January 19, 2012
The Freedom Climb is now in the history books. We watched and listened from a distance as forty-eight women, inspired their leader and our good friend Cathey Anderson, took on the challenge – the highest point on the continent of Africa: Mount Kilimanjaro. They climbed to raise awareness and money to combat human trafficking – for the women and children victimized by the cruel imposition of slavery on a global scale.
If you have ever set out to climb a mountain or ride bike a hundred miles or run a marathon or swim the channel, you know what it’s like to train. You know that setting the goal and doing the work are two entirely different things. It’s one thing to share the dream of accomplishment; to imagine the joyous celebration at the finish line. It’s quite another to start the training – and to push yourself to new levels, new distances, new disciplines. You set the routines. You feel the pain. Not long into it, you wonder what on earth you were thinking to imagine that you could reach that crazy goal. You didn’t really understand the cost. You hit the wall. You feel the pain. And after awhile, there is a break through. A new surge of strength carries you past that first milestone. But you know there will be more work ahead. You begin to feel the benefits of the hard work – but you know that’s exactly what it is – hard work.
LeaderFOCUS is predictably my own original work. But this time, I’m going to let JoAnn Hummel speak. I’ve never met her, but I was moved by her words. She is now a Kili Climber. She now has seen the sunrise from 19,000 feet. Here’s what she learned on the trail as she trained –
Dear Kili-climbing sisters!
With less than a week to go until we depart for Africa, the Lord said to me today, “It is time to move your eyes from yourself (your packing, shopping, and stressy self) and refocus them on Me and why I called you to make this Freedom Climb.”
When I know God is speaking, it is time to pay attention! Here’s the rest of what the Lord was speaking to me…
This Kilimanjaro trek is a powerful prophetic symbol. You – the climbers – are meant to symbolize the victims; Kilimanjaro symbolizes the towering “mountain” of pain, evil, injustice and woundedness that dehumanizes millions of trafficked and enslaved victims daily.
Every hardship you will face step-by-step and breath-by-breath on Kilimanjaro is meant to mirror the life-threatening extremities of the trafficked and enslaved for whom you climb. They are deprived; you, too, will face deprivation. They persevere through extreme conditions; so will you. They receive no comfort; you will sacrifice your comforts for their sake. Their unclean bodies ache and sweat and hurt and shiver; yours will, too. They are forced to live one moment at a time and you will only make this climb one step at a time. And the same God who gives the millions of victims breath and life, sees their pain, holds their hands, and whispers His hope into their darkness will likewise be present with you.
This trek is meant to break your heart for what breaks Mine. I will do this in you by taking you beyond the limits of your own human strength, wits, and abilities. When you summit Kilimanjaro, you will not be able to credit yourself, but only give glory to Me. You will make it because I will carry you. That heady joy of freedom as you stand on the roof of Africa will serve as a symbol of the joyous release and victory I have in store for those who are now in bondage!
I will call many of you into active engagement to overcome and destroy these evils as you return home. Be ready for a life change.
I love you and that is why I invited you to make this climb. I didn’t ask everyone; I asked you and you said YES. I am so proud of your willingness to follow Me up this mountain that I made with My own hands. This will be a radical journey of faith and risk, but I knew what I was doing when I called you. I never make a mistake. You were meant to be on this Freedom Climb and I will be with you every step of your way. Now surrender your “me” stuff. Lay all of it down at the Cross. Ask Me to give you My heart, My perspective, and My strength and I will do it.
Refocus the eyes of your heart on Me. It is time.
As you and I face our own Kili, let’s remember JoAnn’s challenge.
Copyright Kenneth E Kemp 2012