Saturday morning. 9:45am. There’s a bunch of ill-equipped people embarking on a four mile hike through Forest Park…fancy sneakers, designer shades, and not a clue in the world. They’re sweating bullets half way through. There’s a hill that just knocks the breath out of them. There are bugs flying into their mouths and every leaf looks like poison ivy. Little chipmunks play along the path and every now and then the group marks the spot they see berries in case they get lost and have to come back for sustenance! Now why would they subject themselves to all this? Because I asked them to.
Every single one of them are a part of Hope Ambassadors, a ministry at HopeNYC dedicated to training missionaries before sending them into the mission field. If you’re a member of Hope Ambassadors, we’ll teach you a language, prepare you with travel necessities, and attempt to acclimatize you before you even step foot on an airplane. We’re looking to reduce culture shock. We’re looking to teach proper mission trip etiquette (don’t use up all the water if there’s no running water!). We’ll let you know if you need to bring a pillow, sleeping bag, or toilet paper!
Now back to the hiking trip. A key part of Ambassador training is purely physical. We want our missionaries to be accustomed to walking long distances. They may have to climb a mountain to get to an isolated area. We want to condition their bodies to withstand unfamiliar environments and climates. We want them to be physically capable for any trip they may take. Not only is it beneficial to them, it benefits their fellow missionaries as well! I was so proud of the few who showed up on Saturday morning. It wasn’t so much about the hiking; I wasn’t looking to see who the best at it was. Rather, I was gauging the willingness and the determination. Just by showing up, I could tell they were ready to commit to wherever this journey is going to lead us!