“He tricked us … because he wanted to kill us!”
It was 4am and the young people had hiked for 2 hours the day before, up a very steep climb to where we had made a fire, cooked our dinner and camped for the night. We had then woken at 2am, to keep hiking up in time to be at the peak for sunrise. So at 4 am, on limited sleep, in the dark, in colder weather than any of the young people had ever experienced before, and on a climb that seemed like it would never end; morale was getting low and one of the young people burst out with the comment above … “He (i.e. me) tricked us by bringing us on a trip to Blue Mountain Peak … because he wanted to kill us!”
The comment was made (in both jest and exhaustion) to one of the other leaders, I was not with that group of climbers at the time. The feelings behind the comment though; of fear, exhaustion, frustration and seeking someone to blame, are very common when you are outside your comfort zone and out on the adventure.
When God delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt and they set out on a trek through an unfamiliar wilderness, they repeatedly said very similar things:
“They said to Moses, ‘Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?’” Exodus 14:11
“ … you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Exodus 16:3
“Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” Exodus 17:3
When we set out on the adventure of faith in God, we leave the comfort and familiarity of our past, and very soon discover that being outside our comfort zone is … well … uncomfortable.
Nineteen years ago I met some Jamaican brothers and sisters in Christ who had a vision for a community centre in Trench Town. Inspired by this vision, 17 years ago, my sisters and I rode across the USA on a bicycle to raise money. Even then the adventure took us through many moments when we wondered why we had set out at all … and I can no longer count the number of times I have felt like that in the years since! The bicycle ride fundraiser gave a local charity it’s first significant donation, and that charity is still working in the community to this day, but we did not raise enough to get the community centre built at the time. Shortly afterwards I came across Fusion and we started Fusion Jamaica with all the youth and community activities that went along with that. Then, 6 years ago, we negotiated a lease for a derelict property that we were going to restore as a community centre, but funding dried up for the team around the same time, and we could not proceed with such a big project then either. With a volunteer team all doing other employment to pay the bills, Fusion kept ‘climbing’ and the activities continued in the community. A few months ago, in partnership with another ministry, we have revived the lease and there will be a building team from the USA coming in July to get the work started on a community centre. For that mountain at least, after many moments of wondering if the climb would ever end, it looks like we are finally getting close to the peak.
At the Youth Club after the Blue Mountain Peak trip, I asked the young people how they felt during the climb. “Like mi a dead!” (i.e. “Like I was dying”) was one of the instant replies. I then asked how they felt the day afterwards, and the main response was them just crying out as they remembered the pain they had been in. My next question was how they felt to have climbed a mountain, and they all said it felt good, and they were proud. So when I asked what life lesson they can learn from that, they made the obvious connection: significant achievements don’t come easy, they can be uncomfortable, and they often have moments when the journey doesn’t seem to make any sense; but that makes the adventure all the more unforgettable and wonderful in the end.
For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13
A photo of the property that we are planning to renovate: