It’s a little hard to comprehend. Greg Nettle and I have summited eleven peaks together! I remember the view, and the feeling, from the top of each one! The most memorable, however, has to be the first one … Kilimanjaro.

Initially we hadn’t planned on it being a fundraising climb. At the time we were both serving at RiverTree Christian Church, me as an elder, and Greg as Senior Pastor. Together we were going to Tanzania to look at a “home orphanage” partnership RiverTree was doing with Compassion International. A home orphanage is where, instead of removing an orphan from their village, Compassion International’s staff in that country would find a home in the village and contract with an established family to take in 5-6 orphans and raise them as their own. That way the child never leaves their village, friends, school, or church. It was a great concept that seemed to work really well. Climbing Kili was a challenge we had simply decided to try while we were over there.

About three months before we were scheduled to climb we challenged each other to raise $1.00 for every foot we were climbing.  The climb starts at 4,600 feet, and summits at 19,340 feet, so if you were to support us at one penny a foot, you would owe us $147.40 at the end of the climb. If we both reached our $1/ft. goal, we would each raise $14,740, for a total of $29,480 together. We ended up raising slightly over $53,000 dollars!

At the end of the climb we met with the Compassion International Tanzania staff and went to look at the home orphanage we had jointly started. At that time, it took $11,500 the first year to start one home orphanage, and $10,000 a year thereafter to maintain. Each home orphanage can care for six orphans. Greg asked the staff “so what is your current need?” The director replied “We have identified 12 orphans living on the streets of Moshi right now who need a home.”  That day Greg and I committed the $53,000 to start two new households to care for those 12 kids, and keep them running for 2-1/2 years!

The six-day climb to 19,340 feet was an awesome adventure. Together Greg and I had about 120 people who had sponsored us. It was great to be able to go back and tell them about the climb, and also to tell them about what their sponsorship helped accomplish.

But the best is yet to come. Someday, when Greg and I reach heaven, there will be twelve people coming up to us, people we have never met, saying “Thank you for what you did. Thank you for giving us a chance.”

Tom Patton, Stadia Partner
Canton, OH

Tom Patton is a retired hospital pharmacist. He became friends with Greg Nettle in the early days of RiverTree 20+ years ago, when he made a commitment to be one of Greg’s prayer partners. They have prayed for each other, and for RiverTree, daily since then. Tom worked alongside Greg as an Elder for many years as God blessed RiverTree and the communities it serves.

This July, Greg and Julie Nettle will take a 50 mile trek up yet another mountain. This one will take them to an altitude of more than 15,000 feet! Their goal is to raise over $150,000 to bring the hope of Jesus to children through local churches in Souther Asia. Support the Nettle’s endeavor and invest in these children by clicking the link below.