Alan Chambers: Change we can believe in
Since 1998 WORLD has selected a Daniel of the Year, one Christian from the millions around the world who have put their faith in God and gained the strength to stand up against ungodly trends (see WORLDmag.com/daniel).
Particular years suggest particular Daniels, and this year, with victories for gay-rights groups at high tide and marriage being redefined, is no different.
Alan Chambers is in denial. It’s a charge his critics level against him on a regular basis. They say that Chambers–a former homosexual who helps others struggling with same-sex attraction–is denying what comes naturally to him. Chambers wholeheartedly agrees.
“For Christians, every day we’re called to a life of biblical self-denial,” he says. “We take up our cross and follow Christ, and we deny what comes naturally.” But he says denial isn’t without reward: “Those who reject the concept of self-denial haven’t reaped the joys that come with it.”
Self-denial isn’t a new concept to Chambers. The 39-year-old president of Exodus International–a Christian ministry that helps people struggling with homosexuality–grew up in a Christian home but embraced homosexuality as a teenager. But through years of an active gay lifestyle, Chambers couldn’t shake the biblical conviction that what came naturally to him was also sinful. He didn’t want to be gay.
Eventually, he embraced the biblical teaching that Christ could change his heart, and his sinful patterns, including homosexuality. It didn’t happen quickly. “I didn’t get a magic wand or a lightening bolt,” says Chambers. “I got a very difficult, painful, blood-sweat-and-tears journey–and a Jesus who never left me along the way.”
That journey began 20 years ago this past September in a Florida chapter of Exodus International, where Chambers first sought help. Ten years later, Chambers became president of the organization that’s one of the largest Christian ministries to homosexuals in the country.
It’s not an easy job. Part of Chambers’ work involves treading into the lion’s den of mainstream media outlets that scorn the notion that homosexuality is wrong. Critics have called him a bigot, a homophobe, and a spiritual terrorist. An online petition to ban an Exodus application from Apple’s iTunes store earlier this year drew more than 150,000 signatures. Apple dropped the Exodus app, saying it offended large groups of people.
But there’s something that angers Chambers’ opponents as much as his belief that homosexuality is wrong: His message that homosexuals can change. That’s not a new teaching in evangelical Christianity, but it might be one of the most radically unpopular messages in America today.
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SOURCE: WORLD Mag