Climbing for the freedom of women worldwide
To become advocates in their communities for women and children throughout the world who are trafficked, oppressed, enslaved and have no voice, 150 people gathered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, US, from 20-22 September for the first Freedom Climb Conference.
The conference featured guests and speakers working with OM projects around the world that empower women and children to be free from their oppressive conditions. Women representing OM ministries in Africa, Latin America and Central Asia spoke about the challenges and injustices faced by women and children in their countries, and how OM projects are making an eternal difference in their lives.
“It was a rare opportunity to share some of the unique and challenging realities that we address through our projects—like poverty and lack of education, discrimination against women and child labour that has enslaved thousands,” said Suria Scholtz of OM Africa and a 2012 Freedom Climber to Mt. Kilimanjaro. “The Freedom Climb platform enabled us to use our voices in telling their stories of heartache and hopelessness, as well as their finding freedom as each project aims to restore dignity, worth and financial independence.”
In January 2012, the Freedom Climb (www.thefreedomclimb.net) was launched with 48 women from 10 different countries climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa. Their purpose was to raise global awareness, funds and prayer for women and children who are oppressed, trafficked, enslaved and have no voice. The Mt. Kilimanjaro climb raised over 400,000 USD/312,000 EUR for women’s and children’s ministries throughout the OM world. A second climb is planned for April 2013 to Mt. Everest Base Camp in Nepal.
Being at the conference was a wonderful opportunity to share about the work God is doing in Costa Rica and “to see how God truly is big enough for all of us, and that we get to be a part of it,” said Julie Paniagua of OM Costa Rica.
Keynote speakers Stasi Eldredge and Carolyn Custis James inspired women to be dangerous for Christ and to respond to God’s call of defending the oppressed. Other sessions included training and ideas for the participants on how to be an advocate for the oppressed in their home communities.
The pinnacle of the September conference was a hike in Colorado Springs. Participants chose between one of three trails, each symbolic of the climb to freedom that enslaved woman and children face. Many said that the difficulties and challenges during their climb made them empathetic to the struggles the victims endure and gave them a new passion to help them find freedom.
“I am challenged now to decide what I am to do with the opportunities that were presented to me,” said Gwen Baird, a conference attendee from Houston, Texas.
“As I pulled myself up with my reserves of energy arriving at the summit of Pikes Peak, I was reminded of our coworkers who proclaim Christ's love when many odds are against them. While at the top, I prayed for them to be strengthened, protected and to have His wisdom as they continue ministering in those regions,” said Pam Lovett, representing OM’s work in Central Asia.
“We truly saw God’s hand at work,” said Tina Yeager, the US director of the Freedom Climb. “All who attended the conference were encouraged, challenged and empowered to be voices for the voiceless.”
Cathey Anderson, founder of the Freedom Climb, said the September conference far exceeded expectations. “We’re excited to hear how these precious ladies are going to put into action the things they were challenged with.”
Because of the success and encouragement from the Mt. Kilimanjaro experience, a second Freedom Climb will be held 9-25 April 2013 in Nepal. This climb is to Mt. Everest Base Camp with a summit of Kalaphatar Peak, a nearby Himalayan mountain. As with the Mt. Kilimanjaro climb, this one is open to women from all over the world.
In addition to the costs of the climb, each climber is tasked with raising 10,000 USD. The additional money will go toward OM projects that empower women and combat modern-day slavery, exploitation, oppression and trafficking through development, prevention and rescue and rehabilitation.
Published: Monday, 08 October 2012
Credit: Celia Shortt