Kilimanjaro climb boosts dream of MOHI sports ministry in Kenya
A team of 29 amazing people from across the country who are passionate about the ministry of Missions of Hope International (MOHI) hiked up Mt. Kilimanjaro in early January to benefit the new MOHI sports ministry in Nairobi, Kenya.
CMF board member Kristen Hodge, a mom of three and a Non-Profit Commercial Banker in her day-to-day life, was the driving force behind this incredible adventure.
“God has given me a dream of building soccer fields in one of the largest slums of the world,” said Kristen. “I shared the vision for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro to spur on this dream at the annual MOHI meeting, through CMF communications and social media and enlisted the help of anyone who would listen to pass the word on about the trip.”
The team had a goal of raising $175,000 for the Hope Sports Ministry but exceeded that, raising more than $200,000 so far, with other commitments still to come.
“Some of our climbers made the trip for adventure and personal goals, but more than half of our team already had a huge heart for MOHI and the new sports ministry project,” said Kristen. “Our time at MOHI was certainly the best part of the adventure so we could see and experience why we were climbing.”
“Nate is now so passionate about MOHI that he brought five other people from Countryside to climb Kili with him,” said Kristen.Kristen met one trip participant, Nate Bruns from Countryside Christian Church in Topeka, Kansas, on a MOHI visit in 2017.
Kristen was part of CMF’s first Kilimanjaro climb in January 2017 and has been to MOHI three times since then, twice with her daughters. Her co-leaders for the trip were Robyn Priest, a passionate hiker and former CMF missionary in Kenya, and Barry Young, a former missions pastor in Colorado who served as the team’s lead climber, packer and primary mountain guide.
The team was thankful for their experienced leaders, especially in light of the added complication of “surprise weather.”
“We were climbing in the Kenyan summer, so the winter storm was not expected by us or our guides,” said Kristen. “When we set out (to summit) at midnight at 15,000 feet it was already snowing and continued for the next eight hours! We climbed in virtually white-out conditions, so we didn’t see the sun come up. To make the summit, we climbed against 40-50-mile wind gusts. It was definitely a battle to make it!”
Kristen admits that she has no organized sports background, but “I can attest to the fact that He equips the called,” she said. “We know the impact sport has on physical fitness and mental health for children, and MOHI does have a small sports program using volunteers, with the kids playing on patches of dirt in their school uniforms and with bare feet.
“But having a robust sports program with safe play areas will offer many more opportunities for discipleship and expand MOHI’s outreach to their communities,” she added. “This is about so much more than just sports or fields. It’s all about sharing the love of Christ.”
So, will Kristen climb again? And lead another trip?
“I am not planning on it, but I don’t say never anymore,” she said. “In 2017, I swore out loud that Kili was a one-time adventure and I would never put myself through the miserable pain again. But I did. Why? Because I fell in love with the incredible children in the Mathare Valley.
“Now that the trip is behind us, I’m delighted at what God continues to do with this adventure,” Kristen added. “I have seen Him in every single step. This was definitely, without question, all God. I can’t wait to see what He does next!”