What Makes Risk Worth It? :: Gospel Fellowship Association Missions

What Makes Risk Worth It?

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A startled feeling of being confronted by someone else’s world gave way to a delighted joy that day as I got ready to board the plane to the Middle Eastern country where I was to begin Arabic studies and found the line full of ladies wearing hijabs (a head covering worn by many Muslim ladies). It had been years since the Lord stirred in my heart the desire to minister in that part of the world to women from that religious background, and suddenly I found myself right in the midst of them.

Nearly nine years have passed since that day, and I now have the privilege of serving in a different area of the Middle East, still surrounded by many ladies wearing hijabs on a day-to-day basis. Evangelistic ministry to people of this religious background brings an inherent risk, particularly in this region of the world.  

What is it that makes the risk worth it in gospel ministry?

The first and supreme factor for me is love of the Captain under whose banner we serve (Psalm 20:5; Song of Solomon 2:4). It is the love beyond comprehension that caused Him to give Himself for our redemption combined with the deep responsive love that His love inspires in the human soul and that constrains the loved one to follow His lead (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). It is the love that alone can thrill the human soul with joy even when the days are dark and the clouds are threatening. It is the love that plants a growing anticipation of the coming day when there will no longer be any part of this earth that is swathed in dark ignorance of His glory (Habbakuk 2:14).

A second strongly motivating factor is the realization that when one is divinely called to a course and place of ministry that includes those risks, taking any other course or leaving that place of ministry undismissed by the One who called him would be a Jonah experience. Life inside a big fish isn’t a pleasant prospect!

A third motivating factor is the greater risk of blood guiltiness for the souls of people who don’t have anyone to share gospel light with them (Psalm 51:24; Ezekiel 3:18). I can’t get to all those souls, but I can go to a dark part of the earth, live among souls who are dark to the knowledge of Christ, and do all grace will enable me to do to let the light shine in!

A fourth motivating factor for me is what I call “getting in under the hijab.” It is the charm of a ladies-only setting in which the most conservative head and face coverings come off, and suddenly it is obvious that those mysterious-appearing figures are just like the rest of us. It is the joy of coming to know people in those foreign cultures not as strangers, but as unique fellow human creatures made in the image of God. They too have deep soul needs that cannot be satisfied apart from Jesus Christ.

Finally, there is the joy of seeing people who face greater risks than I do get victory over their fears and step forward to identify with Christ. In comparison with them, I have been enriched with so much in the way of spiritual encouragement, helps, and training, besides years of experience in walking with Christ. Yet apart from taking some degree of risk myself, I don’t really have much to offer them in the way of example in this area. We who love the body of Christ rejoice at stories of people in hostile cultures who have courageously faced and overcome tremendous obstacles and personal threats because of their faith. But having now worked for several years with young believers and interested hearers who face significant risks if they identify with Christ, the reality of their need for real-life examples of people who really love Jesus Christ and are willing to take great risks to follow Him stands out in stark relief. How can we expect the babies to do what the adults aren’t willing to do?

Beyond all these factors, Scripture makes it clear that anything we risk and lose from an earthly perspective for the advancement of the cause of Christ will be small enough beside the glory to come (Romans 8:18)! Surely the very first sight of that glory will instantly reset every disproportionate perspective and reapportion every incorrectly estimated value. But until then, faith rejoices to follow the trustworthy One!

Lead on, O King Eternal;

We follow, not with fears,

For gladness breaks like morning

Where’er Thy face appears.

Thy cross is lifted o’er us,

We journey in its light;

The crown awaits the conquest;

Lead on, O God of might.

~Ernest W. Shurtleff


Photo by Omar Elsharawy from Unsplash