Monday, October 24, 2011

"Perfect love casts out fear."

My son heard a mission speaker from Africa a few days ago.

The man, my son says, talked about living there being "fear 24/7" for Christians. The missionary talked passionately about believers being in constant danger of being robbed, beaten and murdered. He explained that the police don't take action against criminals and the fire fighters can be bribed to watch your house burn. At one point he looked directly at Jordan and said, "You know what I'm talking about." My son, who doesn't quite get the idea of rhetorical questions yet, responded "Well, I've been in Africa." The speaker was a bit taken aback but finished his talk, emphasizing that the fear was why missionaries were needed.

My son has indeed been in Africa, visiting missionaries in a city where some people think that white people are automatically rich and target them for theft. Also,  the police are minimally effective. Our friends have a night guard and lock their compound at night. They don't walk out after dark and they take other sensible precautions to protect their family and property. But one thing they don't do is live in fear. They explained that 99% of the people we would meet were happy we were there and wished us well.  (Actually, we never met anyone who seemed even unfriendly, unless you count the safari ants who attacked us in the rainforest.) Our friends love their neighbors and enjoy the company of those they work with.

Africa is vast and the speaker my son heard was from a different country. Perhaps he encounters more hostilty than my friends do. I can't help thinking, though, that his perceptions are colored by his fear while my friends' is influenced by their love and faith.

The group my son heard this speaker with is planning a trip to Africa to visit this mission speaker. I think we'll skip this one. I don't really want my son infected by this type of fear.

I hope he gets to go to Burma with me in a couple of years. Oh, I'll be concerned about the germs and nervous about how to interact with people, but I won't be going with people terrified about crime. And I am absolutely sure we will meet amazing friends.

What has your experience been in other cultures?


  1. My daugher spent a month teaching in Sierra Leone this year (at the age of 17) and so many people were full of fear before she left...saying so many negative things about going there....She had a wonderful time....surrounded by kids who were so happy and joyful to have her there....who shared everything with her...she said it was wonderful being surrounded by love and being looked after....they were careful and travelled with an escort when they walked to their various schools....but it was the love from the kids that made the trip a wonderful experience

  2. What an amazing experience for your daughter! Of course we need to take care, but when fear stops us, we lose so much. My son is only 11. He was 7 when we were in Kenya. I am glad we were with people who were sensible but not fearful.