I looked at the teams that we have returning as well as the new teams we have been partnering with. I took into consideration the teams that have told me that they only go on International trips every other year. I also looked at the teams that showed interest in the beginning but changed their minds. In asking the reason for the decision to go elsewhere, the number 1 answer was safety. Still? I thought. We have proven time & again that what we are doing in Mexico is safer than heading to downtown LA but for some reason people are still afraid to travel to Mexico. They hear Tijuana and immediately think they are going into the war zone. This, however, is not true.
A friend, David Stone (CEO of First Rate, Inc), recently posted on his facebook page the following statement: "The most dangerous place on earth? Libya? Syria? Mexico? Afghanistan? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 32,885 people died in traffic crashes in 2010 in the United States (latest figures available), including an estimated 10,228 people who died in drunk driving crashes, accounting for 31% of all traffic deaths last year."
Another family of friends, John & Jane Ray, have travelled all over the world. I've even heard tales of them jumping from moving trains with toddlers strapped to their backs as well as ministering in actual literal war zones as missionaries with YWAM. They wrote a blog several years ago about this very topic (can't find the actual blog right now, sorry). They recounted stories of their early days as missionaries leading groups into questionable areas of the world and how God protected them because He had sent them. They also talked about the loss of their daughter, Olivia, who, at the age of 10, was struck by a car while walking across the street. She was on her way to a track & field event at the University of Arkansas just a few blocks from her house. As they were preparing to come to Ensenada to build a house in Olivia's honor (through Olivia's Basket) the question on everyone's mind was is that really safe? They pondered this question and again came to the same conclusion as before, the only safe place is in the will of God. Olivia was in a safe place in her neighborhood yet because of the actions and choices of another person was taken from this world. This could have happend anywhere at anytime. We don't understand why this kind of thing happens but we can take comfort that God "makes all things new" & "in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." There has been good to come out of Olivia's death; awareness of crosswalk safety, families coming together to build homes for underprivileged around the world, and so many lives changed forever because of her life.
Here is the conclusion I have come up with regarding the issue of safety. God has given each of us common sense, granted some more than others. When traveling to a new place, find out about the area. We tend to trust locals on their opinions of where to go and where not to go. They live there, they know. In the same way, as a missionary with YWAM, we live in Tijuana and Ensenada. We know where to go and where not to. At the same time, there has to be a sense of walking by faith, knowing that God will take care of you if He is sending you. And if something happens, it happens. We can't walk around allowing fear to control our lives because we will miss out on all the wonders the Lord wants to show us and all the lives He wants us to impact.
My mom once said that God saved me from death on numerous occasions when I was first born and that she had given me up to Him. When He is done with me on this Earth He will take me, there is nothing she can do about it. Of course this doesn't stop her from worrying about me whenever she hears "Mexico" on the news, haha.
Have there been times where you have gone somewhere or done something that people tried to talk you out of because of fear of safety? What did you do? Have there been times where you felt you were supposed to go somewhere but talked yourself out of it because of that same fear? I'd love to hear your experiences.