On November 10-12, True Friendships Ministry (Portuguese: Ministério Amizades Verdadeiras) held its fifth national meeting, “Sexuality and the Church in the 21st Century,” at the Brooklin Seventh-day Adventist Church in São Paulo, Brazil.
Ministério Amizades Verdadeiras (MAV) is an Adventist lay effort aimed at welcoming the LGBTQ community and, in their words, offering “a Christian alternative to homosexual practice.” The event was restricted to paying attendees except on Saturday, November 11, when it was open to the public. That Saturday morning, Seventh-day Adventist Kinship Brazil and Evangelicals for Diversity with the support of Zelota Magazine demonstrated in front of the Brooklin Adventist Church protesting the event. Zelota is an independent, online Adventist journal giving voice to members in Latin America.
Noting that MAV sought to "correct" or "reverse" homosexuality, demonstrators distributed flyers and held signs insisting that LGBTQ+ people are entitled to practice their faith without being forced into celibacy or heterosexual marriage.
Days prior to the event, Zelota published an article on its website exposing conversations from members of MAV's WhatsApp group advocating using religious practice and theological arguments to “correct” or “reverse” homosexuality. In addition to denouncing such "corrective" practices, the article explored the ministry's origins and revealed efforts by the South-American Division (SAD) to make MAV an official part of the Adventist Church in Latin America.
The history of MAV is intertwined with the story of its founder and current coordinator, biologist Flavio Krzyzanowski Júnior. By his own account, Krzyzanowski had “homosexual tendencies” since childhood and developed same-sex attractions in adolescence when the issue became a personal and religious conflict. Krzyzanowski claims he suffered sexual abuse from older men and says he experienced both attraction and aversion. He sought help and clarification from pastors but says he found none.
Krzyzanowski is a biologist with a Masters of Arts in Microbiology and a PhD in Sciences from the Public Health Department at the University of São Paulo in Brazil. He authored the book Como a igreja pode acolher pessoas homoafetivas: Entendendo suas necessidades mais profundas (“How the church can welcome homosexual people: understanding their deepest needs”), and has been touted as a Christian expert in the reversal of homosexuality both in non-denominational and denominational media outlets.
Krzyzanowski founded MAV with a woman pastor, Suzane Portela, when they met in the Netherlands in 2012, but it only became an official ministry in 2015 with the assistance of pastor Adriano de Villa, who at the time led the São Paulo Central Church in Brazil. From that point on, MAV gathered volunteers, attendants and the endorsement of SAD, expanding its influence to the Brazilian evangelical community beyond Adventism.
Krzyzanowski claims to have systematized a method of “healing emotional wounds” in order to assist LGBTQ in controlling their homosexual tendencies and, if possible, developing heterosexual attraction. Krzyzanowski presents himself to the public as proof of his methods’ trustworthiness: someone with “homosexual tendencies” who now feels attracted to the opposite sex. He was reached by Zelota before the article’s publication, but declined to comment.
Especially impressive are the historical parallels between MAV and similar Adventist programs in the United States. Articles by Ronald Lawson recount similar efforts by Adventists like Colin Cook, who promised the Adventist Church a “gay cure” while sexually harassing attendants in private meetings. Lawson also writes about other more contemporary "ex-gay" ministries, Coming Out Ministries (COM) being the most prominent.
MAV shares with those ministries the fact that it works around the personal experiences of their founders, considered to be “ex-gay” people, intensively applying religious practices in order to strengthen the spirituality of their members and assist them psychologically towards leaving homosexuality. Such efforts have been practiced for many years, and corroborate the data found by Zelota back in 2020, when 83.7% of the survey’s Adventist respondents claimed to have attempted “vanquishing” homosexuality through many practices stipulated by their communities or suggested by the Church.
There is still much to be explored about MAV, since whistleblowers have only recently begun to arise. Despite that, MAV has as a virtue the fact that it claims to welcome the LGBTQ community and somehow naturalize their presence among Adventists. It earns increasing prestige and publicity from the Church, taking over denominational and interdenominational conversations on the subject.
André Kanasiro has a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of São Paulo and an MA in Literature (Hebrew Bible literary criticism) from the University of São Paulo. He is the editor and co-founder of Zelota.
Title Image courtesy the author.
We invite you to join our community through conversation by commenting below. We ask that you engage in courteous and respectful discourse. You can view our full commenting policy by clicking here.