On July 15th through the 20th, hundreds gathered in Asheville, North Carolina for the 33rd annual Exodus International Freedom Conference. More than a hundred of those in attendance were students under the age of 25. Here are some of the things those young people have to say about their experience at the Conference.
The Freedom conference impacted me in a huge way. I went in to the week knowing that I was loved by God--I knew it in my head, but I didn't necessarily believe it.
When I arrived at the conference, the worship band was singing "How wide, how deep, how great is the love of God!" The message of God's love was repeated over and over throughout the week, until Thursday morning when I heard June Hunt say "I don't always feel God's love, but I know I know it is true, and I choose to believe and receive it." In that moment it clicked, and I haven't been the same since. Praise God! - Mark
This was my first Exodus conference, and honestly, I really had no clue what to expect. But the result? Profound. Basically, I will never be the same. I can’t even really explain it, but it was something I have never experienced or felt before. It was real. Authentic. No Sunday church masks. Just people… real people… people who embodied genuine brokenness…people truly desperate for Jesus. And that changed me.Being surrounded by a body of believers that know the bondage of homosexuality, that know the pain, that know the shame, that corporately fall at the feet of Jesus and cry mercy, salvation and freedom… all of it showed me that I am NOT alone. I am loved. I am redeemed. I am free. And nobody can take that away from me. - Katie
This was my second Exodus Freedom Conference, and I had been counting down the days to it since the moment last year's ended. I knew I could look forward to more of the same great breakout sessions, worship, testimonies, speakers and affirming fellowship. Still, I asked God to use the Conference to do something new in my life.
God was faithful in answering my request through the opportunity to serve as a volunteer, which let me experience the Conference in a whole new way. I felt that I was giving back a small part of the blessings I was receiving. I also felt my heart going out to others who were struggling rather than only focusing on myself.
I left feeling empowered to face another year. I am forever grateful to Exodus for holding the Freedom Conference, which has made such a difference in my life and the lives of many others. - Gio
I was richly blessed as a black teenager struggling homosexuality to attend this conference. It was one of the best opportunities in my life, being there meeting and networking with so many of you all. I really got to see, feel and experience God's love for me.
All my life I never really knew that there were resources out there available to me that dealt with my struggle. To be immersed in such truth was an amazing experience. I look forward to being there next year! - Phil
I came to the conference this year confused and losing faith. The conference gave me a place to drop all my defenses and be completely open about everything. At the same time, I was surrounded by so many others who were hurt and broken. They loved me and looked past my faults and confusion to see the person Christ made me to be. God used this conference, the speakers, the worship, and His Spirit to invade my heart and give me clarity of what he wants for my life. - Josh
Upon arriving to the Exodus conference this year I wasn't sure what to expect. I had been to the one a year before and didn't think I could learn that much more about my struggle with homosexuality. My spiritual life had been a roller coaster, which directly reflected my relationships.
In preparation for the 2008 conference I had been asking God to prepare my heart and my mind. When I got there though I found myself searching for the same friends as if it were a school reunion. God quickly showed me that I was there to learn about pursuing Him. If I was going to pursue a man, then it needed to Jesus Christ. As the week progressed my eyes were opened to the great battle that we fight.
Living in California I have just seen two of my female classmates from my private university get married. I am scared for what lies ahead, as the darkness becomes thicker the light will be in more contrast, in more opposition, and facing more obstacles than ever before. Pray for us as His mighty warriors, for strength and perseverance, for boldness in the truth, for love of the lost, conviction of sin, acceptance of grace, and a commitment to righteousness. I am grateful that the battle, which lies ahead, is already won through the blood of Lamb.- Nathan
I was unsure about this so I did not register until two weeks before [the conference] and I did not purchase my plane ticket until one week before. I had no expectations to get anything major out of going to the conference, but I desired closeness with God.
I had been walking away from God for a long time. I was not acting out homosexually, but I was crossing into yellow caution and red danger zones.
God definitely changed my life at the conference. I now understand the meaning of God’s grace so much more fully than I ever have before. He forgives all of us even before we ask and he welcomes us all back to him no matter what is going on in our lives.
Finally, God gave me this amazing voice of witness to lift up and I have been talking to straight Christian friends about my struggle, a close male friend who is openly gay and even hope and plan on talking to more of my glbtq identified friends as soon as God allows it. Paul writes in Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…” I am neither ashamed nor afraid to speak up for the truth of God to others anymore. - Katrina