The 37th Annual Exodus Freedom Conference, Made for More, was my 20th conference. As I sat backstage on opening night preparing to speak, I tried to remember what life was like for me as a 21 year-old college student 20 conferences prior. At that point, it had been nearly two years since I’d I walked through the doors of an Exodus ministry on September 12th, 1991 in Winter Park, Florida. I had grown up in the church, accepted Christ as my Savior, I knew all the scripture, and yet there was this issue that was before me every second of every day. My SSA was like one of those deafening tornado sirens going off, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. There was no bigger deal. There was no greater fear, no greater question, no deeper struggle, nothing bigger than this issue. When I found out about the ministry of Exodus International and the local ministry almost literally in my back yard, it was an answer to prayer.
So, as I prepared to speak this year some questions came to mind that I felt I needed to ponder and answer for those in attendance. Those questions were: What was that first conference like for me? What did Exodus do for me? What did the local ministry provide me? What did that conference provide me? How did I find success? How did I find freedom? How did I get where I am today? I sometimes struggle to answer these questions, feeling like there needs to be some special answers that I should give – some special formula that would easily communicate the journey that I’ve been on. But, as I sat there in the wings waiting to take the stage, I realized there just isn’t a formula and I am thankful for that fact all these years later.
Sometimes the difficulty in communicating how we’ve changed is due to the fact that we make it so complicated. We feel the story needs to be bigger than it is. I often wonder if there’s something else I should have done to accomplish more than I have? Is there something else that I’m supposed to do? From there I wonder, Is what we offer at Exodus lacking? I asked the attendees this year, “What did you come for this week? What did you go to the local Exodus ministry for? What is it that you were, and are, looking for?”
With those very questions in mind regarding my first conference and journey, the answer that came to mind was that I simply didn’t want to be alone anymore. And the thing that Exodus provided for me was, and still provides for others is a safe and transparent community. While we always have our relationship with Christ, and therefore we are never alone, God didn’t put us here on planet Earth to live alone or to walk through life alone. I think for so many people who struggle, whether it’s with this issue or other issues, they live so much of their life feeling very, very alone. Being isolated can make us so susceptible to hopelessness and despair. Without the perspective and truth that others can provide, we can be so easily deceived into believing the worst about our situation. The value of being in an environment where stories of both victory and disappointing defeat can be shared is priceless. You can be honest and real and receive the acceptance, love and support of those who want to help.
As I sat in an auditorium with 600 others 20 conferences ago, one of the things that ceased to exist, was that feeling that I was all alone. I don’t know what you’re going to experience on this journey. I have some ideas. But, if nothing else, I pray that you don’t feel alone anymore, that you don’t feel an island unto yourself. That you don’t feel abandoned, forgotten, left behind. That one of the encouragements that God instills in you is the understanding that with Him you are never alone and that there are people He will provide to walk along side you on this journey towards holiness, fullness in Him and a life that glorifies Christ.