As my wife prepares to lead another mercy medical team to Kenya in November, recent events have given us cause to reflect on the risks involved with her return to that country. Since her first trip there in July, a very carefully planned terrorist attack on the West Gate shopping mall in Nairobi has created concerns about her returning to that country. More than a few family members and friends have discouraged her from going. The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod leadership is in a wait and see mode until later in October. Our missionary friends on the ground in Kenya are safe, cautious and encouraging so far. And her husband? Well, here's why I am encouraging her to go as planned.
First, staying home is not necessarily a safer option. With recent shootings at the Washington Navy Yard and Newtown, CT and the bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, there have been more problems at home than abroad. Those headlines don't include the narrow misses, planned attacks that were averted by authorities. Those dangers are an ever-present reality in our world, in both cities and rural towns.
Second, travel security will be on higher alert now than before. You will see it everywhere in Nairobi. Plus, once you fly in, you will only be there for a short time before you head out to a rural village in the west. Missionaries and church leaders are already planning for your safety.
Third, Jesus told us not to be afraid of “those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both body and soul in hell” (Matthew 10:28). If you feel called by God to do this kind of work, his commission must carry the most weight in any decision to go or not.
The real danger? It doesn't come from a flesh and blood enemy. We're in a spiritual battle, and if the enemy can convince us to stay home rather than go to the ends of the earth, then we lose, and so do so many others who desperately need some good news — the good news — that the church brings into the world.
And, if it's your time, wouldn't you rather go out making a difference instead of just sitting around the house watching reruns? Maybe you call that foolish. Maybe you call it faith. But while some might be afraid of dying, maybe we need to more afraid of never really living.