Across our world today there are many places where Christians are under severe pressure. Right now in India, pastors are being killed, churches burned, believers run out of their villages, their homes and businesses ransacked. In the security of the United States we often do not realize that the number of martyrs for the gospel has skyrocketed in the past 100 years.
Western missionaries are not immune from risk. In fact, an American passport, for instance, once thought to be a security shield is now a security liability in many places.
Our organization has personnel in many countries where security is a real issue. We are told by our security consultants that there is a fifty fifty chance of an "incident" in any five year period. The largest risk is a kidnapping for ransom which is one of the major "industries" in the developing world. Of course, there are always even greater risks associated with radicals who hate Christianity.
Then there are the risks just associated with places in the world where lawlessness is rampant, poverty ubiquitous, medical help meager, transportation unsafe or political instability significant. That describes many places where mission activity is targeted.
Risk is inherent in mission activity. Missionaries bring the good news of the gospel into the territory of the evil one and there is nothing he hates more than the expansion of God's kingdom. As Paul indicated, our fight is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers of this dark world.
It is incumbent on us to pray for safety for those missionaries we know as well as for the believers they work with. We should not take their health and safety lightly. They daily face a spiritual battle and the evil one will do anything in his power to hurt them and blunt their message of hope
Second, we should not be surprised when we hear that a missionary has been kidnapped, hurt or killed. It is one of the risks that those on the front lines are willing to take, knowing that the spread of the gospel is worth even their lives if necessary.
Missionaries and missions work to make wise decisions to mitigate risk. But, risk is inherent in mission activity in a world that is often dangerous and unstable. Every one of us can make a difference in that risk through regular concerted prayer.