Xulon Press Successful Author Spotlight: Patrick Atkinson

Filed in Successful Author Spotlight by on October 18, 2013 3 Comments

Message for my Child, Xulon Press author Patrick AtkinsonXulon Press is honored to feature human rights activist and human trafficking champion Patrick Atkinson in today’s Successful Author Spotlight. Patrick is a world renowned leader in the fight against human trafficking, which is not just an international issue but touches our American soil.  From his work with the United Nations to his global initiatives, Patrick has dedicated his life to this cause. He has two organizations, The God’s Child Project, which he began in 1991, and Institute for Trafficked, Exploited & Missing Persons (Itemp), which was started in 2001. His website is:  www.atkinsoncenter.org. Their shared goal is to provide insight and education on this horrific crime of human trafficking that has victimized both children and adults, across the globe. Our reader should take the time to review these websites for an opportunity to see the work of The Atkinson Center. Patrick has dedicated his life and his resources to doing all he can to help all he can. His passion is palpable as he discusses the great strides his organizations have made in their work to eliminate human trafficking.

Patrick is having his world famous poem “A Poem For My Child” re-published through Xulon Press. It was originally published in 1978, when he first wrote it, based on the Max Erhmann 1923 poem “Desiderata”, as a college class assignment about raising children. Years later, in 2001, Patrick rewrote his 7 stanza poem as a dedication to his son Ernesto and named it “A Message for my Son”, which he later renamed “A Message for my Child”.  His world renowned poem has been translated into English, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish and soon…Russian. It has been published on paper in single page poster format over 1 million times, distributed in school districts, juvenile court systems and non-profit organizations across the world. Just last year alone, royalties for this poem were $107 thousand dollars. Although those around him have suggested that he benefit from the proceeds, he has been firm on his stand and every penny of that $107k proceeds went to GodsChild and Itemp to support and fund Patrick’s lifelong mission to someday eradicate human trafficking.

Speaking with Patrick, you get the distinct sense that you are conversing with someone with a passionate world vision who has dedicated his life to the call he received at the tender age of 13. When I asked Patrick what one life event changed the course of his life, I have to admit, I was not expecting the depth of the honesty nor the sincerity of the “real” that I heard from this author. Patrick shared a story that was tender and tragic and yet—set this crusader on his life’s journey.

Patrick shared “When I was 13, I went camping with a group of friends from school. I was very small, I was a tiny boy. I may have weighed 80 pounds. Our leaders planned a canoe outing. We would split into 2 different teams, each assigned to a steel bottom canoe. The goal was that we would attack each other and play pirates. It was my job, as the “tiny boy” to stay in the canoe and row it away to keep it away from the opposite team. I was protecting the canoe from being taken captive by the “pirates”. But that day– the other team started to rock the canoe, and it started to fill up with water, and the canoe started to sink!”

I was startled by the sudden turn of events of Patrick’s story. His voice was passionate as he retold this life changing event. He continued “I had on my lifejacket.  The jacket was holding me up, but the canoe was pulling me down. I shouted for help! Remember that this was a steel bottom canoe– it was not like they make them today. It was sinking, and it was taking me down with it. I mustered my energy and screamed for help—but no one heard me. Water poured into my mouth, and the steel canoe pulled me down into the Apple Creek River. My foot was caught on the boat, but my life preserver was keeping me afloat. I was floating like a fishing bobber. You would think that I would be panicked. But I wasn’t. “

Again, I had no idea how asking a question I had asked 30 authors before him would turn into this compelling and heart wrenching story. Patrick was caught up in the story. “After the 3rd time of going under the water and fighting my way back to the surface, and the water was pouring into my mouth—I thought “this is it, you are going to die!” But instead—at that moment– there was this amazing peace and I heard a voice that said “Don’t worry, I have you!” It was clearly a voice, a masculine voice that said “Don’t worry, I have you!”

“At that very moment- I had a typical life after death experience which I did see and (speaking as a level headed guy—which I am), I saw snippets of my life until age 13— I just had this feeling that “you’ve lived a good life.” I was moving through darkness and I saw this huge light, like a candle had been lit up next to my eyes— it felt like pure love—I knew it was God, as I was moving closer and closer to the light. There was this visible “mist” between me and that love. The intensity was so pure. I wanted more than anything to go through the mist. I was so exulted to unite with that love. I then heard the voice say calmly, peacefully, “You have to go back– it’s not your time to die—I have things for you to do in this life”.  And within what felt like a fraction of a second, I felt myself going back, and I burst through to the top of the surface.”

I was shocked. I was taken aback. His story was riveting and unexpected and yet felt so “real”. Patrick went on.  “I was under the water for 7 minutes. Our leaders confirmed the time. When I came out of it, I was crying. The reason I was crying was not because I was afraid…it’s because I was so painfully disappointed that I could not go through that curtain, that mist,  and be able to go toward that love. I didn’t speak about it for 10 years, until I was about 23. I knew no one would believe me. I just kept it inside. The reason it was such a life changing experience is because it removed for me, without a shadow of a doubt, any doubt that there is an afterlife and there is God.  When you have an undeniable certainty that “you knew because you had been there” — of the existence of the afterlife and of God– I have absolute certainty of the existence of God. I am a long term investor in life.  I received a gift of dying from God that took away all uncertainty. It removed all that doubt. And I have never doubted since that day! That is why I am compelled to do what I do—because I will see Him again someday—and I want to do the best I can for Him!”

Patrick had shared so much in just this first question—and it revealed why he is so passionate about what He does for the Lord in rescuing those who are imprisoned, sinking to the bottom, no hope of escaping—Patrick wants to be their life preserver. He wants to rescue them from sinking!

He commented that he doesn’t usually share that story but felt that our readers might benefit from knowing about his life altering experience with God.

I later researched both websites and Patrick’s bios—and he had not shared this story in any format.

We are honored that he shared it here, with our Xulon Press audience.

As I continued the conversation, I asked “What is the most important life event you have had?” Patrick responded “My personal introduction to Christ. I can’t remember a specific event. There wasn’t an exact moment of conversion. It was just a very powerful introduction to Christ. It affected me on so many levels—it affected all of my decisions in life. Could you imagine if you had the opportunity to have Christ sit down next to you? Tomorrow you would never be the same. You would have that deepening of that personal relationship. Before that experience at age 13, I was a child. I came out of that experience, no longer a child emotionally or spiritually. I came out vastly different. My mother even tells others that I was always committed to ministry—when other college students were doing freshmen college things, I was in Costa Rica fighting poverty and human trafficking—I was never like the others after that experience!”

I asked him “What message do you want shared by the story of your life?” Patrick was passionate in his response. “To the greatest extent that everybody is able to do so, we need to know without absolute belief of the existence of God and of the afterlife—you will hear that from everyone who has ever had an afterlife experience. We need to admit this to ourselves. We make the decision of how we deal with that and how it affects others. We must be aware so we can make the best decisions possible. Remember: We may have been victimized, but we are not victims. We can rejoice and give thanks to those who gave us the gifts to succeed. It’s not about us. We are the sum of the gifts and the opportunity we have been given. But the decisions we make are ours to own.

Patrick had already shared so much but I asked him “What would you tell others about your relationship with Christ that would inspire them?” He was cryptic yet crystal clear as he challenged our reader. “To not ‘keep it real’ because it cannot ‘not be real.’ It goes back to that absolute certainty- that God and the afterlife exist! There’s just no room for doubt—you have to know that you know!”

When I asked him our signature question “What will they write on your gravestone that will sum up your life?” Patrick responded quietly and with humility “He was able to live because he knew!”

I drilled deeper for this author who had already revealed so much when I asked “What inspires you?”

Patrick shared. “How after 33 years of fulltime, lifelong dedication to the mission He gave me, can I continue to do with enthusiasm what I do? I do what I do because Christ asks us to. I have No desire to build an empire. That’s why I return all profits from the poem back into the ministry. I Just do what He asked me to do. Dealing with human trafficking–Rescuing them? I will do whatever is needed to rescue them because He asked me to do this.”

He deals with such a serious segment of our society that is often grim and heartbreaking. I asked him “how did he deal” with the sad facts he often must uncover. Patrick’s voice cracked and emotion seeped out as he responded “When I am really tired, or worn out, I superimpose the face of Christ on top of the person I am dealing with so I can remember that I am doing it for Him. It’s the Christ within that person that I do it for. You just put the face of Christ on what you are doing. I sometimes have to identify a body of a beaten, tortured girl who has been a victim of the human trafficking world. My heart would normally break and would not be able to go through the steps to identify the body. That is when I see Christ as the face and know—I CAN do this for HIM!”

He was such a man of faith and so dedicated to his relationship with Christ, I asked him “What is your theme scripture and why?” He responded “The poor will always be with you- Matthew 26:11, from the Sermon on the Mount– because we have a lot of victories and a lot of defeat—we are not called to win every time because we are not meant to win every time! We do the best we can. It simply tells us that we are not told to succeed every time– we are simple asked to do the best we can!”

As I drew our conversation to a close, I asked Patrick “When you get to heaven, what do you want to hear The Lord say to you?”

His answer drew me to tears as he quietly responded “Thanks for doing what you did—come on in, I want you to meet the people you were working with!”

He then shared “I would love to see what that girl looks like in heaven, without the effects of the human trafficking that made it so difficult to identify her body. Just to see her happy and complete!”

After concluding our conversation, I was moved by my encounter with Patrick Atkinson. From the “real” recounting of his life changing event at age 13 to his passionate pursuit of his lifelong quest to see human trafficking eradicated globally—all while he understood that “we do the best we can”

In closing, I would like to leave the reader with Patrick’s words—may they illuminate your heart to do what you can… when you can!

“We live in a world where everybody’s a victim; they ask “what could I do? I’m helpless! My parents did this to me, so there’s nothing I can do about it!” It’s your life—you can decide NOT to do it—you decide! You can’t throw it all away and be a bad person and just blame it on your daddy. When the day is all done, you are going home by yourself — You and your relationship with God.”

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About the Author ()

Alan P. Scaglione is a writer who reflects on the simple contradictions and complexities to living this ”gift from God” called life. He believes that Life is a journey that, with compassion, a little levity and perspective, we help each other get through. His greatest compliment was being told “you draw pictures with your words!” He has devoted his life to “drawing”…in his poetry, his songs, his weekly “Reflections of Life” blog entries, his monthly SAS articles, his short stories and now, his novels! Alan is an everyday guy who refuses to let circumstances dictate his view to life; he lives an attitude of gratitude and spreads his positive outlook everywhere he goes. His BEST day is a day shared making a memory that will last a lifetime! Please check out Alan’s books “One Unexpected Event – How Would Your Life Change?” and its sequel “One Unexpected Event – Aftermath!” in the Xulon Press bookstore.

Comments (3)

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  1. avatar jeff noel says:

    Alan, what a fantastic, well-written tribute to Patrick. Normally finding it challenging to read long blog posts, but couldn’t turn away from this one. Thank you.

    • Thanks for your feedback, Jeff, and for taking the time to comment here and on our Facebook page (about this and other posts). We’re glad that you enjoyed this one. Stay tuned, the next successful author spotlight is right around the corner!

  2. Thank you for this interview. I am so thrilled to hear what progress is being made against human trafficking. Thank God!

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