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A Theology of Risk for Short Term Mission

When people travel for mission they may need to take risks. The question is what is reasonable, and what is fool-hardy? As we determine our mission we should also pay attention to the risks along the way. It helps if we have a clear theology of risk.

What is your theology of risk?

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A Theology Of Risk – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Slide Notes

1. A THEOLOGY OF RISK The Mission of Christ calls us into dangerous areas.

What is our responsibility to ensure our own safety and the safety of others as we enter into that mission?

 

2.  HOW FAR IS TOO FAR? SERVING IN MISSION CAN LEAD US TO DANGEROUS PLACES.

Bad things happen to good people every day. How should we assess the risks we take?

What level of risk are you comfortable:

– for yourself?
– for your family?
– for your team members?
– for the nationals you work with?
– for your church?

Is your comfort with risk the same as the others on your team?

 

3. MARTYRDOM – JUST BECAUSE YOU DIE ON THE FIELD DOES NOT MAKE YOU A MARTYR

There is a difference between dying for your faith, or dying because you didn’t wear a seatbelt, or because your foolishly resisted a mugging.

Suffering for your faith is not the same as just being stupid.

 

4. The will of God

Just because you are involved in mission does not mean you are safe

It does not help to believe that you are safe just because you are doing mission, that is actually a different story than most of Scripture.

The will of God is generally not safe.

That is not the same as saying we should not care about safety.

 

5. The safest place

Some people suggest:

 

“The safest place to be is in the centre of God’s will”

is this accurate from Scripture?

 

6. FOLLOWING JESUS IS NOT THE SAFEST PLACE TO BE

Most evidence from those who follow God reveal this to be a very dangerous path

 

7. ESTHER – CHOSE TO RISK HER LIFE FOR HER PEOPLE

Esther risked her own life to talk to the king in order to save her people

Result: she saved her nation

 

8. SHADRACK. MESHACK. ABEDNEGO. – DOING THE RIGHT THING CAN GET YOU KILLED

These 3 men ignored a direct government order that conflicted with their faith.

result: divine intervention

 

9. JESUS -WENT WILLINGLY TO THE CROSS

Jesus took on the power of the day to reveal the way of Grace

result: his execution

… and more

 

10.  Paul – BEATEN, SHIPWRECKED, JAILED

Paul boldly cut against the grain of his culture and community to share his message

Result: his execution

 

11. We are called to count the cost and measure the risk

Be aware of what may hurt you.

 

12. OUR GUIDE – THE THEOLOGY OF RISK FOR JESUS

Jesus sent out teams, before they left he gave them the measure of the risk

Matthew 10

 

13. SHEEP AMONG WOLVES – MATT 10:16

You are not being sent to the wolves, but you need to know you will be among the wolves.

Prepare.

Do your homework.

Figure out the real risks and mitigate them.

 

14. Live with the locals – MATT 10:11

Find the man of peace and stay with them

local people have local knowledge

trust local knowledge

 

15. HARMLESS AND SHREWD – MATT 10:16

Paul saved his life many times using every available tool.

1. His citizenship. Acts 22:25-29
2. Armed escorts. Acts 23:12-25
3. The legal system. Acts 25:11

Use everything you have available to you.

 

16. BE ON YOUR GUARD – MATTHEW 10:17

Assume it is your responsibility to:

– find the threats.
– avoid the threats.
– reduce the threats.
– stay away from the threats.

Martyrdom is not your decision to make.

 

17. WHEN PERSECUTED … FLEE! – MATTHEW 10:23

Most of the time Jesus intentionally avoided death and moved to less dangerous places.

He knew his job was to stay alive, preserving his life so he could accomplish his mission.

Shouldn’t you?

 

18. DON’T BE AFRAID – MATTHEW 10:26

Knowing the risk will help us to understand and mitigate the risk

ignoring the risk is also a choice – but it leads us to a deadly place

 

19. What is your plan of action?

Consider how God will use your plan to fulfill His purposes.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

 

20. Good Security is a tool we are given to ensure we can accomplish our task.

You are personally, legally responsible to come up with a plan, set it in motion and complete the plan.

Here is how to develop a plan

 

21. PRACTICAL RISK MANAGEMENT PLANNING IN ACTION

Ezekiel 33:1-6

A template for risk reduction

2 […] choose one of their own to be a watchman.

3 When the watchman sees the enemy coming, he sounds the alarm to warn the people.

4 Then if those who hear the alarm refuse to take action, it is their own fault if they die.

6 But if the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, […] I will hold the watchman responsible for their deaths.’

 

22. SET A WATCH – BE AWARE OF THE DANGERS.

How are you determining the nature of the risk, what sources of information are you using and are they adequate.

If you are responsible for a team, you are responsible for the risk management plan.

Get good information:

– reliefweb.int
– travel.gc.ca
– travel.state.gov
– CIA the world factbook

Set up warnings with your government

– sign up yourself and team members on passport registration with your embassies abroad

– set up notifications on RSS feeds to let you know about terror, weather, political and crime alerts.

 

23. WARN OF DANGER – TELL OTHERS.

Being notified about the risk will matter, but telling others about those notifications matters even more.

Dpending on your circumstances you may need to set up:

– phone notifications
– email distribution lists
– buddy systems
– and evacuation plans

Make sure you tell people in at least 2 ways of the risk: talk and email

 

24. Take action – WHAT WILL YOU DO?

When you feel a threat arise it is important that you ACT

Your actions should be considered beforehand. Run through scenarios and come up with plans before you need to.

Practice your actions on a regular basis so when it comes time to act it becomes automatic and second-nature

Doing nothing is also an action, but intentionally choosing to do nothing is different than doing nothing because you do not know what to do.

If you do not act, you may be responsible for death or injury.

 

25. Assume responsibility – DON’T GET COMPLACENT.

The number one way in which people die abroad is by car accident. Is it worth it not to wear your seatbelt or sit in the open bed of a speeding pickup truck?

Over time it is normal to begin dismissing the warnings of safety protocols or to grow complacent.

It is easy to be attentive to danger when everything seems unfamiliar, but true security means you maintain a sense of watchfulness over time.

Listen to the concerns of newcomers. They may see something you have become complacent over.

 

26. Concluding a theology of risk

risk is part of the job

you are responsible to determine the specific risks

you are responsible to mitigate those risks

God takes the rest

 

27. MAINTAINING SECURITY – IS GOOD STEWARDSHIP OF YOUR FAITH

For more information about preparing your teams for mission, check out the Leadership Course

 

What did I miss?  What are your thoughts on a theology of risk?

 

November 14, 2016

7 responses on "A Theology of Risk for Short Term Mission"

  1. This is such a good post!
    People think that they will be safer if they live a comfortable life without obeying God’s call to reach out to others but that just isn’t true! People die every day in safe Canadian cities. My mom and dad spent 6 months in Taiwan, were in three car accidents and never got hurt. When they returned to Toronto my dad was shopping in a store and the ceiling collapsed and broke 2 bones in his back. There are no guarantees here or there that nothing bad will ever happen to you.
    If you look at the story of Jonah it seems like it is a lot safer to obey God than to rebel against him. Of course, like you say we can’t be foolish about risk but we will never be completely risk free anywhere.
    Great article!

  2. Very jam packed blog post with good insights. #3 deserves a shout of amen. However, in response to #5, the safest place may not necessarily be the center of God’s will – you’re right about that. But I would think that the most dangerous place would be not being in the center of God’s will.

  3. I think that the church now a days has this perception that if there is danger associated with STM, God will protect the people going. I am not saying this to say that God won’t protect them, because He will! I simply think that we put a lot of reliance on the fact that God will save us from danger even though we enter a dangerous area. Proverbs 22:3 says that “A shrewd person sees danger and hides himself, but the naive keep right on going and suffer for it,” therefore if someone purposely goes to a dangerous place without assessing and taking the precautions of the situation they are being naive. God does not bless this kind of thinking.

    Needless to say, I do think that it is very important to pray before going into any situation: good or bad, but I think it is very important to take the precautions you suggested very seriously so that you are not naive. As leaders it is especially important to set the example for the rest of the team. If the leader is not taking the risk seriously, they risk putting not only themselves in danger, but also their team members.

    Praying for safety is always a must but we should also be prepared for these situations so that the Lord can answer our prayers because we were wise about it. God wants us to be safe and that should play on our mind as we prepare for STMs.

    Caitlin

  4. I think it would be unrealistic to show up expecting to refuse to ride without seat belts.

    • Hi Renee. You are right that it is probably unrealistic if the vehicle was missing some seat belts. But I am suggesting if we have them we use them.

      Moreover, if we are leading a team and don’t have seat belts in the vehicles we are hiring, we need to understand as team leaders we are held liable.

      I am suggesting that as leaders we take on a responsibility towards security.

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