Do what you love to end what you hate.
That’s a motto by which Monroe pastor Josh Hebert lives .
He loves climbing mountain, and he hates slavery.
So he and friends are climbing mountains to raise money to help women and children out of sexual slavery in other countries, and in August, 26 friends from five states will gather with him to climb Mt. Adams to raise $75,000.
Hebert, 42, is fairly new to mountain climbing; although the Alaska native enjoyed hiking and skiing as a youth.
But in 2008, a couple of friends with mountaineering experience agreed to take him and several other friends up Mt. Rainier.
“Rainier is the hardest thing I’ve done,” said Hebert, who is pastor of Eastlake Community Church’s Monroe campus.
While living in Alaska, he’d worked for a while as a house builder, building houses in the dead of winter in the towns of King Salmon and Cold Bay.
“Climbing Rainier was on a par with that,” he said. “There is a point where you have to mentally force your body to keep moving.”
Grueling as it sounds, he loved it. He also enjoyed the camaraderie of training and climbing with a team, the way the team got to the top together or not at all, the mental and physical challenge and even the preparation and planning.
And the beauty of the mountains is incomparable.
“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “Even at base camp you are looking down at the Cascades. And you never look at the mountain the same way again. I was coming back on the ferry once and looked at Rainier and had an overwhelming feeling of, ‘I was on top of that.’”
But even as he was learning a love of mountaineering, a new passion was taking shape. One of the friends with whom he climbed Rainier had gone to visit a friend in India who was running a project called Project Rescue.
“He came back telling us these stories,” said Hebert. “And two weeks before the climb, he said, ‘What if we attached a cause to our climb?’”
They agreed to set a goal of raising a dollar for each foot that they would climb. They beat their goal of $14,410, raising more than $15,000 in just two weeks.
The group started out passionate about mountain climbing and using that to raise money. Now, they are passionate about ending slavery, and are using mountain climbing to do it, said Hebert. So they started a group called Climbing for Captives and decided to do climbing fundraisers on a regular basis.
Since then, Hebert has climbed Mt. Adams and Mt. Baker, as well, each time raising money to help fight sex trade slavery around the world.
As of last year, he is raising money for a new organization called Rescue: Freedom. Through that organization, he’s able to work toward one single concrete project.
“They have a specific home in India for 40 girls, primarily the children of prostitutes, that we were able to rescue, and we funded that home for a year,” he said. “And we were able to send eight girls to college.”
This year the team has set a goal of $75,000 to support the building and the people sheltered in it.
They send 100 percent of what they raise to their non-profit partners.
While the number of slaves in the Unites States is a matter of considerable debate, worldwide, sex slavery is a lucrative and growing business with as many as 27 million people, 80 percent of whom are women and children, in slavery each day. That means that more people are enslaved today than at any other time in history.
To learn more, and to help support Climb for Captives, visit http://www.climbforcaptives.com/.