Spirit of the Rainforest: The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Tribal Missions

Over the next few post, we will be looking at and reviewing the book, “Spirit of the Rainforest: A Yanomamo Shaman’s Story” by Mark Ritchie. This book tells the story of the Yanomamo tribe located in the Amazon Rainforest of South America. It tells the story of how this tribe has evolved over the last 30-40 years and that outsiders have had on them.  

Spirit of the Rainforest offers a glimpse into how tribal missions have played out for this one particular tribe. The book recounts some of the most brutal and barbaric stories of this culture. A group of individuals that was overwhelmed with the evils of this world. This included gang-rapes, dismemberment’s, torture, violent killing of babies, and many more atrocities. The book is at times hard to read because of these violent stories and how these people treat others. It is also a reminder of the effect evilness and demons can have on a culture. Throughout the book, there are stories of the shamans interacting with these spirits. It also shows how much these evil spirits try to keep the shaman’s and tribe away from healing power of God. They will go to great lengths to cloud the people’s mind. As one tribe flourishes because Christianity is introduced and practiced, their light and love and peace become infectous to the other tribes. However, as more of the tribes become converted, a sociological war breaks out between the missionaries and anthropologists. The missionaries try to help the tribes, while the anthropologists try to convince the Yanomamo people to stay true to their culture and tradition. It is amazing to hear how the people want to change and see the benefits of moving to the Christian faith.

While many of the the tribes seek out their own missionary, there are a number of stories of bad and fake missionaries that are taking advantage of the unsuspecting tribes. While these missionaries are supposed to be there to help and evangelize, they instead offer a horrible example. At times, they do just as many horrible atrocities to these people including taking advantage of them, raping men, women, and children, taking pornographic photos, and abusing them. The way some of these “missionaries” treated the tribes people, ruined much of the amazing work the God had done through these wonderful missionaries. It was so bad, that some of the tribes wanted nothing to do with these outsiders because of the pain that was associated with them.

As will be shown over the next few posts, it will be shown how God loves all people and how one spark can cause an amazing reaction. This one little spark caused such a stir that so many people left everything to follow this new way that brought peace to a people that never knew it. It removed fear and anger, and turned a culture of revenge into a community of forgiveness. This is a reminder of the spiritual warfare that we all face everyday, and while this book portrays how demons work, it also offers a glimpse into how God will use angels even to protect his people. This book will show many believers some of the best and worst tactics to use for evangelism, not only in tribal missions but in normal missional daily living.

The background and plot of the story will be given in the next post, but below is a brief introduction to the book and what to expect. This paper was meant to be short so many of the details were left out, but hopefully it will show a good summary level of the book and its application. For any interested, the book can be found here: Spirit of the Rainforest


Spirit of the Rainforest: A Critical Review

Spirit of the Rainforest, tells the story of the Yanomamo tribe and  lifestyle through the perspective of a powerful shaman named “Jungleman” over a 30 year time span. The book provides a glimpse into the Yanomamo culture that shows their reliance and interaction with various spirits, a revenge mentality, and views regarding women and children. Spirit of the Rainforest also details the positive and negative encounters and impacts of anthropologists and Christian missionaries on the Yanomamo villages. This review will provide a summary of Spirit of the Rainforest, compare the Yanomamo worldview and culture with my own, and finally describe how this author would communicate the concepts of the spirit world, humanity, and sin to the Yanomamo.


One thought on “Spirit of the Rainforest: The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Tribal Missions

  1. Pingback: Spirit of the Rainforest: A Summary | Seeking Our God

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