Should churches send short-term mission groups into dangerous or closed countries?

46% Only under certain conditions

  • Yes, if mission groups meet two conditions: They address local needs and obtain the proper government paperwork. They must be both capable and wanted.
  • Not if it were a dangerously closed society, like Saudi Arabia, and the group would be coming in "cold." Yes, if a group is invited by Christians within, and the government tends to look the other way.
  • Only after: (1) Carefully assessing the mission and its stated out comes; (2) planning and training, with the understanding that those going take personal responsibility for their actions; (3) receiving invitations and having partnership agreements with the receiving Christians; and (4) planning for contingencies.
  • Yes, with a caveat: Prepare to be imprisoned or killed.

27% No

  • Short-term missions do more harm than good. The situation is only compounded in closed or dangerous countries.
  • The risk is too great, not only to the missionaries' lives but to the authenticity of their witness.
  • Short-term missionaries have enough to learn without making unintentional mistakes. The sort of work required to share the gospel in these places is anything but short-term.

27% Yes

  • Christians are to go everywhere (Acts 1:8).
  • The Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles spread the message of Yahweh and the gospel in places they were not supposed to go.
  • Jesus warned us that bearing witness to the gospel involves danger. Sacrifice will be demanded. Lives will be lost.
  • If we are to take the gospel to the entire world as we're commanded, then these kinds of mission efforts are essential.

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When such groups go and suffer persecution, how should their government respond?

43% The church should expect government help.

  • The church can appeal to basic human rights laws for help, but the appeal should include the confession of a lesson learned.
  • They should ask their government and the government of the receiving country to abide by internationally recognized agreements.
  • They should appeal as citizens for intervention by diplomatic means, but have no justified grounds to ask for military action.
  • Reciprocity ought to be demanded by the U.S. govern ment. If we afford religious freedom to nationals of one country, the same ought to apply for Americans visiting that country.

39% The church can ask, but it shouldn't expect government help.

  • Sometimes the apostle Paul invoked the government's protection, but ultimately he suffered the government's vengeance (Acts 16:37; 22:25). He went with the full understanding that he might suffer the consequences.
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  • By going despite the government's advice, the church for feits assurances of government intervention.

17% The church should not ask its government to respond.

  • We should use the spiritual weapons of prayer and voluntary suffering—not the diplomatic and military rights of our government—to change the hearts of the persecutors.
  • To do so only confirms the belief of leaders of the country involved that churches are an arm of the government.
  • The church has no government. It should not petition the government for anything at all. Missionary groups go knowing the dangers and should be willing to accept the consequences.

Leith Anderson, Edith Blumhofer, Mark Buchanan, Lisa Ann Cockrel, Charles Colson, J. Samuel Escobar, Ajith Fernando, Chris Hall, John W. Kennedy, Douglas LeBlanc, Paul Maier, Grant McClung, David McKenna, Dean Merrill, Ken Myers, H. W. Norton, Roger Olson, Virginia Owens, Ben Patterson, Richard V. Plerard, Jim Reapsome, Robert Seiple, Bruce Shelley, Uwe Siemon-Netto, Howard Snyder, Agnieszka Tennant, Don Thorsen

Related Elsewhere:

Our full-coverage section on Korean missions includes an interview with Park Eun-jo, pastor of Saemmul Community Church, and

Missions Isn't Safe | Let's not learn the wrong lessons from the South Korean kidnappings. (November 7, 2007)
In the Aftermath of a Kidnapping | The South Korean missionary movement seeks to mature without losing its zeal. (November 7, 2007)
Costly Commitment | In wake of abductions, Korean Christians take heavy criticism. (August 13, 2007)
South Korean Politicians Blame U.S. for Taliban Hostages | Korean officials seek direct negotiations with kidnappers. (August 3, 2007)
After Taliban Kills Two Hostages, South Korea Pleads for Compromise | As another deadline passes, Taliban abductors make threats and Afghanistan warns of military action. (August 2, 2007)

Weblog has links to more news in the aftermath of the hostage crisis.

The Pulse previously asked Christian leaders how to deal with illegal immigrants, about whether invading Iraq was just, and whether mass evangelism is dead.

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