A question that was repeatedly asked of me was, “Why are you participating in the Freedom Challenge?” “Isn’t there an easier way to raise funds without having to face the challenge of the 11, 200ft of Mt. Hood?” some expressed.

The fight against modern-day slavery is something I am passionate about. As one who has experienced freedom in Christ and the generous love of God, I am challenged by the gospel to proclaim freedom and release from the darkness of those trapped in modern-day slavery. For several years in my role as a Field Leader, I have been raising funds for the ministries that the Freedom Challenge supports. But over time, I increasingly felt the need to be personally involved!

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Like the many women over the years who have participated in Freedom Challenges, it cost time, effort, and finances.

I have served in OM for many years and have given to God my best: my youth, talents, and dreams. Sometimes as the years go by, we can get complacent, and feel like we have given all there is to give. Participating in the Freedom Challenge was an opportunity to give sacrificially to God’s kingdom in a new and fresh way.

I gained so much as well. The physical aspect of the climb was very challenging, and a constant reminder of the struggles of the women and children trapped in modern-day slavery. Each day as the miles and hours passed, my feet and knees throbbing in pain, everything in me wanted to stop and give up. This was when I realized physical strength alone was not enough (not that I had a lot of it anyway). I needed to dig deep within me, be reminded why I was on that mountain, and gather the courage to keep going, one step at a time. When facing a mountainous challenge, mental strength - anchored in God - goes hand in hand with physical strength.

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Fighting back tears from the searing pain and the feeling that I was going to hold up the team…

I was by far the weakest and least experienced among the women in my team and on the very first day, I fell and hurt my knee. Fighting back tears from the searing pain and the feeling that I was going to hold up the team, I was resolute in keeping going. An independent spirit, I declined the offer of help from fellow teammates. Then one of them piped up ‘Pari let us help you.” and I felt God nudge me to accept help. In that moment of weakness and intense pain, I experienced the strength of community. Women who just hours before I hardly knew, supporting me and not for a moment making me feel any less than them. During the long hours of ascents and descents of Mt. Hood, we laughed, shared life, encouraged, sang, helped, empathized, cheered, prayed, and rallied together. It was a fantastic experience of community rooted in Christ, with a shared vision

During those days, I also saw how the women of Freedom Challenge, while they may not be called an OMer (one who works at Operation Mobilization), in every way personified the characteristics of an OMer. They love God and people, give sacrificially, raise funds, pray fervently for the ministries and the people, visit the ministry teams, and are intimately involved with the work. I was blessed and inspired by the women of Freedom Challenge. As these women of Freedom Challenge link hands with us in OM together, we embody the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12) and the aroma of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:15)

By Parimalam Balasubramaniam

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