Confronting Our Fears for the Love of Christ

Once upon a time, cannibals lived in malaria-infested jungles. Then missionaries went. Some were eaten. Others died of malaria. More missionaries went. Eventually, the Gospel of Jesus Christ triumphed and now the world is largely free of head-hunters. But why did the missionaries go when the risk was so great? Reading any early missionary biography, one is immediately struck with how many missionaries died from sickness or other causes. So, why did they go? “The love of Christ constrained them.”

Christ’s love also constrains me to face two fears—the fear of a vaccine for COVID-19 and the fear of high-crime neighborhoods.

For reasons too numerous to be listed here, I personally fear the currently available COVID-19 vaccines more than the virus itself. There are natural and medical treatments for COVID-19, but one cannot be unvaccinated. However, vaccine mandates are being implemented in Thailand. Therefore, I have decided to risk the jab in exchange for the opportunity of sharing Christ with the Thai people.

Regarding my fear of crime, I think it comes from having always lived in a safe place. Our home in America is in a very safe neighborhood. During the last heatwave, we slept with the front and back doors wide open without any concern for our safety. During the more than twenty years I lived in the Tai-Kadai region, I never felt in danger—even at the side of the road in the middle of the night. But things are changing in Thailand. Decades of political unrest and the economic fallout of COVID-19 lockdowns have led to a sharp increase in crime. The crime rate is significantly higher than when we signed up to return to Thailand as missionaries. There is a greater risk to our safety now than when we started fundraising. But the risk is no greater than it was for the earlier missionaries. Looking at their example, we choose to move forward despite our fears—for the love of Christ constrains us.

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