There are many reasons someone might give for why we should NOT go to another country to share the gospel. One of those reasons is that it is often dangerous, especially in some parts of the world where Christianity is strongly opposed.
Isn’t it foolish to risk our lives like that? Why not share the gospel where it is safer instead?
This objection is not a new one. At least as far back as the 18th Century, people were arguing that we shouldn’t send missionaries overseas because it was simply too dangerous.
In 1792, in response to this objection and others, William Carey wrote a book on missions entitled, “An Enquiry Into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen.”
Dated language, but you get the idea. At one point, he specifically addresses the objection that we shouldn’t send missionaries to new frontiers because the people there are uncivilised and potentially dangerous.
This was his response:
Secondly, as to their uncivilized and barbarous way of living, this can be no objection to any, except those whose love of ease renders them unwilling to expose themselves to inconveniences for the good of others…. It is no objection to commercial men [who go overseas]. It only requires that we should have as much love to the souls of our fellow-creatures, and fellow sinners, as they have for the profits arising from a few otter-skins, and all these difficulties would be easily surmounted.
It’s a hard-hitting point.
In Carey’s day, thousands of people set out on long, dangerous, and life-threatening sea voyages to distant lands for the sake of commercial trade and the prospect of great profits (apparently otter-skins fetched a good price). They willingly put themselves through these long voyages at sea (often years at a time), harsh conditions, and very real danger (countless numbers of them died), all for the sake of nothing more than money.
And if people will go through all THAT for something as temporary and insignificant as money, how much more should we be willing to do it for what is eternal and lasts forever?
As Carey puts it, “it only requires that we should have as much love to the souls of our fellow-creatures, and fellow sinners, as they have for the profits arising from a few otter-skins.”
The question is not whether it’s dangerous, but whether we have enough motivation to go despite the danger. For many people, they can find enough motivation from the prospect of profitable trade. Shouldn’t we be able to find it from love for those who need to hear the gospel?
A Reminder For Us Today
In our world today, people work hard and give their lives for many causes that are ultimately trivial.
Countless people spend themselves and work long hours, put themselves through great discipline and difficulty and make many sacrifices, all for the sake of things like sporting success, or profits, or reputation, or fame. These are all things ultimately aimed at benefiting themselves.
And if they are willing to do that for what is temporary, how much more should I be willing to spend myself and make sacrifices – and even face great danger – for what is eternal?