Survey Mission: Tacadang
How far would you go … to help someone?
By Ace Concordia
To what extent would you go to help someone? What are you willing to give up so that someone else could have a better life?
For some reason these were the questions running through my mind as I made one of the hardest climbs of my life. As part of the preparation for the arrival of climbers from Climbing For Christ, my friend Jhun and I went on a survey trip to Kibungan in the Benguet province. We were supposed to do a half-day climb to a place called Madaymen. But upon learning that we would like to help the people of the mountains, our missionary friends encouraged us to go to a place called Tacadang. Very few people visited that place due to the difficulty of getting there. Even our host, who has only gone to Tacadang once, did not want to go back. It would take a whole day or at least ten hours of climbing up and down four mountain passes to reach Tacadang.
It was a climb that could only be described as beautiful, but dangerous. The scenery of the mountains of Benguet is simply breathtaking! As you climb, numerous waterfalls can be seen on the side of the mountains. You cross raging rivers on suspended bridges. Pine trees surround you and rice terraces are visible from the mountains. But on the other side of this beauty was the difficulty of the terrain. We were able to try out two different trails. The first was on going to Tacadang, the trail was called “Almasid.” It was literally going up and down mountain trails with long assaults. There was only one dangerous part, which was the ravine crossing on the entrance to Tacadang. The ledge was just about a foot wide; on one side was a rock face covered in moss and on the other side was a sheer drop. The other trail was the one we took going home called “Abas.” This had only two ascents one at the beginning and at the end and a long descent in the middle. But this descent was filled with very intimidating cliff crossings. Ledges again that were just about a foot wide stretched for long distances. We spent about five hours cautiously navigating the seemingly endless ravines that dropped hundreds of feet down. It is not a place for the faint hearted.
Tacadang has a population of about 2,000 people scattered over a wide mountain area. Planting rice and vegetables are the main source of food and income. I also learned that there was a religion in Tacadang called “Christian Science.” The only church in Tacadang has no pastor; it has been like that for a while, and it’s been quite a while since any missionaries have visited Tacadang. The Christian church is closed and not used.
Jesus also spent a great deal of time traveling from one place to another, from one city to the next. He traveled through desserts, rivers, mountains, and seas. During these travels he faced violent storms, unrelenting heat, cold nights, and perilous terrain. He experienced hunger, thirst, and physical exhaustion. His feet must have been well worn from all the walking, His skin burned by the sun, His eyes blinded by the sand, His clothes drenched by rain. Yet despite all this He did not stop walking, He kept moving. He knew He carried an important message about God’s love and that He needed to deliver to as many people as possible during His time here on earth. It did not matter to Him how far, or how difficult the journey might be. It did not matter that the journey may cost Him His life. Through all these difficult travels, He never uttered a word of complaint. Jesus was the ultimate example of what true love is all about. It’s about setting aside your conveniences and privilege’s to ensure a better future for others.
We reached Tacadang after a difficult 11-hour trek. It rained for the most of the climb. I was wet, tired, hungry, and getting weaker by the minute. I was physically exhausted. I complained and grumbled more than usual. I had lost track of why I was there. That’s what made me weak — losing sight of my purpose, and seeing only my selfish needs.
On our second day I was able to talk to the people of Tacadang and found out about their needs and the difficulty of their lives on the mountain. I also learned about how much they hungered to hear from God. This changed my view of our circumstances. Now I was so blessed to be in Tacadang. I didn’t see the obstacles any more, only the opportunity to become a blessing. When it was time to take the long trek back home, I carried with me the hopes of the people of Tacadang, and that was enough motivation for me to keep on walking.
What kept Jesus walking? What made Him so determined to cross great distances? When I think about it now, it must have been because He never focused on what He needed; His deepest concern was the needs of others. He put one foot in front of the other because He knew somewhere someone was waiting to hear a message that would bring hope into his or her life.