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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Risky Business

It's risky business, this being a Christian in our world...or, is it? Do we take the risks that are ours to take in the service of Christ in this world?

Jan at A Church for Starving Artists reflects today on the dangerous calling of Jean and Scott Adam, who were recently kidnapped by Somali pirates and murdered yesterday.
The story can be found here, and also here. Here's Jan's post:

Dangerous Calling - In Memory of Scott & Jean Adam

The murder of the California couple off the coast of Oman yesterday has received more attention for its example of the escalating levels of piracy than the fact that the victims were engaged in Christian ministry.

Scott and Jean Adam spent the last several years sailing around the world involved in friendship evangelism using free Bibles to break the ice and meet people. The dangers prior to sailing on the Horn of Africa had been limited to bad weather and sore backs from lugging the boxes of Bibles.

I'm struck by the number of stories of people willing to face danger for their calling - whether that calling is overtly spiritual or not. From a female reporter being attacked doing her job in Egypt to university students bravely protesting in Green Square, Tripoli or Pearl Square, Manama - people are increasingly called to step up even if it could be dangerous.

I have had more than one conversation with Western Christians over the years discussing missionary teachers or doctors who've been kidnapped or murdered in the line of duty. More often than not, the response is that we should not be surprised - and maybe we shouldn't even be sympathetic - when these acts of violence occur. It's not as if anyone says, "they had it coming" but there is the definite sense that the dangers were to be expected.

Have we Western Christians become so comfortable that we avoid all risk, even if it means ignoring our calling?

Some of us won't even risk praying out loud much less take vacation time to distribute Bibles in a faraway place. Many of us aren't called to faraway places or even to pray out loud perhaps, but all of us are called to something scary, something outside our comfort zone. It could be as simple as befriending a pariah or as complicated as selling all we have and moving to India.

It's semi-terrifying to listen to God and actually follow. The more we have, the more we have to lose. Ter. Ri. Fying. Maybe this is why I can't get Jean and Scott Adam out of my mind. Yes, they were wealthy enough to own a yacht and be able to sail around the world. But they could have moved into a nice retirement community and played golf. Not that there's anything wrong with that - if that's what God is moving us to do. But honestly, God seems to have bigger plans for most of us.
The other post that has been ringing in my head, along somewhat similar but more domestic and less physically dangerous lines, is one by Teri at Clever Title Here. She preached a sermon on January 16 on John 1.29-42, and I saw her mention (on another social media site?) that she was surprised/troubled by the many comments she'd received from the congregation that it was "her best sermon ever." She wasn't seeing it.

As I think we can agree, the Holy Spirit is in charge of our best efforts...we are NOT...and of how a sermon affects the hearers.

Below is a video of Teri preaching the sermon. (the text is here, but I encourage you to watch the video as well). Personally, I found it incredibly powerful, and here over a month later I still think of it every day. It reached me "where I live" and spoke to my consideration of what is mine to do in the world, in the way of evangelism.

See what you think. Let us know your thoughts on Jan's and Teri's posts in the comments. Blessings on your days.


  1. I watched the sermon and I loved it. I was born and raised in the church and have many relatives who are clergy, her story is not my story but I find her story so powerful and so honest I want to share it with my congregation. I think I might start by playing for my Evangelism committee. Thank you for posting it.

  2. This is great--she not only preaches from the heart, but she preaches herself, her own story so it can't help but be genuine. This needs to be seen by everyone who is scared of the "e" word or who sees it as a political term (yes! it does mean good news!!! it doesn't mean right-wing!!!). One of the best things about this is that it doesn't vilify the unbelievers but simply invites people to "come and see."

  3. Powerful sermon! I don't know Teri but I can see why she would not call this one of her best -- you can see her tension, nervousness, anxiety as she bares her soul, as it were, to tell her own story of how she came to faith. But that very anxiety is what makes it real, and I think that's where a congregation can identify with her in their own anxieties about sharing their faith. "Come and see what God is doing here" is such a simple invitation. Great.

    But what is most important to me is that Teri represents a generation that wasn't raised in the church and perhaps doesn't even believe it needs the church to have some sort of "spiritual" experience. It's voices like Teri's that people like me (older and grew up in the church) need to hear. Thanks so much for sharing this video.


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