Exodus International, the largest Christian outreach to ex-gays and those dealing with unwanted homosexuality, has entered a new phase of expansion – expanded vision, expanded network and expanded influence.
"Exodus is expanding its message to reach more arenas in the public sector," said Randy Thomas, executive vice president of Exodus International. "We're finding that people are wanting our perspectives on a variety of cultural, social as well as spiritual issues."
In the past three decades, Exodus has challenged churches and the wider public who respond to homosexuals with ignorance and fear as well as those who uphold homosexuality as a valid orientation. And over the last five years since Alan Chambers stepped into presidency, the ex-gay organization has increased its number of member ministries to over 130 as well as its involvement in public policy issues and has become a prominent voice on gender issues, particularly in the wake of the Ted Haggard sex-and-drugs scandal.
"I think the media exposure is a result of our expanded vision," Thomas explained. "I think they're seeing our willingness to speak a redemptive message to the public sector. People are interested in a new opinion and so we bring that to the table and the media has been willing to report."
Chambers has been a leading voice in the ex-gay debate as America continues to argue if homosexuals can overcome same-sex attractions through therapy. Chambers himself is a former homosexual who overcame his unwanted same-sex attractions through prayer-based counseling. He is now married and the father of two children and says he represents thousands of others who have experienced the same change.
Amid increasing attention on the homosexual debate, Exodus has launched new efforts to expand its professional network of counselors, create an online resource center, streamline operations within the organization's national network and increase its influence on public policy issues such as the latest Hate Crimes bill which is being reviewed by the Senate.
"But all of that really is encapsulated by our heart for the church," said Thomas.
Last summer, Exodus launched the Exodus Church Network, declaring itself a ministry of the church. Currently with 40 churches aligned to its network, Exodus helps churches to stand boldly on the truth of Scripture with regard to homosexuality, to minister to individuals struggling with unwanted homosexuality, and to create a nationwide referral list of churches for those searching for a church that will walk alongside them in their journey.
"These are churches that agree with Exodus are aligned with what we believe and are willing to help those who come to their church dealing with this issue," Thomas added.
Over the past seven or eight years, Thomas says the church has been very willing to hear what Exodus has to say.
"We find reluctance often, but not quite as often as we used to."
As the Fla.-based organization undergoes a period of expansion and development, Thomas doesn't see Exodus going away any time soon.
"I think that there is a desire within our society to get truth of same-sex attraction. I think people are getting tired of the polarized talking points and they're realizing that sexuality is a lot more complex and that people do change,” he said. “People are wanting to understand that instead of hearing these typical cultural mantras."
And as people seek answers, Thomas believes Exodus is at the "forefront of providing redemptive homosexuality to our culture."