The young men often times end up teaching us older men.
That happened on Peak Challenge 2010.
One of the guys from the Omaha area has a huge heart for the Burundian refugee community in Omaha. This war ravaged country in Africa (near Sudan) saw its people scattered over the last 15 years. Many ended up in refugee camps in Kenya, living out of a tent with little basic necessities, for years.
Omaha became home to several Burundian families and we had the pleasure of meeting two young men from those families this summer, as they joined us on Peak Challenge.
In our minds as men from America, the mountains are symbols of adventure and freedom. They create in you that sense of wild and challenge. The famous poet Willam Blake once wrote “Great things happens when men and mountains meet…not by jostling in the street.”
We thought the same would be true for our Burundian brothers. But the stories that they told us made us painfully aware that what seems like a playground for some is a nightmare for others.
They opened their hearts and told us about the years that they spent in the refugee camps…. with litle food, water or shelter. They described the pain of leaving family members there as they headed off to America. But the most gripping memory that they shared was the description of the mountains as a place to hide from the death and destruction that was brought on by warring factions in Burundi.
To them, the mountains were not a place of beauty and of challenge. Instead, they were a memory of what had taken place in Burundi and a reminder of the pain and loss that had been suffered.
It took several days for these young men to see that the mountains could be a place of good… of promise and hope and strength. It took 100 other men to help these two young men see that God was there for them in the mountains.
At the end of Peak Challenge, it took the courage of one of the young Burundian men to speak out in the closing prayer to express his love of God…. his thankfulness for the mountains…. and his joy of finding 100 new friends that he could call his brothers.
We all learned something that night.