Sy Rogers, a pastor and former president of Exodus International, has died. Rogers, 63, was notable in the evangelical world for leaving a homosexual and transsexual lifestyle behind to follow Christ. Rogers had been battling kidney cancer; he went to be with God on Monday, April 20, 2020.
“I’ve lost a friend, and we’ve all lost a giant,” Joe Dallas, author and ministry leader, wrote in a tribute to Rogers.
“Such a sad day with the news of the passing of Sy Rogers today. He was truly a loved, trusted, loyal and faithful friend,” Pastors Paul and Maree de Jong of Life Church in Auckland, New Zealand wrote in an Instagram post.
Rogers and his wife, Karen, were living in New Zealand. Rogers served for many years as the teaching pastor at Life Church, multisite church in Auckland. Although originally from the United States, Rogers and his family had also lived in Singapore for a time.
Rogers battled cancer once before, five years ago. The recurrence he was most recently battling hadn’t been announced too broadly. On April 2nd, Restored Hope Network asked their followers to pray for Rogers, whose cancer was threatening his life.
Sy Rogers Left Homosexuality
In his early life, Rogers wrestled mightily with homosexuality. In an essay published to ExodusGlobalAlliance.org, Rogers recounts childhood trauma and his experience with same sex attraction. He wrote:
The first half of my life was an emotional concentration camp: My alcoholic mother was killed in a car wreck when I was four. Prior to that, I was sexually molested by a family “friend.” After my mom’s death, I was separated from my father for a year. I lived in an emotional vacuum. My identity and security as a male was left unaffirmed and unnourished. Later in school, I was routinely ridiculed, rejected and physically abused due to my effeminate mannerisms. Even though I tried to “conform” to the norm”, I was continually labelled a homosexual and a failure as a man. It’s no wonder I had problems. As a teenager, I had not yet identified myself as a homosexual. Yet, I was certainly aware of my attractions to the same sex and I felt fear and shame. A few years later, when eventually involving myself in the gay scene, I felt such a sense of relief. I felt accepted and understood. At last, I had a place to belong. It was great for a while. Soon I was living in the fast lane, and always surrounding myself with others who would reaffirm and reinforce the gay life.
At one point, Rogers’ gender confusion caused him to seek gender reassignment surgery. While he didn’t end up going through with the procedure, he did take hormones and lived as a woman for a year and half. It was when his gender confusion came to a crisis point that Rogers started seeking God. “It wasn’t that I was trying to stop being gay. I didn’t know ‘how’–or if it was possible. I was however, willing to stop living my life on my terms. Instead, I yielded to God on His terms.”
This decision ushered Rogers into a totally different lifestyle than the one he was used to. In the evangelical world, Rogers became known for sharing his testimony candidly and encouraging others to trust where God leads them—as unfamiliar and scary as it may seem.
Other Leaders React to Sy Rogers Passing
Tributes to Rogers and words of comfort to his family have flooded social media.
Jentezen Franklin wrote: “Sy Rogers lived a life of truth, sharing the hope & grace found in Jesus with everyone he could. After battling cancer, he was welcomed home with Jesus this morning. Sy made us a more compassionate ministry. Our hearts and prayers are with his wife Karen & their family.”
Priscilla Shirer replied to the announcement of Rogers’ death on Instagram: “My heart is with Karen and this incredible family. Sy was a spectacular gift to Jerry and I. We will miss him greatly.”
Jakarta Praise Community Church wrote: “Your passion for God, His Word, and His people will always be remembered. Rest in peace dear our friend, Sy Rogers. We are so grateful for what you’ve done for us and for taking part in our faith journey. Till we meet again in the Father’s house.”
Rogers leaves behind a wife, a daughter, and grandchildren.