Alan Chambers: ‘Daniel’ of the year

December  2011

2011-12-09-ts

Friday 5: Alan Chambers

by Karla Dial

For the last 14 years, World Magazine has given an award to a person who best exemplifies Christianity in the face of persecution and grace under pressure—essentially, Daniel in the lions’ den. This year, the award goes to Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, for bringing the message of hope through Christ to people who are struggling with their sexual identities

1. What’s been going on that earned you the Daniel Award this year?

Over the course of the last 18 months, we have had so many different hits, both personally and in the ministry. From our longtime association with Dawson McAllister and Clear Channel’s ultimatum to him (to stop working with Exodus or face having his show dropped from the radio network), the iPhone fiasco (when Apple refused to let Exodus offer an app to customers), and what’s felt like so many constant roadblocks in our way as we reach out with what I feel is the best message and strongest footing we’ve ever had.

2. What’s different about your message now than in the past?

I think our message is more Gospel-centric than it’s ever been. We’re not focused on sexual orientation or policies or politics, fighting one group of people or another — we are just serving a God who wants to help anyone have a relationship with Him. Once you’re in a relationship with Him, nothing is impossible. He takes us where we’re at, and the longer we spend with him, the further He will take us. Our focus is surrendering our hearts and lives to Jesus Christ. For a very brief part of time, there was a policy emphasis on what we did — but over the course of 35 years, Exodus has been known for the mantra that change is possible, and if you come to Jesus He’ll take away all your (same-sex) struggles and desires. That’s not the point. In our 35th year, we’re focused on the fact that there are no promises in regards to our physical and emotional circumstances here on earth, but if you give your heart to Christ, He will change your life.

This is the point for anyone who knows Christ. He becomes the focus, and all the things that have been a distraction in your life take a back seat to knowing Him. The cool thing for Exodus is that everyone is looking for that one thing that is consistent, that won’t turn their back on them — and that’s a relationship with Christ. He will never give you back, never turn his back on you — no matter how good or bad the day is, He’s always there. That’s our message to people who are in need.

3. Do you think that message is getting through more clearly now than in the past?

I think we are reaching people more effectively, and more honestly. That message is absolutely resonating with people, because it’s almost like for the first time in our history, people are saying, ‘That makes sense to me.’ Whether they agree with us or not, it makes sense to them and it’s hard to argue against it. People don’t have to buy into what we believe as long as they realize there are people who want what we’re offering — that people should have the option to opt out of (homosexual behavior and identity) and into a pursuit of and surrender to Christ when it comes to their sexuality.

4. How have you dealt with the lions in your life and ministry this year?

Personally, I’ve tried to engage the lions. Tried to have conversations and build relationships with the lions. I think what I’ve noticed is there is less of a desire to dialogue, to agree to disagree, than there ever has been before. It’s like (our opposition is saying), ‘We are out to win, and if you will not completely come to our side, we will not relent.’ That’s not our message. I wouldn’t do to the other side what’s being done to ours. I don’t go after their friends or connections, I don’t picket their parades or infiltrate their meetings, but that’s what the new normal is as far as how the other side fights this. For me, winning the debate is no longer important. I’m simply trying to help people know Jesus.

5. What advice would you give to other people on how to tame the lions in their own lives?

The best advice that I can give is to make sure your focus is Christ. Whether the lions are people bombarding you or struggles that you’re facing, feeling like you have to give in or surrender to, make sure your focus is Christ and that you have a community. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of relationships with people you can trust, who won’t look cross-eyed at you when you tell them the biggest issues in your life, and who will be there for you in hard times. To be honest and in community. Don’t stop talking.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about Exodus International.

Read World Magazine’s story on giving Alan Chambers the Daniel Award.

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