Living to tell the tale of Jesus
By Gary Fallesen
, founding president, Climbing For Christ
Gary tied into a rope for the first time on Mount Rainier in 1996. (Photo by Kevin Flynn)
I was introduced to mountaineering by my friend Kevin Flynn in August 1996. I had written about his climbs on Denali and Aconcagua as a sports writer for the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle
newspaper, asking the common question: “Why do you climb?” When I became the outdoor writer at the paper, I decided I wanted to find out what climbing was all about. I asked to go on a trip with Kevin and his climbing partners to New York’s Adirondack Mountains. They decided instead to go to Mount Rainier in Washington state and asked me to join them. I got the call Fourth of July weekend.
Change of plans. We’re going to Rainer. Want to go?
“Will I come back alive?” I asked Kevin.
“Probably,” Flynn said.
I was in.
Kevin and his climbing cronies called themselves the “Live-to-tell-the-tale club.” A good name, I thought.
Twenty years later, I’m still climbing to tell a story: the one about my Savior, Jesus Christ. You see, my introduction to climbing is really a tale about God’s plan for my life.
The experience on Mount Rainier from Aug. 23-25, 1996 led to Mount Kilimanjaro 18 months later and that led to Climbing For Christ. In January 1998, while training for my first Kilimanjaro climb, God told me to start a Christian climbing organization. My life and the lives of many others was about to change.
Mount Kilimanjaro’s summit ridge, 1998. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
Climbing For Christ was born in April 2004. Mission work began in April 2005. In 11 years we have completed 85 short-term trips and taken up full-time ministry in numerous nations.
This brings us to my 20th anniversary celebration of climbing...
On Aug. 23 I will set out once again to ascend Kilimanjaro. This will be my seventh time on Kilimanjaro (1998, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2016).
I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate 20 years of climbing than on fabled Kilimanjaro, the spectacular 19,340-foot (5,895-meter) peak that rises above the plains of East Africa.
The climb will be part of Mission: Kilimanjaro 2016
, our ninth expedition to Tanzania in 10 years. Jim Doenges (a former C4C staff member from Colorado), Pastor Joe Trussell (from Missouri) and Damson Samson (C4C’s missionary to East Africa from Malawi) are joining me to, first, meet with guides and porters in our Kilimanjaro Chapter for two days of evangelism training. The Kilimanjaro Chapter was formed in 2008 with a focus on discipling those working on Africa’s tallest mountain and equipping them to share Jesus with non-Christian co-workers and the tens of thousands of trekkers who visit each year from around the world.
“Sharing the Gospel in mountains, this is not a small thing,” Damson said. “This is more vibrant than a church. Its outreach (may) bring revival to many nations around the world.”
That’s our prayer.
Then we’ll head for the hill.
As I prepare to GO again to Kilimanjaro I ask you to join me – in prayer and in financial giving. My 20th anniversary climb also will support HIS ministry. Will you contribute to the work God prepared in advance for Climbing For Christ to do? Please send a donation to Climbing For Christ c/o 20th Anniversary Climb, P.O. Box 16290, Rochester, NY 14616-0290 or CLICK HERE and give online via PayPal.
CLICK HERE for daily Dispatches to follow Mission: Kilimanjaro 2016.