When you lock up your house at night, do you remember to close the metal gate at the top of the stairs? And the one at the front door…and the back door? Do you sometimes worry that your husband (or wife) might be kidnapped by a terrorist group while on a routine business trip? Do you regularly rehearse the “what-to-do-in-case-of-a-terrorist-attack-when-we-go-shopping” speech with your teens? Do you feel fearful of your safety on election day? Can you easily tell the difference between semi-automatic and machine gun fire?
Many Gospel workers in the world today can answer YES to most, if not all, of those questions. Even as you sit reading this, somewhere in the world a missionary is facing a hostile situation. It could be an act of terrorism, kidnapping, local armed conflict or crime, election violence, or all-out war. Historically, missionaries have traveled and lived in difficult places in order to share the Good News. It often means leaving family and culture and the “safety” of the familiar.
Seventeen years ago, when our family first moved to Zambia as missionaries, our primary fears revolved around things like deadly tropical illnesses, snakes, and unclean water. Occasionally (when we traveled to Johannesburg) we would worry about crime. In early 2013, we moved to Nairobi and crime was a big concern. But it really wasn’t until the Westgate terrorist attack and subsequently the evacuation of our team from South Sudan that we began to realize how pervasive the threat of terrorism and war has become in missions and what a toll it takes on missionary families.
Many people in our churches never stop to think about the specific dangers global workers face. News events “over there” seem a world away. But they are up-close and uncomfortable for your missionary! I encourage you to send an email and ask them what dangers or insecurities they are facing currently? How can you best pray for them? And do they need extra support to buy that metal gate for their front door or even money for a plane ticket if an evacuation is a possibility?
Don’t assume that your missionary is so well financed that they have everything they need for security. We once knew a family who had to choose between buying a security door with a good lock and paying rent!
And please don’t think that they are so spirit-filled that they don’t lose sleep when bullets are flying outside or there are rumors of unrest. Psalm 56:3 says “WHEN I am afraid, I will trust in You.” (emphasis mine). The truth is, sometimes we are afraid. We must be wise AND faith-filled. Anyone who works in global missions must be aware that there are very real dangers, and we are not promised protection from every bad thing. But God does promise to be with us in trouble (Psalm 23:4). He also commands us to pray for one another (Ephesian 6:18).
So hold your missionary up in prayer! And make sure they have what they need to live where they do!