Andrew Chambers was born in Croydon, South London 45 years ago. When he was 6 weeks old Andy was put in a children’s home. As the already weak tie to his mother was broken Andy didn’t experience missing her. “At night, after visitors day I listened as the other children cried and yelled after their mothers, begging not to be left in the children’s home. I just lay on my bed and listened to the others – I didn’t cry”.
The need for a mother was transferred to one of the older children’s home staff, but she had to care for so many children that she could not fulfill a mother’s role for Andy. Later Andy learned that she was herself an orphan. Andy’s real mother only visited about three times a year: usually in the summer, then at Christmas and on Andy’s birthday.
Children would be well dressed for visits so as to give a good impression of the children’s home. Once, before his mother’s visit, Andy was asked to wash and get dressed. Years later one of the staff told Andy that he had then replied “I don’t need any mother”. “I think that sometime before adolescence I had already decided not to need anyone. In many ways I found it difficult to ask for help, so I decided to be independent and do things myself. As a result my needs were not met. In school I had problems learning and difficulties maintaining concentration”.
Andy started to steal and got involved in petty crime, and later alcohol. His view of his own sexual identity got confused. “I would sometimes be given the job to empty the rubbish bins and that would give me access to other people’s rooms. In one of the rooms I found women’s clothes and I tried them on: I had a feeling of calm and peace. I didn’t understand this, but it became a behaviour pattern in my life”. In another room Andy found pornography, which brought an element of sexual fantasy.
An Angry Woman’s Voice
Part of growing up in an English school meant that Andy should learn the Highway Code and pass a cycling test. The police would visit the school and for a week would teach road signs and give cycling lessons. At the end of the week a test would be organized. “Three of us from the children’s home sat the test and we were told that if we passed we could ride back by bicycle, otherwise we would have to walk and push the bicycles. I passed the cycling test, the other two did not. In fact I had the second best score of the entire group and I rode happily home.” After reaching the children’s home Andy rode happily around the local streets. After a while Andy heard a voice shouting “Andrew Chambers, Andrew Chambers!” The use of formal name meant trouble, and the voice sounded very angry indeed. It seems Andy had completely lost track of time and had stayed out cycling too long.
The children’s home staff administered corporal punishment with whatever happened to be at hand which this time was a bamboo stick. “When I saw the worker´s face I knew I was in big trouble and I ran and ran into the corner under the stairs. She started to lash out at my legs and then seemed to totally lose control. In the end it seemed she was beating not my body, but my inner being.
“This experience may have planted a seed of bitterness into my heart. I started to hate not only that woman, but also to actively hate all women. My way of dealing with my anger was to hide it away. I learned to get along with women whether in the children’s home, school or later in the workplace, but I still hated women in my heart”.
“At that time my life included dressing in women’s clothes, pornography, homosexuality , along with a hatred of women”.
Jesus Met Me In My Pain.
Andy came to faith when he was 17. Six months later he ended a homosexual relationship, although it was painful. In church fellowship Andy felt like an outsider and didn’t speak with anyone. Homosexual inclinations were just under the surface, making confession of sins difficult and causing Andy to feel different. Andy tried dating and after waiting a year he asked a particular girl out for coffee. The girl agreed, but after a few days called to announce that the relationship wouldn’t work. She gave a long list of “reasons”, including that Andy wasn’t talkative enough. The pain this caused Andy seemed a lot worse than what his friends had shared under similar circumstances. Andy asked a two friends for prayer and while they prayed for him Andy recalled events that had happened years earlier in the children’s home.
“I saw myself again running away from the angry woman in the children’s home, only now I could also see Jesus there. When I ran away from the woman, Jesus ran after me and gave me a hug. When the woman came after me and started to hit with the stick, I realized that the stick had hit Jesus’ legs and not mine. I literally saw what the Bible tells, that the blows that were meant for us struck Him. He carried our pain and wounds in his own body.”
“That experience was, I think, one of many that helped me really to give up the seed of bitterness – bitterness towards my mother and towards the “surrogate mother” at the children’s home and towards women in general. I had to completely reject the hatred of women, admit my own needs, and ask friends to pray over me for my seemingly minor childhood experiences.”
Balm For The Wounds
In London Andy met a Finn called Sirkku and at the age of 24 got married; today Andy is the father of 3 teenage daughters. The marriage relationship has enabled Andy to learn relational skills and to give up always being a “nice guy”.
“My wife said that I didn’t know how to defend myself. Whenever we argued I would always give up and let her win. To my surprise she actually wanted me to hold my own, and to express my own opinions.”
After moving to Finland Andy looked for a counsellor and finally had a few visits with a elderly woman counsellor. “I never even understood the half of what she said, but at the end of every session she would pray for me and hug me. She would sit very close to me and something within me was awakened during that process. It seems like I was able to receive motherly love from her. Previously whenever I sat next to a woman I would feel uneasy and get goose pimples.“
Andy claims that the greatest healing happened when he started to see God’s nature included motherhood; this had been a great void in Andy’s life and he had not been able to see God as a caregiver.
“One woman had titled her talk ‘The mother heart of God’. This sounded to me like feminism had invaded theology, but I went to listen to her anyway. She went through a number of verses in the Bible where God presents himself as a mother.” One of the places covered in the talk was from the gospel where Jesus compared himself to a mother hen. “That helped me to receive from the mother heart of God in my own prayer times.” Over the years Andy has been strengthened in his masculinity. “It is a process though, you don’t just wake up one morning and find yourself a renewed man.”
All Brokenness Is Essentially The Same
Andy works for the Aslan organization and is the national coordinator of it`s healing and discipleship training programme called ‘Living Waters’. Andy, a Dutchman and an English woman together form the team that leads the European Living Waters ministry. Andy has taught frequently in seminars relating to sexual wholeness.
Andy sees growth in Christ as the main means of achieving sexual wholeness . He has noticed that people coming from homosexual or lesbian backgrounds may have many friendships, but lack deep, trusting relationships. “I’ve learned it is common that homosexual men have no real close friends. The main difficulties in forming personal relationships stem from what has happened earlier in our lives. The failures in personal relationships that the homosexual person experiences are often directly related to the same sex parent. In addition it is quite common to experience problems in relationships with members of the opposite sex.”
In Andy’s opinion there is actually no difference between the sexual brokenness of heterosexual and homosexual. “While the brokenness of both groups is the same, homosexuals may experience more pain because of how their friends treat them. Often friends may be supportive of heterosexual sins, but the homosexual is more prone to experience rejection, especially in school.
Text Jorma Jumppanen
Contact Andy: inheriters(at)gmail.com