This has been a banner year for terrorism around the world from Syria to Turkey, Paris, Orlando, Bangladesh, Iraq, and the list could go on for a long time. Terrorism is meant to strike fear in others and it does it very well. It can also put a damper on missions efforts globally as family objects to their children going into what they perceive to be "harms way."
While we do not live in a safe world it is also true that disparate events become much larger than they are because of the news cycle. The networks hunger for big stories and they will feed off those stories as long as they can until the next big story appears. I do not mean to minimize the evil nature of these events but to say that the worlds is not as dangerous as it might appear if our data comes primarily from the 24 hour news cycle.
It is also true that missions has an inherent risk. Whether from traffic accidents in developing world settings, sickness, the frequent travel, being in the wrong place at the wrong time or even being a target of those who hate Christianity. It is a risk that missionaries are willing to take given their calling and most missionaries are by nature more willing to step out of their comfort zone than are others. In addition, because of their travel and knowledge of the world they are often more aware of the true risks and of ways to minimize those risks. I have often travelled in places that the State Department issues warnings for and trust the knowledge of the local hosts who understand what is safe and what is unsafe.
The spread of the Gospel is not without risk and yet without someone stepping out with the best news the world has ever known we do not fulfill the Great Commission which calls us to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth with the promise that Christ is with us each step of the way. Ironically, it is often in places that are most insecure that the Gospel flourishes as individuals look for answers to the insecurity of their own lives and are far more open to Christ because of it.
Most mission agencies are prudent when it comes to risks to their personnel as they should be. But at the end of the day, if God calls individuals to represent him on the front lines - as He did Paul - we need to also trust Him to be with them. Western missionaries are no less exempt from persecution and danger than are national missionaries who often work in very troubled and dangerous places. As Jim Elliott said so presciently before his own death, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."
If you have pangs of fear for those you support on the mission field, reread the Great Commission and consider it in its fullness. As Scripture says, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news."
TJ Addington of Addington Consulting has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at email@example.com.