Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible” (Matthew 17:20 NLT). One South Florida woman recently exercised this type of faith while ascending Mount Kilimanjaro as a participant in the Wasie Foundation’s Corporate Freedom Climb 2015.
Ginger Martin, president and CEO of American National Bank, chose to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest peak, to raise awareness on the issue of human trafficking and slavery. The beginning of the journey began on behalf of the unspeakable atrocities committed against women and children who are enslaved, but little did Martin know that God would use that same mountain to change her as well.
“My dream is to inspire people when I speak and tell my story,” said Martin. This, she said, is the catalyst for real, sustainable change to push the cause of injustice forward and get people to get out of their comfort zone and make a difference. “Part of that is figuring out what God’s holy ambition is for you; making sure we are living a life of purpose and meaning. Sometimes in life we start out in one place, but we have to understand our gifting and what God’s purpose is for us in the bigger scheme.”
As a lifelong Christ follower, Martin said she felt the Holy Spirit calling her to do “something bigger.” So she made herself available to God for whatever that “something” was. “I remember being told in one of the programs I am involved with called Prime Movers, that you know that it is a God-sized dream when that dream will undoubtedly fail without God.” She knew that “something bigger” was God calling her to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in order to stretch her beyond her wildest imagination. But even more than the physical challenges, were the financial challenges.
“All twenty of us who participated in the climb this year had an initial fundraising goal to raise $50,000. This is some of where God literally took me to a different height. I thought how I am going to do this? And that’s when I heard the voice of the Lord say to me, ‘Oh ye have little faith.’” Martin said this fundraiser was different for her because she wasn’t asking for money on behalf of others; she was asking for money for something she was doing herself. “I believed God was big enough, and I believed in miracles, but the thing that was different for me was that I had never been in the equation before. And, of course, God did exceedingly and abundantly more than I could have ever dreamed or imagined. He exercised my faith muscles as well as my leg muscles.”
Martin said the $50,000 goal was a big part of this God-sized dream, and that it could only be God’s hand that would accomplish it. She ended up exceeding her goal and contributing more than she ever thought possible to the overall fundraising goal of $1 million dollars that will help combat human trafficking and slavery for millions of people around the globe.
The other part of the “something bigger” was Martin actually conquering the mountain. The climb itself was a seven day, six night journey through high altitudes and freezing weather. “The first couple of days of the climb were more of a gradual path. It’s not until days six and seven that your mental and physical strength is tested.”
Like the Israelites wandering in the desert, Martin said there were many times that she would think to herself, “How much farther do I have to go?” She said it was during those times she would reflect on scripture, particularly Proverbs 3:5 and 2 Timothy 1:7. “I had to trust the Lord in everything and not lean on my own understanding. I also reminded myself continuously that the Lord did not give me a spirit of fear, but of power.”
As Martin continued to climb the mountain, she remembered that she still had to get back down. “During our briefing on the climb, they talk about the things that can happen. They don’t call these things emergencies or evacuations, they call it the ‘unplanned dissent.’ I always remembered that and knew I had to get back down that mountain.”
The biggest part of the journey she said is the spiritual one. She recounts how these nineteen people who climbed this mountain with her took turns reading devotions every night in their tents and bonding as brothers and sisters.
“The one thing about hiking is that it gives you lots of time to talk. We were always together and really bonded. I learned that different people felt called to do this for different reasons, but we shared the same common bond that we were all climbing for someone else’s freedom.”
Martin described slavery as a mountain and related it to the symbolic suffering and the physical challenge of what victims in human trafficking and slavery endure every day. “Then you come back to the real world. After you’ve had a mountain top experience, this can be challenging.”
The climb proved fruitful for Martin on so many different levels: physically, emotionally and spiritually. She said that her obedience to God’s call has opened up so many doors for her to be able to bring the issue of human trafficking and slavery to the forefront. “On the mountain when I wanted to quit I remember saying, ‘one step, one child, one woman, one life.’ It’s one step we climb, one step at a time, one foot in front of the other and not quitting no matter how hard it is. I knew at the end of the day, this wasn’t about me; it was about something so much bigger.”
For more information or to contribute, visit www.thefreedomclimb.net/events/corporate-climb-2015.
Melissa Zelniker-Presser is an attorney and freelance writer who is following her God-sized dream of writing full time for God’s glory. Melissa currently runs a blog workforthecausenottheapplause.com where she shares her journey as a Jewish believer in Christ. She can be contacted at [email protected].