical staff, Matthew chose to rely on a different word, the promises that the Lord had given him that he would be healed. Producer David Kithcart brings us this incredible story of redemption, faith, forgiveness, and the transforming love of Jesus Christ.
CBN.com "I was made fun of. I was laughed at. I was humiliated. That just made me sink more and more into this feeling that Im not adequate as a boy."
The older he got, the more confused Matthew Manning became. When an older brother molested him, it just confirmed how Matthew already felt about himself.
"It just humiliated me more. It made me feel less of a boy. It made me feel more guilty, more shameful," he says. " I began to look at other boys that were the cool kids and think, if I could just be like him, if I could just be like him, if I could just be like him. That began my fantasy."
By age 10 Matthews fantasy became a reality when he began "cruising" a park known as a rendezvous spot for homosexuals.
"Any time I had an argument with my parents or I felt unloved by my parents or I felt condemned by my parents, I would go to Griffith Park just to have a man hold me for two or three minutes and make me feel accepted and affirmed. But as soon as it was over, I experienced guilt and shame beyond measure."
Because of escalating problems with his classmates, Matthew was transferred to a private Christian school for the sixth grade. His teacher, Tracy Ramirez, was big on Scripture memorization and drilled the class constantly.
"She kept me after school one day and she said, 'You need to give your life to Jesus.' I was a little con artist, and so I said, 'Well, whats it going to do for me?' She said, 'Itll help you get through school. God will help you get through school.' Im thinking, 'Hey, Im having a hard time in school, so Ill give my life to Jesus.' So I gave my life to the Lord."
But Matthew continued having homosexual relations throughout high school. He decided that joining the Coast Guard would break the pattern of this lifestyle.
"I ran. And when I ran, what happened? My first duty station out of boot camp was San Francisco, California. When I got to San Francisco, I would be rescuing people by day, and coming here down in the Castro District dancing in the clubs, at times wearing drag, and would be living a homosexual lifestyle by night.
At this time, Matthew did not think highly of himself.
"I hated me, I hated who I was, but it was the only thing I knew. I had come to the realization that I was born a homosexual. That is what I believed to be true. And as much as I didn't like it, and as much as I was sad inside, I was drawn to it because that was where I was affirmed, that was where I was accepted.
Matthew and his friends were picnicking on a beach under the Golden Gate Bridge. When they brought out the drugs, Matthew went for a walkhe hated drugs.
"All of a sudden this man came up behind me and put a knife at my throat and said, 'Get up. Walk.' I said, 'Take my wallet. Just take it.' 'I dont want your wallet, man. Just get up. Walk.'
The attacker took Matthew to a secluded cave on the beach. He said, 'Ive been sent to teach you a lesson.' It sort of caught me off guard, and I said, 'Who sent you and what lesson am I supposed to learn? And he said, 'Youll find out when you burn forever in hell.'
The man told Matthew to take off his clothes. Then it hit him. The Coast Guard had recently recovered bodies of supposed suicides off the Golden Gate Bridgethey turned out to be murder victims.
"This is going through my mind as he slams me up against a rock and begins to sodomize me. When I was laid up against this rock here, I thought it was an eternity. It happened for only a couple of seconds, but it was an eternity for me. The pain was so severe that with everything within me I just hurled around and caught him off guard and knocked him down. The knife flew out of his hand, and I start running naked down the beach."
The attacker chased him, but Matthew escaped. He immediately filed a police report and made it back to his Coast Guard barracks to clean up.
"[I remembered] a verse that I had learned from Tracy Ramirez out of the book of Romans: 'If God be for you, nothing can be against you.' It is just clear cut, and I was mad. I was angry. I said to God, 'You said that if Youre for me, nothing could be against me.' Im swearing and using every four-letter word I could think of and just literally cursing God. And this voice speaks: 'Youre right, Matthew. If Im for you, nothing can or will ever be against you.' 'Who are you?' I asked. 'The one you cursed.' God said, 'Im not for the life youre living. Im not for the drinking that youre doing. This is not what I created you from the foundations of the world for.'
"As He spoke that, it broke a lie that I was believing about myself, because I always believed the lie that I was born this way, that I was a homosexual. And I needed to deal with that. At that moment, it was the beginning of the truth dawning in my life to the point where I began to recognize that Jesus did not create me this way, God did not create me from the foundations of the world this way. It was circumstances in my life that brought me to this point of choosing this lifestyle. But I just looked at heaven and I said, 'If you love a homosexual like me, then come into my life and change me. If not, go away.'"
While Matthew was out at the clubs in the Castro District, he had engaged in many conversations with Christian street evangelists. He had dismissed them as judgmental, but now there was one he couldnt reject.
"A little boy, his mom, and his sister were out street witnessing. This little boy, 5 years old, walks up to me on the street and he puts his finger up and he says, 'Do you know Jesus loves you?' He proceeds to tell me about Jesus and the Resurrection and Christmas and all this stuff, in his little 5-year-old way. And he says, 'So, you want to go to my church?' I wasnt ready to commit yet, and so I started backpedaling: 'I dont live in this city.' And he says, 'Oh, here comes excuse number one.'"
Matthew discovered that the boys church was right down the hill from where he lived. The boy made Matthew promise that he would visit his church. A month later, hung over after a night of drinking, Matthew found himself driving past the church on Sunday morning.
"The Lord speaks to me and He says, 'If you dont stop now, Ill never ask you again.'"
Matthew stopped and went inside. The little boy, named Ben, was the first person to greet him.
"All of a sudden the worship team starts, and its drums. Im thinking, 'What is this? What cult did I get myself involved in?' I looked down and Ben has his hands raised and hes crying. He prays, 'God, just show Matt that were not a bunch of idiots. Just show him that You love him, God.' That was the agape love that I had been looking for my entire life. If a 5-year-old has this type of a relationship with the God of the universe, Im missing out on something. I just tapped him and I went, 'I want to give my life to Jesus.' That day I gave my life to the Lord publicly in a church service."
But Matthew still struggled with his lifestyle.
"On Friday and Saturday nights I would find myself drinking and going to town, and on Sunday I would be at the church at altar repenting. This just went on and on until I found myself at a men's retreat. Im just worshipping the Lord, minding my own business, when I hit the floor. While Im out, I see the face of Jesus, saying, 'Son, why do you continue to have homosexual acts once Ive delivered you from them?' Im saying, 'I told You that if You could change me, then change me. Im still attracted to men.' And this is what Jesus said to me. He looks me straight in the face and He says, 'Every time you have a homosexual act with another man, youre doing it to Me, because I died on Calvary for you.' I began to throw up all over the place. It was truth breaking a lie, and I, for the first time in my life, was repulsed by homosexual behavior. Now see, thats the difference. Before that moment, I enjoyed being with a man sexually. Even though afterwards I felt guilty and shameful, there was still a desire for it. It was as though I stood at the foot of the Cross and Jesus said, 'I took on your sins here, and you dont have to live that way any longer,' and that changed me. From that day forward, I never had a homosexual act since."
Matthew developed a hunger to know God. He began to study the Bible and pray on a regular basis. But now that he was on the right track spiritually, Matthew started to notice physical problems.
"In November, around Thanksgiving time, I began to notice that I couldnt swim as well. I was getting tired; I was getting fatigued. I found that I was having intestinal problems. January 18, 1990, there was a series of tests done, and one was an HIV test. I remember that day very vividly. I was called to Letterman Army Hospital on the presidio of San Francisco. I was told by a Dr. Samuelson that my test came back HIV-positive.
"I remember leaving the hospital, and the trees werent as bright any more; the colors just werent the way they were when I came in. Something had definitely changed. I got so mad at God: 'You save me, You deliver me, and then You give me this disease?' Jesus answered, 'What you sow you shall reap. If you plant seeds in the ground, they will grow, and you have planted seeds of destruction in your body for years. This is a consequence, not a judgment. If you will live your life for Me, if you will be obedient to Me, I will heal you and I will raise you up as a trophy to the homosexual community of My love, My grace and My mercy.' As soon as He spoke those words to me, a peace that I cannot even explain came over me."
The doctor prescribed AZT, but Matthew had a bad reaction to the drug.
"It gave me hallucinations. It made me tired. It made me sick. I literally wanted to kill myself it was so bad. I walked up to the Golden Gate Bridge. I was just looking out over the bridge, and I was just thinking, I just have to end this."
Matthew says that he heard a voice agreeing with his thoughts of suicide.
"He said, 'Yeah, go ahead. Jump. Gods never going to heal you. He's never going to deliver you from these thoughts of homosexuality. Hes never going to give you a wife. Youre never going to have a family. Why don't you just end it? Jump."
Before Matthew could react, he saw a friend from the Coast Guard who had followed him to the bridge.
"He just walked me off the bridge. It was just something between he and I, and we never really talked about it."
Matthew says that God led him to forgive everyone who had ever wronged him.
"[God led me to] forgive my brother who molested me and to forgive my dad for not loving me enough because his love language was acts of service. I had to forgive the guy who assaulted me. Im thinking, 'God, this man, he deserves hell.' But I came to the place where I let it down at the altar, and I just said, 'All right, Lord, I release him to you and I forgive him.'"
Matthew joined his churchs prison ministry. Since there was an HIV/AIDS ward in San Quentin, Matthew got permission to conduct a Bible study for the inmates. One evening, the lesson was on forgiveness.
"I get in there, and Im right at the podium, and right there in front of me is that man, the man who sexually assaulted me. I wanted him dead. In my mind I even thought, Ill kill him and Ill just take over his bed right here in the prison. I will save the taxpayers money. I won't even ask for a trial.
But Matthew gave the message on forgiveness.
"When I was done, I was getting ready to leave, and the Lord says to me, 'You forgot the altar call.' I said, 'I aint giving an altar call.' The Lord says, 'Yes, you are.' So I ask, 'Is there anyone here who needs the forgiveness of the Lord?' And he, out of 20 inmates, is the only one that raises his hand.
"'What, sir, do you need the forgiveness of the Lord for?' And this is what he said: 'Ive killed people. Ive raped people. Ive given people HIV. Im a terrible, terrible person and I want to die.' I looked at him and I said, 'My Jesus, He can set you free.' He started to tear up. I looked at this man and I said, 'What is your name?' The mans name is Kyle. I said, 'Kyle, do you remember that 18-year-old that you took at knifepoint and you walked down the beach?' I proceeded to tell him. His eyes almost pop out. 'Are you what they call a prophet?' I said, 'No, far from it. Im that 18-year-old boy. Not only do I forgive you, but so does Jesus.' Twenty people gave their life to Jesus that day."
When Matthew returned two weeks later, Kyle was dead.
"I believe that Kyle is in heaven, and I pray that his mansion will be next door to mine, because I want to fellowship with him for eternity. Hes no longer my perpetrator. Hes my brother in Christ. Thats the truth. Thats the awesomeness of God, when we are willing to forgive."
Matthew was getting sicker. As his weight and his T-cell count dropped, he had to be hospitalized.
"All I did was pray. I read His Word. I read the promises of God over and over and over again. I just kept going, 'OK, You said you were going to heal me.' The Lord speaks to me. He says, 'At 10 p.m. theres going to be a corpsman. I want you to tell him that I have healed you of this disease.'
"The corpsman [named Todd] starts laughing. He just couldnt handle it. He said, 'Youre going to die thinking your God has healed you.' Then a word of knowledge came, and the Lord said, 'Hes gay. I want you to tell him so.' So I say, 'Youre gay.' His eyes almost pop of his head. Todd says, 'I dont know how you know this stuff about me. I dont understand it. I dont know it. But Ill tell you what. If you get up off your deathbed and walk, then Ill give my life back to Jesus.'
"The next morning I open my eyes, and theres a lot of scurrying going on. I ask, 'Whats going on?' They say, 'We dont know, but your vital signs have completely rebounded. Everythingyour lungs, you are breathing properlythings are just different. Were running tests right now. Well let you know.
"It turns out that my AIDS went into remission. The T-cells went from 20 clear over the 1,200 mark overnight, which is an absolute miracle in itself. Im like, 'Praise the Lord! Hallelujah, Jesus! Youre awesome!' My doctor is saying, 'Stop praising God. You still have HIV, though.' I say, 'You told me Id be dead. I think I have something to glorify God about!'
"That night, Todd comes in and he kneels down and he sort of wakes me up. Im still a little tired and weak. He asks, 'Will you pray with me?' And he gave his life back to Jesus."
Although his AIDS was in remission, Matthew continued to live with being HIV-positive. He made the decision to leave the military and was honorably discharged from the Coast Guard. Months later, when he began to notice the old symptoms creeping back, he went to his church for prayer.
"They called me up and they did a confidential prayer. Again the Lord just brought me down and I was on the floor. I remember being with the Lord. He began revealing things to me, things to come, what plans He had for my life. The most awesome words that the Lord has ever said to me were, 'This day I have purged your blood with My blood.' I will never forget it. I love any kind of song that has 'Oh, the blood' in it because the blood is what it is all about. 'Son, I have purged your blood with My blood, and you are healed.'
Matthew decided to be tested for HIV. A week later, Matthew returned with a friend to get the results.
"'There must be something wrong.' I went, 'Whats wrong?' 'There must be a mistake here. Its saying that youre negative.' I grab the form out of her hand and shout, 'Hallelujah!' I scream to the point where my friend in the lobby hears me screaming. I grab the paperwork and I run out. 'Gods a healer!' The results were HIV-negative, non-reactive, no HIV antibody detected. Ive tested every six months sinceperfectly HIV-negative."
Matthew Mannning's military physicians were unavailable for comment, so I asked Dr. Michael Thompson to review Matthew's medical records.
"This patient, Matthew Manning, was HIV-positive," says Dr. Thompson, reviewing Matthew's records."He had the regular test that we always do. Then, the story changes here. In 1994, after having AIDS, he had an opportunistic infection and then the tests are coming back negative. I asked a couple of experts, infectious disease doctors, from Duke and other places. I said, 'Have you heard of anything like this where a person had HIV, went into AIDS, then the symptoms went into remission, and now they test HIV-negative, consistently HIV-negative since 1994? They had never heard of anything like this in the adult population. There is no medical explanation for this."
Matthew enrolled in Bible school at The Kings College to study for the ministry. There he met his future wife, Crista, who was also a student.
"I saw him in a friend capacity, never even thinking about dating him," she says.
Crista's mother, Laverne, recalls, "I could see it when she looked at him that there was something happening, so I asked her, 'Do you have warm fuzzies for Matt?'"
Although her mother didn't know it, Crista admits that she was starting to have feelings for Matt at that time.
"My main concern was the HIV, the AIDS," says Laverne. "I wanted the best for my daughter, and that was really scary to me. Does she was really know what she is getting into? It could possibly be death. And then one day Matt came over. He said, 'What can I do to make you feel better?' I looked at him and I said, 'Have an AIDS test.' Matt said fine. He didn't have the money to pay for this, but I wasn't going to pay for it. I thought that if he was really serious that he should pay for it. And he did."
Crista states firmly that she has no fears that Matt might revert back to homosexuality. "I went through a friendship with him, and we are married. I see his character. I have no thoughts whatsoever that that would take place. I have no fear."
Matt wants everybody to know that it is not his marriage that gives him the stability to stay out of homosexuality, but rather God's love, grace, and deliverance.
The Mannings are expecting their first child in August of this year.
"This baby is really a miracle baby, because it was my understanding that Matt, because of the medication that he had taken when he first contracted AIDS, would be sterile," says Laverne.
"But God even took care of that, because I have a baby boy on the way," says the jubilant father to be.
After three years on staff with the Church on the Way, Matthew founded Lighthouse World Evangelism. He is reaching out to people around the world through speaking engagements and broadcast media with his message of hope in Christ.
"We've made a promise to each other to put our child and each other first, and ministry has to flow out of our relationship and our family environment," says Crista.
"I have heard people say it is great to have a testimony like that, saying, 'Man, you must be a man of God.' And I am sitting here thinking, I am not the man of God. I was just somebody who was hurt really bad and I have experienced God's love," Matthew concludes.
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