The sky seems to be significantly darker these days. Global turmoil shouts at us with war, natural disasters, economic failure, and far too much injustice. Women and children are being sold over and over again as commodities in nearly every nation and the world seems to sit strangely idle… as if it’s just mere media hype and will go away if we pretend it’s not really there. Closer to home, we’re facing foreclosures, struggling to put gas in the car and wondering if the next hurricane is headed our way. Even on America’s free soil, our own women and children are also exploited for profit and the darkness deepens as if to suffocate whatever beauty and innocence once lived here.
I catch myself wondering where the world is headed and what kind of place we’re leaving to our children. I’m haunted by the knowledge that slavery is still alive and has even found its way into our backyard… and God help us, it happened on our watch. I wrestle with hope against the impending threat that things might not get better and maybe there’s just nothing I can do?
But then I’m reminded that over 2,000 years ago, the Jewish nation was also faced with dark days. Darkness was very heavy upon their existence living under Roman rule and the people were crying out for a Savior. Hope may have been dim, but they believed the Scriptures and prophecy pointing to His arrival. And arrive He did. But Jesus was not just a Jewish Messiah… He was and is the Savior of the world! He is the hope of all nations and has called us to share His presence, His peace and His promised return with a world of hopeless people.
Some of the most hopeless are the 27 million slaves in the world today – 80% are women and 50% children. Countless lives subjected to forced labor and prostitution with little to no options or hope of escape. Over time and extensive abuse, corruption and no laws to protect them, they stop fighting back… they stop crying out… their will broken. All that remains is numb submission to a cruel destiny. Truly, there is no greater injustice than to steal the freedom, value and dignity of a life. This is why 46 women from all over the world are raising their voices to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. And not only speaking up, they are literally stepping up…to climb one of the tallest mountains in the world –Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa. This unique mission founded by Operation Mobilization (www.OM.org) is called “The Freedom Climb” and is providing a powerful platform to share the global crisis of human trafficking while motivating others to join the fight for their freedom. Far more than just voices, this “fight” is raising substantial funding that will impact 24 global ministries “on the front lines” doing their best against the worst odds to protect, rescue, restore and empower the least of these to live free and thrive in Christ!
Though it may seem extreme to climb Kilimanjaro’s 19,340 feet, it has become a profound answer to my heart’s cry that there was nothing I could do about this growing injustice. But I can do something…I can follow in the footsteps of my Savior who climbed the darkest and most difficult “mountain” called Calvary to lay down His life for our freedom. I can “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves… and see that they get justice” (Proverbs 31:8-9). I can offer them the tangible hope He’s given to me.
The dark remote places of the world are not forsaken…and the young girl held captive in a brothel in Cambodia is not hidden from His sight. God is sending His people to carry on the Messiah’s mission in Isaiah 61:1: “to preach the gospel to the poor… to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound… to give them beauty for ashes.” God is sending 46 women up a mountain to proclaim hope and freedom over the nations. He is fighting for the enslaved and allowing us to be a small part of His greater plan of rescue and redemption. And He wants to use all of us.
Hope came into the world that holy night in a dark obscure manger… to save us all. And He’s still saving lives today. Immanuel – God with us; the wondrous miracle of the incarnation where a Love so great would willingly leave heavenly glory to dwell in darkness, deliver us and declare us His own.
Just after we celebrate our Savior’s glorious arrival to earth, 46 women will arrive on the peak of Kilimanjaro… and I’m certain, the sky will be much brighter because captives will be set free and hope will enter hearts all over the world.