Obedience before Understanding

Reflections from the Bryce/Zion Freedom Challenge…

When I signed up to be part of the Prayer Team on the Bryce/Zion Challenge this past June, I didn’t know what God was going to do, but considering it felt like a miracle for me to actually be going, I was very expectant.

Saying Yes
It felt like a big step forward for me to say ‘yes’ to this challenge, as just to physically travel there was something I knew God was going to have to really help me with.

Three years ago I got very sick, and from that time have been on an interesting journey with God, where I have learnt to remain thankful despite 24/7 (and many times unbearable) nerve pain.  My ‘work’ since 2013 has been in Zambia with OM, developing a skills training & discipleship centre for vulnerable and marginalized women.  However, last year the pain from nerve damage became so debilitating and I had to return to Canada for further medical care.

Not Losing Hope
Throughout the past year there were many times when I actually didn’t think I would ever be pain-free enough to be able to walk beyond 5 minutes at a time.  If it wasn’t for Jesus, I really would have lost hope.  When a trial starts to span a few years, there may be moments when we start to shift our eyes onto ourselves and our weaknesses, rather than on God and who He is.
I think that is what was starting to happen with me, but God had a plan…

Throughout different types of involvement with the Freedom Challenge over the last number of years, I have always seen how God is not only using the movement to bring healing and hope to those who are oppressed around the world, but also to each of us who say ‘yes’ to participate in the challenges.  I knew God wanted me in Utah for this challenge, maybe even for a boost forward in my own healing journey…

And Unexpected Invitation…
Being part of the prayer team was so amazing, but after the first few days of the challenge I had the urge to experience God on the hiking trail…but how would that happen??  A few minutes later after having that thought, I somehow found myself in a conversation with one of the hiking guides.  She said to me “so, are you going to join us on the trail tomorrow?” I felt a surge of nervous excitement go through me, but proceeded to remind her that I am on the prayer team and am still recovering from a recent back surgery.  I said I feel God might be asking me to try hiking, but I have not yet walked for more than about 20 minutes at a time, and would really hate to slow the whole team down just because of me.  That didn’t seem to bother her, she was so gracious!

It almost felt surreal.  I had zero fear, just expectation.  My mind was focussed on God and his strength.  I didn’t know how I was physically going to hike the next day, but I knew that taking this step of faith was an act of obedience, and that He would make it happen.

Totally Relying on God
So there I went – I ended up hiking with the beginners group for a total of almost 5 miles!!  This was a miracle!  It was an incredible day, where God proved that if we stay focussed on Him, he will keep showing his power through us.  I realized that if I would have doubted God and let fear control me, I probably would have not made it very far at all.  Each step that I took turned into an act of worship…and It was so rewarding to totally rely on Him to give me the power to keep going beyond what my body was previously capable of.

I am still on the healing journey, but will not forget that day and how I experienced the faithful God walking with me.  During that Freedom Challenge God really blessed me with a deeper understanding of His love for me, plus physically blessed me with a boost forward in my healing.  I am SO thankful I responded to His invitation to go!

Through this journey, especially in the chapters of much challenge, I am reminded to continue walking faithfully together with Him, to be obedient and trust the route He’s taking me on even if I do not fully understand ‘why’…this is when it gets exciting!

For more about the Freedom Challenge, visit www.thefreedomchallenge.com

 

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Together we are making a difference!

I am so proud to be working together in Zambia (and beyond) with Pharen,  an amazing Zambian missionary who has dedicated her life to serving God wherever that may be!
As I look back over my past few years in Africa, it is only natural to recognize the ‘Pharen’s’ and the amazing sacrifice they have made to serve their own people!
I believe that on our own we would be successful, but together we have empowered each other to make an even more significant difference in the lives of many people.

Pharen

The Alps

Freedom Climb 2015, what a journey!

One month before the climb I injured my back to the point of immobility. The pain was severe and the climb soon began to look like an impossibility. Four days before the climb I was cleared to fly, with the permission to even try to climb a few days. By faith I flew to Europe, not knowing if I really would climb or not.

Upon arrival in Chamonix, France, I soon was plagued by fear, anxiety and doubt. Numerous questions were rolling through my mind, with the one major one of, ‘Why am I even here?’   My initial decision to climb was simply to stand up against the exploitation, abuse and poverty forced upon many women and children. That still remained true, but when standing at the base of the mountain with a weak body that still needed a lot of healing and recovery, the need for a much more personal and intimate reason to climb became real. I proceeded to ask God to please show me in a deep way why I was there at such a time.

From that moment on, I experienced an incredible joy coming over me and knew that it was only the joy of the Lord that would be my strength. I also knew that God would show me each day if I was supposed to climb or not. This brought great contentment, as I didn’t need to worry the night before if I would be climbing the next day or not, but could rest in the fact that he would show me each morning what I was to do that day.

In faith, I set out on the trail and joyfully hiked 4 out of the 8 day trek through the Swiss and French Alps! Each of these 4 days had their own challenges, but each day God gave me just enough strength to reach where I needed to.

Day 4 will be a day I won’t easily forget, as there was a strong answer to the ‘why’ I had been asking God just a few days earlier…

We had already been hiking all day and still had another 2 hours to go to reach our mountain hut, yet my body was nearly at its limit. I really wondered how I would make it to the hut this time. There was no option of stopping, as we were hiking in heavy rain and didn’t want to get stuck hiking in the dark. I continued to press on and endure the pain. I held fast to the confirmation I had received in the morning from God to climb that day, trusting that he would get me to the hut. Now with only about 1 hour to go, I really didn’t have the strength to continue forcing myself through the pain. It was in this moment of the most intense pain I have ever experienced in my life that I also experienced God right there with me… Suddenly I remembered the reason I had chosen to climb. It wasn’t for my own comfort or adventure experience, but rather on behalf of the many women who have been thrown out, rejected and left without a voice. I began thinking of specific ladies I had previously met and the terrible things they have endured every day for many years, completely against their own will. I suddenly felt privileged to be climbing on their behalf and experiencing some pain through it all. The whole idea of choosing to climb for the freedom of others suddenly became intensely real to me in a whole new way. Although incredibly difficult, I continued climbing in faith that I would make it to that nights hut…and I did. God once again proved to me and the others around me that together with Him, all things are possible.

The joys together with challenges I experienced on this years Freedom Climb were so impactful on my personal faith journey with God, and for that I will be forever thankful.

Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading. It is a life of faith not of intellect and reason, but a life of knowing who makes us go.
– Oswald Chambers

Beautiful views

Beautiful views

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So amazing to have the privilege of climbing together with my mom!

So amazing to have the privilege of climbing together with my mom!

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Team Canada

Team Canada

Team Africa

Team Africa

Loved climbing together with this long time friend

Loved climbing together with this long time friend

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Beautiful mom with a beautiful heart

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Climbing for Freedom

A friend recently asked me the question, “over your past 2 years in Africa, what is the one thing that you have found to love the most?”

My immediate answer was, “seeing someone experience freedom for the first time ever, or for the first time in a long time…walking the road a few specific people who were so caught in poverty and felt they had no identity or purpose in life, but now knowing they are living daily in freedom.”

As I reflect back over that question, I greatly realize how important it is for me to help others come to a point of freedom and hope in their lives.
I have been so privileged to grow up in an environment that does everything it can to help me pursue my dreams.  I have been so greatly empowered, so therefore I desire to empower others. 

I have now been a missionary with OM for 3 years (1 in Switzerland, 2 in Africa).  Throughout this time, my heart has been torn in half so many times by the intense living situations so many people have.  It can come to a point where you either numb yourself to the hurting and pain of others, or you stand up taller and do something about it.
I am trying by all means to do the second option, together with God’s guidance.

My involvement with the Freedom Climb in Zambia has been that of working with vulnerable women…actually helping to establish a skills development program for them that brings them to a point of sustainable living.  I also have the privilege of aiding some of the other projects supported by the Freedom Climb, like the Makwati School.

This July, I have chosen to take another type of stand against the exploitation, abuse and poverty I have been living amongst.  I am climbing in this years Freedom Climb – an 8 day trek through the Alps, beginning in France and ending in Switzerland.

I am choosing to climb on behalf of the many children who have been abused and labeled to have no future, and the many women who have been thrown out, rejected and left without a voice.

In order to climb I am required to raise $10,000
What an opportunity this is to raise awareness and funds for such beautiful people!
I am designating all of this money towards the Tabitha Skills Development project and Makwati School in Kabwe, Zambia. (both projects supported by the Freedom Climb)

Will you join me?

Alps Climb LetterCheck out thefreedomclimb.net for more information

Hope for Pauline & Moses!

This is a short piece of Moses and Pauline’s life story.  I have had the privilege to spend the last year together with them, teaching and encouraging them, but also learning many things from them myself.  Pauline has taught me that no matter what situation you find yourself in, there is hope and freedom in Jesus.

Small Business Initiatives

patricia

Patricia is a young mom who has passed through Tabitha. She is married, yet doesn’t see much of her husband and is therefore left to provide for and take care of her two children. With no encouragement or empowerment this is a difficult way for a woman to live her life.
Patricia started coming to Tabitha two years ago to be trained as a tailor. Because of her eagerness to learn, she progressed quickly. She didn’t mind about walking to Tabitha each day, if that meant she could acquire new skills and learn something about Jesus.
A few months ago, Patricia was also equipped with a micro-business training. This training completely transformed her life! The training is very practical, whereby each woman is given a loan of $8 in order to start her own small business. Patricia decided to make use of her sewing skills and began to sew small dresses out of local chetenge material. She found that she was successful to sell everything she made, and was able to reinvest a few times over. She used the leftover pieces of material to make small purses. Within two weeks she had made about $100…what many people make in a month! This gave so much dignity to Patricia, for she realized she truly could do something with the skills she had learnt. Patricia’s husband has also taken a new interest in her and is so proud of the small business she has started. He sees a lot of potential in her and is now encouraging her a lot. Together they are now saving money that they may buy their own sewing machine, for until now Patricia was doing most of the stitching by hand. Patricia is now dreaming of opening her own sewing shop, where people can order dresses and skirts.

This transformation in Patricia’s life is motivating many other women to also step out and do something with the skills they are receiving through Tabitha.

Library in a Container Project!

On behalf of the Freedom Climb, one vision we have is for education.
We have the vision to see children of our surrounding communities transformed through education.  We desire to see the upcoming generations of young people grab hold of their education and purpose with the help of strongly equipped teachers that provide each child with a holistic education.  There is a lack of educated teachers from within the vulnerable communities to be role models for the children within their own communities.  This is where the first step of actually training people to become teachers becomes a necessary reality.
I’d like to introduce you to the Teachers Training Centre, another amazing Freedom Climb project here in Kabwe, Zambia.
TTC (Teachers Training Centre) is where Zambians are being trained as teachers.  This centre is currently in process of being accredited by the Zambian government, but is facing a few challenges.  One vital requirement for the accreditation of the college is to have a library/resource centre.  It will serve as a library for the teacher centre as well as a resource centre for several elementary schools in Kabwe are for teachers who have been trained through the centre.
To acquire such quality materials in Zambia is extremely difficult, and therefore we are looking to the outside for help.
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The Library in a Container Project has been started, which is a dream to ship a 40ft container  containing all the library supplies from the US to Zambia!
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Here is a website with details about the project and a bit about the ministry in Zambia with the teachers. Please feel free to pass this information to others you think may be interested in participating in this project in any way; prayer, finance, donations, time, connections, etc.
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Step by step, we look forward to seeing God fulfill the vision of a library for the students and teachers in Kabwe, Zambia.
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