Risk and Suffering – How do we respond?

29 Jun 2022

We were struck by the pervasive risk aversion! We’d even go as far to say, struck by the drive to eliminate risk. We’d recently returned to live in Australia after living in a nation in South-east Asia. Our life there was immersed in risk. Risk was involved in the simple task of getting around on our motorbike with the kids in the dangerously unpredictable traffic where the annual road deaths hover around 25,000 a year compared to 1,300 in Australia. Even regularly passing these deaths on the road. The risk of expulsion over the work we were doing with the underground church was real. The risks and realities of persecution that our brothers and sisters faced daily for their faith in Christ abounded. The contrast was so stark with the risk elimination mind-sets and practices that prevailed living again in Australia.

Most of our workers experience this contrast in their going out and coming back. So how do we prepare for and respond to the rightness of risk and inevitability of suffering in the lives of our cross-cultural workers.

It begins with keeping our focus together on God. Encouraging our cross-cultural workers to deepen their trust in His ableness (Eph 3:20), dependence on His enabling (2 Pet 1:3-4), pursuing of His protection (Ps 91), craving His presence (Jos 1:9), listening to His leadings, in Word and Spirit (Ps 119:105; Acts 13:1-4; 16:6-7, 9-10; 27:23-24).

Alongside this foundation, we walk a mission formation mentoring journey in which our newly appointed workers grow in their theology of risk and suffering accompanied by other habits of resilience such as discerning and confirming the Lord’s calling on their lives through general, special, and specific revelation. All our newly appointed workers participate in online and in person security training regardless of their location. For some, that we have discerned together being called to even higher-risk locations, they will undergo further rigorous and extensive security training.

On the ground, each of our teams develop and walk out Risk Assessment and Contingency Plans that are reviewed annually. Teammates pray for, help and lookout for each other. The member’s church, partners and our base team advise, support and above all pray.

As base and international teams, we’re ready to engage collaboratively in a crisis. We’re right there in contact with cross-cultural workers to assist with wisdom, prayer, and logistics. We walk with the member’s church to support and encourage. In a more significant crisis, a Crisis Management Teamis formed to manage the crisis. Our cross-cultural workers are also provided for through insurance for these circumstances. What a privilege to enter into this risky endeavour of reaching the unreached for our precious Lord. They are unreached because they are hard to reach and they live in places of difficulty and darkness. Consequently, we take well considered risks, careful preparation, and intentional responsiveness.

  • Paul Rayside, Member Care and Development at Pioneers

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