What Have We Learned and Who Are We Going to Be?
I remember the day I decided it was time to start a new network. It wasn’t out of retribution, but I simply felt it would be a service to other ministries around the country. Our board soon ratified the decision, and I sent the decision to Alan Chambers, then president of Exodus who replied, “This is an answer to prayer.” The following day He informed me what the world would hear three weeks later, that Exodus was most likely closing. I had too much going on to argue or question, to get angry or be upset. I’d shown my frustration over the month’s prior and had forecasted this closure as Exodus had altered its direction.
From the day I heard the news, I entered a frantic mode to get a completely new website built, write out policies and beliefs, and get applications drawn up. I worked ridiculous hours, with many helping me in the editing process, that continued for a few months after Exodus closed. This was – and is – a huge endeavor for our local ministry to go national as we now attempt to fill the void of this 38 year old international organization.
To this day, for many people there has been great agony over Exodus’ closing. Many have joined our Hope for Wholeness network, but most are continuing to hedge in fear. I believe that many are hesitant because they experience ongoing hurt and resentment over Exodus’ closing and, I assume, wounds caused by Alan Chambers and the other Exodus board members that closed the ministry. Several have mentioned that they feel they are going through a divorce.
I think many see what we are doing as “Plan B” and Exodus was God’s “Plan A.” I personally do not agree and cannot see how anyone can presume to know the will of God in this situation. Scripture tells us that that God does new things, “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert (Isaiah 43:19).” In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, scripture tells us that “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”
Certainly a disagreement with the shift and communication and eventual closing of Exodus is understandable, but what now? Have we moved on? Have we forgiven? Are we continuing to hold a grievance or a grudge against Alan and the board that closed Exodus?
Scripture tells us to forgive. In Luke 6:37, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Matthew 6:14, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”
At our recent Hope for Wholeness conferences, some of the heaviness lifted. This began last fall at the Rising from the Ashes conference, but then much more so at The Hope Rising conference we held at Ridgecrest last month. People came from all over the country and some from other countries. I met with several leaders who had said that they were being cautious about how to proceed, but they were glad to see what Hope for Wholeness was becoming. It has been hard because Exodus had meant so much to them.
I can truly relate to that. I remember going to my first Exodus regional conference in Harrisonburg, Virginia and my first national conference in Seattle, Washington in 1999. I remember deciding that I would go to them every single year, and I did, never missing a year. The friendship, godly teaching, and praise and worship was amazing. I’m personally incredibly thankful for my years in Exodus.
Today, I see us embodying the good heritage of Exodus. I have decided to move on and to forgive those who have grieved me. These are men and women that were and are my friends, and I know them to be of strong Christian character. Sure, I disagreed with what happened and how it happened, but again I cannot say that this is God’s “Plan B.” I take great risk in saying this, but I would be remiss if I did not point to the fact that scripture tells us how to treat our brothers and sisters.
Today, I believe that when Alan Medinger was mentoring me that he was prophetically, but unknowingly preparing me to fill the void and transition from Exodus to Hope for Wholeness. Several years later, after I became the representative for the Exodus Mid-Atlantic region, I asked him how he made all the calls to mentor so many leaders. He responded, “I wasn’t calling anyone else. I saw something in you to continue the work of Exodus.” This spoke loudly to me. God was up to something, even then.
Today, I can see the handprints of God. I’m still celebrating an incredible conference where every speaker, every workshop teacher, every testimony shared, every prayer prayed focused on Christ’s redeeming love and forgiveness for each of us that call on His name. Our focus was not – and will never be – on changing people’s attractions, or fighting cultural or commenting on everything that’s going wrong with the world, or fighting the courts, or promoting certain therapies that might work. Instead, our focus is to lift up the name of Jesus. As I said in an interview at the conference, “In everything we do, it starts and ends with lifting up the Name of Jesus.”
We learned SO MUCH from Exodus, but it’s because we saw Jesus. We love our dear Exodus, because we saw and experienced Jesus in all that we remember so fondly. I pray blessings upon Alan and the former board members, and I pray that you can do the same. May our lives be filled with love towards those who we feel have done us wrong or with whom we differ. If we can only have love in our hearts to those that show love to us and agree with us, then how are we different from the world?
I would highly encourage you to get the recordings from Hope Rising 2014, and Rising from the Ashes conferences, which can be found on our website. These two great conferences were filled with messages of encouragement and inspiration that help you understand the direction we are going.
We are here to serve you and those who are seeking to follow the Lord with their whole lives, bringing their faith and sexuality into alignment. We hope that you will share your prayer requests with us. We would love to serve you in this way. Thank you in advance for partnering with us financially. If you have not decided yet, we pray that you will consider partnering as a Hope for Wholeness Affiliate.