Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. -Francis of Assisi
The journey I’ve been on for the past five years of my life has proven to be quite the adventure. My husband, Brian and I founded and lead Abante International, a discipleship and leadership training organization. I know I have already shared stories of our travels, missions work, and service projects on prior blog posts, but today I want to talk about how this journey has affected and influence me personally as a person.
There have been many challenges along the way, with both successes, and failures. I could write page after page recalling several amazing events we have been a part of, as well as many situations that left a sour taste in my mouth. Nevertheless, I’ve been able to press on and remain faithful without looking back, or running away. I have learned to stay focus and not be shaken by trivial things like, criticism, finances, lack of support, or fear of the unknown.
I remember the day I called my parents to tell them what we felt God was calling us to do. My mother could not get past the idea that we would quit our jobs, sell our house, and give away our dog to travel the world doing missions work, while we disciple college students. She did not understand the passion we had for our calling at the time. In fact there were many who could not see past all we were willing to give up. Several close to us even tried to talk us out of it. Others questioned whether we prayed enough about this. My response would often be, “What is long enough?” ‘Two years?” “Five years?” “I mean if that’s the case, we have more than exceeded the amount required, because we prayed for then years before officially launching.”
We had talked with our two boys before we talked to anyone else, and made sure they understood the vision and what we wanted to do, because they would be a big part of it, after all, we are a family. They were young when we started talking about it, but we prayed together, and as I mentioned, we planned together for several years before even launching. For us it was important that everyone in our immediate family take ownership just as much as we did. They understood the sacrifices, and were on board regardless. I couldn’t be more proud of their support, love, and involvement.
To be honest, the one person that surprised me the most was my father. At the time he was still healthy, and actively supporting his local church. I’ll never forget his words as long as I live. He was quiet for a moment, and then he asked some questions about logistics. I asked, “Papi, what do you think?”, “Do you also think we are being foolish?” “Do you think we are crazy?” His response was simple, “Well, I don’t really get it, but I know you, and I believe you hear from God. I know you would not make a move without confirmation from God…I believe in Brian and in you, so tell me, what can your mother and I do to help?”
I cried a lot that day…
The journey to follow-not just a dream-but what you know well to be God’s birthed dream in your heart, can be so lonely at times…I have felt the eyes of many looking to see if our vision would fail. I have been given both Godly and un-godly counsel from many, while holding on to God’s promise that, if I simply obey and jump into this thing, he would be there to catch me. I’m not going to lie, I have felt myself falling on several occasions, but have yet to hit the ground! God’s hand has always been there, every single time. I truly consider myself a blessed woman!
We are now in the middle of our fifth year with a new team of college students. They are a wonderful group of young men and women who love God, and love people. We will be completing our time in Puerto Rico soon, and then will travel to Europe for the last leg of this year’s journey. Sometimes I feel physically and emotionally tired, and I often miss family and friends back in America. There are days, especially around he holidays, when I do miss our house in Georgia, and how we used to entertained regularly, and host missionaries, homeless people, and/or exchange students. But this is my life now, and I am thankful because it is a beautiful life.
For me, it stopped being about the travel a long time ago. It is so much more than that now. I have made many connections around the world, many dear friends who I consider as close as family. I also find peace every year, when a team completes the program and I see them go on to do great things with their lives. I know we are still a baby organization, but already I feel as though so much good has been done for the kingdom of God through these young lives. My heart swells up with joy when I get their engagement announcements, or their wedding invite, or the announcement of a baby on its way, or news of their new job, or an assignment where they are influencing their culture…
I know we are simply doing what we are able to do; what is possible! but we are doing it to the best of our ability, and I know these young people we disciple, will one day reach the impossible. The kingdom of God is in good and able hands, and I feel satisfied while I continue to strive to do more, to learn more, and to give more of myself.
Check us out at www.abante.me