When Jesus enters the room, he displaces the darkness, and creates his own space.John Strong
Do you remember the first day you rode a bike without the training wheels? That feeling of fright mixed with excitement; that sense of accomplishment mixed with a certain uncertainty about how long you were going to be able to ride without falling and hurting yourself on the hard pavement? Probably even as you remember, you can relate to the rawness of that moment, and how epic it felt to you. That memory can sum up a colleague’s first day of their nine-month journey with Abante.
The days leading into “D-day” are stressful and messy, filled with sad goodbyes, tedious packing, last minute runs to the store for items on the “how to pack for your trip” list, and then, there are all these crazy emotions and fears creeping in late at night, robbing you of your sleep. As the stress amounts, and the excitement grows; one question usually surfaces above the noise: Why am I doing this? Life is good as it is now. Friends are always available, and family is nearby. If a craving comes up, there is a quick fix for that; you get on your car and drive to the nearest fast food joint, and fill up the void quickly and cheaply. So, why the unnecessary stress?
On Sunday, August 14, 2016 the 2017 Abante International colleagues faced the realization, that the comforts of their routine have been stripped by their decision to join this crazy and amazing adventure called Abante International. The loss of moving freely as they wish, is now capped by a rigorous agenda, and a structured daily calendar. There are new relationships to be made, and guidelines, lessons, instructors, cross-cultural experiences awaiting, etc. It goes without saying, that emotions were off the charts on Sunday the 14th, however, once everyone put on their uniforms, and came together to pray in preparation for the commissioning service, a strange sense of peace came over the team. A sense of arrival, and a challenge to face the unknown not fearfully, but eagerly and positively, knowing that God has been, and is completely involved in the process.
The first days following that initial “shock and awe” of the first day, were nothing short of inspirational, and emotional. Guest speaker, Roger Daniel (lovingly named “Mr. Most-Tweetable-One-Liners”) inspired the team not to be enmeshed or disconnected but to be differentiated. He also talked about Spiritual Formation, and how to share one’s story. The information was good, and helpful, but Roger’s inspiring personal story, and his honest desire to pour into the team, gave the colleagues a very special sacred moment, and the best advice for the journey ahead: “Is not wrong, is just different!”
There were several guests who came to share their story with the colleagues, among them were Greg Baird, Tom Hennigan, and John Strong –all had powerful and relational stories for the 2017 world changers, encouraging them to be rooted not in fear, but in sound teachings, community, and strong faith. The first days’ sessions helped the colleagues with their initial jitters, and by the end of the week, the unknown began to look less intimidating, as they rest in the knowledge that God understands where they are today, because he designed where they will be tomorrow.