I was recently talking to somebody about the trip I made to India in some years ago. It was through a Christian missionary organisation that sent out teams of volunteers to various different countries for short term projects, not unlike the BMS Action Teams but the usual duration was for only two or three weeks. The team I joined consisted of nine of us of varying ages both male and female and we undertook a variety of tasks spending a day at a school, a day at a drug and alcohol abuse residential centre where the aim was to rehabilitate firstly and to demonstrate Christian love in action. No preaching was done but to exercise their lungs the young men got together each morning to sing Christian hymns or worship songs. Some of our time was spent in physical tasks such as preparing the walls of a small room for re-plastering and some in talking to young people about our personal journey to faith. Just some examples but I can say it was a life changing and enriching experience. I found it hard to believe that God wanted me to go to India because I had never flown long haul before and wasn’t sure that I wanted to nevertheless once I had been accepted by Soapbox I lost the trepidation and began to look forward to it. When I was back home I was asked by somebody if I had ever felt in danger to which the answer was no, but on the day that there was going to be some industrial action with demonstrations our hosts were quite firm in saying that we should not leave the compound that day. Mind you, the traffic was manic, if there were any rules there was no evidence of them.
My time in India was brought sharply into focus during the last month when a doctor friend of mine went out to Cameroon Baptist sponsored hospital. He has been making journeys several times a year since taking early retirement and is involved in ground breaking medical research and treatment of children with Burkitts Lymphoma which is a rare form of cancer found in children at altitude. He always sends e-mails giving some details of what specific goal he hopes to achieve on each trip and where he is visiting. Occasionally he will give details of a specific child or circumstance. This time I received an e-mail asking prayers for travelling mercies. An area he was planning to visit was in a state of unrest with several killings. His trip was postponed for a day due to planned demonstrations but he did make his visit though I think he kept it as short as possible. The two Anglophile schools in the region were closed awaiting the time they could open again safely. Hairy stuff! However, he is a long way from the first Christian to leave these shores to knowingly go to a place where there is danger of violence or deadly illness; this happened right at the very foundation of the BMS when William Carey went, also to India. Whilst in India our team was taken to Serampore College founded by William Carey where the staff and students still talk of their gratitude for what William Carey did all those years ago.
There are many more, too numerous to name but I am sure you will know of some of those yourself. Sometimes a Christian is called to knowingly go where there could be danger, but thank God there are still those willing. The work that my friend and his colleagues have been doing will leave a lasting legacy for that area that it would not have achieved without their help. Whole Christian communities live in countries where it is dangerous to be a Christian on a daily basis. How far are we prepared to go for Christ? How much of a risk do we take? Do our neighbours, our work colleagues or other people we associate with know that we are Christians. In our PC secular society talk about faith is not allowed, the wearing of cross controversial but even in those circumstances we can demonstrate our faith through the way we conduct ourselves or our behaviour. Look at it like this, if a fishing boat hugs the shoreline it will go nowhere and it will not catch anything. That is what I call playing it too safe!