About 500 Exodus International Freedom Conferences ago, I thought of a really great idea that lay dormant for years. I began attending the Exodus Conferences in 2001 a few years after I began my walk out of homosexuality. The conferences were well organized and power packed with knowledge, worship and prayer. Yet, there was always one day that energized me. That day was lovingly called “Freedom Friday”! It was the Friday of the conference week. It was nestled perfectly between tough days of learning and teaching, after guys and gals had their minds blown by the informative workshops indicative of every Exodus Conference. Freedom Friday was a day to ponder. FF was a day of rest and relaxation. A day to forget that your heart and soul were hurting in a good way. In a sense, it was a day of rest in between battles for our minds.
A few years ago, Freedom Friday was dropped from the schedule, because of the economy. It made financial sense. It never made developmental and spiritual sense. So there we were, Freedom Friday Free and in need of an outlet. That is when my brain began to churn out ideas. I wanted to do something that would get our Exodus guys out of the house and into the world. Many of the conferences before we had done adventure trips or played sports. All of which were packed with physical activity. My idea was to start an adventure group for guys walking out of homosexuality. I wanted to start an Ex-gay Adventure Group, but I did absolutely nothing about it.
It was crazy, far-fetched and the name just wasn’t too appealing. How exactly does one market an Ex-Gay Adventure Group? I began to come up with names. I finally decided on was XG4 Adventures. It was obvious what XG stood for. The 4 was short for Force. I abbreviated, because I didn’t want to sound like a band of ex gay superheroes. But once again, I did nothing to bring the group out of the pages of my mind and into reality.
Then I met my roommate Stacy. A straight guy who had never struggled with homosexuality, but had his own brand of struggle on the planet. His dream was to enrich the lives of young straight men, by taking on wilderness adventures. Our desires were very similar. I believe that it was a desire that God birthed in both of our hearts. We let our dreams sit in the “parking lot” for years. We did a few mini adventures here and there, but for the most part, the grand reveal would be years in the making.
Fast Forward to June 23, 2013. Today was the first foray into making both of our dreams a reality. While attending the last Exodus Freedom Conference in Orange County, California, we decided to take a hike. We took a big group of Exodus Men on a Hike in the foothills along the California coast, near Laguna Beach.
We climbed hills and carried rocks to simulate burdens that we would carry for each other in real life. There were those who walked ahead. Those who kept an eye on stragglers. And those who marched to the beat of their own drum. We lost sight of one another every once in awhile and eventually made it back to home base. Point is, We did it all together. It was nothing special and something extraordinary all at once. Stacy was the mastermind behind the adventure. At the top we paused for a moment to build a monument with our rocks and offer our lives to God in prayer.
Praise God for the culmination of two dreams in the lives of so many great men. Thank you God for these men. Thank You God, for these lives brought out of darkness and into Your life giving Light.