Coffee break on a mountain ridge.
Followers in the High Atlas
By Sean Ranger
, Climbing For Christ member
“The reason you want to go is because I have created you to go.”
These were the words that the Lord spoke to me more than five years ago as I listened to a challenge being given by an ex-missionary.
His message was a bold declaration that many who are called by God to serve in missions tragically do not answer. While the message was hard and convicting, it brought me freedom. Freedom from a lie I had long held, which said God was not interested in giving me the desires of my heart.
As I listened to this message, the Lord made it clear to me that His intention from the start was that I would serve him overseas.
From that day forward I was increasingly convinced that being a missionary was what I wanted and was meant to do. However, one doesn’t just become a missionary overnight and wake up in a new country with a new culture and new people. I spent two more years in Canada, my home country, being prepared by the Lord.
To make a long story short, I found myself training with a ministry in southern Spain and leaving in 2010 for an outreach in Morocco, a 99-percent Muslim country in northwest Africa. I spent time in the Sahara Desert and High Atlas Mountains with another ministry as part of the outreach.
By the time I arrived in Morocco I was convinced that the Lord had a place for me there, but I wasn’t able to connect the dots until I took part in these two expeditions. The High Atlas section was a two-week exploratory trek into some remote valleys of these mountains. It was here that I found my place in the expansion of the Kingdom.
The High Atlas Mountains are covered with hundreds of villages, which are full of people who have never heard the Good News of Who Jesus is, what He has done or why it all matters. They live in complete darkness and in the normal course of their lives have no way to hear about the Light of the world.
On our trek we were able to openly and boldly share the Gospel in homes of hospitable families who would invite us in. This was my first taste of frontier evangelism.
Not too long ago, less than five percent of resources, people and money given to missions actually went to work among unreached people. This fact was on my mind as we were sharing with these truly unreached people living at the “ends of the earth
.” I was hooked from that moment. The thrill of sharing the only message that could save these people’s souls was exhilarating. In a lifestyle of mountaineering, climbing and other outdoor adventure I’ve never experienced anything as exciting as telling someone about Jesus for the first time.
Returning from this first trek, I quickly put together a plan to come back and work full-time among these people. After a busy year and a half I moved to Morocco in September 2011 to join the organization working there. They brought me on as an intern guide and trained me to prepare for and lead treks and expeditions in the mountains. I also spent time studying Arabic to be able to translate and share about Jesus with the mountains’ Berber people.
As I began co-leading treks and spending significant time up in the mountains I was excited to be a part of frontier evangelism, but also frustrated by so many people’s indifference to the Good News. Sadly, the majority of people we share with are not excited about Who Jesus is and what He has done. It was a major wake-up call that this world cannot love God short of a transforming miracle in their hearts.
When I left for a break in the summer of 2012 (trekking in 40°C – or 120°F – is not ideal) I went with excitement for my return, but also disappointed with how little had happened in a year.
I returned again in the fall of 2012 to continue working among these people, praying for a breakthrough. In the meantime, my roommate at the time felt called to begin looking for a new place to serve. I found myself without a roommate and quickly began to feel lonely. Passages like Jesus sending out the 70 two-by-two and Paul being sent with Barnabas began to take on new significance in my heart as I felt increasingly alone.
I longed for a partner who could spend as much time as me in the mountains. More often than we imagine or expect, God brings amazing things in the midst of our deepest struggles. In my case, spring 2013 saw a small movement of believers spring up in the mountains. This is an area where there has never been a church. Since the death and resurrection of our Lord no one in these areas has ever called on the name of Jesus, and in a few months we saw the number of followers go from 1 to at least 6 or 7. That’s an increase of 600-to-700 percent in only three months! The numbers may still be small, but we are encouraged and filled with hope that God has a big plan for these people.
Sean Ranger shows the Jesus film to a man who would become a Christ follower.
In the midst of this excitement my struggles with loneliness continued, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to carry on indefinitely in these circumstances. I am praying and hoping that God will call and bring people here to partner with us in the harvest and who can simultaneously provide me with more of the fellowship and encouragement that I need.
His Kingdom is coming to earth in the High Atlas Mountains and I believe that He is calling more people into the privilege of reaping the harvest.
“Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’” – Matthew 9:37-38
This story originally appeared in
The Climbing Way (Vol. 26, Spring-Summer 2013). Sean Ranger, a pseudonym, has been a member of Climbing For Christ since August 2011. He helped lead a C4C survey team on an exploratory trek in 2013.