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Glorious mountain tops and painful valleys

As editor Ruth Jackson heads off to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, she reflects on what she’s hoping to learn

If you’ve been involved in youth or children’s ministry for longer than five minutes you will know that there are huge ups and downs along the way.

There are the phenomenal mountain top experiences where prayers are answered, breakthrough abounds and young people turn to God in their hundreds. But there are also many road blocks along the way and countless dark valleys that seem impossible to ascend. We encounter profound disappointment, acute heartbreak and young people leaving the faith in their hundreds.

While journeying with children and young people is one of the greatest honours in the world, it is also deeply painful. The road is rocky and crammed full of sharp edges. There are many seemingly insurmountable challenges and unanswered questions along the way.

But this path was never meant to be walked alone. We are surrounded by many other believers, both past and present, who journey with us. Who rejoice and weep with us and the children we minster alongside. Who champion us and remind us who we are and why we’re doing this. 

Hebrews 12:1 says: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

Whether it feels like it or not, we have many witnesses to help us along the way. But we also have the ultimate helper. Hebrews 12:2 goes on to say: “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”

In Jesus, we have a witness who has gone before us into the most painful journey and emerged victorious. And, because he didn’t stay distant but chose to come and journey with us, we can be assured that God will always be walking alongside, championing us even in the deepest valleys.

There’s an old Mary Mary song that says: “There will be mountains that I will have to climb and there will be battles that I will have to fight...Nobody told me the road would be easy and I don't believe he's brought me this far to leave me.” 

I’m about to head off to climb the world’s tallest free standing mountain. There are going to be some pretty major ups and downs and I’m going to learn a lot about myself and my mountain companions. But I will also hopefully learn more about and draw closer to the God who journeys with us and our young people. 

To follow our journey and support us along the way, visit https://yfc.co.uk/the-climb/

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