When a country becomes politically unstable should Westerners leave?

“Trust God and be aware of what is happening.”

We were a family with four young children and believed that God called us to Sri Lanka, where there was civil war. Because of that, we had a firm belief he would keep us safe. If not, then his plan for whatever did happen to us would be for our good. That said, we always used as a barometer what the state department was recommending: if they would pull their people out, we would have gone too. We also paid attention to curfew regulations and stayed away from dangerous places.

Whether you are single or have a family makes a difference. If you have children, then you need to consider leaving more strongly, especially since family at home (grandparents, etc.) will be very concerned for those children as well as for yourselves as parents.

In the event of a quick evacuation, we always kept in our file cabinet a well-thought-out list of items we must take out of the country with us so that it would be easy to pack suitcases and go at short notice.

Answer from Carol, who has served for twenty-one years, including service in Netherlands Antilles, Sri Lanka, and South Africa with TWR.

“Are you a burden to the local people?”

Studying missions history I came to realize that staying on the field can put the local people at risk, particularly if they hide a missionary. They could be charged or even killed for giving such protection without the government knowing and/or approving. It can also eventually be very dangerous for the foreigner. 

I like the answer Carol has given. She’s been there and has thought things through carefully. We sometimes fail to do that when we are so passionate in our ministry.

We were invited to go to Nigeria, but as violence over elections escalated, we decided, for the sake of our conference attendees as well as for our hosts, and not to mention ourselves, it would be wise to postpone the meetings to a later date when the situation was less volatile. This decision brought great peace to all involved.

Answer from Char, who has been in global ministry for twenty-five years, including service in Korea, China, Canada, and various parts of Africa, and now serves in Israel.

“Leave if violence is escalating to the point of war.”

If the country is going into some type of war, getting really violent, or if they are blaming “the foreigners,” then YES!!!

Answer from Tabby, who has served with Missions to the World in Belize for two years.

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