The Freedom Climb

Skeptics reacted negatively to the CitiBank commercial where a young woman (accompanied by her boyfriend) climbs to the top of Ancient Art—a rock formation in Utah that spikes into the sky like an upside-down icicle.

The commercial ends with the female climber perched triumphantly on a frighteningly narrow surface where a sudden gust of wind or slight loss of balance would send her plummeting to her death.

Makes my hands sweat just thinking about it.

Comments on the Internet read, “No way that’s real!” and “Total green screen.”  So many people raised doubts, CNN’s Jeanne Moos decided to investigate.

The girl, it turns out, is Katie Brown—one of the world’s top female rock climbers. She’s been climbing since she was twelve. Her “boyfriend” is real-life Spiderman, Alex Honnold, featured by  60 Minutes for his daring free-solo rock climbing (meaning without ropes). When asked, Brown confirmed, “Yeah, it’s real.” She really did make that climb. She really did pose for cameras “up there.”  

The lesson? Never underestimate what ezers are capable of doing. Never!

That lesson was reinforced for me by a mind-boggling email from Cathey Anderson of Operation Mobilisation. 

Cathey, like growing numbers of us, is outraged over human trafficking. But she is doing more than fume. Her outrage turned into action—a bold out-of-the-box vision that exceeded anything I would have imagined. Her vision?  For Christian women across the globe to raise awareness and funding to combat modern day trafficking of women and children by climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain!

Cathey held onto that vision for months. She was emailing to tell me reading Half the Church spurred her into action.

Her hope of twenty women climbers quickly mushroomed into forty-six. The climbers range in age from 18 to 73!  Half the Sky, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn has fueled their passion and determination.

As I write, The Freedom Climb is moving forward. Right now, the climbers are gathering in Nairobi from around the world. You can read their stories here.

On Wednesday, January 11, National Anti-Trafficking Awareness Day, they’ll begin their climb.  It takes 4½ days to reach the summit and 1½ days to come back down. They’ve been training and will be accompanied by professional guides.

It needs to be said, the choice of their initiative isn’t just random. These women are physically making a statement. Mt. Kilimanjaro’s summit is Uhuru Peak. Uhuru is Swahili for freedom. By climbing the mountain, this team of ezers are symbolizing the huge climb to freedom millions of enslaved women and children worldwide face daily.

What I love about this initiative is that, not only is this a powerful and creative way to engage the fight against the evils of human trafficking (and I’m praying the outcome will exceed their hopes), it raises the bar for the rest of us. Every day new reports surface about global atrocities against women and girls. God is moving more and more of us to get involved. We’re all asking, “What can I do?” The Freedom Climbers are opening the door for us to get creative and reminding us never to underestimate what ezers are capable of doing!

Check out the Freedom Climb website to learn more.

About carolyncustisjames
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