I’m starting off with this myth because it was a misconception I had for a looonngg time. When I first heard about tribal missions (what is this?), I thought, “well, that sounds like a great occupation if you’re an adventure-loving, thrill-seeking, outdoorsy type of person.” I figured most tribal missionaries either grew up in the jungle, or had lived in a cabin in the woods most of their life, probably went camping every weekend, and could probably be a contestant (if not a winner) on one of those survival shows on TV.
I honestly have NO idea where I got that idea in my head. I’m sure outdoor/adventure/survival/Boy Scout skills would be really handy out there in the jungle. I know it would help to be at least vaguely familiar with (or at least interested in) the out-of-doors before opting to move your whole family into a steamy, tropical rainforest environment that’s only accessible by plane and then a 3-day canoe trip.
However, just because those skills and interests might be helpful in tribal missions does not make them a requirement, nor does it mean that every person involved in tribal missions is ‘outdoorsy’. Exhibit A: yours truly. I grew up in the heart of a city that had 1.5 million people. I was surrounded by tall buildings and traffic, people and pollution. Still to this day, I find the sunrise on a city skyline to be one of the most beautiful sights in the world. What can I say? I’m a city girl.
So, when God burdened my heart to be His ambassador to those who have never heard the Gospel before, I wasn’t exactly thrilled that living out in the middle of nowhere came as part of that package deal. Taking the training that New Tribes Mission offers has certainly helped me feel better equipped to survive in the out-of-doors, but it didn’t transform me from a city-slicker to a Girl Scout by any means. Thankfully, God provided me with a husband (Josiah) who grew up in a tribal location and has every outdoors/jungle skill imaginable (and then some!)…but still, I’m not ‘outdoorsy’. And that’s okay with me. God isn’t asking me to do only things that are comfortable, easy, or line up with my preferences and interests. His heart is for people from every tribe, tongue, nation, and people to have a relationship with Him. And if making Him known to the ends of the earth means I have to get out of my comfort zone and into the jungle, then so be it.