Now that Ben is the poster child (and I'm the poster adult) for American crime victims in Honduras, I'm starting to get emails, asking me this question: Is it safe to come to Honduras on a mission trip?
(For those who missed it, HERE is the story of our kidnapping.)
I'll be honest with you . . . it's not a topic I really want to think about right now. My family has prayerfully made decisions which have brought us to a place where we aren't considering living outside of Honduras. Two of our adult children are married to Hondurans, and plan to continue living in Honduras for the foreseeable future (in Brandy and Rachel's case, his military commitment will require his presence in Honduras for many years to come). Ben is not officially adopted, and we cannot get a passport or visa for him to travel. For us, leaving Honduras would mean leaving our young child behind, as well as moving away from some of our adult children. You can see why our level of commitment is on a slightly different level than that of many expats here, whether or not they are missionaries - and reasonably enough, it is a different level of commitment than that of people considering coming for a week long mission trip!
I'll also add that my husband, Allen, has the perspective of having grown up in southeast Asia in the late 60s and early 70s. He went to school with missionary kids who had lost their parents in incidents related to the Vietnam War and been adopted by other missionary families. He knew people who were captured and held prisoner during the war. He knew people who were killed. He doesn't shrug off dangers and think they can't happen to us. We pray, and carry on, because that's what we're called to do.
We've long since decided that being in the center of God's will for us is where we want to be, even if this does involve risks to our physical safety. It's what God made us for, and we've chosen to stay within His will, for better or worse. Honduras is our home.
The emails I'm receiving are from people who are scheduled to visit Honduras in the near future on short term mission trips, or are considering signing up for such a trip. They are obviously concerned about whether such a trip is advisable. We all have to pray about and weigh these kinds of decisions for ourselves. Many people come to Honduras just to vacation - it is a beautiful country with friendly people and a fascinating history. The vast majority -practically all- of these visitors have a safe and pleasant visit. Many people also come on short term mission trips and return safely to their homes. But there are risks, and the risks are real. Only you can decide what risks you are willing to venture, for what return.
As a Christian considering a mission trip, you can't make this decision based solely on the possibility of danger. You need to ask yourself, what is God calling you to do? Some people are truly not called to missions, and if that's you, then you should go do the thing God has put upon your heart. This is not something I can answer for you, except to say that feeling fear isn't the same as not being called to missions. You can trust me on that one.
I will say that, should you choose to sign up for such a trip, you should voice your concerns with the mission organization with whom you will be working. Security issues are different in different parts of the country, and the host of your group should be someone who is very well informed about the area of the country where you will be visiting. They ought to be giving you some very specific guidelines, and you should definitely follow their instructions! If you follow this advice, you are much more likely than not to have a safe, enjoyable trip.
Is that a guarantee of a safe trip? Not even close. But then, you know there are no guarantees in this life. Our faith isn't in our physical safety and security in this world . . . or it shouldn't be.