A Letter of Apology

A Letter of Apology

JohnSweater

For many years I have contemplated the times I have heard that some people have said they were harmed or wounded from their experience with Love In Action or Exodus International. More often than not my reactions have not been favorable. In my own mind I didn’t feel there was any merit to the accusations. After all, “I have given 22 years of my life sacrificially just to hear how we harmed you!”


Well I certainly know the sound of a defensive reaction when I hear one! I was it! I didn’t want to hear anything that was critical or negative. But, I believe in listening to the heart of others no matter how critical it may sound. I needed to check in on my own heart to see if there was any validation to their comments. Of course, there was.


Since I was in leadership with both organizations I have certainly have been at the center of many of the criticisms. The scripture challenges us to be careful with what we say and do as leaders because of the higher standard that is expected and deserved from those whom we care for.


In the last two years I have had a lot of time to ponder, pray, and sort through many facets of my vocational ministry history. Since I have had a lot of alone time my searching has been easier to handle.


I was recently contacted by David Roberts from the “Ex-gay Watch” and online blog for those following the ex-gay movement. David had seen a recent announcement of the new Grace Group that is being started by Grace Rivers and wanted me to write something. In our discussion we both felt it would be good for me to address some of the criticisms out there concerning my leadership in “ex-gay” ministry. I have taken the last week to write a letter and to that end, here it is.


It’s Time for Honesty!


From John J. Smid to the readers of Ex-gay Watch,


Just a little bit of history here. I became a Christian in 1982. My new faith created conflicts in my homosexual relationship and eventually we broke up. It was at that point and I decided to pursue my relationship with Jesus instead of looking for a new relationship right away.


When I had been celibate for several years I felt that I wanted be married to a woman. I had been married previously and in my heart wanted to give that a try again.


I met my wife Vileen in 1985 and we married in 1988. We have had a good, faithful marriage just as I had hoped. I told her about my homosexuality right after we had met. She has walked alongside me knowing that I have chosen her rather than to pursue a homosexual relationship. She is aware that my attractions haven’t changed in general towards men but that I love her deeply and make choices daily to remain faithful to our marriage and have not regretted that decision.


In 1986 I moved to San Rafael California to work as a volunteer for Love In Action. I am passionate about people and spent 22 years with Love In Action. Since Exodus International was in our same office most of those years I also became involved with them right away.


By 1995 I had been involved in Love In Action and Exodus for nine years and was asked to give a talk in a general session at the Exodus national conference. God had brought me to a point where I was willing to admit to myself that I still had homosexual attractions. As a result of my own internal process of disclosure I decided to give my talk on the topic of honesty. I spoke of my current homosexual attractions and challenged the audience to be honest with themselves. I have always been as intentional as I could to share freely about those things whenever I speak or meet with someone who can relate to homosexuality.


The Famous Protest

On June 6th of 2005, when the protestors showed up on the sidewalks in front of Love In Action to speak against the Refuge Program, my world was rocked. But within just a couple of days my heart was humbled by the gracious words coming from those who were outside such as “God Loves You”. The truth spoken from them caused me to think and began to soften my heart.


A lot has changed since then. God does love me and He loved me enough to continue to shave off some things in my life that have been wrong, offensive, calloused and judgmental. Through the humility of Morgan Fox, one of the leaders of the protest, I was humbled once again. His pursuit of a relationship with me, though I did not deserve it, has been another tool that God has used to break through parts of my heart that needed to be touched.


Morgan asked me to interview for a documentary he is producing about the protests. I resisted for a long time. After many meetings with Morgan I began to see his godly character and agreed to an interview because I trusted him. During our camera time the discussions involved things from the past that have been said about Love In Action or about me as the former leader. I had spent many hours and in some cases years, pondering these things and wondered how I could make amends for the things that had hurt or wounded others during my 22 years of leadership with Love In Action. Certainly there were many.


Please Forgive Me

In 1994 an article was written that said that I told a young man it would be better for him to commit suicide than for him to go into the gay lifestyle. I have been haunted by that article all through the years. I have felt defensive, reactionary and frustrated every time I have read it not knowing how I could in any way, clear it away. Maybe this will help.


I want to publically say to the young man, “I am very sorry for the conversation that I had with you that fateful day. I loved you very much as a brother and feel deeply grieved for the way that my words hurt you.” If I could, I would erase the conversation and start all over with ” I love you, and as you move on I will pray for God’s very best for you in your life. No matter what you do, Jesus deeply loves you.” “Please forgive me.”


Some people have spoken out about being wounded through their experience with Love In Action. ” I want to say I am very sorry for the things that have wounded you or hurt you by my hands of leadership at Love In Action or anything I have done personally that has harmed you.” “Please forgive me.”


Exodus International


I was a member of the board of directors of Exodus International for eleven years. I spoke on many occasions in general sessions and in workshops at the national conferences for most of the 22 years I was involved in Love In Action and Exodus. Thousands of men and women came to Exodus ministries and conferences looking for a hand, seeking hope, or for someone to hear their heart and understand.


I am a very verbal person and can speak at times without thoroughly thinking through what I might say before it comes out of my mouth. Without question I know I have said things that may have hurt someone or caused confusion or discouragement. Please forgive me for the things I have said that were not helpful or were further damaging of your tender heart.


As a board member of Exodus International I felt a strong sense of stewardship for the lives we hoped we would impact with the love of Jesus. I have learned a lot more over the last couple of years about how unconditional His love really is. I believe I could have done a better job of letting people know that Jesus loves them purely because He does, unconditionally. I am sorry for not being a better vessel of the Love of Christ to those who deeply need to know of His love. I realize I was often more concerned with telling people how to live than I was with imparting God’s grace so that they would want to live!


Refuge Program


Now, regarding the most highly publicized” Refuge Program” for teens that was held through Love In Action. If I could go back and do anything differently based on what I know today – it would be the Refuge Program. I have a hard time admitting it but the protests did bring about a season for me to reevaluate my life, my heart, and the Refuge Program. God did an amazing work in me through the challenges that resulted from the people who came to the streets in front of our ministry, morning and night, for two weeks.


I really wanted to help the young men in our program but in some cases the design of our program caused more harm for some of these kids that it did good. I am very sorry for the ways that Refuge further wounded teens that were already in a very delicate place in life. I am grateful for the way that God lovingly called us to revamp the methods for dealing with families with teens so that more teens weren’t hurt.


I have been a Christian for almost 30 years. There are myriads of things that I do or that go through my mind that aren’t biblically appropriate. There are many things that God wants me to change in my own life so that I can be a better person, love Him more and love others better.  I do not want a judgmental heart to separate me from people that I love dearly.


Leaving Love In Action


It has been almost two years since I left the ministry of Love In Action in May of 2008. I have had many days and hours alone to think and ponder the last 22 years. God has dug deep into my heart and caused me to see something very important that he wanted me to know. He loves me unconditionally. His grace is sufficient for me. I cannot do anything that He hasn’t forgiven, isn’t forgiving, and won’t forgive and it is up to Him to restore my soul, I can’t do that myself.


I am not the judge and jury of other people. I can’t see another person’s heart like He can. I cannot redeem anyone, only He can. I don’t know what someone might need today but he does.


If you have been wounded by me or harmed through the hands of my leadership; please come to me and allow an opportunity for me to personally apologize with the hope that we can both be released from the bondage of unforgiveness.


Grace Rivers


I am leading a new ministry called Grace Rivers. It’s primary focus isn’t to be an ex-gay ministry but within the context of offering grace and the Love of Jesus to our world we are starting grace groups for people impacted by homosexuality.


As a brand new start, Grace Rivers is an outpouring of the many of the changes in my own heart. I have based this work on nine core values starting with honesty, moving on to listening to others effectively, and in the end giving respect because God does. I have attempted to pursue these values in my own life to the best of my ability. God is still working on restoring me so I know He is doing the same with others. We are all on a road of life that is hopefully improving day by day. He says He will complete the work He has started so I trust Him fully with my life and with the lives of others who know Him.


Sincerely,



John J. Smid

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47 Responses to “A Letter of Apology”

  1. Trystan Dean says:

    John Smid, thank you for your apology, but it’s a little too little, too late. Your essay is all about you. You describe the people you’ve harmed as “lessons” for you. Are you truly capable of loving someone else? You admit your marriage is second-rate, a less-than situation of resignation rather than joy. You settled for a woman though you still lust for men.

    I suggest you get out of leadership all together and become a follower of Christ, alone. You obviously feed off of power, and use others as mirrors for your own mind. This is wrong. I wish you would stop.

    I believe that homosexuality is beautiful and that homosexuals are just as capable of developing a close walk with Christ as heterosexuals.

    You need to shut up and sit down, John. You’re not a teacher. You’re a wounder. Heal yourself and leave the rest of us alone, please.
    Sincerely, Trystan Dean

  2. Kathy Baldock says:

    what a loving letter. I am a straight advocate into the gay community and inreaching into the church as well. Something new must be done. I have NEVER met an exgay in the hundreds of gay Christians I know. I have met people severely wounded by use of the Book that that I love and follow. I LOVE my gay friends. How I treat my brothers and sisters reflect how I feel about my Creator.

  3. Anthony Venn-Brown says:

    quite possibly John you are on a journey so many Christians are making today. The first step is a change in attitude. This often happens when instead of judging and trying to change others they are prepared to be in a space of questioning and listening to gay and lesbian Christians who have realised their morality is a choice but our sexual orientation isn’t. Once the change in attitude happens the previous misconceptions begin to crumble away.

    thanks John for the humility of the apology…..I trust it brings healing to those who have been harmed. Although for some the wounds and trauma are deep and it can take years. Some struggle to let it go.

  4. Box Turtle Bulletin » Love In Action’s John Smid apologizes says:

    [...] David Roberts called Smid and discussed his new perspectives. This led to Smid writing a letter of apologies to those whom he had hurt over the years. Some are directed to specific people, others are more of [...]

  5. Truth Wins Out - John Smid, Former Director Of Love In Action in Memphis, Is Apologizing says:

    [...] In 2007, three former Exodus leaders offered a public apology to those “who believed our message that there is something inherently wrong with being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.”  Today we find that Smid is offering his own apology. [...]

  6. Brett says:

    Trystan, I certainly understand where you are coming from. When I participated in the protests of ‘05, it was easy for me to villainize those involved with Love in Action. But this is an example of what can happen when a truly nonjudgmental dialog is opened. I have it on good faith that John’s remorse is sincere and his growth profound. He has found a God who does not judge people for their sexual self-determination, so I would hope we can respect John’s identity in turn. John, my belief in the possibility of ending division has been shaped by your journey, and I thank you for the difficult act of sharing it.

  7. Buzz B says:

    Grace Rivers…isn;t that Joan Rivers’ lesbian sistuh? Girl, come out of the closet and get happy!

  8. Michael Bussee says:

    Thanks, John. ALL of us who may have caused suffering, intentionally or unintentionally through our involvement with Exodus owe the world a HUGE apology. Now, if only Frank Worthen (founder of LIA), Alan Chambers, Randy Thomas and all Exodus leaders past and present would own up and follow your example. We may not deserve or recieve forgiveness, but after all the wrong done it is simply the right thing — the “Christian” thing to do.

  9. Merl says:

    You say your attraction to men hasn’t really changed over all these years. I truly encourage you to get to know the Lord. You will learn that he can remove these unhealthy desires just as he changes the pedophile, the thief, or the rapist. Don’t let those who push the militant homosexual agenda fool you into believing that God can’t change your very thoughts. I encourage you to pray sincerely and Jesus will remove your sexually unhealthy desires just as he did Mary Magdalene.

  10. Darlene Bogle says:

    John:
    I have known you since your San Rafael Days, and have always believed that your INTENT was to help, not harm. However, the reality is many who came through LIA and Exodus have been harmed in Spiritual; Emotional and Psychological ways, and many have lost their faith because of being told they had to change, and knowing they could not change their orientation. While I appreciate your words of apology, I don’t hear you saying that the message created the harm! I’ve spent the last 15 years since I left Exodus, trying to bring healing to others and to myself. God is gracious…but it will take more than a statement of apology. I pray this is the first step of your journey to really bring healing.

  11. david says:

    I’ve seen a lot of people, some Christian and some gay, go out of their way to hurt and provoke others. It seems that a lot of people, gay and straight alike, need to do a little soul searching.

  12. Kim says:

    John,

    While I appreciate your apology, but two elephant in the room remain.

    Although you realize that you have hurt people, I do not think you know how much. Those that committed suicide because they could not reconcile their sexual orientation with your indoctrination of how they would have to deal with their faith will never come and ask for a personal apology.

    The second elephant is that you are avoiding to tell us your view on homosexuality now. Do you still think it is reparable, changeable? Do you still think it is a sin despite that god will forgive you and love you? Do you still think it is okay to try, maybe with more gentle loving methods, to change someones orientation?

    An answer would be appreciated.

    Kim

  13. Mackenzie says:

    Thank you! It’s so wonderful to see someone realising that “and they will know we are Christians by our love” means “by our unconditional love” not “our love that others perceive as hate” (which is, really, how many perceive ex-gay programs and evangelical Christians more generally).

    I hope your new ministry aims to support gay, lesbian, and bisexual folks who are seeking a deeper faith to understand how to make peace with their religion and sexual orientation. “Sure, there’s a bit of the Bible that says not to have sex with others of your sex, but meh… there’s also a bit that says not to wear poly/cotton blends… Jesus will love you whomever you love and whatever you wear.”

    Trystan:
    Let’s not forget the existence of bisexuality, please. And let’s also remember that not everyone’s romantic attraction matches their sexual attraction. Just ask any hetero- homo- or bi-romantic asexual!

  14. Jeff Coe says:

    John:

    Thanks for your honesty and willingness to sit with things and begin the journey of re-evaluation. I to was once part of a ministry, Desert Stream that taught that being gay or homosexual was not of God. But I can not help but look at what you are starting and asking what is the differnece than LIA and Grace Rivers. You’re beliefs are in essence still the same though now there is more understanding and grace in the message. But if one being gay is really not good nor God’s best then what are you saying to the men and women who come in dealing with their desires for someone of the same sex? If honesty is of the essence then how do you now respond to people who say I have done what I can to change and the change never occurred. Will you accept them, those who identify as gay and will you bless their journey in life though it may differ from your on? I get a mixed message here but then this might be my own interpretation. Maybe some clarification would help and letting others know what you are now doing (Grace ministries), how you know view the lgtq community and if one can be Christian and gay.

  15. Ed Ness says:

    John,
    I am very grateful that I never had the desire to join an ex-gay group. Twelve years ago I was given the wonderful privilege to attend a workshop by Dr. Joseph Pearson, President of the Christ Evangelical Bible Institute http://www.cebiaz.com. In Person’s workshop he showed me how 30 years of biblical and biological research shows how the Bible says nothing against same gender relationships. For me it was like God took a cannon and blew down a brick wall separating him and myself. I had to see it in black and white.

    Today I am an advocate for helping LGBT people reconcile their faith and sexual orientation or sexual identity. There is no contradiction.

    John I realize that you are not in the same place that I am but I can see that God is gently working no you from the inside. I applaud you for coming forward and humbly asking for forgiveness. Forgiveness is the greatest gift that a person that a person gives to him/herself and to others. It falls under the grace umbrella. Thank you for making the bold step out into the public’s eye. This will not be easy but I see the hand of God in this. He shall restore all in this situation.

    If anyone wants to talk about reconciling your Christian faith with your sexual orientation or gender identity, I embrace you and am willing to talk to you. Remember God loves you just the way you are. No shame! No guilt! 510-763-8240

    May God bless you with grace on your journey.

    Ed Ness

  16. Rev. Terri says:

    I think it’s time the word Bi-sexual entered the conversation – there are those ‘attracted’ to both genders – and often they, as you have, choose someone of the opposite sex. Not everyone has those duel attractions, some of us really, really are gay or lesbian. For Bisexuals, there is not a ‘cure’ just a choice. I’m glad your happy with yours.
    Gay and Lesbian people are not attracted to the opposite sex, and try as they might, sparks never fly. Many of us have learned to accept our sexuality as a gift from God, and we know that God loves us just as we are. I will keep praying for you. This letter is one step forward in a journey.

  17. Michael Bussee says:

    All of us who have been through this know it’s a journey. There’s a long, frustrating and exciting road ahead. I am also here for you if you need a companion on the way.

  18. Justin says:

    I would frist like to say thank you John.. For many years i have struggled with the “knowledge” i learnd at LIA (New Hope) . i am very thankful for those around me that showed me the love of god rather then the human judgement from misinterpetation . Some days i dont know what to think. But i have to press on because i need to. its my life at stake here. well if yah wanna email me do it .Peace Jay

  19. Paul Martin says:

    I am an ex-leader of Exodus and now a psychologist working primarily with gays and lesbians in Brisbane Australia and hold workshops on counselling clients with sexual diversity. I have spent many years talking to as many people as possible about the devastating impact of the ex-gay ministry. I am in a committed loving relationship, have a son and a grandson. I am very pleased and encouraged to see your apology and it does seem heart felt. I do however have grave reservations about being in a leadership position and make statements such as: “while I do not hold to a belief that homosexual relationships are blessed by God.” As a leader you have an enormous influence on people and the message you give when you say that a person’s expression of love is not blessed by the person who created the universe… that indicates that the expression of love is defective, spiritually invalid and wrong. You must still hold on to the outdated belief that same sex attraction is a disorder. I would strongly encourage you to please look into the reality of same sex attraction, do your research into the latest that the field of psychology can offer you. You seem to be a genuinely caring person, but please challenge your beliefs about the sinfulness of the expression of love… before you continue to cause more damage to those who are the most vulnerable.

  20. Brad says:

    Dude!
    Awesome letter, beautiful posture. It looks like Love in winning out in your life still.

    Bless you bro!

  21. Wilson says:

    John,
    Keep up the good fight. As a former client, I would like to say that the words you spoke some times were not exacly the words that I would like to hear, however, they were based on the scriptures, and I do believe, that the truth may hurt, but it need to be spoken. Knowing you during this time, I do believe that you are being sincere on your heart regarding some things you have made or spoken that may have hurt people, however, I am very glad to know that you are still holding on the Truth. You may not have too many people besides you on your position, neither had Him, when He was on that cross. I do pray that you keep fighting to please God and not people. Yes, as a person that struggle with homossexuality, I do need Grace, I need it, however, I do not expect to change the Word that reaveald my Lord and Saver to change in order to accept His Love. Love you brother. Wilson

  22. Former Ex-Gay Leader Quits Movement, Apologizes « The OutQ News Blog says:

    [...] One of the most prominent figures in the “ex-gay” community has left the movement, and apologized to anyone he’s hurt. For more than two decades, John Smid ran “Love in Action,” [...]

  23. Arnold Drake says:

    Dear Mr Smid,

    When the protests were held, I was there with Morgan Fox.

    I was President of the Memphis Chapter of PFLAG at the time.

    We came to your service, and I heard you speak. I was hoping to start a dialogue with you. After hearing you, I knew that honest communication was not possible. I think that you honestly believed what you said.

    I am glad that you now apparently feel, or think, something different.

    I am not sure what you are now doing. I am glad that you repudiated the Refuge program. I think you are obligated to reach each and every teen you took in, and apologize to them and to their parents. You should not wait for them to come to you.

    Your letter and the honesty you expressed are a good start. I have been on a journey since I learned that my son is Gay. I wish you good luck on your journey. I hope that you will have a more open mind in the future.

    Arnold Drake
    3724 Cannes Place
    Santa Rosa, CA 95403
    (707) 542-1765
    gidrdrake@gmail.com

  24. Lisa says:

    Hi John, Every Journey begins with a step and there BUT for the GRACE of God go all of us. What a wonderful step you have taken my friend. Now, keep your seat belt on for the rest of the ride. Don’t worry you will land right where you need to and hopefully people who get to know you will see and hear your heart!

    I’m glad to be counted among the people who have watched and been privy to your personal growth over the years. It is so easy to judge others and to elevate ourselves when we’ve had a great epiphany…we always have to be-careful not to fall back into our old ways of thinking or to do to others what was done to us…it happens all the time and ex-gays. ex-ex-gays, Christians- Gays and Straights can often fall into this trap and become exactly like the people they profess to abhor…I’ve seen it a thousand times on this journey and it is often heart breaking and frustrating but don’t let it stop you…just keep going.

    Building bridges is VERY difficult work and you are now on the island with many of us and in the very difficult place where REAL bridge building takes place. Some will abandon you and accuse you of falling pray to the “Homosexual Agenda” others will tell you to take your apology and shove it. Let the extremes go and hope and pray that one day the lights will come on for everyone and that people will realize that they are in as much need of what you are proposing God’s AMAZING GRACE as you are now. We all need Love, Mercy, Grace and God’s and others forgiveness- wether you believe in GOD or not these are things all human beings are in need of on a constant basis. Many folks were right where you are now and I hope they will remember how difficult the trip was coming to terms with their own past- my point- making AMENDS and being GRACEFUL is always a good thing!!

    Having known you also since your Love in Action days in San Rafael- having interviewed you multiple times and watched and listened as your journey and your message changed… I want to say THANK YOU JOHN for your sincere and heartfelt apology. I read it to John Evans who was one of the original founders of Love in Action with Kent Philpott and Frank Worthen in 1972 and he cried and was very moved and deeply touched by your apology and so was his partner of almost 20 years…Danny was shocked and moved by it and very grateful having seen and known what John Evans and many others went through- John Evans was ostracized when he left the ex-gay ministry and offered his apology…he was one of the first to go through this process. He says THANK YOU and recognizes personally exactly where you are and appreciates your efforts…so does Michael Bussee (he commented above) who was one of the original Ex-gays and one of the founders of Exodus- who is also now a heartfelt and an apologetic ex-ex-gay. It has been fascinating watching and being a small part of all these full circle moments. I am in a unique place and have an interesting perspective on all of this…having documented so many of you on both sides and knowing the history behind so much of this stuff from all of you personally and from my own journey- it makes the revelation and the realization that HEALING and RECONCILIATION CAN AND DOES TAKE PLACE when it’s time. You too John Smid have arrived For Such A Time As This . You are a part of an amazing process and a piece of a puzzle that is part of a much bigger plan…..it IS A plan of GRACE.

    John, I know you are SINCERE and I love that you have come so far and have taken such a bold and possibly unpopular step in this healing and reconciliation process- you are truly learning and applying God’s Grace to others- my HOPE is that the same GRACE will be given to you. Judge NOT lest we all be judged..no one is better than anyone else and sometimes the extremes on BOTH sides can be very harsh and judgemental and often some how end up canceling each other out which is so UNPRODUCTIVE much like politics it becomes a game of us vs. them and the war continues and the divide gets wider but on this little narrow path MIRACLES DO happen- it is a RoadLESS TRAVELED but some of the coolest stuff happens on it…stay the course and God Bless you! Lisa

  25. Merciless says:

    Apology understood, but not accepted. I understand you feel badly about what you did, but that doesn’t make up for the pain you inflicted on others. I understand that you think this is a journey for you, but you created journeys for other people that they didn’t ask for.

    Saying “I’m sorry” isn’t enough. My ten year old nephew protests, “But I said I’m sorry!” after he does something wrong, makes his parents angry, and then expects everything to be fine and dandy again just because he felt like he said a few magic words. The world doesn’t work that way, not for him, who makes bad choices typical of a ten year old, and not for you, an adult who deliberately and wrongly wounded people in a predatory manner for twenty two years.

    Apology rejected. You must made amends.

    What will you do to make things right again? I don’t care about what you say or how you feel. I want to know what you plan to DO to make things right. It seems like your new ministry has a focus that is “not primarily an ex-gay group”. I think a good way for you to make amends would be to start a ministry whose focus is primarily an anti-gay-bashing-Christian group. In other words, do the exact opposite of the evil you committed for twenty-two years, not merely a watered-down version of the evil.

    As a matter of fact, that sounds perfect. I will forgive you if you treat gay-bashing Christians with the exact same amount of spite, derision, and patronizing contempt that you did to gay people — and you do that persistently for twenty two years. Then I will forgive you.

  26. Steve says:

    When I make amends, I make it truly personal by contacting the offended party directly. Are you?

    An Internet blog on a private site could be construed as a good first step. It could also be construed, Rev. Smid, as a vain, “more comfortable” appearance of an apology that is less than sincere and less than humble.

    The small world of readers of Rev. Smid will be watching to see to what degree he truly humbles himself.

  27. John Smid says:

    I want to thank you all for your comments. I assure you I have read them all and considered all that you have shared.

    I also want to thank the people who have emailed me personally with your questions and further dialogue.

    I especially applaud those of you who have contacted me to open reconciling dialogue. I pray we can continue with the process of healing through to a healthy resolve.

  28. Steve Baker says:

    To those who are still hurting, please read this. I was a victim of the Love-in-Action ministry about 8 years ago. I went to LiA because I wanted and needed help. I put my life into the care of John Smid and LiA. 3-1/2 months later, I was tossed out of the program for very inane reasons. My wife of 22-years took it as rejection, so she divorced me. I was homeless and without transportation of any kind for a period of time. My local Memphis church deserted me. So did my friends. I was a “miserable failure”. I reasoned, if I’m not good enough for LiA or my local church, I must not be good enough for God either. Life as I knew went into a dark spiral. Try as I may in filing a complaint with the LiA Board of Directors, a thorough investigation of the facts revealed my complaints were “baseless and without merit.” Eight years go by and I hear John Smid is blogging an apology on his website. Naturally, I was skeptical. After several back and forth e-mail communications, I sense that there is a healthy measure of guilt, remorse, and sorrow in John’s heart. He has shown me that he accepts full responsibility for what should not have happened to me. While the wounds are deep and scars remain, there is also tremendous healing in finally being vindicated of wrongdoing in this matter. No, all the wrongs will not be righted. I have forever lost my partner in life as well as many friendships which were dear to me. My reputation was absolutely demolished. But—the healing from this communication with John has been a blessing to me. Frankly, right now, my concern is for John and the burden which weighs on his heart. I am also concerned for you, if you were also a victim, and have chosen for one reason or another remain closed-minded to reconciliation. My hope and prayer for you, dear reader, is that you contact John with your hurts. Go ahead and pour your heart out, just as I did. Do not allow this burden to wreak havoc on your life. I do believe John is sincere with his motivations in seeking your forgiveness. Write him. Call him. Do it now.

  29. Holly Oakman says:

    Heya, I really have enjoyed reading your weblog. I’ve heard some people are more engaged when learning visually so perhaps consider adding more video clips to your blog posts.

  30. Sentient says:

    I have to agree with the above statements, if you have in any way an advocacy of debilitating more Christian gays by promoting they are not God’s best if they are gay and sexual, then you need to get out of the business all together, you are only causing more pain. As one person said, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig nonetheless. If Grace Rivers is a waterway filled with the blood of Christians suffering at your hands through emotional violence and erroneous scriptural interpretation, well, none of us should have to watch the red river of tears you could still be creating as the bloodletting continues. The least you could do in your apology is agree not to teach wrongly, and if you can’t, then hang it up and go away.

  31. Sentient says:

    PS I find it very telling that you did not address what you would be teaching at your new establishment, more of the same or are you going to continue to turn a deaf ear? Are you being authentic or are you dribbling around the truth that you are going to teach basically the same thing? Lets hear about the renewed updated you. If you remain silent on this point, we can only assume the worst.

  32. Jeffry Ford (OUTPOST 1980 to 1986) says:

    Dear John, I just today 4/13/2010, became aware of your apology. I too know the pain and grief of gaining self awareness and seeing my narcissistic arrogance. Great dialogue and use of the internet to release years of pent up confusion and deception. I too agree with those who want you to stop using language so carefully and admit the truth. My wife, Cathy, and I were together for 13yrs. Her grace in standing by my side and refusing to separate me from my 1yo and 5yo kids, giving me joint legal and joint physical custody, was real “unconditional love”. I had broken my vows and fallen in love with a man. She had every right to let her pain, suffering, embarassment, and profound abandonement, take control and make herself a wounded victim. But instead, my best friend and soul mate on life’s journey at that time, demonstrated what real love is all about. She was willing to let God take from her, everything that gave her life meaning and to lose her whole sense of self and safety and purpose. She didn’t try to bargain and set up rules that would allow us to stay together and allow her to feel safe. She let me go and was proud of me for taking the “road less travelled” and admitting that I was never “ex-gay” and accepting full responsibility for the damage my lies and misrepresentation caused to thousands of people. John, Please trust that feeling of grace that is tugging at you. It’s bigger than you have even started to comprehend. Whatever you and your wife decide to do is your own personal and very private decision. I just beg you not to let yourself feel good because you have stopped judging and demanding and controlling people who are “stuggling with issues of sexual brokeness”. Take the next step, out on the streets during Gay Pride perhaps and “shout it from the mountain tops, for all the World to hear… that you are Gay and loved by God, without any conditions, or rules or demands. Let those tears flow and Grace Rivers burst forth with the cleansing, life giving and life sustaining uncondtional love, that truly heals and genuinely transforms and redeems the suffering caused by your own self hatred and inability to comprehend who you truly are and always have been, perfectly knit in your mother’s womb, a Gay man by God’s own precious design! I apologize for my verbosity and a little bit for my directness in assuming I have a clue what Abba Father is working on in your heart at this time. Take whatever feels graceful and empowering and dump the rest. Narcissism has to be alive and well in the soul of one who thinks all these many words are truly necessary and important. Blessings to my fellow pioneers, Darlene and Mike who have done much more than I to repent and boldly proclaim the liberating Gosple of Grace! Jeffry Ford, former OUTPOST/Exodus Director and Teacher.

  33. Coleen Lasko says:

    A few decades ago, if you were acknowledge alcohol addiction you’d be most liable to be greeted with tongues clucking. Although the stain is yet attached, it’s great that facilities and support groups are accessible and individuals are a lot more understanding with substance abuse right now.

  34. Douglas Jantz says:

    I am very happy being gay, It feel good to be honest with my self. I am not living the lie. God has bless me in many ways. I feel sorry for the people I am still in contact with from Love in action, who claim to be christian,( But still living the lie ) When I was in trouble,Who was there for me . My none Christian friends. You as my christian leader, was nothing but a joke.( Think God for my none christian friends), I feel sorry for you and your lies. Be real, The one thing going for you was your wife. What a wonderful lady. I feel sorry for her. I am trying to let my bitterness toward you go. Because I don’t want any part of you controlling my life.

    Get Real John Smid

    Douglas Jantz, The one you could not give a shit about.

    Love in action 1988

  35. Reed Boyer says:

    I share Trystan and Douglas’s feelings on this.

    March 4th, 2010 this letter was written. After 22 years of your “ministry.” About YOU – and your ministry, and yourself, and your feelings.

    Well, *I* (your favorite word) am less than impressed. Because, thanks to your efforts of 22 years, in the year following this “apology’, we lost 23 young people.

    And now (June 2011) you will be making a public appearance. I truly hope that you’ll be speaking up in TN – because your state’s “Don’t Say Gay” views are a partial reflection of your “ministry’s” years of making “the loved sinner” feel utterly despised – and your appearance in conjunction with a documentary doesn’t begin to mitigate the enormous damage you’ve done. Get into action. Deeds. Not words – for the love of God, especially not words. Not more words. Not from you.

    • Aiden Rivera Schaeff (17) April 22, 2010. Ontario
    “committed suicide”

    • Dominic Crouch (15) May 18, 2010. Cheltenham, UK
    jumped to his death from a six-story building

    • Billy Lucas (15) September 9, 2010. Indiana
    hanged himself in his family’s barn

    • Cody J. Barker (17) September 13, 2010. Wisconsin
    “took his life”

    • Tyler Clementi (18) September 22, 2010. New Jersey
    committed suicide by jumping off of the George Washington Bridge

    •• Justin (Chloe) Lacey (18) September 24, 2010. California
    shot herself

    ••• Harrison Chase Brown (15) September, 25 2010. Colorado
    “took his life”

    • Asher Brown (13) September 27, 2010. Texas
    shot himself with his fathers gun in his home

    • Seth Walsh (13)
    hanged himself from a tree in his backyard Sept 19; Seth did not die immediately, was discovered and taken to a hospital where he was placed on life support in critical care, dying 9 days later.

    •• Jeanine Blanchette (21): September 28, 2010. Orangeville
    pills

    •• Chantal Dube (17): September 28, 2010. Ontario
    pills

    • Raymond Chase (19) September 29, 2010. Rhode Island
    hanged himself in his dorm room

    • Felix Sacco (17) September 29, 2010. Massachusetts
    “apparently jumped” from an overpass into traffic

    ••• Caleb Nolt (14) September 30, 2010. Indiana
    killed himself

    • Zach Harrington (19) October 5, 2010. Oklahoma
    “committed suicide at his parents house”

    • Aiyisha Hassan (19) October 5, 2010. California
    “committed suicide at her home”

    • Terrel Williams (17) October 13th, 2010. Washington.
    hanged himself in his bedroom closet hours after an attack at his school by five other students

    • Corey Jackson (19) October 19, 2010. Michigan.
    hanged himself

    • Brandon Bitner (14) November 5, 2010. Pennsylvania
    jumped in front of a tractor-trailer, after leaving a suicide note, and walking nearly 13 miles from his home

    • Lance Lundsten (18) January 15, 2011. Minnesota
    “”mixed drug ingestion” His estranged father initially denied Lance was gay and declared he’d had “an enlarged heart.” The coroner’s finding was ” . . . suicide was the manner of death.”

    ••• Kameron Jacobsen (14) January 18, 2011. New York
    “took his own life”

    •••Nicholas Kelo, Jr. (13) Feb. 23, 2011. Ohio
    “self-inflicted gunshot” Nine of his organs were collected and donated

    •• Adam Wood (19) March 21, 2011. California
    climbed to the top of a 75-foot electrical tower and used a rope to hang himself

  36. Ryan says:

    I would not be the man I am today without Love in Action and the ministry of Christ through John Smid. Thank you, John.

  37. Butch Key says:

    I just want to say thank you to John, I was in the program at LIA back in 2002 … granted I didn’t agree with all that was going on… but I agree I didnt want to be this way… and still dont to this day… I have came to an understanding with myself that I will always be attracted to men but I do not have to act upon it… and if I do .. its not the end of the world.

    I think John Smid has a wonderful heart… I forgive him for the wrongdoings he feels he has done but why are people judging him… John is a work in progress just as we ALL are… at least he is apologizing and he understands more in a Godly light as I know he is proud of… I still hold those 6 months in LIA dear to me… I may not be the person I truly want to be but I will not speak negative of my experience… I am thankful he has such an open heart now to the light of what God is showing him… we all should be more open… forgiveness is what God calls us to do… so John I forgive you and I pray for you that God will continue giving you an even more open heart to draw you closer to him… Thank you for sharing your heart… Hopefully we will cross paths again some day!!! God bless you!!!

    Butch Key

  38. David G. says:

    Hi John,

    I was never impacted by the work of LiA, and I am not in the habit of posting to blogs. But I find myself curiously drawn in by your story. I am reminded that in the late 70s, as a college student counseling teens at a Christian camp, I led devotions out of Romans 1 and warned the boys in my care of the horrors of homosexuality. I was and am homosexual. In my hatred of my own sexuality, I hurt one of those boys so deeply by my words that he tried repeatedly to throw himself out a second story window. I had no concept at the time how much harm I did to him. I justified myself thinking I had only presented him with biblical truth.

    I’ve heard it said that “Love your neighbor as yourself” is not only a command, it is a truism. We will love our neighbor as we love ourselves. If we hate who we are, sooner or later we will act hatefully toward those we intend to love. John, I hope in your soul-searching you have considered that the harm you admittedly caused others may have something to do with the way you have treated yourself. I gather that the program you ran included elements of coersion. Are you coercing yourself?

    Like some others who have responded, I suspect you are only partway through a major upheaval in your way of seeing God, yourself and others. I know from experience that being in ministry puts us in a kind of straight-jacket of expectations that makes changing our perspectives very difficult. Is it yet time for you to engage in ministry again? I do not really know you, but for what it’s worth I wonder, are you rushing things a bit?

    Obviously I am projecting my own story onto yours. So my questions are first for myself. I am beginning to gain a new equalibrium after ending my heterosexual marriage and falling in love with a beautiful man. I came to the realization I could never adore my wife the way a husband ought. I could not give my whole self to her. I have wrestled through many questions about my faith, since my relationship with God has remained the most important thing in my life. I have come to understand that for me, a gay man, the love of God cannot be fully mediated through a heterosexual marriage. The love of my wife simply did not reach me in the places where I so longed to be touched and held. For me, it is the embrace of a man that mirrors the embrace of God. My partner is the only man with whom I have been intimate — likewise for him. Our partnership is a means of grace for both of us. How can a relationship that mediates so much grace not be considered blessed?

    Are you sure, John, that the bread you have to offer others is really ready to be served?

    David G.

  39. Tony says:

    Actions speak louder than any words, John, actions.

  40. Lloyd Peacock says:

    Dear John, I know that it took courage to write the above letter. I would like you to watch the video of our friend Frank Shears, which was produced a few weeks before he died. He spent 10 years in a ministry similar to “Love in Action,” and finally realized the damage he caused to young lives. These change ministries are of no help to anyone, and only confuse vulnerable minds. They should be all shut down immediately.

    http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=473057360019

  41. Beth Yow says:

    OMG! What humility and love you have, John! You know I was there in 2005…yelling, “God loves you!” And we met recently at the showing of Morgan’s film. And I am grateful for your honesty. And I love you. As I travel my life journey I am learning more about God’s Grace. Thank you for sharing. Beth

  42. Craig Chambers says:

    Back in 1986, my very first visit to a new church (after my recent move to Omaha) brought me face-to-face with a charming, charismatic John Smid. I both adored and feared him, a man of enormous energy, spiritual insight, and social intuition. Within a couple weeks he put me to work greeting newcomers. A stranger in a big town, I immediately felt reassured that “somebody” cared. That was John Smid, and I’ll never forget his acts of kindness and generosity toward me. It was a very sad day when John announced he would be leaving to work at LIA. We needed and loved you, John, and still do. Craig Chambers

  43. Loving Haters « LOVEboldly says:

    [...] was, in fact, still gay, though he remains committed to his marriage and family.  John issued a public apology to the many teens and families that the programs at Love In Action had injured over the years, and [...]

  44. With Exodus International’s Announcement, the Ex-gay Dominoes Keep Falling | Strange Figures says:

    [...] letter that Alan Chambers wrote was one in long string of apologies.  They’ve come from John Smid (former director of Love in Action), John Paulk (founder of Love Won Out), Michael Bussee (one of [...]

  45. Jorge says:

    Dear John, this is what happens when people take religion so seriously. Religion,more often than not, leads to extreme views.
    You dont need to be educated in the words of GOD, the Bible, Koran, Budhism etc. to realize that people should follow their instincts,accept who they are and just be happy with themselves. That is called common sense and a strong moral compass.
    Look what 22 years studying the word of God did to you…
    Even aknowleging you mistakes, you still think you are a Leader and you think you are entitled to advise other people, what or who gave you that right?
    Perhaps things would be less harmful if u fight your own demons and let people fight their own battles, make their own choices and be surrounded by people they know and trust.
    Its really brave that u accept your mistakes and try to make ammends, but do you really think you can reverse things now? Please leave it for the real professionals (therapists).

    I m gay and I dont need God s approval because I know that God could never be against love, be it with a woman or a man.

  46. Former leader of ‘gay cure’ group marries same-sex partner | My Blog says:

    [...] has since apologised for his role in the organisation and admits making serious “mistakes, shortcoming and [...]

  47. The Gay Didn’t Pray Away | Grumbles From an Old Grouch says:

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