Canadian Denise Heppner shares how hiking can teach us so much about how to overcome those mountains in our lives that can stop us moving forward and reaching our potential

Looking up to the towering mountain tops above was daunting.  My breath was coming in heavy gasps, my legs cement pillars protesting each step forward and upward.  “Just one more step,” played over and over in my mind. 

More intense than the pain in my legs was the terrible heartache for the women and children I was climbing for. Beautiful people, children of God, trapped in horrible circumstances beyond their control. The nightmare of the sex trade where darkness, despair, and pain rules.  How could I make a difference in the lives of those suffering such atrocities? 

Breathing God's name

Pausing on the mountainside, a sharp intake of breath (“Yah”) and it’s exhalation (“weh”) reminded me that with every breath I take I am breathing God’s holy name: “Yahweh”.  And God is love, light, and hope. Through participating in the Freedom Challenge I have the incredible joy of helping to bring love, light, and hope to those who are suffering! 

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The Freedom Challenge has indeed challenged me, stretched me and changed me; the love and support from family, friends and even strangers is part of this incredible journey. Every cent raised makes a huge difference in the lives of others. And every step taken on the mountain leads to freedom and empowerment of those who are climbing. With empowerment God has created, in me, a passion and drive to press on and to continue helping others in need. Through participation in the Freedom Challenge I have been forever changed.

Overcoming the mountains in your life

By taking part in the Freedom Challenge God has given me the strength to climb my own mountains, whatever those may be.  Overcoming the mountains in your life involves the proper trekking gear: 

  • Good boots are the key to a journey with minimal pain. They provide the foundation of your walk. As with good boots, a life with Jesus is sure, simple, and steadfast. 
  • Backpack: We are always going to have some baggage, however, you can choose what you want to carry around with you.  Jesus desires to love and to heal – He will be your porter, carrying your burdens so that you can move forward in your life.
  • Toilet paper: Life is messy. It is sometimes explosive and sometimes an easy clean-up. Thankfully, God promises a fresh start, a clean slate. In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul writes, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone; the new has come!”
  • Water bottle: To prevent against altitude sickness we were advised to drink a lot of water and think of it as extreme hydration. Just as our physical bodies need water for life, so does our spirit. Our souls are thirsty and we may try to quench that thirst with a lot of different things, often with unhealthy choices, but eventually we thirst again. Jesus is the living water, and by looking to Him each day, He is the only thing that can truly quench the thirst of the spirit.   
  • Trekking poles are a necessity as they offer balance and support.  Life will never be without sorrow or troubles and, with God’s help, we can maintain a balanced perspective in our life and our attitudes. We can experience joy even during difficult times. The Lord brings balance to our lives which gives us hope, which in turn gives us strength.  
  • Headlamp: If you need to find your way after the sun goes down you had better have a light. The terrain is rocky and it is easy to misstep and fall. In John 8:12 it says, “Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world.  If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” 
  • Sunglasses: These are important on the mountain to guard against the sun’s harsh rays at altitude. They are a good reminder to keep our eyes focused on what is important in life and not get side-tracked by the little things. “I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken” Psalm 16:8.
  • Warm, water-proof clothes: As you trek through life and get hit with the cold, the rain showers, the messiness, know that you are surrounded by God’s warmth and comfort. And know that it is okay to reach out to others to borrow pieces of their gear to get you through a cold spell.  
  • First aid kit: A first aid kit is useful in learning to dress your own wounds. However, I found much joy in assisting others. Helping others makes you feel connected, it takes your mind off of your own worries for awhile, and gives a sense of meaning and purpose to your life.   
  • Camera: to capture those amazing moments in life!  We can look back and reflect on those moments when things are difficult. 
  • Merino wool socks:  Merino wool is known for being odour-resistant. And, quite frankly, when you kick those boots off at the end of the day and crawl into a tiny tent with your tent mate it ain’t gonna be pretty!
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Proper trekking gear – make sure you are equipped!  Climbing your own mountains will never be easy but it will be an incredible journey.  Following Jesus provides hope and transformation of the likes that we can’t even imagine. 

Beautiful in God's sight

God has something beautiful in store for each and every one of us. We are beautiful in His sight!  I wish that we could all see ourselves the way He sees us, His beloved children!  My prayer and goal for my participation in the Freedom Challenge is that we can help free oppressed women and children, that they can experience a transformed life, and truly feel the love of Christ, and see how beautiful they are. 

The Freedom Challenge truly changes lives – of those whom we serve, and indeed, in the very lives and hearts of all who participate. Step out in faith and you will be forever changed. 

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Denise Heppner teaches online for the University of Saskatchewan, Canada in the area of Special Education. She accepted the Lord’s call to the Freedom Challenge in 2013 and has completed Everest Base Camp, Colorado 7 Summits, Fernie Canada, and most recently Machu Picchu. As Denise climbs mountains for the freedom of others, she leaves behind on the flat prairie her wonderful husband and three fantastic children aged 6, 9, and 11.  Her goal is to encourage people with the idea that they can indeed make a difference – helping one person at a time! Denise hopes that in addition to creating widespread awareness of the horrors of human trafficking and raising money for enslaved women and children, that participating in the Freedom Challenge will allow her to show how God’s love has helped her to overcome the challenges in her life and inspire in others the strength to climb their own mountains.