Notes on Security

(First appeared in SIM Niger Newsletter, December 2010)

With the advent of recent terrorist threats in Niger, we find ourselves thinking about managing risk. But in actual fact, managing risk is nothing new to anyone in Niger. We manage risk on the streets and roads of Niger everyday. We manage risk by virtue of living in a country where malaria is prevalent. At this point, these two risks are still far greater than the risk of terrorism. But terrorism is a new risk and like the others, we must learn to manage it.

1. What does the Bible say about risk?
There are times to take risk: Paul indicated that danger is normal in the ministry (2 Cor. 11:22-33). While we do not look for danger, some risk is unavoidable by virtue of being assigned to Niger. Being on a mission is different than planning a vacation to a foreign country. Vacations are meant to be safe and free of stress. Taking on a mission assumes that there may be some risks involved.

There are times when risk is to be avoided: Paul on occasion hid and fled a dangerous situation (Acts 9:24-25). Jesus avoided Judea because of threats on his life by the Jews (John 7:1). It is appropriate sometimes to avoid a dangerous situation in order to live and witness another day. Unnecessary risk-taking is a hindrance to the work of the Kingdom.

2. When we will not risk personal safety:
a. When a dangerous action is not mission-critical (we can accomplish the mission in another way or in another location).
b. Seeking personal glory
c. Protecting property or possessions
d. When our actions may endanger the lives of others or cause suffering to others
3. Guiding principles:
a. Remember who we are: We are a non-political faith-based organization called to bring the hope of the Gospel to Niger and strengthen the Church.
b. What is an acceptable risk level? While we feel a responsibility to take all reasonable precautions not to put our people in harm's way, we also recognize that our mission takes us into areas at times that may involve risk. Our security is ultimately in the hands of the Lord.
These principles are basic but they need to be nailed down ahead of time. These principles form in large part a foundation for decision-making in a crisis situation. We continue to trust the Lord for His protection even in the midst of our contingency planning.

Safe in Christ,