Last month I shared a story with you about a young man that wasn’t quite sure which direction he was going to take related to his same-sex attractions. I mentioned that he was looking for more than the rights and wrongs of religion. I also reflected on having that same dilemma at his age – wanting more than pat answers and a deeper motivation than simply being a “good boy for God.” While I came to realize that doing what is right is best, just obeying the rules for the sake of obeying the rules got old for me and I longed for a heart connection. As I deepened my understanding of the father heart of God my motivation to live for Him changed. My prayer for the young man from last month’s IMPACT was that he, too, would pursue God with all of his heart, mind and passion and in so doing would figure out who he was created to be and live that out.
This is probably obvious, but I am a firm believer in the ministry of Exodus International. It quite literally saved my life in those late teenage years. Ten years after seeking help my life wasn’t recognizable because I had employed the tools that Exodus gave me to grow into a mature man of God. At that time, I was hired to serve as the President of Exodus, a position that I have now held for 10 years. So, twenty years into all of this, I remain convinced that Exodus is a cutting edge ministry that is still vital today – especially because we are doing our best to give this ministry away to churches. One of the significant resources that we offer is our conferences; namely the annual Exodus Freedom Conferences that birthed this ministry over 35 years ago. The Freedom Conferences are times of incredible worship, teaching, fellowship and growth for those who attend. I will never forget my first conference in 1993 and how I returned home so different. It was at that event that God did an amazing work of forgiveness and repentance in my heart related to my relationship with my dad that ultimately changed our family for the better.
So, it will come as no surprise to you that during my meeting with the young man last month, I strongly encouraged him to attend the 36th Annual Exodus Freedom Conference, which at that point was just two weeks away. I realized it was a stretch because he lives with his parents and had not broached the subject of his struggles with them since he was in middle school. He didn’t know if he could get away and he had no idea how he would pay for all of the expenses. I told him that we’d find a way to help him pay for everything if he could get away. I then employed the help of some of you.
It wasn’t long before I had connected him with a community of people willing to stand with him in the midst of his struggles. We also found all of the money for him to attend the Freedom Conference. Not only did this college kid accept the help, he came to conference and was transformed. Where he previously lacked direction, motivation, purpose and passion, he more than made up for it. Watching him blossom over the course of a few days was amazing to see. THANK YOU for giving to Exodus because you may have just saved a life!!! That is why we are here. Who knows, maybe in 10 years he will succeed me in this position.
A week after the conference was over, I turned around at church and found this young man and his parents right in front of me. All of the angst that he had shared about how they might react to him sharing his continuing struggles was gone. They were a family reconciled, restored and redeemed. They all shared their joy with me that morning and were beaming from ear to ear. Standing there I realized, once again, that God is in the business of restoration. It was the story of an “almost prodigal” saved before the journey even really got underway.
While I dearly love the story of the prodigal, I love it when God intervenes ahead of schedule and much pain is averted. I can’t wait to see this young person further along on his journey, being used as a megaphone for God’s redemptive purpose. I hope you see how significant a part you played in this story and the hundreds of others who attended the Freedom Conference because of your generous giving.
Plans are underway already for the 37th Annual Exodus Freedom Conference being held June 27-30 in the Twin Cities of Minnesota at Northwestern College. Please consider giving now towards our scholarship fund so that we can make sure everyone who wants to be there can be there. And, please consider being there yourself. It is a transforming experience!