Mount Kilimanjaro summit ridge, 1998.
Roots on the rooftop of Africa
By Gary Fallesen
Founding president, Climbing For Christ
Kilimanjaro holds a special place in the formation and growth of Climbing For Christ. As I was training to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in 1998, God spoke to me and told me to start a Christian climbing organization.
From that encounter on a road outside of Rochester, NY, USA, Climbing For Christ was eventually born. In the original “Mission: Vision
,” written in June 2004, Kilimanjaro was identified as a “model mission,” where we could serve the hundreds of guides and porters and reach tens of thousands of trekkers who come to climb to the rooftop of Africa annually.
In 2007, our first short-term team went to Kilimanjaro. As always, God had gone before us and prepared the way. A pastor (Winford Mosha) and a church (in Marangu, Tanzania) were waiting to help us do His work on and around the 19,341-foot (5,895-meter) mountain.
In 2008, we returned and started the Kilimanjaro Chapter. More than 75 guides and porters joined. Our goal: to reach other guides and porters with the life-saving message of Jesus Christ and to be a witness to trekkers who visit from throughout the world. We began teaching evangelism to the guides and porters in 2008 and continued in 2010, 2011, and 2013.
Along the way we realized we needed a worker who could serve in East Africa better than our brief short-term visits.
Enter Damson Samson.
Damson, right, with Pastor Mosha.
We met Damson at the Far & Wide Children’s Home, an orphanage C4C supports in southern Malawi, on Mission: Kilimanjaro 2010, when the LORD led us south from Tanzania to Malawi. That was our first visit to the orphanage God had used us to rescue, the place where our Project 1:27 began.
Damson was working with the children and was as full of the Holy Spirit as any brother I’ve been blessed to meet.
Climbing For Christ sent Damson to college from 2010 to 2013. As he completed his studies God led us to ask Damson to serve as C4C’s missionary to East Africa. Planning was set in motion during Mission: Malawi 2014 in March and Damson joined us in Tanzania on Mission: Kilimanjaro 2014 in August.
He returned to Tanzania with spiritual coordinator Jordan Rowley for Mission: Kilimanjaro 2014, Part 2 in November, when C4C held its first mini-conference on evangelism with 30 guides and porters. Jordan, Damson and I held follow-up meetings after the December 2014-March 2015 trekking season on what was called Mission: Kilimanjaro 2015. That March visit was the first of Damson’s five trips to Tanzania in 2015. He used his time to introduce to Christ some in the Kilimanjaro climbing community, disciple others, start Bible studies within communities of the guides and porters, and continue to teach many about witnessing their faith.
Damson was scheduled for three visits in 2016, including Mission: Kilimanjaro 2016 when he will climb the fabled mountain for the first time with a veteran team.