Isn't it irresponsible to send gospel workers to places that are considered dangerous and where people may face persecution for responding to Christ? When Jesus sent out his disciples with the warning “Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves,” was he speaking only to a fearless few, or were his words for us too?
Pioneer missionaries don't view themselves as spiritual superheroes or hard-core Christians. Frontiers is an international community of ordinary followers of Jesus who love him and walk with him into places others consider perilous. We recognise that God’s great concern for our Christian life is not to keep us safe, but that we rely on his presence wherever he leads us. Yes, we are sometimes fearful, but our love for God and compassion for the people we go to is greater than our fear of them.
This is not an easy topic. Families of field workers check the news each morning to see if their loved ones have been affected by earthquakes, kidnappings or terrorist attacks. There are also those who, while ministering in dangerous places, suffer sickness and the pain of losing friends and teammates to disease or even martyrdom.
1. …Because he led the way. Almighty God chose to enter the womb of a young woman and was born into an occupied country. Within months, the king gave orders to have him found and killed. Jesus' first sermon resulted in his audience attempting to throw him off a cliff. Later, he told his disciples that they must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow him. Soon the authorities arrested, tried and killed him. He chose a path of suffering so that we might receive true life. Today, he continues to call his followers to give their lives to bring that message to others. Jesus never leads us where he has not gone first.
2. …Because God loves the people who live in dangerous places. He loves the orphan in Syria, the victim of violence in Yemen, the homeless refugee in Sudan, the angry young man in Iraq, the burqa-covered woman in Bangladesh, and the guilt-ridden Taliban warrior in Afghanistan. He loves them so much that he sends his followers to serve them, talk to them, touch them, and heal them. We cannot do that from thousands of miles away. Two thousand years ago, Jesus humbled himself and took on flesh to reach the lost. Today, he does that through us. Our Master sends us out beyond the safety of our local streets with his wedding feast invitation. We must keep going until every tongue, tribe and ethnic group has had opportunity to respond to him.
3. ...Because the invitation to follow Jesus is good news for everyone. I’ve had the joy of ministering to Muslims who have turned to Christ. At a secret house church meeting I asked why they continued in their new faith despite opposition. Most gave the same answer: “Through Jesus, I found that God loved me.” They know following Jesus will probably increase their suffering instead of lessening it. They also know that life with Jesus is greater than anything the world offers and can testify to the ‘unexplainable joy and eternal hope’ that Peter talks about.
4. …Because he is intimately close to those he calls to go. That’s why we say ‘yes’ to going and why those who face persecution say ‘yes’ to Jesus. In the ‘Great Commission’ Jesus promises to be present with those who dare to go and make disciples among the nations. Through the threats, trials, and grief that those working in challenging places often experience many can testify to a new level of intimacy with God. They wouldn’t change that for anything. One wife and mother in Afghanistan who had struggled with fear and grief for so long was able to look back and say, “There is no other place I would rather be. Close your eyes and jump into the abyss. God will be there... and change you in ways you can only imagine: Beauty from ashes.”
Followers of Jesus who are suffering persecution in dangerous places need our prayers. Those who leave the safety of home to go to make disciples where churches don’t yet exist also need our encouragement. As we continue to look for those who will go to Baghdad, Tripoli, Kabul and Islamabad please get in touch with us if you want to be involved in giving, praying, or going. We greatly value your partnership.