Why We Climb: Syrian Refugees

Photo credit to Kathryn

Photo credit to Kathryn

Written by Nicole James, OM volunteer in the Near East. The Freedom Climb sponsors relief efforts for refugees fleeing their homes in the Middle East, including those from Syria.

A truck pulled up in front of the church, black metal bars surrounding its open bed like an oversize cage, filled with foam mattresses, blankets and bags full of clothes. These packages of winter essentials, purchased by OM from an on-field partner organisation, each contain two mattresses, six blankets and a sack of hats, gloves and socks. Two men quickly unloaded the truck – tossing the mattresses, covered in bright fabrics, to the ground and restacking them in one of the rooms used by the church.

Cracking open the wooden door to the room next door, where 124 Syrian women were gathered for a Bible study, Tracy*, the pastor’s wife, stepped outside to direct the unloading process.

“We’re giving out 25 portions after Bible study today,” she said, gesturing towards the makeshift storage. “Last week, we also gave out 25.”

Inside, seated on plastic chairs, tightly arranged in long rows, the women listened intently to Grace*, a member of the local church who helps lead the Bible study, finish her message about choosing the narrow path to follow Jesus. Usually, around 75 women, mostly Muslims, attend the gathering. But this week, the crowd had almost doubled.

“Take a minute and think about what you can thank Jesus for,” Grace instructed the women in Arabic as she finished speaking. Mothers quieted their children and the women bowed their heads and considered the question.

Sandwiched between social time and an activity of some sort – cooking, crafting, or counselling – the Bible study is what compels the women to come back, week after week.

“When we first started meeting, two years ago this March, we tried to think of activities that would make the women return,” Grace said. “But we found out that the only thing that is getting [the women] here is to hear the Word of God.”

Relational relief

The Bible study started as an opportunity to introduce Syrian women to Scripture. As OM and other organisations have provided funds, the women have also distributed practical aid through the church. Sometimes food. Other times, like this winter, blankets and mattresses.

Of course, the women are thankful for the help – many who have fled Syria’s ongoing civil war live in empty apartments and sleep on the floor without coverings – but they also know the Bible study focuses on relationships, not the relief.

“[The Syrian women] know the funds are not from the church,” Grace said. “They know that we are here to support them in prayer, to listen to their problems, to support them emotionally.”

When the church first received funding for tangible gifts, the Bible study, which had started with five Syrian women and five church volunteers, started to grow. Then, outside funds would run out and aid would stop for a while. As new money was donated, the church provided additional help, but in accordance with certain stipulations.

OM and its partner organisations strictly monitor which families receive help to ensure that aid benefits only those refugees who are new to the country and only those who have not received gifts from other churches.

“When the women have been here for three or four months, they know they can’t get [aid], but they come anyway,” Grace said. “Women have told me that for them, the best moment [since they left Syria] was the moment they came through the church door because they felt someone loves them for who they are.”

Healing hope

A couple weeks ago, the church volunteers counted how many women have become believers since attending the Bible study. Around 35 have professed faith in Jesus. But according to Grace, “Even when women don’t say it out loud, we still see a difference in their lives after they’ve been coming for a year.”

Most of the women come to faith through an answered prayer, and with them, their whole families.

“How can I not believe in Jesus when He healed me? When my sons, who were kidnapped in Syria, appeared on our doorstep? When our paperwork was processed? When my husband got a job?” they ask.

Zaida*, a young mother who attended the meeting, cradled her new baby, just over a month old, as she waited among the jostling crowd of women squeezing through the doorway after the meeting.

“I’m new this time, and my name isn’t registered yet, so I can’t get any blankets or any help,” she said. “But I’m glad I came today because [the message] gave me new hope.”

*Name changed

Freedom Climbers Taking on Mt. Kilimanjaro

Next week, 20 Freedom Climbers hailing from the US, Canada, India and South Africa, are taking on the highest freestanding mountain in the world. They’re leaving their homes February 24, 2015, to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise awareness and help fund over 50 projects that are saving women and children who are enslaved and exploited. The actual climb is February 28 – March 6.

“We are everyday people climbing for the freedom of the 30 million enslaved, exploited and oppressed around the world,” said Freedom Climb U.S. Director Tina Yeager. “The Freedom Climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro is symbolic. It’s the highest freestanding mountain in the world, and its Summit, Uhuru, means freedom in Swahili. Our comparably small sacrifice of giving up our home comforts, vacations and time with family pales in comparison to the suffering of these people.”

Freedom Climb was conceived and launched by Californian Cathey Anderson. What started as a vision has become a global movement, with climbs all over the world.

“Human trafficking, slavery and exploitation are a worldwide epidemic,” says Anderson. “It’s a problem in our own back yard. We celebrate and support efforts to combat trafficking nationally and locally. Freedom Climb attacks the problem at the source – in countries where women and children are most vulnerable.”

Over their seven days on Mt. Kilimanjaro, the Freedom Climbers will face strong African heat at the base and, adverse, minus-20 degrees at the nearly 20,000 foot Summit. They will return home March 9 with many experiences to share.

“The Wasie Foundation’s and the Freedom Climb’s purpose is to be a voice for the voiceless; for those who cannot declare freedom in their lives and climb out of their circumstances on their own,” said Jen Klaassens, Vice President of Programs at The Wasie Foundation. “The climb is merely a symbolic gesture of what women and children around the world go through every single day. It symbolizes their arduous climb to freedom.”

The Freedom Climb has taken women to Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa, and Mt. Everest, Asia, to support their mission to end human trafficking. The Freedom Climb is a project of Operation Mobilization (OM), a Christian missions organization which supports at-risk women and children, specifically those who are exploited, enslaved, oppressed and trafficked. OM works with the most marginalized and least reached people in the world, with 6,100 workers from 100 nations, serving in 118 countries

There are only 24 days left to register for Freedom Climb 2014- Seven Summits, Colorado

Friends,
Join us as a virtual climber or join us in Colorado this summer! Your efforts will bring dignity to women and children globally! Thank you in advance!! As we approach our deadline for registration April 15th, we have many spots available to fill and we need your help.

Will you invite women you know to join us on our climb? Our goal for this event is $500,000. This amount will help bring hope to approximately 4000 women and children. Will you look into your spheres of influence to recruit more climbers?

If you know anyone who is interested in supporting our movement, but is unable to climb, please ask them to become virtual climbers and raise funds online.

Our appreciation to you is beyond measure. Now, let’s continue to be a voice for the voiceless. Together, we can make a measurable difference for those who need it most.

To join us go to: http://www.thefreedomclimb.net/events/freedom-climb-2014
Blessings,
The Freedom Climb Team

Freedom Climb 2014- Cape Town South Africa

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Freedom Climb 2014- Cape Town South Africa

Bring your family, church groups and friends to Cape Town, South Africa. Join us for an extraordinary time of outreach, prayer, conference and a multitude of events created to raise funds and awareness of the issues of modern day slavery, exploitation and oppression of women and children. There is something for everyone in the family! Visit the projects in Africa that Freedom Climb supports while attending the event. Below is the tentative schedule. We are asking participants to raise funds for the Freedom Climb Projects plus expenses.
Individuals: $2,000
Family: $5,000 per family

For more information, email Tina.Yeager@OM.org

October 7
Arrival:
Arrival of all climbers/prayer people

Climbers have the morning off to explore Cape Town/Franchhoek or to rest

October 8
14:00 -17:00:
Attempt to break three Guinness world records, and have a big media/local event to help raise awareness of the issues of modern day slavery.

18:00 to 19:30:
Orientation

19:30 – 20:00
Combined prayer.

October 9
Climb 1: Stellenbosch /Franchhoek

Option 1: Fairly challenging Climb. 20-25km hike and climb. Summit the highest or second highest peaks in the Hottentots Holland Mountain range. (Up to 60 participants)
Option 2: Less challenging (family/children climb). (Up to 100 participants)
Option 3: Freedom Bike (mountain biking of a mountain pass). (Up to 20 participants)
Option 4: Freedom Run (trial running) (Up to 20-30 participants)
Option 5: Freedom Glide on mountain (Up to 10 participants)
Option 6: Freedom Ride on motorbikes around the Cape Peninsula. (Up to 20 participants)
Option 7: Freedom Wheels: Physical disabled and non-physical climb/ride a mountain pass on wheelchairs and crutches (even for the blind and deaf) (Up to 40 participants)
Option 8: Prayer at the prayer house (Up to 60 participants)
Option 9: Local outreach to vulnerable and affected (Up to 20 participants)

Afternoon Event:
15:00 to 17:30
Justice seminar

18:45 -20:00
Worship/speaker

October 10
Climb 2: Stellenbosch Franchhoek

Option 1: Fairly challenging Climb. 20-25km hike and climb. Summit the highest or second highest peaks in the Hottentots Holland Mountain range. (Up to 60 participants
Option 2: Less challenging (family/children climb). (Up to 100 participants)
Option 3: Freedom Bike (mountain biking of a mountain pass). (Up to 20 participants)
Option 4: Freedom Run (trial running) (Up to 20-30 participants)
Option 5: Freedom Glide on mountain (Up to 10 participants)
Option 6: Freedom Ride on motorbikes around the Cape Peninsula. (Up to 20 participants)
Option 7: Freedom Wheels: Physical disabled and non-physical climb/ride a mountain pass on wheelchairs and crutches (even for the blind and deaf) (Up to 40 participants)
Option 8: Prayer at the prayer house (Up to 60 participants)
Option 9: Local outreach to vulnerable and affected (Up to 20 participants)

Afternoon Event:
15:00 to 17:30
Justice seminar

18:45 -20:00
Worship/speaker/Nefarious

October 11
Climb 3: Table Mountain

Option 1: Easy
Option 2: Medium
Option 3: Difficult
Options 4: Special open climb for local Christians in Franchhoek/Stellenbosch

Celebration:
14:00 to 17:00
Celebration and prayer event to conclude the climb in a large church venue.
All local Christians are welcome. Focus is not on speaking but on prayer.

17: 00 to 21:00
Debrief

October 12
Rest or leave

October 13-16

Outreaches: (For those that would like to visit projects)
Zambia, East London, Ghana, South Africa, Lake T, Madagascar

Help End Modern Day Slavery!

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Help End Modern Day Slavery!

There are an estimated 27-30 million slaves in the world today. Will you join us and be a voice for the voiceless? You do not have to climb to be a voice. Help us raise awareness and funds to support OM projects that address modern day slavery, oppression and exploitation of children and women around the world. Go to http://www.thefreedomclimb.net/events to join us as a climber or a virtual climber. Help give Hope and True Freedom!

OM leaders trek Mt. Kanabalu to be voices for the voiceless

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ILM  Mt. Kanabalu

A team of leaders just climbed Mt. Kinabalu in Malaysia after our OM leadership conference. Wow, was it hard! We had to remember quite often “WHY” we were climbing. We remembered the stories from several of our leaders throughout the week. Stories of a 12 year old little mute and deaf girl being chained and sold for sex by her grandmother, 40 children under 3 years old being rescued from a brothel where they were being sold for sex and many other stories just wrenched our hearts. They kept us motivated to finish!
Our video http://fundraise.omusa.org/site/R?i=IJh1H4mArtK4UsrpiLhl3Q shares some of the stories that keep The Freedom Climb motivated and encouraged to continue to be voices for the voiceless. Will you join us on this journey? Visit http://www.thefreedomclimb.net/events to join us for one of our upcoming events.