Rising gas prices in Haiti sent the nation into an uproar on July 7, 2018. Youth groups and other mission teams were stranded in their hotels as airlines canceled flights into and out of the nation's capital. While no mission discovery teams or ministry partners were affected by the demonstrations, we understand there is a level of fear that comes with these headlines.
In the book of Joshua, we read God's promise to be with his children wherever they go. God gives an invitation to be strong, courageous and unafraid. But, when tragic events unfold in places we are called to go, it can feel impossible to escape fear and accept God's invitation to walk with courage. So, the question is how do we handle the fear of our calling?
1. Recognize The Fear.
When people feel afraid, an automatic biological reaction occurs. They will choose one of two ways to handle their fear. They will courageously confront the thing they are scared of, or they will run from it. It's called the fight or flight reaction. Everyone has it; sometimes multiple times per day. The tricky thing is, sometimes we don’t understand why we want to run away, or why we get angry. Whenever we experience the gut feeling forcing us to either fight or flee, we can ask ourselves if there is something we are afraid of hiding behind the curtain of our behaviors. Recognizing that we are afraid gives us the power to confront the fear instead of causing strife with those around us.
2. Be Thankful.
As silly as it sounds, we need to have gratitude for our fears. Fear is a helpful emotion and its primary job is to keep us safe. Ever seen a bear in the woods? Me either. But if I did I would know not to try and feed it. Generally, people are afraid of wild bears. If we didn’t have a healthy fear of the bear, we could make poor decisions that would leave us severely injured or even dead. There is a such thing as healthy fear that leads us to make wise decisions.
3. Healthy fear leads to healthy faith.
Sometimes, an area becomes too unsafe for missionaries to enter. When this happens, our faith must rise up. We understand that direct help is not something we can offer when circumstances become unruly and there is a lack of order in the place we are called to serve. We must have faith that ultimate control belongs to God. We rely on Him to establish justice and order. We cannot trust in ourselves to do the work of God. He will use this time to prepare the hearts of those in the area to receive His grace. He will also use this time to prepare the missionary for the calling.
Ask God to reveal His plan. Obviously, unruly events in other nations are outside of our control, but God always has a plan. Nothing is wasted with Him. He wants to teach us something while we wait to walk into our calling. The question is, what is it? We keep praying and asking God to create in us a new heart that is ready to serve when He calls us forward.
5. Be Flexible.
Understanding the fears we have when it comes to serving on the field is something that will take years to understand. We may never know the particular drivers of our fears. But, when things happen that are out of our control and we don’t know how to react to them, we remain flexible. This is a teaching moment and we are meant to learn something through it. God’s ways are always higher than our ways. We wait on the Lord to renew our strength so we can rise up stronger than before and ready to serve those who need it most.
Every person experiences fear at some point in their lives. Some of us experience it on a daily bases. Once we learn how to have an appropriate relationship with our fears, we can use them to make positive decisions for the Kingdom of God. We want the world to know Christ and his love for us all. Wisdom comes to those who pay attention to their fear and choose to walk in courage, knowing that God will be with them every step of the way.