When people hear about our overseas ministry travels, they sometimes ask us, “Aren’t you afraid?” They refer to our traveling in countries where we don’t understand the language, we (as obvious foreigners) must be alert to the risk of pickpockets in trains and train stations, and driving on narrow tree-lined highways where passing slower vehicles feels downright dangerous to our North American driving standards. Add to that list the political unrest in Ukraine and the vanishing of the Malaysian airliner last week.
Okay. I’ll admit occasional fear, especially in light of the plane’s mysterious disappearance and the fact that I’ll be boarding an international flight in a couple of weeks. My imagination leaves me wondering if this was a new type of terrorism and whether it’ll happen again….with my next flight. But it’s not the first time I’ve felt scared in the context of our overseas travels.
I remember when one of our volunteer’s purse was stolen when we ate in a Hungarian hotel restaurant. Her purse contained her passport, her ID, and her credit cards. Our team was scheduled to return to Canada within a few hours of the theft, but she had to remain in Budapest for two additional days until the embassy processed her new passport. I felt fearful for her well-being, worried that the thieves would strike again because they knew this foreign woman—minus her credit cards—would now be carrying cash.
I also recall a time in a remote area of India when my husband and I left the security of our walled-in hotel to walk to a shop that had internet access. Darkness had already fallen, and the only lights that shone were single and dim, hanging from teashops set back about 30 feet from our path along the roadway. Carrying our laptops in our backpacks, we followed our hotel desk clerk’s directions, but found nothing even though we walked much further than his instructions indicated was necessary. After about 20 minutes, we entered a village square of sorts. Large diesel trucks sat idling, their drivers checking tires and preparing for their night’s journey. Other men squatted by teeny fires, warming their hands.
That’s when I felt it. Evil hung in the air, as thick as the diesel fumes into which we’d walked. Something inside me screamed, “Danger!” Securing internet access suddenly seemed senseless. I whispered my intuition to my husband who responded, “If that’s how you feel, then we need to get out of here right now.” We immediately turned around and walked back to our hotel, trying not to draw any more attention to ourselves than we’d already done simply be being the only Westerners there.
Overseas travel can have its scary moments, but really, how’s that different from life in North America? No matter where we live, fearful things happen—a doctor’s diagnosis flips our world upside down, an accident injures a loved one, a home invader walks in. The list is endless and leaves us facing a choice—let the fear consume us or rise above it.
How can we overcome fear in a sometimes scary world? Here are some verses that encouraged me recently. They’re from the story of Balak commanding Balaam to curse the Israelites. God, however, told Balaam to do otherwise. This is the message He gave Balaam concerning His people:
“No misfortune is in his plan for Jacob; no trouble is in store for Israel. For the LORD their God is with them; he has been proclaimed their king. God brought them out of Egypt; for them he is as strong as a wild ox. No curse can touch Jacob; no magic has any power against Israel” (Numbers 23:21-23).”
Reread these verses, one phrase at a time and ponder how they apply to you, as one of God’s children today. God has brought you out of Egypt—He’s freed you from the slavery of sin. He is with you and is strong on your behalf. No curse can touch you; no magic has power against you. This doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen, but it means that God’s presence will never leave you and that He has promised ultimate victory despite the stuff that the enemy throws our way.
How do I face my fears? I cling to the truth that no matter what happens to me, I’m a victor because God is the king of my life. No harm touches me unless He allows it. And if that happens, I’m still in His care and He will somehow use it for my good and His glory.
Question: What’s your reason for confidence?
BTW — you can order an autographed copy of Moving From Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation here.