For me, it's actually a 25 year celebration that started way back in 1991. At the age of 21, I set out on a 17 day solo camping trip to seek God for direction in ministry. During his trip I spent a lot of time praying and reading the Bible, as well as reading several Christ-centered books. After weighing what I felt like God was compelling me to do combined with taking a personal inventory of my gifts, talents, passions, desires, and strengths (as well as my weaknesses, inabilities, and non-passions) the light bulb turned on. On a beautiful autumn day in November 1991 at Camel Lake in Apalachicola National Forest of the Florida panhandle, Going The Distance Adventure Ministry (GTD) was birthed as a passion in my heart. My desire and my calling was to combine Biblical life principles and adventurous activities into one ministry.
It would take five years for GTD's first event to take place. During the developmental years (1991-1995) the "blueprints" of this ministry were being drawn out. I noticed that far too many Christians were not experiencing spiritual maturity or fruitfulness. They lacked perseverance and solid Biblical wisdom. This influenced the naming of the ministry. Going The Distance Adventure Ministry captures the positive and exciting tone of the Christian message, conveys an attitude of Jesus-like perseverance, and leaves plenty of room for the ministry to grow and develop in whatever direction God leads. These early years of GTD were used for laying the firm foundation of a God-focused ministry. God used these years for the development of many of the plans GTD still uses today. And more importantly, God used these years to prepare me for the journey ahead and dependence upon Him. The years from 1991-1995 were spent on preparations, prayer, and personal growth.
Then it all came together in 1996. GTD embarked on our first ever official Adventure Trip with over twenty college students from my home church - First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks. The trip was called, "How Much Can You Shove Into 4 Days!" (We now call this trip "SLAMMED"). It included an Atlanta Braves baseball game, Six Flags, Atlanta Fest, Stone Mountain laser light show, tour of Gatlinburg, white water rafting, rock climbing, rappelling, hiking, indoor skydiving, and bungee jumping! We shoved a lot into 4 days while seeking God first and setting a Christ-centered God-awesome focus. The trip was a great success and ushered in our brand of Christian-based adventure events. The years have flown by. It has never been an easy journey, but it has always been worth every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears. God has faithfully and consistently deepened our roots while expanding our programs.
I have so much more to share and so many exciting events to reveal, but for right now I just want to thank everyone who played a role in the establishment, development, and growth of this ministry. I also want to thank 20 college students and 1 college Pastor who trusted me and signed-up for our first GTD event. There may not even be a GTD if they didn't come. Ministry is a team sport and GTD has lasted this long because so many wonderful and generous people answered God's call to get involved. I am humbled and overjoyed at the thought of the incredible people who have invested parts of their lives into this ministry. I praise God for each and everyone of you!
As we reflect on the past we can't help but look forward to what God has in store for the future! But NOW is the time to celebrate the accomplishment of 20 years of ministry! Thank You Jesus!! I've poured my heart and life into highly demanding adventures & administration for 20 years and I still have so much more left in my tank. My heart leaps for joy!
PS: And one more thing, we have a great year planned for our 20th Year Anniversary!! Lord willing, 2016 will be more than awesome... it will be God-awesome! We will start rolling out the 2016 calendar later today =)