Why sign up to a Freedom Challenge climb? Shirley Turner, who is taking part in the Wyoming climb in July, truly inspires us to see what a difference this climb could make to vulnerable women and children and to our own lives
My name is Shirley, I’m originally from the US. But right now I live in Kabwe, Zambia. I am an OM missionary serving with the Teacher Training Centre.
I had the privilege of climbing in the Swiss Alps with The Freedom Challenge team in 2015. As a leader of a project that receives support from The Freedom Challenge I wanted to be a part of the process of raising funds and meeting some of the ladies who have made possible the training of our teachers and the ability to reach out with love, education and hope into the lives of the children in our classrooms. I can’t fully express how the hiking affected me, I am still processing the lessons I have learned.
‘In this together’
It was amazing to sense the team effort. Even though each of us had to put one foot in front of the other to get up (and down) the various peaks, there was a real sense that we were in this together. The moments on the trail brought opportunities to share, on a one-to-one basis, our life experiences and fears, hopes, visions for the future and purpose for hiking.
There were moments that were full of laughter and singing and joyful banter and then focused, quiet, prayerful, concentrated times of just managing to put one foot in front of the other, being intensely reminded of the women and children we were hiking for and the mountains they face.
It amazed me how much a simple word of encouragement could help shift my thinking from, “I don’t think I can take another step” to “Ok, just one more, and one more,” until we reached the top. So many of these experiences parallel what we experience on the field with the women and children we walk alongside as we train teachers and as we see them pouring their lives out for the children.
‘The Lord touched my heart’
For me personally, many of the moments that brought courage and hope to my heart involved hiking just behind Cathey Anderson, (founder of the Freedom Challenge who passed away in December). The Lord touched my heart so many times as I looked up to see her plodding steadily on even though I knew she was tired and in pain. On less strenuous sections of the path I was privileged to walk beside her and experience some beautiful moments of sharing parts of our life stories.
So, I am climbing again…for the purpose of thanking God for Cathey; for the purpose of asking God to further develop my heart of love and compassion to be an encouragement to others; and so the women and children here in Zambia can be reached with the love of Christ and infused with the hope and courage Christ brings to a heart and life as we train them in bringing a Christ-centred education into lost communities.
I am trusting the Lord to be able to bring one of our teachers who just recently finished her year of training in class and will be serving in Malawi as a teacher this year. I would love for her to be able to share her story and meet women who are passionate about sharing the love of Christ with vulnerable and exploited women and children around the world through hiking and raising prayer and awareness and funds. I have also invited a friend from Pennsylvania who will be hiking with us and I am looking forward to seeing what the Lord will do in our hearts and minds during this time.
‘The Lord meets with us in so many ways’
So for anyone still undecided, I would say just sign up! It is a journey that the Lord uses to meet with us in so many ways – building faith, sharing His heart of love for us and for those we are hiking for, showing what a personally involved God He is in every small and large provision, speaking truth and bringing transformation in our lives as well as those we hike for. And the list goes on and on and on as to what He will do!