Patrick Atkinson is a Minnesota State University graduate and he gives a talk on combating fear and highlighting the strength in service. He worked closely with runaways, gang members and prostitutes before embarking on international work in post-war reconstruction, missing persons recovery, and war-zone reconciliation. Atkinson is also the founder of the GOD's CHILD Project, which is an organization that includes the Exploited and Missing Persons, the Atkinson Center, and the Institute for Trafficked.
In his talk, he begins by explaining the best gift he's ever received -- at the age of 13, he was underwater for 7 minutes and received the gift of death. During those minutes underwater, he realized it was an amazing thing to happen to a person because it removed any doubt of an afterlife, granting him the certainty that there is an afterlife. He volunteers at a crisis line, and what started off as something he participated in to meet girls became much more. This exposed him to the underbelly of the environment around him -- situations of domestic violence, drug addiction, alcohol addiction, sexual abuse, runaways dangers, and more.
After college, he decided to follow this underground river of runaways instead. The first lesson he learned from drowning is to not be afraid, the second is to let yourself try and experience new things, to give yourself permission. This led him down his career path and left to the war-zone orphanage where he was unfamiliar with the foreign language. His original six-month trip became seven years. where he and a team built more orphanages, burn centers, rehabilitation centers, and more.
He encourages us to unload ourselves of what holds us back and utilize our inventory of resources including our health, finances, community, family, friends, network, and more. Find a position of strength and use it to help people who need it as they float by in a situation that demands it. Above all else, he stresses the importance of dreams, to be it, make it happen, not be afraid in giving yourself permission to try, to succeed, and to fail.