By Jim Tune
You probably haven’t heard of Andrew and Debbie Jones. Together, they have five kids. They’ve served all over the world. In 2015 alone, they worked in Jordan, Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Serbia, Croatia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Hungary, Poland, and Germany. They’ve done some work recently with Syrian refugees. Andrew calls himself a thinker and a nomad. He was an early and influential voice in Christian blogging. Debbie worked with hippies, refugees, social activists, and spiritual seekers.
As I write this, Andrew is recovering from African diseases, including malaria. He’s had four blood transfusions and countless needles. He’s also recovering from the loss of his wife. In June, Debbie died from typhoid and liver failure.
Compared to Andrew and Debbie, I like to play it safe. I’ve taken my own risks, but I also know the pull of safety. Most of us like to play it pretty safe. Our goal is to make it to retirement with money in the bank and time on our hands. But Canadian theologian J. I. Packer is right: “It needs to be said loud and clear that in the kingdom of God there ain’t no comfort zone and never will be.”
Once in a while I need to remind myself of people like Debbie, or of Karen Watson, a missionary who was killed in Iraq in 2004. She left this note to be read in the event of her death: “When God calls there are no regrets. I wasn’t called to a place. I was called to Him. To obey was my objective, to suffer was expected, His glory was my reward, His glory is my reward.” She asked her supporters to keep sending missionaries and raising up young pastors, and to keep their service simple.
She concluded her letter with these words:
The Missionary Heart:
Care more than some think is wise.
Risk more than some think is safe.
Dream more than some think is practical.
Expect more than some think is possible.
I was called not to comfort or success but to obedience. . . . There is no Joy outside of knowing Jesus and serving him.
I need stories like this. I need to resist the slow drift into a life of comfort. Comfort is overrated for the Christian. It’s much better to live a life of faith and risk.
Are you worried we’ll begin to get reckless? It’s a valid concern. I don’t think Jesus is honored when we take foolish risks. Honestly, though, can we really say that excessive risk is our problem?
Let’s keep looking for people who remind us that we’re called to risk. Let’s adopt the motto, “Risk or rust.” Let’s follow Debbie’s retirement plan: “Live more dangerously and take more risks.” We just may discover that living a life of safety is the most dangerous way to live.