Christian missions provide great services for communities around the world. Throughout their histories, Christian missions have provided food, education, clothing, health services and a number of other basic needs for those mired in poverty and societal upheaval. These missions are constantly delving into even more dangerous parts of the world, and the environments in which they take place are some of the most dangerous on the planet. While most of these missions are safely controlled, unusual circumstances can potentially lead missionaries to have to survive for themselves. Here are four survival skills Christian missionaries should master.
1) Finding Water
Humans can survive for a long period of time without food. Water, on the other hand, is crucial for short-term survival. Christian missionaries should have some basic knowledge about how to find safe water to drink. One fact to keep in mind is the fact that flowing water is almost always safe to drink. Water that is not moving, on the other hand, may be dangerous. Those in deserts should learn about the local flora to find out if any contain water; many cacti, for example, are filled with water that is safe to drink. Solar stills use a hole in the ground and a clear plastic material to create clean drinking water.
2) Starting Fire
Missionaries who find themselves isolated may need to know how to start a fire. Cold night temperatures are dangerous, and fire is necessary to cook certain foods. Fire also keeps dangerous animals away. In addition, fire is one of the best ways to increase one’s chances of being found. There are a number of techniques that can be used to start fires. One is to use a lens on a pair of sunglasses to focus the sun on flammable material. Another option is to use wood; a hard piece of wood rubbed in a notch on a softer piece of wood can create enough friction to spark a fire, and a primitive bow using a shoelace can be used to create a “bow drill” that has been used by many cultures to start fires.
3) Identifying Edible Flora and Fauna
Those who are alone for extended periods of time will eventually need to eat, and each region has plants and animals that are edible and those that are not. By learning what can be eaten if necessary before leaving, Christian missionaries can better ensure long-term survival. Berries and mushrooms, for example, can provide valuable calories and nutrition, but poisonous berries and mushrooms can cause dangerous illnesses, dehydration and even death. Experimentation is not an option while stranded, and this information must be learned before becoming stranded. Guidebooks often have this information.
4) Navigation and Language
In some cases, a missionary must travel and try to find others who can help. Studies have shown that humans tend to travel in circles when they are just walking, so basic navigation skills are necessary to ensure that one is traveling where he or she intends to go. Navigating by the sun and stars is easy to learn. Knowledge of local languages and phrases can help as well; after coming to a village or town, basic communication skills may be necessary to contact others in the mission. A phrase book can be an invaluable resource if one has come upon an unfamiliar village.
Kevin Davis is a Christian youth pastor and guest author at OnlineChristianColleges.com, where he contributed to the guide to the Top 10 Best Online Christian Colleges.