Climbing For Christ

TAKING THE GOSPEL TO MOUNTAINOUS AREAS OF THE WORLD WHERE OTHER MISSIONARIES CANNOT OR WILL NOT GO

Articles by Gary Fallesen

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Dispatches: Tanzania 2024
Gary Fallesen

Dispatches: Tanzania 2024

Mission: Kilimanjaro 2024

By Gary Fallesen, Climbing For Christ

Thursday, Feb. 1-Friday, Feb. 2

Our mission team at the Marangu Gateway on Tuesday, Jan. 23, the start of our Kilimanjaro trek. This team of 19 guides and porters and three C4C staff included: Damson Samson (front row left) with Pastor Winford Mosha next to him, chapter coordinator and guide John Mollen (back row third from right), and Gary and Elaine Fallesen (back row right).

Elaine and I began two days of flights back to the Home Office in Rochester, NY, on Thursday. Damson began his return flights to Malawi on Friday. We left a fruitful and successful mission. As Damson observed: “God has transformed them tremendously.”

Our Kilimanjaro Chapter guides and porters – about 60 brothers in Christ – have continued to learn how to better understand and communicate God’s Word, leading to improved and ongoing evangelism on Mount Kilimanjaro. We will be praying for all of the divine appointments awaiting these guides and porters as they continue to serve the Lord and seek to make God’s name famous among the nations coming to Kilimanjaro for what will be an eternity changing climb.

Wednesday, Jan. 31

Gary shares about being blessed to be a blessing. (Photo by Elaine Fallesen)

Ika Minja, the wife of a Kilimanjaro Chapter member and our hostess in Marangu, introduced her sister and brother. Both suffered serious health issues and experienced healing at the last Climbing For Christ prayer meeting at her house. Ida had three unsuccessful stomach surgeries and was scheduled for a fourth that was not needed after Damson and others prayed for her. Erich had a wound that would not heal, eventually led to the amputation of his big toe and two years of suffering, before a laying on of hands and intercessory prayer.

More than 75 people gathered to worship, praise the Lord, listen to teachings by Damson (1 John 4:4: “the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world”) and me (Luke 16:10: “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones”), and pray to the God of the possible. One young man came forward to accept Jesus as his Savior.

A young man surrenders his life to Jesus. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)

In Ika and her porter husband Elirehemaj Minja’s house afterward, food was offered and gratitude shared. Chapter members Eliya Yona, a Muslim background believer, Jonas Minja and Asheri Marko talked about how far the guides and porters have come since we started disciple-making instruction. Some were not even believers then and now they are preaching the Gospel on and off the mountain. They praised God for all they have been taught through Climbing For Christ training and for relationships forged. There is a brotherhood (and sisterhood) here.

Tuesday, Jan. 30

Asking Jesus to come into their lives and homes.

Damson met with small groups from Kilema, a little village near Marangu that is home to some Kilimanjaro Chapter guides and porters. Kilema is also a gateway for a new route on Kilimanjaro for mountain bikes. About 50 people gathered to worship and pray.

“I was able to share with them from Luke 19 the story about Zacchaeus,” Damson said. “I was mainly looking at the crowd which followed Jesus but had no thirst for salvation. They were happy the way they were. But a man who knew that he was a sinner was thirsty to meet Jesus and it happened that he climbed the tree until Jesus got there.”

After telling them about this sinner who was saved, 12 people in the group thirsted to receive Jesus as their Savior.

“For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” – Luke 19:10 (NLT)

Jonas, left, and Eliya, members of the Kilimanjaro Chapter, praying for people in Kilema.

“Then we went into a general prayer where we prayed for the sick and the land for openness of the heart for people living in it,” Damson said. “We thank God it was another reviving time together.”

Monday, Jan. 29

Damson Samson, left, and others praying for the church in Moshi.

Damson began three days of home visits with a meeting of some of the small groups at a church in Moshi Town. Twenty-three people attended and he allowed Kilimanjaro Chapter member Eliya Yona to open with a teaching on the gifts of the Spirit, specifically love.

“True Christians should remain loving each other as Christ loves the Church,” Eliya told them.

Damson then talked about how selfishness “has come to destroy the true identity of the Christian in our generation.” He emphasized to them that God is love and “anyone who does not love does not know God” (1 John 4:8).

After sharing, they took questions and then prayed for the group, asking that they would not forget their First Love (Revelation 2:4).

“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1 (NLT)

Sunday, Jan. 28

John Mollen, wearing the Climbing For Christ banner like a cape over his backpack, pauses to look at Kibo in the distance. John wrapped himself in the C4C banner throughout the trek on Kilimanjaro. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)

We started our East Africa planning meeting reading from Ephesians 2:10 and 3:20. We were created by God in Christ Jesus to do the good things He planned for us long ago. And through HIS mighty power we are able “to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”

These verses spoke to me about this past week. John Mollen, our Kilimanjaro Chapter coordinator, agreed. “It was a surprise for us,” he said. “More fruit (was produced) than we expected.”

Infinitely more.

“We have taught people (19 guides and porters) practically,” John said about the on-mountain evangelism training. “For them, thanks to C4C, they now have courage. It is a big step.”

Damson, our Kingdom worker in Tanzania and Malawi, said: “They have been a long time crying to go to the mountain (for training).”

We have taken them out of the classroom and into the mission field. These trips will continue – tentatively in July and December in Tanzania and in June, August, September, and October in Malawi – until all 150 guides and porters in the Kilimanjaro and Mulanje Massif chapters have been trained on those respective mountains. This is our focus for 2024.

Damson (left to right), Gary, and John debriefing about the first Kilimanjaro Chapter training of 2024. (Photo by Elaine Fallesen)

When our afternoon meeting began, we talked about how we can plan to our heart’s desire, but it is God Who will determine our steps (Proverbs 16:9). And then we prayed. I reminded Damson and John what I’d said during my Spirit Walking lesson with the Kilimanjaro Chapter: We plan and plan and plan. But if we don’t pray and pray and pray, and if we aren’t abiding then we’re just GO-ing our own way – not the way the Lord desires.

We have felt God’s leading throughout this trip, and today was no different. We are investing in John to start the C4C Maasai Brothers & Grand Tours trekking company. It will be supported by and give back to the Kilimanjaro Chapter. We had some holy moments during our meeting.

John, a freelance guide, had talked about starting his own company when we were on the mountain. He said he wanted to call it Maasai Brothers & Grand Tours. He is Maasai.

Then, as he wrapped himself in the Climbing For Christ banner each day on the trail, God placed on his heart to put “C4C” in front of his company name. He said it is because of C4C that this – and so much more – has come to fruition.

“I got a phone call at midnight from a friend on the mountain,” John said. “He said, ‘I have heard you have become a pastor.’ ‘What?’ I said, ‘where did you hear that?’ ‘I am at Horombo (Hut on the Marangu Route),’ he said. ‘I heard you have been here for two days preaching.’

“Ah, yes. I’m a pastor now.”

John laughed at the thought. Then he summed up what occurred last week: “We have left a footprint.”

Saturday, Jan. 27

Ibrahim Momoya, a porter from Moshi who was among those graduating from our “Discovering the Bible” class, shares the Gospel at Mandara Hut on Mount Kilimanjaro on Tuesday. (Photo provided by Damson Samson)

When we started up the Marangu Route on Mount Kilimanjaro on Tuesday, guide and Kilimanjaro Chapter coordinator John Mollen pointed out the memorials to the pioneers. There was Hans Meyer, the German who is credited with the first ascent of Africa’s highest point in 1889. And there was his guide Yohani Kinyala Lauwo.

Today, new pioneers were saluted by Pastor Mosha as we held our final day of quarterly classroom training for Kilimanjaro Chapter guides and porters. In a brief appearance at our meeting, Pastor Mosha, who shared our vision to train locals to evangelize on the mountain during our inaugural Mission: Kilimanjaro 2007, acknowledged “the very first trip up the mountain to make HIStory.”

Our four-day trek to teach and do outreach on Kilimanjaro had praiseworthy results. But they were results that took time to achieve.

We have been training 63 guides and porters disciple-making since 2017. Today, our second class of 35 students saw 28 graduate from their third study, “Discovering the Bible.” They, like the original class of 28, will now be studying “Communicating the Bible.”

Damson, above with John Mollen, teaches the final steps of “Discovering the Bible” to our second class of DMD students. Below, Gary with Pastor Mosha congratulates Prosper Njau on finishing DTB. (Photos by Gary and Elaine Fallesen)

The new graduates received certificates from Damson, Pastor Mosha, and me. Four of the group’s wives also attended. After finishing with the DTB study, I again shared my Steve Smith-inspired “Spirit Walk” lesson.

I told the group, which included 11 members of our original class who served with us on the mountain this week, that when I re-read Steve’s book last year the Spirit spoke to me. He told me I needed to teach this lesson to our co-workers around the Climbing For Christ world. The Kilimanjaro Chapter was the first to receive it, which is appropriate because Mount Kilimanjaro is where Climbing For Christ began.

When I was training for my first climb here in 1998 God instructed me to start what would become C4C. As we approach our 20th anniversary as a ministry (incorporated in the U.S. on April 20, 2004), we rejoice in the fruit God has produced in places like Tanzania. HIStory is being made here.

Friday, Jan. 26

Guide Laurent Mbuya sits outside a porters’ hut on Thursday talking about Jesus Christ. Though none of them accepted his invitation to follow Jesus, he later led a climber from Sweden to the Lord. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)

We unleashed 19 Spirit-filled guides and porters on those around us on Mount Kilimanjaro for four days this week – and watched God doing a work.

“I’m very proud of our team,” Kingdom worker Damson Samson said on Thursday. “They are trying their level best. They have taken our assignment and are doing very well.”

The assignment: deliver the Good News along the Marangu Route on Kilimanjaro from the gate at 6,046 feet/1,842 meters to the Mandara and Horombo huts.

The result: 157 people heard the Gospel and 57 accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior.

“I never expected this,” said Joshua Mulutu, a porter from Moshi who led 11 people to the Lord on Tuesday and Wednesday and then teamed with Gregory Nyange to lead four more to Jesus on Thursday when Damson sent them out two by two.

“Damson told us, ‘A big thing is going to happen on the mountain,’” Joshua recalled. “I was asking, ‘How?’ He said, ‘You have to believe.’ Now I confirm it has happened.”

Guides and porters, wearing the Tanzania ballcaps we gave them with a C4C patch sewn on by Elaine, discuss a lesson on Thursday with Bibles open and pens and paper in hand. This was the mess hall we occupied at the Horombo Hut at 12,205 feet/3,720 meters.

Damson, Elaine, and I taught the guides and porters each day. We would hike by day and praise by night. Every evening, after dinner, we sat together in a mess hall discussing that day’s activities. The stories were God-credible. We rejoiced with all of heaven at the number of people receiving Jesus.

This morning, we stood together as these brothers in Christ sang a song of worship in Swahili and we all lifted a prayer of thanksgiving to God. Then we started back down Kilimanjaro, hiking 12 ½ miles (19 kilometers) and descending more than 6,000 feet (1,800-plus meters). The only rain we saw in four days fell on us during the last half-hour in, naturally, the rain forest.

“We thank God for what He has done,” said Elirehema Minja, a porter from Marangu. “We thank God that the weather favored us (after daily rainstorms for weeks ahead of our climb) and that we are all OK – no mountain (altitude) sickness.

“He gave us power and strength so we could share about Jesus.”

NOTE: I’ll be writing more about our amazing experience on the mountain. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, Jan. 24

Kibo Kilimanjaro

Emerging from the forest, we got a glimpse of Kibo, Kilimanjaro’s main summit. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)

I will wait until the end of our time on the mountain to report all that is happening. It’s a praise report! Our 20 guides and porters from the Kilimanjaro Chapter have eagerly taken on their assignment to share the Gospel. On Tuesday, they reported delivering the Good News to 21 people on Kilimanjaro with three accepting Jesus.

All of heaven rejoices with us as we seek out the lost in the high places. Tonight, we are at 12,205 feet/3,720 meters after hiking 12.5 miles  (19 kilometers) yesterday and today.

Tuesday, Jan. 23-Friday, Jan. 26

Mount Kilimanjaro at sunrise Tuesday. The first we’ve seen the mountain this time because of rain and cloud cover. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)

We are on Mount Kilimanjaro for four days of teaching and outreach with our Kilimanjaro Chapter guides and porters. Posts during the climb will depend on cell signal availability. Check back for updates.

Monday, Jan. 22

Godlove Kowero, a DMD student turned pastor, helps lead the start of our chapter meeting in worship. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)

I shared about reading God’s promise to Mission: Kilimanjaro 2024 when Elaine and I did our daily Bible study after arriving in Tanzania Saturday night. We were in Genesis 22-24, starting with God’s test of Abraham and concluding with Abraham’s servant searching for a wife to Isaac. Two verses leapt from God’s Word:

On the mountain of the Lord, it will be provided” (Genesis 22-14, NLT) and “The Lord, in whose presence I have lived, will send His angel with you and will make your mission successful” (Genesis 24:40).

I told the Kilimanjaro Chapter members meeting for our first day of quarterly training – 19 original members of our disciples-making-disciples’ studies – that God will provide for us on Mount Kilimanjaro and He will make our mission successful.

Beginning tomorrow, we will accompany 21 guides and porters on the Marangu (tourist) Route and continue our teaching and allow them to put into practice what they have been and are learning about evangelism.

We began our fourth book of DMD training: “Communicating the Bible.” I introduced this resource from The Timothy Initiative, and we discussed 2 Timothy 4:1-8, where Paul exhorts Timothy to “Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season.” In an age lacking in truth, we must be ready to communicate The Truth. This guide to communication told us we are to be ready to do the work of an evangelist, which is what our team will be doing on Kilimanjaro in the days ahead.

Asheri Marko reads from God’s Word during our study. (Photo by Elaine Fallesen)

Later, I shared a lesson I wrote through the inspiration of the late missionary Steve Smith’s book Spirit Walk. We translated the acronym S.W.A.P. (Surrender to God’s will and His every word; Wait on the Lord in prayer; Avoid sin and let God root out all unrighteousness; and Pursue promptings of the Holy Spirit) into Swahili. There is no “swap,” but the word “kubadilishana” means “exchange.” We spent 1 ½ hours diving into Scripture learning about walking in the Spirit.

Spirit Walk was a revelation needing to be taught among field workers in the Climbing For Christ world. We are starting here in Tanzania.

As Galatians 5:25 tells us, “Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives” (emphasis mine). We aspire to be a part of the Acts-like movements in the world today, knowing from experience that God can take ordinary people and do extraordinary things.

Elaine asked if I noticed the weather change when I read a passage from Spirit Walk about the Haystack Revival – five college students forced to shelter in a haystack during a sudden thunderstorm in 1806, leading to the first North American mission organization and 100,000 college students surrendering their lives to God’s great GO-mission. Outside of our own classroom in Himo, a crossroad between Moshi and Marangu, a thunderstorm had started.

“When you read about ‘loud peals of thunder overhead’ the wind came up and the rain started – on cue,” Elaine said. A coincidence? We don’t believe so. We believe in God’s promises, such as the words spoken by Jesus to the disciples in John 14:16: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.” We believe the Spirit is with us.

Sunday, Jan. 21

Damson speaking Saturday about Zacchaeus and how he became a follower of Jesus.

We prepared today for a week of teaching and outreaching on Mount Kilimanjaro starting tomorrow with original members of our Kilimanjaro Chapter DMD class. They will begin a new study on “Communicating the Bible” and I will be teaching them about “Spirit Walking.” Twenty-one of the students (or disciples) who attend tomorrow will be GO-ing with us up Mount Kilimanjaro for four days. Damson and I reviewed the lessons and discussed the particulars about our upcoming trek, which will be guided by chapter co-leader John Mollen.

On Saturday, John and Damson met with more than two dozen guides and porters to pray for this trek. Damson shared with them the story of Zacchaeus found in Luke 19. Damson told them that Zacchaeus was a notorious tax collector yet through the love of Jesus he became a Christ follower.

“I picked this to refer to our time getting ready to climb,” Damson said. “I told them as we are going to climb, we have to pray for the direction of the Holy Spirit which will lead us directly to where the need for salvation is high. To those the Lord has prearranged.

“I told them heaven has already arranged for people on our way; we just have to listen more from the Holy Spirit to get them down from the trees where they have been longing to see Jesus Christ.”

We are praying to be open to the Spirit’s leading and answer divine appointments. Damson had brochures (“The Choice of Life Before Death”) printed, polo shirts (“Climb And Win A Soul”) made, and we are distributing Tanzania ballcaps with Climbing For Christ patches sewn on by Elaine to our team members. We will accompany 21 guides and porters, the first of several groups from the Kilimanjaro Chapter and the Mulanje Massif Chapter in Malawi to be trained this year in boots-to-the-ground evangelism.

Friday, Jan. 19-Saturday, Jan. 20

Elaine and I landed this evening (local time) at Kilimanjaro airport after 23 hours of flying from Denver to Minneapolis to Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro. Travel was mostly uneventful, and our luggage arrived with us, which is always a praise report.

Our friend Yusuf and Kingdom worker Damson were waiting for us outside the airport and drove us to our hotel in Moshi. We were greeted by the hotel owner who welcomed us warmly back to our home away from home (we have a few of those).

Damson and leaders of the Kilimanjaro Chapter went to Sango mountain for a day of fasting and prayer, but rains drove them inside. Yusuf said it has rained almost daily since the end of September. Normally, this is not a time for rain; it should be hot and dry. Damson and the chapter leaders ended up at the church in Himo lifting this mission and the work God prepared in advance for us to complete. More tomorrow about preparations for DMD training on Mount Kilimanjaro in the week ahead.

Thursday, Jan. 18

Leadership meeting.

Damson met with leaders of the Kilimanjaro Chapter to discuss the plan for next week’s DMD training. “Before sharing the plans for this trip, I shared with them the story of Jesus at the wedding in Cana,” Damson said. He used the story in John 2 to show “what it means to be a disciple. Just by obeying the instructions (the servants did whatever Jesus told them, as Jesus’ mother had told them), a good wine was brought forth.

“I told them, we are going to climb this time to evangelize, and we need to be obedient to the direction of the Lord as Jesus is ready to work greatly. It all is determined by our response to heavenly instruction.”

When he finished, he prayed for the leaders and the work ahead.

Wednesday, Jan. 17

Pastor Mosha translating an evangelism brochure into Swahili.

Damson arrived in Moshi this morning and met up with Kilimanjaro Chapter co-leader John Mollen and advisor Pastor Mosha. Pastor Mosha translated into Swahili an evangelism brochure Damson wrote, called “The Choice of Life Before Death.”

The brochure asks, “If you die today are you 100 percent certain that you would go to heaven?” If not, it offers steps to take – based on Scripture (1 John 5:13, Romans 3:10, Romans 3:23, Romans 5:12, Romans 6:23, Romans 5:8, and Romans 10:9-13) – to be certain of your eternal destination. These will be printed in Swahili and English to share on the mountain.

Our guides and porters will also receive T-shirts and baseball caps as they serve with us on Kilimanjaro.

Tuesday, Jan. 16

Damson outside the Blantyre, Malawi airport.

Damson set off for Kilimanjaro with a flight from Blantyre, Malawi to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where he was overnighting before a Wednesday morning flight to Kilimanjaro International Airport. Elaine and I are scheduled to fly from the United States to Tanzania on Friday and Saturday to join Damson.

“I desire to be called blessed one day as I have been successful and faithful with obedience to Him,” said Damson, who recently was ordained as a pastor. “In sharing the Truth to many from around the globe, the mountain should be filled by His great power that nobody will resist the Gospel. I desire to see this majestic power over our team that we may succeed.

“May the love of Jesus lead many to willingly change their lives.”

Introduction

We GO out of our way to win one soul for Jesus. Like the Parable of the Lost Sheep in Matthew 18 and Luke 15, God sends us to find the one that is lost. One at a time. On the hills and in the high places. From the Himalayas in Nepal to the Andes in Peru, from the mountains of Ararat in eastern Turkey to the volcanoes of Indonesia, from Tibetan China to the Chaine de la Selle in Haiti.

When I asked Kingdom worker Damson Samson his hope and prayer for this mission – our 16th Evangelic Expedition to Kilimanjaro since 2007 – he said his desire was to “win a soul to Jesus.” This is the center of our prayers as we continue disciples-making-disciples (DMD) training with our Kilimanjaro Chapter guides and porters.

After six years of concentrated DMD study, we are entering a new phase. On this trip, we’ll begin teaching “Communicating the Bible” and “Walking in the Spirit.”

To do so, Damson, my wife Elaine, and I will accompany 20 guides and porters up Mount Kilimanjaro to teach and then allow them to practice outreach on the many lost sheep that visit and work on Africa’s tallest mountain.

We do this with a sense of urgency. We as the body of Christ, working in the power of the Holy Spirit, should be seeking to fulfill Matthew 24:14 (“And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come”) and Matthew 28:18-20 (“Jesus came and told his disciples, ‘I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age’”).

“We are in the last days and the devil is searching for someone to devour,” Damson said as he traveled from his home in Malawi to Tanzania for the 34th time since he answered the call to serve with Climbing For Christ in 2014. “It is for this reason that I am hoping to harvest souls to Jesus in this given time.

“Blessed are the feet that carry the Gospel,” Damson added.

We will carry the Good News of Jesus up the Marangu Route on Kilimanjaro to share with international trekkers as well as guides and porters at the Mandara Hut at 8,858 feet and at the Horombo Hut at 12,205 feet.

Galatians 5:25 tells us, “Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.”

The Spirit has led our teachings in Tanzania among the Kilimanjaro guides and porters (and in neighboring Malawi among the Mulanje Massif guides and porters). During Mission: Kilimanjaro 2023, Pastor Winford Mosha prayed, “Give them sight to see farther and farther.” Pastor Mosha has been with us since our inaugural Mission: Kilimanjaro 2007. We have had a shared vision to reach guides and porters, and the tens of thousands of tourists who come from all over the world to climb Kilimanjaro. Pastor Mosha, who is 73 years old, will be with us on the mountain this year.

That prayer by Pastor Mosha was already being answered when he spoke it. God had been giving me glimpses of this next phase of teaching and reaching for months leading up to Mission: Kilimanjaro 2023. More prayer and planning led to what, Lord willing, is to become “Sermons on the Mount Kilimanjaro.”

Our DMD lessons will continue in Discovering the Bible and Communicating the Bible, growing small groups, and evangelism to the lost on the mountain. One at a time. Until all have heard. 

This is Gary’s 16th trip to Tanzania and 11th time on Mount Kilimanjaro. It is Elaine’s sixth trip to Tanzania and third time on Kilimanjaro. It is Damson’s 34th trip to Tanzania and third time on Kilimanjaro.

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