My name is Christopher Adams, or if you know me from Project Forty, I go by Topher. I have been volunteering with Project Forty for the past 3 years, helping with Backyard Adventures and Co-guiding trips. I was invited by Matt to join his ministry, starting full time starting this January (working part time now). I am currently living on the island of St Maarten with my wife Courtney while she pursues medical school. I would like to take this opportunity to tell you about my journey with Christ and how he eventually put this ministry on my heart.
I grew up in a Christian home, with my parents and two sisters, with our church being the only community I had. I was in Sunday school with my two best friends and would see them on our Wednesday night youth as well. My best friends and I were all homeschooled, and our moms had us in the same home groups. I had my parent’s faith going through this season. My friends and I weren’t exactly angels at church. It was more of a hang out for us where we constantly found ourselves getting into trouble. It was almost a weekly thing for our parents to give us punishment after church.
Things changed going into the 2000s. Our church started having issues. I was too young to remember what the actual issue was, but suddenly everyone started to leave the church. I watched as less, and less familiar faces were there on Sunday mornings. A time that I use to enjoy waking up, to hang out with my friends became a search to find people I even knew. Our family was one of the last of their friend group to leave the church. On top of losing the only community us kids ever knew, we were in the midst of the recession. I remember the recession hitting our family hard initially, my dad was between jobs and my homeschool teacher, aka my mom, went back to work full time to help. This left all the kids getting tossed into public school systems and putting a shock to our systems. While we tried to find different churches to settle into, I myself was trying to find community in public schools. It was a hard time, trying to make new friends at a school I didn’t fit into. We tried a couple of new churches and settled on one to commit to. Talking to my parents now, they regret staying at that church for so long. They never really felt like the church really accepted them and none of us kids were able to connect with the youth group there.
As time went on, I started establishing a friend base through middle school and high school. I played football and lacrosse through school but never connected with many teammates. I found myself mostly connected with a couple of new neighbor kids. We spent most of our time either in the woods or on the water. Exploring nature and going on our own small adventures and coming away with some amazing stories and memories. As school went on, I started making similar friends who were into similar activities such as hunting and fishing.
However, with the lack of Christian community, I fell out of my relationship with God. I started to rebel all the way through high school. I was in a dark place for a long time, and it just became normal to me. I was in my early twenties when my sister started getting connected in a young adult ministry. She bugged me to go with her for months before I caved in and went with her. It had to be God moving in my life, as the first or second time I went with her they were signing up for small group studies. Normally I would have just ignored it, but something pushed me to try it. This was the turning point in regaining my walk with Christ. Through this small group I was able to get with people who loved God. I still hold close friendships within this small group, and several are some of my closest friends. My eyes were opened to seeing how dark of a place I had been in for so long. I recommitted my life to God and have been growing ever since.
Unfortunately, I had to distance myself from some of my friends to avoid falling back into sinful habits I had developed. I started exploring outdoor activities, since that’s where I always enjoy spending my time. I had a couple of motorcycles at this point and after having quite a few close calls on them I decided riding them wasn’t worth the risk for me. I parked my bikes for the winter and decided to sell them the following season. I was enjoying going to the gym but wanted a more enjoyable way to fit in some cardio. I used the motorcycle money to buy my first mountain bike and fell in love with the sport. I stopped going to the gym all together and spent all my free time hitting the trails. My cousin shared a Facebook post around the same time showing a local ice climbing tower. It looked like the coolest thing ever. I called them and asked them for some more information about coming out to climb. They told me to go to a rock-climbing gym to learn the ropes before heading out to ice. I Invited one of my friends from church to come learn with me. We both intended to learn how to belay then go ice climbing. Let’s just say it took me over two years to make it to the ice tower. I had fully fell in love with rock climbing and the community that was involved with it. It felt just like the first day of my small group, accepted and encouraged by anyone you met. It challenges you physically and mentally, it takes you to some of the prettiest locations and creates some of the most epic adventures with stories to follow. Not long after I, met a guy selling chalk bags on Facebook who introduced me to the idea of connecting these activities with God.
As I reflect on the past, it is so clear to me that God has had His hand in it all. He used my sister to bring me back to church, He brought a small group in my life to fill the void of Christian community, and He orchestrated meeting Matt through an ad on Facebook who would open a world of ministry that I did not know existed. Despite all the brokenness in my past, He brought my wife Courtney into my life and gave me a partner to follow Christ with. God has been so good, and I know He has had his hand in my decision to go on staff with Project Forty.