We wanted to address a common & understandable question we are getting as we seek to move to Turkey. The question is about our family’s safety amid reports of bombings, gunmen, and a seemingly escalation of questionable events since the attempted coup in July.
Because we are excited to go to this group of people whom we love, some may wonder if we also deal with the fear and anxiety that comes with each report of bombing and terrorist activity. We’ve gotten the emails, comments, and texts asking if we’ve heard of what happened lately or asking if we’re still planning on going.
It’s an honor to hear the honesty in what people are thinking. We really appreciate the care of family and friends who desire to engage with us on this issue, knowing it’s a real concern.
In light of this concern, we want to share our perspective on the safety issue.
First, every time there is a report of a security incident in Turkey, believe me, we know about it. We follow Turkish news and sometimes get personal reports from friends in Turkey. When we hear these reports, sometimes we really struggle against fear. I mean, we are bringing our children with us to what can look like a politically unstable country that had recently seen a rash of terrorist attacks!
Yet, when fear comes up during news of a security incident, we go to God with it first. We seek His word for His promises and we are honest with Him in prayer. When we do this, our fears give way, and we are assured of His faithfulness, goodness and sovereignty. He gives us peace and comfort in His presence.
To Live is Christ
I am so very thankful for the apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 1:
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.” (vs 21-24)
Paul’s perspective of eternity, both for himself and for those he went to serve, is a constant comfort as we enter into service to be a blessing to the Turks. If God allows us fruitful work, it is only for His glory among that people. If, instead, God calls any part of our family home to be with the Lord, we are assured that is a far better place and are eager to spend eternity in His presence. Either way, it’s a win-win eternally and for His kingdom.
Making Jesus known is worth the risk because God is worthy of our worship and theirs.
Is Safety Our #1 Priority?
Another thought we have on this issue of safety is one of priorities. “Is it safe?” is a valid question to ask, but ought it to be the first question we ask? When and where is it “safe enough” to go for the sake of God’s glory to be known?
One question we can consider is where did safety fit in the priorities of Jesus and the apostles? Certainly there were occasions where Jesus or the apostles took measures to escape from hostile situations (Luke 4:30, John 5:13, Acts 17:10, 2 Cor 11:32-33), but in the end Jesus and all the apostles laid down their lives for the sake of the gospel.
Indeed, the Apostle Paul seems to consider it a privilege to share in the sufferings of Christ, not to obtain any favor with God because of it, but as a reflection of his union with Christ through faith (Phil 3:10) and as service to God’s people in order that they might hear and believe the good news of Jesus (Col 1:24).
Christ is with us
The Great Commission begins with, “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,'” and it ends with, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20)
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” (Psalm 23:4a)
God goes before us and He is with us. We are promised this throughout all of Scripture. We can trust Him to keep those promises because God is faithful!
Let Fears Drive us to God
While we are excited about going to Turkey and being a blessing among this beautiful people, we also feel those very normal human emotions that we hear many of our family and friends are feeling on our behalf. We do not walk this road with our eyes closed.
We are learning that these feelings are normal – for us and for others! Having these feelings does not mean we are not trusting God or not sure of going. Our concerns and worries can be a catalyst to drive us to God in humility and dependency.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7)
For a great exhortation regarding the role of suffering in the blessing of the nations, consider listening to this famous sermon from John Piper.
Our intent is to be neither fearful nor foolish. Proverbs 22:3 says, “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” We take advantage of the training our organization offers to prepare us for the field. We also rely on wisdom from our regional & local teams in order to know what to do in the event we encounter security incidents or our safety is in question.
Ultimately, however, we trust the One who is in control and holds all things together. It is for His glory that we seek to serve the unreached.