By – Annelize Theunissen
In my preparation for the second Freedom Climb to Everest Base Camp (EBC) in Nepal I asked a friend who helped us prepare for the 1st Freedom Climb to Kilimanjaro if he had any advice/tips for the climbers going to EBC. From my experience on Kilimanjaro I knew any information/tips could make the preparation more focused and hopefully help us to be more prepared.
His reply came back a couple of weeks later. He advised us to ‘budget for water’ on the mountain if we had to buy it. His second piece of advice kept me puzzled until I returned from Nepal. He said Nepal and the Himalayas is a ‘dark place’ spiritually.
I had no clue what to make of this. Growing up in a Christian home and committing my life to Jesus at the age of 12, I never really experienced spiritual darkness. I always had a very close relationship with God and grew in my relationship with Him. I also had to walk a road to true freedom in Christ. Even in my darkest moments I always experienced God very closely and most of the time as my best companion.
What does a spiritually dark place look like? I clearly had no idea. In my quiet times I tried to prepare myself for this challenge. From my experience on Kilimanjaro, I knew your spiritual muscles work just as hard as your physical muscles to get up any mountain.
In one of my quiet time moments, I saw a picture of climbers walking up a very dark mountain. On their backpacks, they carried oil lamps that were lighting the way up as they went higher and higher up the mountain. The light never disappeared, and the ground they covered stayed lighted. I had no idea what this picture implied but asked God that if this was a vision from Him to confirm it with at least two different sources. At two different incidents, friends confirmed this image and some of its meaning. One of last year’s prayer team members, Liesl Fuls, also had a word from God that the climbers will be ‘light bearers’.
This image was in the back of my mind as we left for our trip to Nepal. The excitement and many challenges that faced the group had my focus on many things. This image might have even slipped from my mind as the group experienced a havoc of illness and struggles. It definitely didn’t feel like any light was shining from us at the time. I shared a tent with the team doctor. She was challenged from the start as some of the team members got sick even before we left for Lukla. This situation never really calmed down, and the day at Dingboche when some of the members had to turn back was filled with a somber atmosphere. No light was shining very brightly on this day.
One day on our trek towards Tenboche two days before, we had stopped for a much needed break at a tea house on the way. The tea house had an open area in front of the house and at first glance it seemed like any other tea house. One of the team members, Kristy, mentioned to me that one of the trekkers, an older man had his arms wrapped around a young Nepalese girl. It is very difficult to guess her age but she looked like a preteen, about 12 or 13 years old. She didn’t look too comfortable, and I realized what we saw was what the Freedom Climb tried to bring awareness to. I just stood there and started praying. In that time, she stood up and left the area. The older man looked a bit uncomfortable with our presence there. Will we ever know what this meant? At the time it just seemed like an unfortunate situation.
With our return from Lukla, we had a session with the Omega prayer team. Again one of the prayer team member stationed at OM Nepal confirmed a word from God shining His light in this dark world. This is when it hit me like a lightning bolt. God is light!!! That is His character. That is who He is. Darkness is not an entity; it is the absence of light! And this is exactly what we were experiencing in Nepal. The people are friendly but when you look into their eyes, there is no light shining. I realized that this group of ‘light bearers’ had a huge responsibility along with every ‘light bearer’ in this world calling Jesus our Lord and Savior. We have to shine our ‘light’ wherever we go.
I returned from Nepal filled with a heart burning with a love for the Gospel, the only answer to the darkness in this world. Jesus is and always will be the answer to the world’s challenges. This is also something that I believe we take for granted in a country were Christianity can be practiced openly and freely. The alternative is a dark and gloomy place. Do we want to live in such a world? I want to scream from the mountains NO, NO, NO!
May God through His grace fill us with a new love for the Gospel of Jesus. May we never stop shining our light wherever we go and telling people about a man who walked the earth 2000 years ago to reconcile man with God and who paid the ultimate price to pave the way for us to go back to God. May we shine our lights in this dark situation of human trafficking and modern day slavery. May this ‘light’ never stop shining till there is no more darkness.
On my way back from Lukla, I received an update from my husband. Our communication on the mountain was very limited. The greatest news any mother can receive: my daughter committed her live to Christ on the day that we summated Kala Patthar. Another light shining brightly in this dark world!