The author of a new book which explores ways of responding to the call of Jesus has explained how he fond his faith after enduring a near death experience while ice climbing in Norway.
Steve Aisthorpe, who argues that the church has become domesticated, revealed that he prayed to God for help when he lost his strength near the top of a cliff as light began to fade.
He was hanging on his ice axes and feared that he could fall to his death and take his climbing companion with him.
Mr Aisthorpe said he put his trust in God for the first time and managed to scale what was the steepest section of the ice cliff with newly-found strength that was “not his own”.
The Church of Scotland mission development worker recalled the terrifying incident in the latest episode of It’s a Fair Question with Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly.
The pair met in the Cairngorms in the Highlands near the author’s home to discuss his compelling book Rewilding the Church.
It uses the metaphor of rewilding – allowing natural forces to “take the driving seat” – to inspire people to rediscover the adventure of following Jesus and to challenge domesticated or risk-averse expressions of church.
Dr Fair, a keen hill walker and mountaineer, said: “If I had a difficult mountain ascent facing me, there’s no one I would rather have as my guide than Steve.
“And having worked with him and read his first book, The Invisible Church, there are few others I would rather have as a guide into the unknown territory of what lies ahead for the Church.
“This book confirms that Steve is a reliable and astute guide.”
Mr Aisthorpe, who made headlines in 2018 after the bodies of two climber friends were found in the Himalayas 30 years after they went missing, said he was an atheist until his early 20s and the incident in Norway marked a “turning point”.
He described Jesus as a compelling person who speaks with wisdom and acts with courage.