By far the most common first question we get when we share our plans of traveling to Papua New Guinea, a “fourth –world” or “least developed” country, and then flying in planes and helicopters and landing in the middle of a jungle is, “IS IT SAFE?”
Now I just chuckle to myself when I hear this question, because relatively speaking, I think that I am less safe driving in my car in Glendale, Arizona, when the snow birds are in town and I see other driving texting and applying makeup as they drive 12 miles per hour over the speed limit, running yellow lights a nano-second before they turn red.
In The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis wrote in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe about an occasion when Susan and Lucy ask Mr. and Mrs. Beaver to describe Aslan, the Christ-figure in the story. They ask if Aslan is a man. Mr. Beaver replies:
“Aslan, a man? Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the woods and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh!” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie, and make no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver, “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about being safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King I tell you.”
The famous missionary to India, William Cary, is quoted to have said, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” Dr. Bill Bright, the founder of the ministry Campus Crusade for Christ, was quoted to have said, “Attempt something so great for God that if God fails to show up, that you will miserably fail.”
I don’t consider myself a risk taker nor am I careless. I have never considered myself to be particularly brave, nor do I consider myself to be an idiot or stupid. Doing this work and going into these places, however, is truly going in to be the hands and feet of Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20; 2 Corinthians 5:14-21) to a people who are in desperate need (Matthew 9:9-13). When these plans were made to go to Papua New Guinea and into the Hewa tribe, I just wasn’t asking myself, “Is it safe?” The question didn’t seem relevant and certainly never crossed my mind.
When an adult sees a child that has fallen off a bridge into a rushing river, many times the adult will jump into the river to save the child, placing themselves at tremendous personal risk. When firemen put on their protective gear and go into a burning building, they place themselves at tremendous personal risk. They do it because of the tremendous immediate need of those who need help, and because it is the right thing to do.
Need I say more?