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The Two Year Anniversary Of Exodus International Closing

Two years ago it was the opening night of the last Exodus International Annual conference. It was then that Alan Chambers announced from the stage that Exodus International was shutting down.

This is me speaking at the last Exodus International Annual Conference - I was miserable.
This is me speaking at the last Exodus International Annual Conference – I was miserable.

It was one of the best decisions I have been a part of in my life. Being in the position I was in as the Executive Vice President, I helped evaluate/determine that it was the only decision we could make on a number of levels. Under Alan’s brave leadership and the Board’s unanimous agreement, we shut it down.

No regrets.

The night of Alan’s announcement, the emotions were running strong and I honestly don’t know how we survived the onslaught of media attention and criticism coming from *everywhere* in religious and legalistic circles from around the world.

Wait, I do know how we survived. We survived because we knew it was the right thing to do, and that God had led us to that moment all along.

Oh and adrenaline helped. Lots and lots of adrenaline. Yay Jesus for adrenaline! And Yay Jesus for coffee! Lots and lots of coffee. But the most energizing force complementing the conviction of following God’s direction was the love and support of good and true friends.

Closing down Exodus has been great for my health! I used to have migraines every 4 to six weeks. In the first picture in this post, I had already had two migraines during that conference. I was actually on Imitrex (migraine medication) while speaking when that photo was taken. I have now lost a net of 70 lbs. I work out 5 times a week and have had maybe two serious migraines in the past year.

Work-wise, I was self-employed until November of last year when I started working for a local PR company as an Online Content & Social Media Manager for our clients. I love what I do. Its not the easiest thing starting a new career at mid-life but… I have and it is good.

In the past two years I have apologized to the gay community twice 🙂 (here and here.) Came out in support of marriage equality last fall, and “came out” personally on January 12th of this year. I have done some work with the SPLC and interviews to end conversion therapy. I also have made some personal amends with regard to past activism by participating in the NO H8 campaign.

During my time at Exodus, I did develop a strong relationship with God. Jesus loves me as much today as He ever has, with an infinite love. I believe He rejoices with me, over me, that I have left the church closet and am finally living in the full freedom of who He created me to be. I am at rest, at peace, in Him and in the finished work of His Atonement. He was with me at *every* point of my life and now I believe He has shown me that the ex-gay ideology I had bought into was an oppressive addition to His gospel. An unnecessary burden that He never intended for me; that He never intended for anyone. During my time at Exodus, He did make me a better and more whole person. He did all this because He, Jesus, is good. He is merciful, loving, kind and gracious.

All the good that I experienced during my time at Exodus was not because of Exodus as an organization “overcoming homosexuality” and “standing up for ‘truth in love'”. In fact, the good I experienced was in spite of the underlying negative and hurtful messaging of Exodus. The good that I received were lessons and blessings I should have gotten directly from the church, the church that should embrace its LGBT siblings instead of disenfranchising and scapegoating us.

Gay people should be given access to all the same life-giving resources and opportunities in the church as anyone else.  Minister to us as peers not with the constant undercurrent of objectified “issues” you can’t relate to. Let us minister to and serve *you* as the opportunity arises. Embrace us with true unconditional love that is not disclaimed by hurtful “you are broken” messaging and being relationally relegated to being “other than” for the rest of our natural lives. Let me be fully honest standing in worship, or sitting in the pew next to you, instead of being told I could only be fully “honest” on a Thursday night at 7pm at an Exodus affiliated support group.

This pic was taken by Mr. Boyfriend last Saturday at the Kennedy Space Center. I sure do love Mr. Boyfriend :)
Mr. Boyfriend took this pic last Saturday at the Kennedy Space Center. I sure do love Mr. Boyfriend 🙂

Jesus is life-giving in a myriad of ways that have transformed me as a person. Even so, He did not change my sexuality. He didn’t change my desire to be in love with and devoted to another man. I now believe He didn’t change that because it doesn’t need to be changed. I am gay; He knows this and I believe He has guided me to where I am to finally embrace and be at peace with myself and His blessing of who I truly Am. Our Heavenly Father embraces me and everything He has put within me to live out.

I am His; nothing and no one can change that.

Because of God’s love and direction, today I’ve never been more transparent (didn’t say perfect; just transparent). I have never been more free.

Since embracing the truth that I am gay, and Christian and everything else that I am… I have started dating. In fact, today, I happen to be in love with a beautiful (in every way) man I have been referring to lately (online) as Mr. Boyfriend. In fact, he is texting me while I type this and my heart is truly full of joy. I am sure that I have the best boyfriend ever. 🙂

With tears in my eyes I remember how in pain I was two years ago in contrast to how fulfilled I feel today. Thank God for his loving grace and direction.

Exodus closing is and continues to be a good thing. While I terribly miss some of my friends who can’t seem to walk with me any longer, I don’t miss Exodus as an organization … at all.

I am here. I am in Christ. I am in our church … let me love and serve you.

Published inLGBT+ Christ Follower

26 Comments

  1. Alison Ruth Defrese Alison Ruth Defrese

    That’s beautiful, Randy. If only every pastor or priest of every church I ever attended could read your posts and take them to heart. I’m afraid h311 will have to freeze over first.

    You DO look a lot healthier and happier in your latest photos compared with the one at the top. Glad you got rid of the goatee, too. ( o :

    • Randy Randy

      Thanks Alison 🙂 I appreciate the feedback and encouragement :::goatee-less grin:::

  2. Jim Burroway Jim Burroway

    Wait a minute Randy. I haven’t been texting you!

    (Happy 2nd anniversary. It was such a privilege to be there in 2013.)

    • Randy Randy

      Jim…you are such a stinker :). I really hope you get to meet Mr. Boyfriend someday. You’d love him. I am also very glad you were at that conference as well. You and our other friends were so helpful. More than you realize I think.

  3. Anonymous Rex Anonymous Rex

    One verse echoed several times in my head while reading this. “It is for freedom that Christ set us free. Do not stick your silly head into any old gilt yoke of slavery that comes along or you’ll be miserable” (with a little loose editing).

  4. Jeff Winter Jeff Winter

    Randy, why didn’t you and Alan resign from Exodus instead of bringing down an organization that once brought hope to the lives of many who struggle with same sex attraction? Your actions were injurious to many around the world. From time to time I talk to people who have been deeply hurt by what you and Alan did. As a former Exodus board member I grieve over what happened. Resigning would have been the right thing to do. Exodus was not your ministry to shut down. Have you ever thought about apologizing to the many people you have hurt?

    • Randy Randy

      Randy, why didn’t you and Alan resign from Exodus instead of bringing down an organization that once brought hope to the lives of many who struggle with same sex attraction?

      Have you not been paying attention? We have literally had hundreds of interviews, press releases, apologies, explanations … just because you don’t agree with what we did doesn’t give you a pass to ignore our reasoning….which is everywhere. We both know that you know why we closed Exodus. You framing it as a question is passive aggressive. Next time just get to your real point which was…

      Resigning would have been the right thing to do. Exodus was not your ministry to shut down.

      Yeah…nope. That would have been *your* right thing to do but God didn’t have you at the helm, or on the board at that time. Your point is merely an opinion and not what actually should have happened. You are right about me though. I had no authority to close the ministry down. I just analyzed and gave some very detailed opinions on the organization as a whole. I presented my findings and opinions to Alan and the Exodus Board. It was their decision to make, and my job to help execute. And with Alan and the Board’s unanimous decision to close it down, it is obvious to anyone that we had both the spiritual and even legitimate legal right to shut down the ministry.

      You obviously think differently but I know that God led us to make that decision. To resign and leave the organization to the hardliners who lined up to try and forcefully take it over would have been to continue to perpetuate what Exodus had become…a tragedy. I am very glad Exodus closed down and did not pass on to someone else.

      As for the rest of your comment about me being “injurious” and hurting people around the world, I am always open to people contacting me directly to share if I have wronged or hurt them. I think that takes a lot of courage. Where I do agree that I need to apologize and/or make amends, I will. However, the tone of what you wrote seems quite a sweeping and even manipulative. It’s like verbal revenge with an attempt to shame me for not living up to your expectations or opinions over what you think should have happened. Please don’t speak on behalf of those I have allegedly injured around the world. Speak for yourself and tell them to talk to me instead of about me.

    • Stephen Eaglin Stephen Eaglin

      Ricky it is in my opinion the answer to your question to Randy is …because they are brave men who did what should have been done many years ago! I have followed this group from the start, God finally heard us and I’m greatful for his Providence! The Father has loved us through all of it!

  5. Stephen. Stephen.

    Thank you for sharing this Randy. I feel so proud of you and for all of us who draw close to God, in spite of the ex-gay programs we went through. And that we then had the courage and grace to turn our backs on what was really hurting and damaging us. God bless you and your boyfriend.

    • Randy Randy

      Thank you so much Stephen. So grateful!

  6. Great to see you happy Randy. But how do you reconcile your faith with your circumstances? i havent noticed you detail this. To some, Scripture is not important to them, and they focus more on a philosophy of God. Where do you sit?

    • Randy Randy

      Thank you Tom. I am not a theologian or even the son of a theologian :). Scripture is of course important to me but I don’t believe I will ever be interested in debating or explaining the “detail” of it. I might get into it some in the future but until then I will talk about faith and Jesus from an everyday lay-person’s experience, not a theological analysis/debate. Hope that makes sense.

      • Ed Ed

        Well…is that wise? We are told to search the scriptures like the Bereans (Acts 17:11), not just tip toe through them, relying on “our” faith and “our” view of Jesus. I know for me, I am prone to wander. I need to return to scripture daily for guidance on just about every matter, but especially on my sexuality. I must bring it under the Lordship of Christ, by knowing what God has to say about it, not on how I “feel” or what I “think”. Oh, and please don’t dismiss me as being legalistic. I prefer you be blunt and honest. Just admit you don’t care that much anymore or simply disagree.

  7. Randy:

    Thanks my good friend for writing this, for sharing your journey and for all that you are now doing to put things right. These past two years of getting to know the new “Randy” have been a blessing for me. Your personal transformation (physically, emotionally and spiritually) has been remarkable. You are saying something so many LGBT people need to hear:

    “Jesus is life-giving in a myriad of ways that have transformed me as a person. Even so, He did not change my sexuality. He didn’t change my desire to be in love with and devoted to another man. I now believe He didn’t change that because it doesn’t need to be changed.”

    You and the Board did the right thing in closing Exodus. The underlying message of “ex-gay” programs (that gayness is “broken”, “disordered”, “sick” or in need of repair) had done untold damage to many, many people. That needed to stop. It took courage and character to close Exodus down.

    Since that time, I have seen you blossom and grow into a gentle, gracious man who is actively making amends for the harm caused by the “ex-gay”, “change is possible” message. It seems that you are at peace finally and doing your best to help others find that same peace. “He didn’t change that because it doesn’t need to be changed”.

    Yes. That.

    Love, peace and pride, Randy!

    • Randy Randy

      Thank you so much Michael! I appreciate your encouragement and I hope to continue to encourage others. Love, peace, and pride to you too :).

  8. Randy,

    I had struggled in silence for over a decade after my marriage fell apart. The shame I lived in led to another suicide attempt because I felt I was the only one who couldn’t live up to this “message of freedom.” When Exodus closed, I saw others come forward with stories like mine, many of whom were friends from my time at Love in Action. I finally had the courage to go get help and sort out all the ambivalent and confusing emotions I had toward God, Christianity and ex-gay ministries. I finally started living my life in TRUE freedom.

    The decision to close Exodus was the right one, allowing so many of us who were hurt and disenfranchised to step forward and find healing. It was the compassionate decision and one that is now bringing many back to the church to be loved just as they are, for who they are.

    You did the right thing.

    Many blessings, Randy.

    Tim

    • Randy Randy

      I am so sorry to hear the depth of your struggle and hate that you went through that level of pain caused by hurtful messaging and religious stigmatization. Thanks for the encouragement Tim. I am very grateful for you, your story, and your friendship.

      • Kristine Kristine

        Funny Randy how so many folks like to speak on behalf of God and Jesus. Saying such things as “I know God is leading me to this or that” or “This is what I know God wants amd has led me to.” But the Bible says there are many false prophets, saying “Thus says the Lord” when the Lord has not spoken at all in such a way.

        The false prophets invoke the name of God and Jesus, yet they do not let the words of scripture speak. And they speak for themselves. Can you really extract one word from scripture “love” and use it to twist the wisdom of generations including that of Chirst?

        He told the woman at the well, you have had so many husbands and the man you are with now is not your husband… Go and sin no more. He told the rich young ruler that to inherit the kingdom he omitted one thing–give up your posessions (the thing he put before God). The young man could not, or rather chose not, but turned and walked away sad.

        If Jesus told the woman she lived in sin is he really going to tell you that you are not? You dont want people speaking for you, so do not speak for God or Jesus. They have already spoken clearly.

        For false prophets, they can have thier talk and fame and glory now, but one day God will confront them. And if your health is good, why use that as indication of anything. The scripture says there is a time when evil men prosper while holy ones suffer. Health is a gift, that even many innocent people never have. Do not boast and use it to justify yourself in your pride.

        • Nine Inch Nail Nine Inch Nail

          If the scriptures speak for themselves why did you continue on with 201 extra words after you brought it up?

          • Kristine Kristine

            Because we all become weak and self absorbed and go astray and need to be reminded of what we were scarcely saved from. And the suffering and precious blood brutally spilled to give us grace that should not be taken lightly or made mockery of through willful sin.

            Especially after we have tasted and known God’s goodness and love.

            The scripture instructs us to put the things of God in rememberance. There is your question answered.

          • Kristine Kristine

            And by the way, to clarify, yes the scriptures do speak for themselves.. But in my comment when I stated “They speak for themselves” I was refering to false prophets… In other words they speak out of thier own minds and not influenced by God.

        • Stephen Eaglin Stephen Eaglin

          You know the Bible also says something about loving your brother and if you don’t you are guilty of committing a sin that is like breaking all of the laws! Breaking this one commandment that Jesus gave us to love one another! Condemnation is not love sister! So think about your words here and take heed! I find it interesting that so called Christians can in one breath say they have the truth but some of us don’t blinded by their self-righteous piety and religious ideology we are all under Grace and are told to workout our relationship vis the Holy Spirit in reference and on our knees! So you might want to climb down off your pontifical soap box Kristin!

          • Ed Ed

            “Climb down off your pontifical soap box” that’s not very loving. You see you just did what you falsely accused her of doing. I heard no condemnation in her words, it was always “we” and backed up by scripture. Yes, one of the greatest commandments is to love one another. But how do we do that? We do that in light of the One who gave us that commandment. He is the very One who tells us to use scripture to correct and instruct one another. That’s love! In other words, we see a brother who has chosen to follow the glittering lights of this world unto a deadly highway and we lovingly want to use scripture to help him stay on the narrow path and continue running the race. While others think it’s more gracious and loving to say nothing. The good Pastor will leave the 99 and go rescue the one who one who went astray. That’s what Jesus would do. I hope the same would be done for me when I want to wander off unto the shinny lights this world falsely offers.

        • Randal Fry Randal Fry

          Kristine, I feel for you with your struggle in reconciling Scripture speaking for itself with the concept of gay people claiming to be in God’s grace. I had the same struggle until I finally realized that Scripture never calls itself The Word of God. Scripture reserves that title, (Logos tou Theou in Greek; Davar Elohim in Hebrew) for the one who is God and came to this person or that person and spoke to them and became flesh and dwelt among us (except for one verse in the English New Testament where the Greek word rema, which means a personal message to an individual, is translated as ‘word or God’). Jesus commented on Scripture once by saying that the Scriptures have life only because they point to him and it is him that we must go to for life. In another place Jesus disagreed with what Moses had said about adultery, taking adultery off the capital punishment list and making it grounds for divorce instead of death. Peter warned against developing our theology on the writings of our dear brother, Paul, saying that what Paul writes is easy to twist to one’s own destruction. Paul and Moses are the only two authors Judaism and Christianity have included in their list of sacred writings who have spoken against homosexuality. Jesus disagreed with Moses on at least one sexual issue and Peter warned against using Paul too much. In my own life I’m much happier listening as my Lord speaks lovingly to me through the mouths of those living around me than by trying to appropriate Moses and Paul’s opinions for my life. Living my life based on trying to interpret Scripture as a legally binding set of rules had me twisted into knots and kept me away from God. Jesus has saved me, taking down the walls of the prison that kept me from experiencing love. As bishop Ireneaus of Lyon said in the second century, the Word of God speaks to everyone in every culture in every philosophy and every religion because where there is Truth it is there because the Word of God has spoken it. Jesus speaks to everyone! It is a scary thing to give up on the black and white answers given by using a set of scriptures as a binding legal book, but the voice of the Word of God is so much sweeter than that.

  9. I am SO proud of you and the journey you’ve been on. Thank you for sharing this post. It really warmed my heart and gave me a lot of hope!

  10. What would you say about a longtime “friend” who you thought you knew who one day out of the blue tells you stewed prunes are “slimy and gross” hours after you have lovingly stewed prunes in your best saucepan, having previously scoured the Internet for authentic Old World stewed prune recipes, which you follow with painstaking precision and meticulous attention to detail? I think you would say “That is a friend who needs to lighten up.” I think you would say “I will stew my prunes, and I don’t care who has a problem with it. I will serve stewed prunes for brunch, or even as a dessert on pizza night. Lord knows the world could use more fiber.” Thank you for seeing things my way, Randy.

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