Is it safe?

Our hearts have been broken by the tragic events in Christchurch on Friday, March 15. In our last Together magazine we published this article from SIM’s Security and Crisis Management Coordinator addressing risk and safety.  As we wrestle with how to process this, we’ve found this helpful and pray you do as well.

        “Is it safe?” Many of us have been asked this question by a prospective mission partner or their family. As an organisation that seeks to make disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ in communities where He is least known, we must have a sound and consistent answer to this question. Here is how I answer the question, “Is it safe?” Answer: “No.”

       This simple reality is that no location guarantees safety and security. Accidents and evil exist everywhere in our broken world.

       They may be asking, “Is it as safe as where I currently live?” The answer to that may also be “no”. However, this is not where I spend time when answering these questions. I would rather discuss why we are going to these places and how we are doing so.

       Many of the communities where Christ is least known are in areas with various risks. The reality is that many communities where Christ is least known have medium to high levels of political, religious, criminal, health or safety risks. We are not drawn to these locations because we are risk-takers and want to live dangerously. We are drawn to these locations because the people we seek to serve live there.

       While it may be helpful to add context to those embassy warnings and news headlines, we should not downplay risks in order to entice potential workers. One goal of SIM’s Risk Rating System is to help inform discussions with potential workers. Rather than trivialising the risks, we want to help them understand the particular risks that exist in that context. (This is referred to as ‘informed consent’.)

       So, we trust God and act wisely as we go.

       As we go to the difficult places where people live and die without Christ, we strive to do so with a quiet confidence and resilience that is born of a conviction that God is good, sovereign and powerful. We also strive to make wise decisions in order to be good stewards of the lives, talents and passions God has given us. On the one hand, we resist a fatalistic approach to risk in which we take no precautions even to avoid obvious dangers. On the other hand, we resist the fear and paranoia that can cripple our ministry and burn us out.

       SIM strives to be a caring and competent organisation that adequately prepares and supports our people as they go to difficult places. Another goal of SIM’s Risk Rating System is to ensure that adequate preparation and leadership support is provided, given the level of risk in a location. We want to be sure that our ability to care for our people increases with the risk they are facing. A Level 5 location is not a no-go. In fact, the Level 4 and 5 locations are usually the places we must go if we seek to reach communities where people live and die without hearing of Christ. Our goal as an organisation is to ensure we are adequately caring for our people in light of the risks that exist in the places we need to go. Ultimately, we want people to leave these conversations with two key takeaways:

1. If God is calling them to communities where Christ is least known, He may be inviting them to trust Him in the face of increased risk.

2. SIM is a competent organisation that neither ignores risk nor recklessly embraces risk. Rather, SIM seeks to care well for its people as they cross barriers to proclaim Christ in places where people live and die without hearing about him.

Nate Killoren

SIM International Security and Crisis Management Coordinator