“Should I consider not doing missions if it means constant danger for my life?”
That’s the question that often comes up surrounding missions—and one that I wonder if doesn’t keep more of us from pursuing short- and long-term missions work.
John Piper offers some pastoral advice for those considering missions and the danger that can come with that calling in the following video:
An edited transcript follows.
Yes, consider it. But after you’ve considered it, probably you should do it.
If your wife says, “No,” you probably shouldn’t.
I’m assuming you mean danger for both of you, not like you’re going to put your wife at risk while you have a nice, secure position. If that’s what you mean then you’re selfish and you shouldn’t be in missions at all.
But if you mean, “Should I consider a calling on my life that brings me, my wife, my children into risk?” I would say, “Yes,” because, if everybody goes that route the Great Commission will never be finished.
Unless you say it should only be finished by single people. “Let’s let the single people suffer. We married people, we won’t suffer. We marry and then escape suffering.” I don’t think that’s the way the New Testament reads.
That’s why Jesus says, “Unless you hate mother, father … wife … you can’t be my disciple.” Now he didn’t mean “hate” in the sense of feeling malice towards them. He meant “hate” in the sense that you take risks so that Grandmama says that you’re acting like you hate her. You know you don’t hate her. You love her and you love all the people who, with her, you’re trying to reach.
I don’t have a final, nice criterion about when to flee and when to stand. That’s the old stress that John Bunyan wrote about in his book Advice for Sufferers.
Bunyan chose to stay in jail for 12 years when he could’ve gotten out of jail. And he had a wife and 4 kids, and one of them was blind. He could’ve gotten out if he had just signed, “I won’t preach anymore.” And he chose to stay there, which put them at tremendous risk with poverty.
So he wrote this essay called Advice for Sufferers, and in it he gives biblical examples of people who fled, like Paul escaping from Damascus through a hole in the wall instead of being brave. It’s like, “Come on Paul! Why are you sitting in a basket, being let down and running away from trouble?” And then there are examples where Paul throws himself, as it were, to the lions in Ephesus or in Philippi, going to jail and being willing to be beaten.
When do you stand and when do you flee? Bunyan says, “God will show you.”
So, no, I don’t think it’s automatic that you keep yourself, your wife, or your children out of risk, out of danger, and out of suffering. But there will be times when you sense, “Yes, it is time, for the sake of the kingdom and for the sake of all concerned, that I will move to another place and another ministry.”
It’s not a simple answer. I don’t have a simple answer to when those decisions are made.
By John Piper. © Desiring God.