written by Frank Pass
Mission Trip Coordinator at Visiting Orphans
And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. – Matthew 24:6
It is an interesting time to be working for an organization that sends people on foreign mission trips. Ebola is in West Africa, terror is spreading in Iran and Syria and the Islamic State seems to be a mounting threat, and there is conflict in Ukraine. It is a scary world out there and people are afraid to venture out into it. These days it can be a little challenging convincing people to sign up for a mission trip to Africa or just to get on a plane to anywhere.
So what’s a Christian to do, especially one who believes in the call to go? Recently I have answered a lot of questions from people who are worried, concerned and afraid about going themselves or sending their loved ones. Here are some thoughts I have that I think we should consider when answering the call to go, especially the call to go to the nations.
1. God is sovereign and He is still in control. He is not surprised by what is going on in the world and the actions of evil people are not thwarting His plans. I do not imagine that God is saying, “If I had known about this whole war on terror thing, I would have toned down the Great Commission a little.” His call to go in Matthew 28, Acts 1 and Romans 10 is still valid and it is still a call we still need to take seriously.
2. God gave us a spirit NOT of fear but of power and love and self-control. – 2 Timothy 1:7. The call to missions is not a call to safety. It is a call to share in the suffering of Christ but fear can be crippling. The fear of ridicule can keep us from going to our neighbor and the fear of danger can keep us from going abroad but God gives us the spirit of power that gives us the courage to go and the spirit of love which gives us the desire to go.
3. God does not just give us power and love, He also gives a spirit of self-control. That doesn’t mean we should run off without a care in the world and it doesn’t mean we should stop asking questions. It does mean that we are wise and thoughtful about where we go, what we do and how we do it. A spirit of self-control is cautious about safety – a spirit of fear is obsessed with it. PLEASE if you are going yourself or sending someone you love, ask tough questions, do your research, be informed, make wise decisions, but please don’t let fear cripple you and keep you from answering God’s call on your life.
4. Going is risky. It doesn’t matter if you go across the street, across town or across the globe – the safest thing to do is stay put, but the need is still great. At No. 41 in Rwanda, the girls there, girls who are former orphans, have expanded their feeding program, because kids are still hungry. In China, the orphanages are still full, mostly with girls and special needs kids, because children are still being abandoned. In Haiti, classes have begun at a new school in Mirebalais, because kids in poverty still need access to education. Yes we live in a dark and scary world but it is also a world that is lost and we have the hope this fallen world needs.
5. There are a lot of places to go. Maybe Africa is still just a little too scary for you. Guess what? We send teams to Haiti, to China, to Costa Rica, to India, and a whole bunch of other places. Each one with kids who need to know they are loved. Maybe getting on a plane is still too scary for you. Guess what? There are needs in your church and in your town, and probably in your school or in your office. I cannot tell you where to go, but if you follow Christ I know for certain that you are called to go somewhere. Don’t let fear keep you at home. Go. Be. Love.
6. I wanted this post to be about the spirit of fear and how to overcome it but I’d also like to share just a bit about what Visiting Orphans does to keep our teams safe. While we believe that fear should not keep us from going we also firmly believe that God has entrusted us with the teams we send and we take their safety very seriously. At VO all of our leaders are trained and experienced; we partner with awesome guides and ministries in the countries we visit, they know the lay of the land and they take great care of our teams; we receive daily updates from a private company alerting us to “hot-spots” around the world, we receive State Department updates for the countries we visit, and we constantly monitor what is happening on the ground with our in-country contacts; we register every team with the US Department of State and we provide emergency insurance for every team; we have an experienced staff that has been doing this for a long time, a staff that is on call 24/7 when a team is in country; and finally we pray over every team we send as a staff and a ministry.
If you are thinking about going with Visiting Orphans and have questions or concerns, please let us know. We would love to talk with you. If you are considering travelling by yourself or with another organization, please ask tough questions. If they are worth traveling with, they will not mind talking with you.
I can’t help but be reminded of a great quote from the Lord of the Rings trilogy…
"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to." – Bilbo Baggins.
Where is God calling you to go?
Is fear keeping you from answering that call?