Since we began sharing with people of our plans to serve the Lord in Ethiopia we have had a reacurring question related to the safety of our family. The question comes in a variety of forms such as, "Is it safe to live there?" "To what kind of diseases will you be exposed?" "What is the political situation like?" "Are Christians persecuted there?" "Will there be good medical facilities?" "Are you taking your children with you?" etc. These kinds of questions are very understandable and we have asked all of them ourselves. They basically all relate to the question of risk. To put it plainly, many people wonder, "Is it right to put your family at risk for the sake of the ministry?" Some would answer, "NO" and others "YES." We have had to wrestle with this a lot and it has not been easy.
Since this is such a common question, we thought it would be good to share some things that we have learned about taking risks. By the way, I think all of these things came from a couple of sermons that John Piper preached on Risk and the Cause of God and his book entitled, "Don't Waste Your Life." (see links below)
- All of life is risk because we do not know how things will turn out. God does not intend for us to know what will happen tomorrow or the next day or the next moment. If we always knew there would be no need for faith in God (Consider James 4:13-15).
- God takes no risks because he knows all things and can accomplish all that he sets out to accomplish. Since He takes no risks we are able to put our lives completely in His capable hands and know that our security lies with Him alone.
- We live under a Myth of Security thinking that we are completely safe in some situations and completely unsafe in others. But in every part of life we face unknowns and things that are out of control. We all take a risk driving our cars everyday and we never think twice about it. Piper says that "the tragedy is that in the deceptive enchantment of security (where we take risks for ourselves everyday without knowing it!) we are paralyzed to take any risks for the cause of God, because we are deluded and think it may jeopardize a security which in fact does not even exist."
- God often calls His people to take risks for the sake of the spread of His Kingdom (Consider the following examples--Esther 4:13-16; Daniel 3; Paul's Whole Life). By the way, the disciples were told in Luke 21:16 that some of them would die for their faith. History tells us that all but John were martyred for their faith. Have you considered that most if not all of these were men with families (see 1 Cor. 9:5)? Was it wise for Jesus to call these disciples to a ministry that would get them killed when that could put their family's wellbeing in danger. Jesus knew how He would take care of their families, but they probably didn't. For them it was risk.
- If all the missionaries who have brought the Gospel to risky places had not done so because it was too risky many of the unreached people groups around the world would not be reached today. Just think about all the stories you have heard about missionaries and their families who have suffered for the sake of Christ. If you haven't heard any pick up a book like Foxes Book of Martyrs and read it.
- To be a Christian in the first three centuries was to risk your life. This is still the case for many around the world today. One magazine that we have really benefited from is Voice of the Martyrs which talks about persecuted Christians around the world (check out their website at http://www.persecution.org/).
We would really encourage you to read and/or listen to the two messages below. THEY ARE NOT ONLY FOR MISSIONARIES GOING TO FOREIGN LANDS. You will see that they apply to each and every follower of Christ. We pray that you too will be challenged and encouraged to give more of your life away to Jesus to be used in any way He desires. When we follow Him wherever He leads, we simply cannot fail. God calls us to radical discipleship, but he also promises radical blessings. As William Carey, the founder of the modern mission movement, said, "Expect Great Things for God...Attempt Great Things for God."
You can listen to John Piper preach these sermons or read them by simply clicking on one of the links below (We would definitely encourage you to listen if possible). We would love to talk more about this issue with any who are interested so please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We pray that we will all grow in Christ as we consider these things together.
Risk & the Cause of God-Part 1
Risk & the Cause of God-Part 1