Sermon Illustrations

In 1996, more people died on Mount Everest than any year before or since. It could have been a lot worse. A Russian climber named Anatoli Boukereev was working as a guide on a commercial expedition. On May 10th, he helped prepare the final stretch of trail to the summit. He reached the top ahead of his clients, and noticed that the weather was getting bad. He wanted to tell them to turn around, but he didn’t have the authority—the expedition was led by Scott Fischer.

Anatoli raced down to camp, hurrying past clients that were still on their way up the mountain. He reached the camp ahead of the storm; he climbed into his sleeping bag and starting drinking lots of hot tea. By that time, everybody saw the weather was about to get bad, and some people accused Anatoli of abandoning his clients to save himself.

Anatoli knew what he was doing, even though nobody else in the camp did. He was recharging so that he could respond to the inevitable tragedy. Anatoli didn’t care about the critics; he cared about his clients.

The weather got terrible; it closed in on many climbers who were coming down the mountain, stranding them far away from the safety of their camp. Soon it was night, the wind was deafening, and the blowing snow made flashlights useless. That’s when Anatoli went into action. He hiked up and down the mountain—by himself—searching for lost climbers. He found every lost climber that belonged to his team—and even saved some from other expeditions. Scott Fischer, the team leader, was still high on the mountain. By the time Anatoli reached him, the sun was coming up—and Scott was dead.

Anatoli’s effort has been called the most amazing high-altitude rescue in the history of Himalayan climbing. He knew the alpine rules, and he followed them perfectly. When he saw tragedy approaching, he got himself into condition so that he could respond effectively.

A tragedy may be about to erupt in the life of someone close to you. What kind of condition are you in? Are you starting to understand that taking care of your self is something that you need to do for others?