If you’ve been watching the news at all over the last couple days, I’d imagine this question may have come to your mind concerning us and our plans. Let me just say up front: Our plans right now remain unchanged. We are still hoping to be in Beirut by mid-September starting language studies. Does the current situation scare us? There are a couple of answers I often give when posed with that question…the first is in a post Nicolette wrote up not so long ago on fear. The second answer I will often give is: yes. of course. But the current situation is also a reminder of why we want to work in this part of the world…we want to be a part of bringing about true, lasting Peace straight from the Source.
Is it “safe” moving to Lebanon? We are often asked this question, and the sentiment behind it encourages me. I…We very much hear and appreciate your concern and care for us. We certainly don’t tackle the issue of safety lightly. A year or two ago, a very dear friend of ours blogged about the issue of safety as he, his wife, and baby girl prepared to move to another chaos-prone country. His post so clearly echoes our thoughts on the issue that I have included it below for your reading pleasure. His answer to the question, “But is it safe there?”:
The answer has several parts. First, we believe the safest place we can be is living in obedience to God. We believe that God created us to share the Gospel with people who have never heard. When Jesus gave the command, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,” he coupled it with a promise, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19–20).
Does the presence of the Triune God insure that we won’t get hurt or die? No. The night before he was executed, Jesus told his disciples, “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). Being a follower of Christ involves a willingness to follow in his footsteps. We can’t “leapfrog” over the cross to the resurrection. Too many of us have unwittingly bought into the Prosperity Gospel that promises heaven right here on earth. God’s promises will come true, but we err if expect the blessings without the hardship. Jim Elliot, slain missionary to the Wadoni People (formerly known as the Auca Indians) famously said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Second, safety is an illusion. No place is safe. Living in America is not safe. Driving in a car is not safe. Eating at a restaurant is not safe. People go to great lengths to find security, but all in vain. People buy SUVs, install alarm systems, and live in gated communities in an attempt to find security.
We don’t like to admit it, but none of these things can keep us safe. Deep down we all know that tomorrow we could lose our jobs or the ability to work, the stock market could crash, we could be diagnosed with cancer, or a hurricane, tornado, drought, or earthquake could strike. The Bible says, “You are a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:13–14). We have no guarantee of tomorrow, and we can’t avoid risk.
So since risk is unavoidable, why not be intentional with the risks we take? Why not take risks that glorify God? Let’s take risks that produce everlasting results.
What is the difference between faith and foolishness? Foolishness is taking risks that have a temporal purpose. Faith is taking risks that have an eternal purpose. Faith takes risks in obedience to God’s commands. Foolishness is focused on self. Faith is focused on God and others. When we put all of our eggs in God’s basket, we find that it’s really not a risk.
…That’s sort of a long answer to the question, “Is it safe.” For us, it is a calculated risk that we think is worth it. Our confidence is in the Lord who has led us to -[this country]-. No matter what happens, His goodness never fails.
There is a peculiar tension between faith in God’s goodness and the logical responses we feel watching CNN at night. Conflict in Lebanon seems, at times, to be as sure as the fact that the weather changes (at least outside of Arizona, where it will be 100F from this Friday until next fall, I suspect). The current situation, if it continues, may force us to do language studies elsewhere. But it may be sorted out and life brought back to “normal.” Our plans remain unchanged at present. Our hope remains firmly fixed on its Source.
posted by: caleb