As you may or may not have heard by now, an amazing ministry that has meant the world to many, Exodus International, is shutting it’s doors. It seems to have been a long time coming. But just because you know grandma is dying, doesn’t mean you’re less sad when she goes. I have attended the annual Exodus Freedom conference every year since 2002. I missed one year to run with the Bulls in Pamplona. Otherwise, the conferences have been the only staple in my life, other than gas and Shamu.
So here I am, sitting at my last breakfast on my last day of the last Exodus International Freedom Conference. My heart is sad, but my mind is abuzz with how to help this community next. As the world celebrates the demise of my “old friend”, standing over her lifeless corpse still holding the bloody knife they used to kill her, I know she will rise again.
I was full of piss and vinegar for the first couple of days of this conference. When I get that way, I practice very little control over my mouth. It’s a flaw that I can’t afford as a Christian. You see, even though I have gotten a huge amount of freedom from my sexual desires, White, Hot Anger is still a toxin that grips my heart and flows in my veins. What sparked my anger? I’ve heard general apologies to the media for things I did not do. I’ve heard wounded people speak gruesome, life-altering declarations out of broken places, where sound doctrines have been replaced with emotional regrets. I’ve heard that “Gay and Christian can coexist” communicated from a platform that used to preach healing to the broken. Many years ago the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and told me I had to choose between Gay and Christian. In my heart, I knew that God was not an option. God didn’t leave me there, but provided a way for me to walk away from my homosexuality. I had to choose to walk that out daily. Every day of every year since I heard His declaration. I had to choose to walk as God led.
Alan Chambers is my friend. He has been for years. I don’t pretend to understand everything he does. He doesn’t pretend to understand my stuff either. In 2001, after my first Exodus conference, Alan Chambers offered me my first job in ministry as the Emcee for the 2002 Conference. It is Alan Chambers who trusts me with people who call the office looking for a mentor. Alan Chambers has led this organization beautifully for years. Alan Chambers is indeed my friend. I would have never chosen for Exodus to close this way. I would have chosen celebration in place of somber. Yet, it is not up to me. It was up to Alan and his board and ultimately up to God. God is not any more surprised by this, than you should be surprised that K-mart smells like the 70’s.
Freedom from homosexuality comes from an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. That message will escape the ruins of this “burning building.” It is a message of hope and freedom in a world of ever increasing bondage. It is not God’s will that any man should perish. It is His will that every man should get to know Jesus and have everlasting life.
My time and my friends here will be missed. I won’t mourn what could have been, one second longer than I should. The people that hate us are the ones who need to hear the message of the gospel most. We owe it to them to reevaluate our Christian walks. I would beg you, regardless of your struggle, to realize that your life is the only bible some people may read. If you call yourself a Christian, then surrender your life to God daily and live according to His word. If your “Christian” walk is a tailored mixture of select scripture and personal convictions tainted with human emotion, please call yourself something else. Stop muddying the gospel to people who need the good medicine of the Word to treat their disease of sin. Don’t circumvent another person’s relationship with Jesus, because yours isn’t working. A lost and dying world deserves firsthand, unpolluted knowledge of Jesus’ healing power, because it is the gospel of Jesus Christ that has power; power to change, power to free people and freedom from the bondage that holds us fast.
The world has not seen the last of the message of Exodus, because at its core it is the message of the gospel. We’ve all lost our way. We all need a savior. Let the games begin.