Living Waters Australia (LWA), one of the foremost and longest running ex-gay/conversion therapy programs in this country will cease operations next month. Ron Brookman, the Australian director, gave several reasons for his decision in a newsletter to followers last week. Many in the gay community are applauding this move as this means only a handful of these harmful organizations remain.
Andy Comiskey, a ‘former’ homosexual and founder Desert Stream Ministries, developed the Living Waters program in the early 1980’s in West Hollywood to heal the ‘sexually broken’ (gay men and women). Since that time, his books and methods became dogma for ex-gay/reparative/conversion therapy practitioners and organisations around the world. When the leading ex-gay organisation, Exodus International, closed down in June 2013, Comiskey turned on Exodus President Alan Chambers. A small remnant of ministries committed to the ‘change is possible’ message created ‘Restored Hope Network’ and Comiskey became a founding board member and chairperson.
Randy Thomas, former vice president of Exodus International, stated in his apology to the LGBTI community that one of his greatest regrets was his promotion of Andy Comiskey and his participation in the Living Waters programs.
Living Waters Australia
Living Waters Australia has operated for nearly thirty years. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, the ministry worked out of Christian Life Centre in Waterloo, which would later become the city campus of Hillsong Church. When Pastor Brian Houston took the church over from his father, Frank Houston, in the late 90’s the ministry was closed down by Brian because of its ineffectiveness. It was at this time LWA moved to Ramsgate. Under Brookman’s leadership, LWA had a degree of growth running groups around Australia and holding conferences. But that has changed drastically over the last decade.
In 2010, Brookman confessed ‘‘There has been a real shift in society lately. We have detected this through responses to Living Waters offerings, we cancelled a conference recently because only a handful of registered. This year we have fewer Living Waters groups and fewer people in those groups. Our leadership training week at Collaroy appears to be hugely undersubscribed.”
Ron Brookman has preached the ‘change is possible’ message even at a parliamentary level. In 2005, when Prime Minister John Howard was planning altering the marriage act to ensure that marriage would always be defined as ‘between and man and a woman’ only, Brookman shared his testimony as a ‘former homosexual’ to the large gathering of Christian leaders in Canberra; ignoring the fact that he still has same-sex ‘thoughts’ as he calls them.In September 2007, Brookman gave testimony of his change of “homosexual orientation and practice to heterosexuality”, to the Australian marriage Forum, at Parliament House Canberra.
In 2012, before the Senate Same-Sex Marriage Inquiry Rev.Brookman told the committee ‘For over 30 years I was homosexual’ and that he had experienced a ‘transformation of my sexuality to heterosexuality’. Brookman also told the inquiry ‘In the last six months I have celebrated the weddings of two ex-gay men who have married beautiful wives and two couples who have given birth to babies who would never have been born had they not transitioned from homosexuality’. These statements have not only been misleading they are also highly irresponsible (read THE SADDEST THINGS ABOUT THIS SITUATION at the conclusion of this article on Situational Heterosexuality)
In 2012, Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International’s research revealed that two thirds of ex-gay/reparative/conversion ministries had ceased to exist in Australia in the last decade. LWA was one of the few that remained. Rev Brookman has also appeared on TV shows, documentaries and interviewed by the print media, preaching his message that gay men and women are broken human beings and God can change them to straight. His own marriage consistently proclaimed as the evidence. History tells us that the overwhelming majority of these attempts to become straight through a heterosexual marriage fail and there are not 100,000’s of ex-gays as has often been claimed by people like the Rev Fred Nile.
Why Living Waters Australia is coming to an end – reality check
In the LWA newsletter last week Rev Ron Brookman announced his resignation as Director of LWA, effective from 31st March, there will be a Thanksgiving Service on Saturday 12th April where he outline in greater detail the reasons for LWA’s demise and that LWA Australia will be completely wound up by 30th June 2014.
The reasons LWA is coming to an end according the retiring director.
- Deficiencies in his own leadership
- Change in the Church and Christian culture over the last decade
- LWA has shrunk to only 3 groups operating in the Sydney area
- There is nobody who has been identified, trained, or who is willing to take up leadership of the ministry.
- Nor does there appear to be openings to develop the ministry at this time.
Where does that leave us now?
This means that only a handful of ex-gay/reparative/conversion organisations are left in Australia, one of which is Liberty Christian Ministries, which are a part of the crumbling Exodus Global Alliance.
When Exodus International closed down last year Rev Brookman and others declared, in a poorly researched piece in the mainstream press, that the ‘Gay cure’ therapy will continue in Australia. As I pointed out at that time THESE WERE VERY EMPTY WORDS.
The remaining organisations days are well and truly numbered. The gay Christian movement grows exponentially, the number or LGBTI welcoming, accepting and affirming churches grows. The vast majority of Australians have an out, proud gay or lesbian brother, sister, niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, parent or grandparent, friend or work colleague. And to hear churches or religious organisations label them as sick, dysfunctional and broken is abhorrent, offensive and ignorant.
When Living Waters Australia is holding its holding its Thanksgiving Service on Saturday 12 April, Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International will be holding a 30 minute vigil in Taylor Square, Sydney, to remember those we have lost through ex-gay/reparative/conversion organisations and because of faith/sexuality conflict and to celebrate those who have survived.Date: Saturday 12 April 2014
Time: 7:00pm to 7:30pm
Place: Northern side of Taylor Square (next to the Oxford Hotel)
What to bring: Candle, torch, rainbow paraphernalia
What to wear: Something yellow if you can to represent hope for a better future
Who can come: All welcome including straight allies and supporters. Facebook event here. Please share
Hi there , my name is David I’ve struggled with this all my life and did the living waters course in 2008 I am still married have been for 25 years, and 2 children and 1 and a half as I’m not the biological father of youngest daughter but supported my wife through that difficult season to have her .
I still struggle with this if I’m honest I know only hope for me is by totally relying on Jesus Christ redemption set me free I know I’ve got to want that this is my challenge but my wife and parents are aware I’ve struggled with this when I did eventually confess . I’ve only just recently heard about living waters close down from radio interviews this week and felt saddened but relief too
So I’ve felt quite lost didn’t know who to turn too ? Then I have concern because I’m a Christian know this and of bible worry should I die if go to hell or heaven I know God will ask what have I done then depending will be judged as to were I go when die ? Can you help me with this question ?
Have you been to our audio resources page David? One thing I know for sure. You don’t go to hell for being gay.
I am so sorry on your behalf, David. I am sad to see this has happened. Homosexuality is a sin, but struggling with it is not.
Living Waters is not actually conversion therapy – I am in it and I am straight, so are most of the friends and family members I know who took it. However, you can achieve something similar if you can get a small group of guys together who you trust, who know Jesus, and promise to keep the stories you share between yourselves. There is also a book you could probably order, and teachings you could probably find.
It is sad to see how our faith is attacked this way. I think we need to do more to fight against these lies in Christian culture, that there is nothing, not even the love of Jesus Christ that can help you to turn away from sin. My mother and my husband both took this class and it changed my life for THEM to take it, so I am taking it now. My marriage has been saved, I rarely masturbate anymore, and my relationship with my mother is almost totally healed. I hope to be a better mother for my son by learning how to see myself the way that God does. And he sees each of us with so much love. I will pray for you to get the help that you need too.
Hi Meredith….is that why you went to Living Waters because you masturbated?
Anthony you’re responding to the Meredith the way you have is so NOT Christian, thank you Meredith for sticking up for living Waters, it was a great ministry which helped a lot of Christians, at least those that were looking for truth in their lives, it did change lives! David it can be a struggle but with Jesus their shouldn’t be any power to it! Look to him David & know this Homosexuality is a sin and like any sin it can be overcome! Read the word David and bless you
It was a genuinue question. Nothing to do with Christian or not. It seemed strange to me.
Hi Anthony and David and Meredith and Ian,
I attended the Livings waters coarse with my husband and found it to be very very helpful to understanding my struggle with same sex attraction and other sexual temptations that I faced daily in my married life.
I saw a dramatic improvement in my marriage so much so that we attended the Living Waters coarse together a second time. We attended every meeting and small group. I did not find it to be conversion therapy but instead very sincere people who followed the word of God. The word of God, the Bible is our instruction book for Life.
I found that when I repented I experienced incredible connection back to Father God. This connection with Him empowers me everyday and revives me incredibly to be all that I can be.
I thank Jesus for the faithfulness of leaders like Ron who stood up and told his story in a world that seems lately to not want to accept all of the bible but instead just to accept some and not the whole entire bible. It all is there for a reason and it all is there to help us and teach us. It’s there for our best interests. Father God provides the bible and the instructions for living in it so that we can be healthy, whole, and living in a way that gives us a open line to him at all times. It’s for our wellbeing , yes we can put something else in Father God’s place. We can have all sorts of relationships that don’t line up with Gods Word. I did. I was so broken. I struggled with all sorts of sexual desires before I was married and during my marriage of well over 25 years. So did my husband. We found freedom in trusting Jesus and following His Word. This is what started the change in me and what continues to bring more and more healing on my daily walk with Jesus as I walk repented and connected back to Father God through the sacrifice He made when He paid the price for me.
When I have back slidden in my faith I have always found that when I have attempted to go my own way, I have always found that I have put something or someone higher than Jesus, when I f DGG is this I found that the connection with my Heavenly Father was not all that I had experienced when I put Him first. I find that it’s always going to be temptation there to put people before my Heavenly Father and to be swayed by people who want to say that there are many ways to heaven. Jesus has made a way for us and Living Waters was the ministry that helped me so much in my hurt and pain. When I completed the Living Waters coarse, I found that areas of my life were healing and I could grow spiritually because there is true freedom in Christ.
I’m glad that you and your husband had a good experience. So many others regret it and look back at that time as traumatic.
I have come to this page this morning, as I have just read a Guardian Australia story that described Living Waters as “infamous”. What an irresponsible statement.
I know Ron Brookman and his wife Ruth and have done the Living Waters course about 20 years ago. At no point did it appear about “gay conversion” It is a healing program for everyone and I obtained a lot of benefit from it, as the lady above has described. to misrepresent it in this way is simply wrong.
Hi Catherine….I’m glad to know you were helped. You’re not the only one. Maybe you were not aware that the Living Waters course was created by an “ex-gay” man, Andy Comiskey, and that the course was touted as providing healing for those who were sexually and relationally broken (homosexuality). Ron himself claimed to be a “former homosexual” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVc64qaX_w4&t=40s. I have many testimonials from gay and lesbian individuals who did the program and shared how it damaged them. Of course there are former LW leaders who now denounce it. Jim Marjoram is one https://www.abbi.org.au/2015/09/jim-marjoram/
The comments in defense of Living Waters have reinforced how un-healing and misleading the organisation has been for Christians.
The comments reflect persistent misunderstanding of romantic and sexual attraction, and a superficial lack of insight into the gospels, personal and religious freedom, and essentials of faith in Jesus, which is very different from faith in Christ.