My Story – shared at Willow Chicago this morning.


I’m Darren. Darren Khalil Calhoun to be exact. Most people call me Darren, but my mom calls me Calhoun and sometime we call each other Franky. I’ve been called a number of names… most of them Good and kind like “Dare Bear” but some others that I… wouldn’t ever repeat in church. I’ve also been known for what I do. I work as a freelance photographer so sometimes I’m known as “photo guy” or “picture man”. In college, I helped to launch a campus ministry and during this same time I was ordained as a minister. Suddenly my name became “Minister Darren”.

We attach a lot of importance to names and God even uses multiple names for himself to help us understand who he is. While it’s easy to look up the names of God and find out more of who he is, it’s not always so easy to find out who WE are. I use words like Christian, Black, and Male to describe me, but those don’t capture all of who I am. In 12-step I’m taught to identify myself as an addict but that doesn’t tell the full story either. In school I was called a failure. At times, I’ve sought validation to be called funny or cool or handsome. In some of the most difficult times of my life, because of my personal struggles, I’ve even been called Damned.

But ALL of that changes when I turn to God to tell me who I am. He simply calls me beloved. He calls me his own. God says that I’m someone he’ll rejoice over with singing (Zephaniah 3:17). And if I’m willing to be used, he’ll call me his ambassador. Names and labels come and go – they have varying degrees of truth but there is ONE who IS TRUTH and who has the final say. God says that I’m created in his image and likeness. He says that who I really am is just like him.

So, when I’m burdened with the expectations of others, when I’m unfairly judged, when I’m just lost, or when I don’t know what to think there is an answer. I can surrender myself to God and what he says about me through his Word and there I’ll be restored and become Just Like Him.

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  • Beautiful Darren. You’re correct, that a name is the same as a label others try to use to judge us, which reflects your point of us being burdened with the expectations of others. Our mission as Christians is to strive to be God- like and grow and mature through our reading and understanding of the Word. That’s how we become restored.

    If we could learn to be disinterested in those expectations of others, I believe we’d become restored much more quickly.

  • And is there a story behind ‘Franky’ that you are able to share?

    • Hey Will!

      Franky is part of a long evolution of names that we’ve called each other since I was in high school. For whatever reason, it was a fun thing to call people “Joey” in an Jersey accent at my school… I brought this home and at random my mom and I would address each other this way. Later we switched to “Franklin” with no accent and abbreviated that to “Franky”! lol… who knows what’s next!

  • Mike Lemay

    Darren I am interested in hearing more anout your journey and beliefs. I believe you identify yourself as a homosexual Christian who is pledging celibacy, correct? My questions are: Do you believe homosexuality is a sin according to the Bible? Is there a need as a Christian, in your opinion, to confess and repent? If your church stated they believed homosexual marriage was acceptable to God, would you marry?

    I think these are questions many are struggling with.
    Appreciate your response to my question.