Climbing For Christ

TAKING THE GOSPEL TO MOUNTAINOUS AREAS OF THE WORLD WHERE OTHER MISSIONARIES CANNOT OR WILL NOT GO

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Mission Moments: Kilimanjaro
Gary Fallesen

Mission Moments: Kilimanjaro

The royal priesthood of guides and porters

Written by GARY FALLESEN / Reporting and photos by DAMSON SAMSON

“…for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” – 1 Peter 2:9 (NLT)

Kingdom worker Damson Samson was sharing with Kilimanjaro Chapter guides and porters about the overarching theme of Climbing For Christ: to reach the unreached, and to equip, encourage, and empower disciples to make more disciples of Jesus.

“It has never been an easy task to do,” Damson told those Climbing For Christ members who attend our quarterly training and carry on Bible studies in their homes and villages in Tanzania. “Because you are going down to the people who have never thought to become preachers or pastors. From their bad background they have to be brought to the Truth of the Bible.”

In Old Testament days, people could not approach God directly. A priest acted as an intermediary. But, thanks to the sacrifice made by Jesus, we have direct access to the throne of God.

And with this privilege comes responsibility. Through this gift from God – this reconciliation made through Jesus – “we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’” (1 Corinthians 5:20).

We are joined in the priestly work of bringing the lost sheep into the flock of the Good Shepherd.

A guide or a porter on Mount Kilimanjaro – or Malawi’s Mulanje Massif, where we also do disciple-making training – is not just there to help a trekker reach the summit. They are there to lead them to our heavenly Father. They are truly climbing for Christ.

For nearly two weeks in late September and early October, Damson spent time with guides and porters, and their families and communities, conducting our third quarter DMD studies for 2022.

Peaks and valleys

 

Kilimanjaro Chapter leaders, including John Mollen, far right, and Jonus Minja, third from right.

During the chapter leaders meeting after Damson arrived on Sept. 23, he encouraged them to “keep themselves on fire (for the Lord) at all times and to declare the Truth of Jesus Christ to others – at home or in the mountain.”

John Mollen told about guiding a Christian who went through Climbing For Christ to find a team with which to trek. John called Jonus Minja and others joined them at each camp, praying and fellowshipping together.

John then guided another group of 11 clients. That meant – with at least three porters per client, assistant guides, and cooks – the team had more than 60 people. “They read the Bible with openness and the team was amazed,” Damson reported. “He told them, ‘We need to pray. They all came down to pray.’ It was like a night of prayer.”

On the way to the summit, one client collapsed. John told the client she must descend, but she refused. After a few steps, she could not walk properly. John insisted she go down the mountain with him. This time, she agreed. While John was descending with the client, they met another group that had lost a client to a heart attack. “The lady came to John after seeing the dead body, saying, ‘You are an expert. I could have died on the way,’” Damson said. “John told her, ‘That was not me. That was God doing His part through us.’”

Watch out!

 

David Mukonyi shares with the group during a time of fasting and praying on Sango Hill.

Damson and chapter members climb Sango Hill each time he arrives, fasting and praying ahead of DMD training. This time, Damson spoke from Ezekiel 33 about watchmen. “I shared with the team that from the time we were trained and brought to this understanding (of the Bible), we were turned to watchmen,” he said. “We have no option to go away from this responsibility. We have (been entrusted) to this call and do what we are called for without hiding the truth to those around us.”

He then challenged those in the group, asking for “personal inspection” and “how are you standing” as a Christian?

David Mukonyi confessed the test he faced when a young woman came into his shop and asked if he could repair her pants. He said he could, and she proceeded to undress in front of him. He tried handing her some cloth to cover herself, but she refused – sitting naked in front of him.

The challenges are many and great. These brothers prayed together for strength as they face what the world – and the prince of this world – throw at them.

Damson closed with Ezekiel 33:18-19: “When the righteous turneth from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, he shall even die thereby. But if the wicked turn from his wickedness, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall live thereby” (KJV).

 

Our friend on Mount Kilimanjaro. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)

A friend of ours, a Muslim we have climbed Kilimanjaro with since 2007, showed up at Damson’s hotel the morning of the first DMD session. He wanted to talk. “I had no idea what we should be talking about,” Damson admitted.

They met for tea, but our friend passed, saying he was fasting. “Why?” Damson wondered.

“He told me that he was following what Muhammad did. He was fasting twice a week.

“I went on to tell him, ‘You are right following what Muhammad was doing – that is a good development. But it is not enough. You need to have your own understanding on why you should pray and fast or bring your grievances to God, so you can ask forgiveness in any area in your life. Following is better with understanding.’”

Damson talked about being a sinner and the wages of sin. Our friend said he understood, adding that sin “might take you down to hell when you die.” Damson recognized that life has been “draining him down,” and it’s not just his religion. We helped our friend build an expensive fish pond this year but there was not enough rain to fill it and stock it with fish. “Maybe next year,” he’d told me.

The goal was that this would help him provide for his family as he ages as a mountain guide and had his farm burned down in recent years. He has been troubled, and his religion is not providing answers.

“I told him you cannot deliver yourself,” Damson said. “You need a Deliverer who is Christ Jesus Himself.

“I told him we can’t do it for ourselves. We should call upon God to bring change in our lives.”

They talked about prayer and being led to the Light when the world is covered in darkness. “If Jesus Christ cannot set us free, we are going to be slaves in this world,” Damson said before taking our friend’s hands and praying for him.

“He asked me to help him know more about Jesus Christ, which I said I am ready to do. We need to be communicating more. I can be able to share Scripture with him to read as he takes time to learn about Jesus Christ. He told me he has a Bible, which you had given him.”

My son Jesse, who was 17 at the time, gave his Bible to our friend on the last day of Mission: Kilimanjaro 2007. We have prayed for him since then. We continue to pray for him now.

V-i-c-t-o-r-y

 

DMD training.

The second class of DMD students in our chapter training spent two days studying “Four Fields on Church Planting” and “End Vision” on Sept. 26-27. Damson prepped them with the analogy of being in the military and having the responsibility of caring for a wounded comrade. “We are like one body in Christ Jesus,” he explained. “We need to look after those wounded by the enemy.”

He told the story of Samson (Judges 13:13-16) and how God still loved him despite his being wounded by a woman and captured by his enemies. God gave Samson one final victory.

Certified disciple-maker

 

Godlove Kowero.

Godlove Kowero was a graduate of our inaugural DMD training, which began in 2017 with 28 guides and porters. He is now a Bible college graduate who is serving as an assistant pastor in the area.

Damson asked him what attending Climbing For Christ’s first training did for him. Pragmatically, he said, the Bible college asked him to bring any sort of certificates he had received for education. He took his C4C certificate, and that admitted him into the college.

“On the other hand,” he said, “group work was a tool you gave me. It was never hard to get into discussions because of what Climbing For Christ brought me to.”

Damson said, “Being porters and guides, it never entered (their minds) to one day be a pastor. But through all these studies there is motivation to take this step.”

Godlove is now a pastor. But so are the other 150-plus guides and porters being taught – 63 in Tanzania and 89 in Malawi.

The original DMD students spent two days in their “Discovering the Bible” studies on Sept. 28-29. On the second day, Elinami Moshi stood and said “it has never been in the history for porters and guides to be preachers. But the coming of these studies has really revived my life. Now my faith is strong and I am able to keep the Word of God in my heart.”

 

Elinami Moshi teaching. During Climbing For Christ’s DMD training, students become teachers.

Elinami once heard two men speaking, misquoting Scripture. He told them, “No, that’s not right.” He asked them some questions, which they were unable to answer, and then he taught them the truth.

His knowledge grew to the point where his church asked him to lead the youth. Then the pastor called him and asked him “to be the chief leader of all the church leaders.” He said he was surprised by this development, but he “understood that this is because Climbing For Christ has worked on (his heart) and these are the results of all that was planted (in him).” He thanked God for the opportunity that has been given these guides and porters.

Our work was rewarded this year with a $14,000 grant from the AHEAD Initiative. AHEAD is an acronym for “Accelerating Horn and East Africa DMMs (disciple making movements).”

All glory to God

Damson began home visits by going to Godlove’s house. It had been five years since he last visited because Godlove was away at Bible college. When he saw Godlove’s mother she expressed her gratitude to the Lord for blessing her family with two pastors.

 

Mary Moshi on the floor, unable to stand, before healing.

In another home, after teaching about Pentecost, Damson sensed the Spirit filling the room as he prayed over two women. One woman, Asifuwe Minja, had a leg problem that was healed. Another woman, Mary Moshi, had no strength to stand. Her mother said “she was dreaming the dead every night.” But after praying for 1½ hours over Mary, she was released. She stood on her own strength and the nightmares have stopped.

“This was another victory time we had,” Damson declared. “All the glory and honor to God.”

Damson flew back to his home in southern Malawi on Oct. 3-4 having made plans to return to Tanzania for the fourth quarter training in late November-early December.

“In this trip, the Lord prospered the way as I saw many filled with the Holy Spirit, instant healing to those the Lord has touched. Yes, deliverance to many the Lord touched,” Damson concluded. “I was much encouraged to see many of our brothers growing in the faith. To see how they have come to trust God more than before.” 

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