Every journey begins with a single step–a yes in action.
Nine times out of ten, that first yes happens in a desolate place. No one is watching. It’s just you and God and a decision. You have a choice to make, a choice between two ways of living.
Almost two years ago to the day, John and I sat at World Race Launch. We thought we were there to launch our daughter. Parent Ministry Manager, Betty Means, quickly corrected our illusion when she announced to a room full of anxious parents that we were there to launch our own journey.
Initially, we were skeptics. Keighty’s Race had nothing to do with us. However, within twenty-four golden hours our minds and hearts were changed. We had no idea where our journey would take us, but we were launched.
And it all began with a yes.
Looking back, it is easy to find the moment that changed everything, the moment that moved us from talk to action.
John and I were sitting near the front of the room at Keighty’s WR Launch (July 2015). John had an attitude. He was there to launch his daughter. He was not there to be launched. I had an attitude as well. I wanted everything to go smoothly. After all, I was sending my daughter into the world for 11 months.
Fortunately, those were not the only attitudes we carried into the room. We had a deep desire to follow God. We also carried hope. It felt like lost hope, but we carried it nonetheless.
Several people shared that day. One gentleman talked about getting involved in the World Race men’s hike after Seth Barnes, Founder and President of Adventures in Missions, reminded him he still had “tread on his tires.”
John and I longed to have tread on our tires.
Later, Seth spoke. During the first half of his talk, John picked up his phone and started typing. I got mad! I thought he was typing an email for work. I decided to stay engaged rather than stew about John. I listened as Seth shared stories about his kids’ experiences on the Race. My heart cracked open, but not for my daughter. It cracked open for me.
Tears began to stream down my face. Seth led us in prayer, stating that he believed the words he spoke were for someone specific in the room. God is not done with you. He is beginning a new thing.
Those words were for me!
In the meantime, John texted me what he was typing. It wasn’t a work email. It was a prayer of commitment to God. He showed it to me as an act of accountable obedience. John told God he was tired of launching our kids to do the things he longed to do himself. He committed to say “yes” to every opportunity until God told him to stop saying yes.
And so, our journey of saying yes began.
It started rather quickly with World Race dug-out coaching. We learned so much during that time period, but mostly we learned to wait. I call it sacred waiting.
A few months later, I said yes and went to Greece for a month to write about the massive refugee crisis.
Over the next few months, John and I also said a lot of no’s. Several opportunities arose for John to go into full-time ministry. God clearly told us these were not yes opportunities. Through these experiences, we practiced listening and discerning God’s yes as opposed to any yes, even great and godly ones.
Our hearts continued to grow for Greece. We continued to wrestle with what felt like insurmountable obstacles. We continued to have conversations about a variety of opportunities. Hellenic Ministries kept popping into our hearts. So, we pursued conversations with them, too.
It was a season of exploration.
For a while, we were stuck. We knew without a doubt that God was calling us to go; we just didn’t know where or in what capacity. Even the people in our everyday life acknowledged this fact. Many of our commitments began to loosen. Our lives were moving forward whether we went anywhere or not.
Then– and almost suddenly– multiple people suggested that John and I go to Greece for a few weeks to seek God. They told us to go with open hands and seek God’s face. We needed to discover if Greece was the specific place; to decide if now was the time, and to discern if there were God-ordained opportunities for us to serve.
So, we went. God spoke. We listened.
The fruit of that trip was abundant! John and I found ourselves in complete unity. Greece is the place. Now is the time. God-ordained opportunities exist for both of us to serve out of our passions and gifts.
The opportunities align as only God could align them. They show how the past 26 years have not been a waste or a wandering. Instead, they were an active part of God’s redemptive process. They were a season of preparation, of learning skills, of walking through experiences, and developing relationships.
And so, we are saying yes again.
John and I are going to Greece to serve with Hellenic Ministries. We are entering a season of readiness and deeper preparation. We will be fundraising, learning, growing, and letting go of so many things, but we are ready. We are excited and terrified.
It’s going to be a grand adventure!
With Love and Joy,
John & Amy Patton
*This post is an edited copy of a letter we sent Seth Barnes a few months ago.
*Where mentioned names have been changed to honor each person’s story. Photos have been blurred intentionally. Photos are the sole property of John and Amy Patton and cannot be saved or used for any purpose without our permission.