Karen Toney’s Story….

NOTE: This is a testimony posted by my friend Karen Toney.  This is the first time she’s shared the impact that my ministry had on her life.  It’s so humbling to be part of someone’s story.  It’s a reminder to us all that we never know how God is using us in the lives around us… we simply need to stay focused on one thing… JESUS.

Holland, I posted this in the Exodus leader site. I don’t know if you saw it, but wanted to make sure you did. You were are a part of my first experience and I was forever changed.

Karen Toney

Hello folks. I used to work with Jim Katsudous at Clean Heart ministries in Charlotte, NC and led the Oasis Women’s room at the Exodus Conference for a couple of years. As I watch with great sadness as Exodus ends, I wanted to share what I wrote the week I returned from my first ever Exodus Conference in 2001 at Ridgecrest, NC. I pray that you all know how much Exodus changed my life. I attended 4 conferences for myself, and then 3 more to serve Exodus and the attendees. I wanted to give back just a part of what Exodus had given me. It’s long, but I hope you find it encouraging as we all take new paths. Special Thanks to @Holland Davis. You were the worship leader.

From June 2001
“Hello to all those who loved me enough to pray me into God’s arms!

I have returned. I lived less than 2 hours away from the Exodus Conference, so I was able to get home soon and easily. I am tired, Emotionally drained and I think I picked up a cold. But nothing could deter the greatest week of my life.

I have to tell you it was the most awesome experience in my life. Now mind you I have no comparison. I never went to church camp growing up or any of the other worship retreat types. It wasn’t until this past Jan. that Christine took me to the Women of Faith event. The worship was to die for. The music, the testimonies, the speakers, the prayer, the affirmation and knowledge that there are other good Christian women and men fighting the same battle…it was just amazing.

By the end of the week, I can say that I met some very genuine people.  There is something scary about meeting other people for the first time, and already knowing some of their darkest (no matter how general) secrets. The things we talked about were things that even some of you don’t know. I think everyone was tentative. I met a couple ladies the very last night that I wished I had gone up and met earlier on in the week. Our stories are all so similar, yet they are unique. Some of us sat up until 3 am talking and commiserating the last night. otherwise, I was in bed no later than midnight. And for those of you that know me well, I am up past midnight more times than not. Of course, that’s usually with being able to sleep in until at least 10 am that next morning. Not here folks. There was a morning devotional at 8:15, so I went down to breakfast by 7:30. That alone should tell you how much God was in the house! (that was sarcasm for those of you who don’t know me well enough) . Then we had morning worship at 9 am until 11, morning classes, lunch, 2 after noon classes, dinner and then evening worship. 7-11 pm. Once again, I never worshiped anything for 4 straight (no pun intended) hours. There was a worship band, testimonies of leaving the life style, praise and worship music, a skit group tailored around this subject and then a speaker. The speaker was a man named Sy Rogers. He’s married and out of the life style for 20 some years. He was such a dynamic a speaker, and with great humor. He spoke of being human, and the journey that we are all on, because that is what it is. A journey to grow in Christ and learn from our experience. They are what draw us closer to Him.

The most amazing thing about this conference was that ANYONE could have gone. I would say it was 25% homosexual (or heterosexually challenged! as we liked to call it)and 75% about your relationship with Jesus Christ. The worship, I have never felt anything like it. I have come back convicted in so many ways. About my personal behavior with friends, my pride, the walls I put up to hinder my worship, the how I make judgments about people by how they look and act, but don’t take the time to look into their hearts. there were many people there that I never would have guesses that they struggle with same sex attractions. But then, there were many “poster children” of what gay looks like there. Some are married, some have not been involved for over 10 years and some for just a few months. I would have made judgments about these people if I had seen them on the streets.  There were many clergy, many married people, singles, and worship leaders… basically, there were many HUMANS there… I was convicted about how I don’t extend the same Grace to others, that God has given me. My life will never be the same.

Last year, March 2000 when I gave my life to Jesus, it was in the blink of the eye, and my life were changed. God saved me from myself. In the time since, I have been growing and changing. But once again His grace has allowed me in this last week, to move to a new height, and meet Him at a new level. I thank Him for that. As Kris always say, if you are not moving forward, you are going backwards.

So many issues-not just homosexuality- is about relationships. Drug addiction, heterosexual infidelity, pornography, sin, sin, sin. you name it. it’s about faulty human relations and not finding all that we need in Jesus Christ. It about doing what we FEEL (as in the society standard-you feel this way, God must have made you this way) and not doing what we KNOW.  We KNOW what the bible says about the subject. Jesus says for us to deny ourselves and pick up our cross and follow Him. One speaker put it-“Deny ourselves, deny our feelings and follow Jesus”. He will give us all our
hearts desires. This is such a revelation for me. It’s not about having all the answers NOW (that is so my personality), but about the journey and the grace of God. The drive to strive to live in His Holiness, and grace to fall short, repent, and get up… one more time. All of my life’s events (and this might not be new news to anyone but me) I can see have been pre-ordained to get me right here, right now. I had to call home to Kris one night after worship as I realized how much I belonged at River’s Edge Community Church. The praise and worship is new to me in this last year.  And if Jay Zinn had not been sent to Davidson by God to plant this church, to have David Haskins invite me to his church (if I had not been president of the Merchant association, to go on the leadership retreat at which I met David) to have Kris and Lori Kawulok move from phoenix to here, to have the band that we do at church, to have 1 year at River’s Edge to allow that type of music to come into my heart, all intern allowed me to feel the presence of God and be changed forever…again at this conference. The scales have surely been removed. And God is moving me to a new place, a higher level.

I thank you all, the people that have prayed and that continue to pray for me. I sit and cry (which I have done in abundance this last week) as I write the most sincerest of thanks. I could not have done it without you. if you only could feel a tiniest bit of the despair and lack of hope the old me had for 10 years. You would know from how deep these emotions come. The choices I made, the paths I took, the lives I effected. I am truly a new creation in Christ. I hope that I can only effect other people, as you all have effected me. With the greatest of appreciation.


Peace and Hope
Psalm 40:1-3

Leave A Comment