Trusting God in Times of Peril
We Aren’t Promised Ease, Just God’s Presence
Whether you serve close to home or in another country, you can’t promise your family you’ll always be safe. In this article, part of a series on barriers to serving in mission, a Pioneer shares how he’s come to appreciate God’s presence in dangerous times and places.
When I was 21 years old I had to be evacuated from Liberia, West Africa because a civil war had broken out there. I had to drive past dead bodies on the street on my way to find refuge. Previously, the place where I was living with two Liberian men was surrounded by armed robbers who shattered one of our windows as they tried to break in and rob our home while we were inside. I was glad our windows had bars. They never got in.
More recently I moved to East Asia with my family, including a child only six months old. We sold or got rid of almost everything we owned and went to a culture completely unknown to us, realizing we would have to learn several languages if we were to be part of seeing the gospel proclaimed to those who had never heard it. Daunting to say the least.
I guess I’ve been through some scary things. I’m grateful God brought me to safety through those perilous times in my life.
There were times traveling in the mountains when I thought about all that could horribly go wrong. Especially when I had a flat tire in the middle of nowhere and all I could see around me in every direction were snow-capped peaks and empty valleys with no one in sight. Verses I memorized when I was younger burst into my mind and flooded my heart with peace.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ̶ Isaiah 41:10
If you don’t have that one committed to memory I encourage you to plan to do so soon. That and Philippians 4:6-8 have come to my mind in more times than I can count and provided me with the grace I needed to endure. He often reminded me of His loving and tender care even during chaotic times.
Once some of our teammates were traveling at high altitude over a mountain pass. Their youngest child turned blue from lack of oxygen. They rushed him down the mountain while praying fervently for the Lord to protect him. They got back to safety and he was normal, but not before they’d wrestled with fear. Still, God prevailed. I often wonder if He might have allowed that situation to show His loving hand of protection to the Asian eyes watching us and hearing us cry out in the name of Jesus.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” ̶ Proverbs 3:5-6
God has used these experiences to deepen my trust in Him, His promises, and His sovereign and merciful hand. The more I’ve realized God is still in control of ALL things, from the “wind and the waves” (Luke 8:24) to heavy-handed governments, the greater peace I’ve found in stepping out in faith. He is the source, meeting all my needs (Philippians 4:18-19).
My prayer life has clearly been affected as I’ve come to realize that God really cares about my attitude and shaping me to become a sanctified vessel in which He can use, cracks and all. Sometimes it is in the furnace of affliction that He can get our attention best.
None of us are promised easy lives in our pursuit of Christ. We are promised His presence even to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:20, Hebrews 13:5). Hold on to His promises today, delighting yourself in Him while counting the cost of being His disciple (Luke 14:25-28), especially if you sense Him leading you to step out by faith and move to another place or ministry (see Matthew 19:29).
Looking back on all I’ve experienced, I can easily say it was worth the risk.
Want some help?
- Read answers to the question, Can I become a missionary if I fear going overseas? (AskaMissionary.com) or The most commonly heard excuses not to be a missionary (The Traveling Team).
- Pick up the books Facing Danger: A Guide Through Risk, by Anna E. Hampton and Why God Calls Us to Dangerous Places, by Kate McCord.
- Ask us (or any other mission agency you are interested in) about risk assessment, security training, and crisis management plans.
We have a dedicated team of mission mentors whose heart is to listen to your story, help you discern where God is leading you, and pray with you in your next steps.
Ben, who wrote this article, coaches candidates in the process of applying to join Pioneers.
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