God Calls Broken People: From Veteran Girl Scout Leader to Founder of Christ-Centered American Heritage Girls

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Turn on any TV or radio, or open any online article, and you’ll be cast into a sea of “wokeness” – news item after news item, drowning viewers, listeners and readers with “enlightened” language. 

This “wokeness ideology” is attempting a coup d’état on our society – creeping into our schools, our churches and our media. Wokeness may be a new term for many – but the ideology is the offspring of secular humanism – an enemy that has been present for decades. Put simply, this ideology is the rejection of religion and natural law in favor of what feels good in the moment. 

Understanding that we possess gifts bestowed upon us by God is so very important. He has granted us these gifts that we may strive to be more like Him: faith, morals and ethics.  

The fact that there are so many who follow the secular humanism or wokeness ideology is a problem that our society must face head on because the future we are building for our children depends on it – but how? What do we do when we see a mountain to be climbed or a problem to be solved that seems insurmountable? What if we believe mightily in resolving the issue but feel that we lack the skills to do so? 

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I am reminded of a time in my life, when I faced similar feelings, dealing with a problem that felt bigger than Mount Everest. I stood at the foot of a proverbial mountain, and I heard God calling me to action:  

In 1994, I walked with a small group of concerned parents into a large auditorium filled with people. While I engaged with many familiar faces as I entered, I knew our group was unwelcomed among the Girl Scouts’ meeting attendees. We carefully picked a spot where our spokesperson could easily walk up to speak. 

When Girl Scouts proposed an allowance of flexibility in the wording of spiritual beliefs in the Girl Scout Promise, an attempt to remove God the Father from the organization, I, along with the other concerned parents, formed a group called Caring Responsibly for our Youth (C.R.Y.). This proposal was the last straw in a long line of offenses against our children, and we refused to sit by and let it happen. 

We wanted to nominate a sensible Christian for the board of directors of the local Girl Scouts council, hoping to persuade the leadership of the errors in its ways. This candidate was my husband, Pat, an accomplished businessman and community volunteer.  

So, in that big auditorium at the end of the annual meeting, the vote on the slate for the council’s board of directors, plus Pat, was taken and tallied. The results were announced by a board member who claimed that C.R.Y.’s candidate received zero votes. We heard gasps throughout the auditorium. Dozens of people in the audience mentioned to C.R.Y. that they had voted for Pat, and I know I certainly did.  

That night, I knew my time with the Girl Scouts had ended. My thirteen years as a volunteer and my five years as a girl member had taken up a good portion of my life.  

I’ll never forget what my father said to me after that horrible Girl Scout meeting. “Patti, why curse the darkness when you can light a candle?” he asked. “Start something new.”  

My father’s words will resonate in my heart for eternity, and they reminded me of God’s encouragement in scripture:  

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father, who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14- 16 NIV).  

The message was clear—the Lord had a plan, and He wanted to use me as part of what He wanted to accomplish. How could this be?  

I argued the case in my mind. I am too busy, too unqualified, too needy, and totally too harried. I am not good at anything, including motherhood, wifedom, sainthood, or even being a daughter. But then, I realized that broken people are exactly the type that God calls to do His work on earth. 

The American Heritage Girls (AHG) formed in 1994. The Lord was so patient with all of us, but super patient with me. At that time, I was not the Christian I am today. It took me a while to figure out that it was okay if I did not fit the typical “Christian mold” of the quiet, submissive, contemplative, feminine woman. Surely, someone else was better suited for the task than me.  

We held our first AHG meeting on September 13, 1995. The news of our new organization spread quickly. We identified program emphases, instituted a handful of badges, developed adult training, and designed spirit wear. At this time, the Lord also delivered the AHG Oath. To this day it remains unchanged:  

I promise to love God,  

Cherish my family,  

Honor my country,  

and serve in my community. 

We really didn’t expect any expansion, especially early on, so the interest from those outside of our small group surprised us. We knew we had to take the growth seriously. I learned about the necessary steps to becoming a legal entity. I sensed that God had planned so much more than I could possibly do, and I discovered early on that it would take a village to pull this off.  

I share this story for you for a reason: God is with us! We must follow His lead when navigating the choppiness of “woke” and secular humanist waters. We must recognize the ethical and moral gifts that God has given to us, so we may model ourselves in His likeness. Say yes to God’s calling, and don’t be afraid to light a candle in a dark place. 


Patti Garibay has been at the forefront of countering the culture by leading girls and women to creating lives of integrity. She is the founder and executive director of American Heritage Girls (AHG), a national Christ-centered leadership and character development program. She helps thousands of girls discover their true identity and purpose in Christ through AHG’s transformative programming. Patti is also the author of Why Curse the Darkness When You Can Light A Candle?.

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