I’ve always lived in an urban area. How hard is it to adjust to a rural or jungle environment?

“Missionaries go where the people are.”

While some of the world’s least-reached people have been cut off from the gospel by geographic challenges — they are nomads, or live in jungles or high mountain valleys — many more, today, are found in the world’s cities. In fact, half the world’s population now lives in cities.

The numbers are growing. If you feel at home in an urban environment, do not be surprised if God leads you to work in one.

Some of the same challenges apply. You may still face that extreme heat and high humidity, bugs and snakes and spiders, and sometimes have to do without water, fuel, and electricity.

You’ll likely be exposed to more crime and worse pollution than you’d find in a rural or remote environment. Even if you are surrounded by people, they may seem hostile, indifferent, or unresponsive. 

Yet cities are full of people for whom Christ was sent and on whom he has compassion. God has left his fingerprints on the world’s people: both on you and on those he will send you to live among.

Answer from Marti, who has served in missions for twenty years and currently serves with Pioneers.

“The jungle is hard but worth it for the gospel.”

I have served the remote mountainous areas of Honduras and the Mosquito Coast for several years and can say that it is rewarding but also demanding. Some simple questions to ask yourself: 

  • Am I willing to work in extreme heat and high humidity? 
  • Can I travel hours per day in the hot sun in order to bring the gospel of Christ to remote jungle and mountain areas? 
  • Am I willing to live on meager means for months at a time?
  • Am I willing to travel by any means (water, animal, foot, etc.) to reach areas that are remote? 
  • Am I willing to go without the everyday items I have in my home country, fitting all of my personal belongings in a backpack? 
  • Am I willing to sleep among bugs and spiders? 

If you cannot answer “yes” to these questions, then mission trips to remote areas will be a challenge for you. If you’re willing to forsake all to spread the gospel to others, then God’s grace will be more than sufficient.

My suggestion is that you try a two to four-week mission trip to a remote area to grasp a better understanding of what is required — physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Answer from Marty, who has served for five years in Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua with Shekinah International Missions.

“Such adjustments are hard for some people but not others.”

It depends on the individual’s life experiences and his/her world view. In my own case I experienced no problems at all. I know others who did not stay very long, quit, and returned to their own countries.

Answer from Malcolm, who served for nine years in Indonesia and Cambodia with Peoples of the Earth.

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