Nepal climb a quest for Mesa man intent on helping victims of human trafficking
Three things have been the compass points for Marc Maurer as he’s navigated through life.
For most of his 53 years, mountains, family and religion have guided the Western Slope native.
Maurer is in Nepal this week, where he plans to summit Mera Peak at 21,247 feet.
Mera Peak, which is called the highest trekking peak in the world, is in the Himalayas and faces Mount Everest.
Even though it’s classified as a trekking peak, Maurer said he will still be using crampons and an ice axe as he navigates the rugged climb.
October is one of best times to make climbs in the Himalayas but it will still be cold, with temperatures dropping to 20 below zero and brutal wild chill factors.
Even though the highest point he’s ever gone is 14,433 feet — Colorado’s Mount Elbert — he’s not too worried about trekking up Mera Peak.
“I don’t have any major concerns,” he said before departing. “I’m nervous but nervous with anticipation.”
Maurer, who was born in Lake City and now lives in Mesa, has put in the miles and the training to prepare him for his trip that begins Thursday.
He moved to the Grand Valley in 1978 and started his architecture business, Genesis Designs, in 1991.
He’s done four fourteeners in the past year and logs between 12 and 20 miles on the trail each week. He has put in more than 350 miles with more than 100,000 feet of elevation gain and loss since April.
The trek will be 16 days long and Maurer will use a sherpa to help with his gear and will join a group for the climb. The trek, which begins at 9,000 feet, will have three acclimation days to help climbers adjust to the thinner oxygen levels.
The trip to Nepal will be Maurer’s third and the trek to 21,247 is more about the big picture than the big climb.
Whether it’s about finding outdoor adventures or letting his strong Christian beliefs guide him, Maurer is rarely standing still.
The main goal of the Nepal trek is to raise money and awareness for victims of human trafficking in Nepal.
Through a friend who lives in Nepal and from his two visits to the country, Maurer said he was shocked at how the sex trade has affected young women there.
“I couldn’t turn a blind eye to them,” he said. “I had to do something and I decided that climbing Mera Peak as a fundraiser was something I could do.”
In 2010, through his church, Mesa View Church, Maurer started the Christian-based organization Beyond the Giant Ministries International.
Maurer is blunt when he explains his motivation behind starting the organization.
“I was rather put-back at the lack of participation by a lot of people who are in churches, who don’t get out of the pew, so to speak,” he said. “Many people treat church as a social club.”
Maurer said one passage serves as one of his guiding forces.
The latter part of Matthew 28 refers to “The Great Commission.” In it, Jesus Christ tells the disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations.”
Maurer, who is one of three pastors at Mesa View Church, said he views the term “all nations” to mean all people. The word that he considers a mandate is the word “go.”
“It means to be involved, to go,” he explained.
The name “Beyond the Giant” also has a very strong spiritual meaning that comes from the story of David and Goliath.
“David had to look beyond the giant,” Maurer explained.
Goliath was just an obstacle to the great cause, which was “God’s glory,” he said.
This isn’t the first cause in Nepal for Maurer and his organization, which raised funds for an orphanage that took children off the streets and gave them food, shelter and clothing.
Maurer indeed practices what he preaches and gets out of the pew.
He said that two Nepalese women moved him with their stories, their faith and their kindness.
Both women, either through relatives or missionaries, discovered the Gospel and were influenced to convert to Christianity, Maurer said.
One women, Sanja, now has 14 children that she cares for at the orphanage. After being evicted from one house because the children made too much noise, Beyond the Giant raised money to get them into another house.
Maurer said when he visited Sanja, he noticed her shoes were worn through but she still was supporting the orphanage over some of her own needs.
Once an orphan herself, Sanja let her faith lead her, and was supporting the orphanage with her own money.
“She said ‘we just pray and God provides,’ ‘’ Maurer said. “When she found the hope in Christ herself, she felt the need to reach out and help these children.”
The other women that left an indelible impression on Maurer was Pawana. After she was tied to a tree and beaten unconscious when she was 16, she ran away and lived with prostitutes, but never became one herself.
“It was then she found the love of Christ,” Maurer said.
Pawana now works with victims of human trafficking to get them training and give them hope, Maurer said.
According to the Nepal Monitor, more than 7,500 children are taken from Nepal a year and forced to work in the commercial sex trade.
Maurer hopes to raise more than $21,000, or $1 for every foot of Mera Peak.
Maurer’s get-out-the-pew philosophy has taken hold with his church and he estimates 85 percent members have gone on missions or participated in helping others in one way or another.