The medical evacuation last month from Liberia, of two seriously ill missionaries, and another this month, spotlights yet again the questions that those who apply to serve in mission must ask.
“Will I be safe in my new home? Will my family be put at risk if we move there?” Missionaries try to make wise decisions and take necessary precautions to protect themselves and their families, and every SIM office around the world has a contingency plan, updated annually, of how they will respond if safety is compromised. But we follow Jesus, who leads where he wishes.
Editorial: Risk and Suffering in Mission
Many missionaries have stories of astounding protection from harm, ranging from deliverance from wrongful arrest or imprisonment, to healing, to divine intervention in crisis situations.
However, SIM’s history tells us that the work in 19th Century ‘Soudan’ was pioneered by three men, two of whom died of disease in the first year; others have suffered and died on the field since then. SIM’s International Director, Joshua Bogunjoko, writes about the life and death of John the Baptist, while discussing making sense of suffering. Here was the prophet/evangelist who heralded the coming of the Lamb of God confined in Herod’s dungeon, then executed on an evil whim.
“Why did Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead and not John?” Joshua asks. “Why did he set so many free from the oppression of demons and not John from the oppression of Herod?
“There is only one answer that we know for sure; God knew exactly what his purpose and plan was for John… We do not know if John could make sense of what he was going through, but I struggle to make sense of it. In the same way, I find it hard to make sense of what is happening today with colleagues who have loved and served the Lord, making hard, selfless choices to be in a place where they are desperately needed. However, I do know that He knows exactly what He is doing and ‘it is well’.” Joshua concludes: “Perhaps we will never be able to make sense of suffering. But serving God with joy even in the most difficult places? Yes, we have already made sense of that. We know why we do it.”