I recall a time when I tried to use my electronic Japanese/English dictionary to explain the word “missionary” to my school`s vice principal here in Japan. The example sentence that came up involved three missionaries being killed and eaten by cannibals! We had a good…uneasy laugh together, but stories do abound of the terrible things that befall adventurers and explorers when they march outside of their familiar territories. These range from the unbelievable to very real threats; being boiled alive or sacrificed to pagan gods, smashed under the hooves of some wild beast or, in the case of explorer Frank Cole, murdered by Tuareg bandits in 2000 while trying to set a new Guiness record and cross the Sahara solo. Whether these unique men and women are brave or obsessed I will not address (partly because I know some of them and they know where I live). What I can`t help to acknowledge, however, is the similarity that they have with the missionary calling.
Here is an individual, like those mentioned above, that dares to leave their own safe haven and venture out to plant a flag of achievement in a foreign land. Except that for the missionary that flag is the good news of salvation. Still, like the adventurer or explorer, the missionary is vulnerable to the erratic odds of the road in their quest. We know God is ever faithful to those ready to stand for Him but good common sense and being prepared go a long way in not putting that faithfulness to the test, unnecessarily, due to lack of knowledge. So get ready for a new monthly series that explores these issues and how best to deal with them. I myself am still relatively new to the missions field, so I`ll be pooling all my information from ongoing research, stories and advice from missionaries past and present as well as my own observations. We`ll cover everything from travel tips and safety to cultural sensitivity (the key to avoiding that boiling pot).
If you have anything to add yourself, hey, feel free and let me know. Looking forward to it and so should you!