Zane writes from Jakarta, Indonesia.
There’s no doubt that living with COVID19 in a mega-city of 30 million people raises some questions. How reliable is the drinking water supply? How we can be the church in a meaningful way when we can’t meet? How are we ever going to open a bank account now?
We also know that some of our supporters have got questions too. The question we are asked the most by people in New Zealand is “Is it safe?”
NZCMS have been brilliant at keeping in touch with us. They have offered us amazing support around planning for this pandemic as things have changed on the ground. And they’ve also offered to help us get back to New Zealand if we felt that was the best option. We haven’t felt it was the best option.
When we decided to serve with NZCMS we knew we would have to risk something. Reputation. Lifestyle. Friendships. Aspirations. Hopes. Dreams. We traded them out for something different, something truly unsafe, a gospel vision for Jakarta.
We haven’t felt like returning to New Zealand was the right thing to do because we weren’t ‘safe’ here before. Not safe in a kiwi senseThere are inherent risks serving here. Risks of illness, of terror attacks, of disease, of robbery, of motor vehicle accident and risks associated with the healthcare system. But we knew some of the risks of living and working here before we signed on the dotted line with NZCMS. And that’s true for almost all of NZCMS’ Mission Partners.
We aren’t unconcerned, über victorious super-Christians. We’re regular, and at times, very sub-par followers of Jesus who have responded to God’s call to live in a different paradigm and a different place. That’s unsafe. Following Jesus should never feel safe.
As we’ve grappled with safety, in the wake of our new home having the worst COVID19 fatality rates on the planet we’ve asked ourselves “What’s the worst that could happen?”. The answer is we could die. But what was the worst that could happen before COVID19? We could die.
Having just worked through the book of Philippians, Paul’s words ring loudly; “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” - Philippians 1:21. I don’t write that flippantly. My wife, Karen, and I have run through the worst-case scenario a couple of times. It's scary. Would we go home? What would change? How would life look?
We’d be gutted. Devastated. Heartbroken. Yet, God would still be on the throne in heaven. Such a tragedy as one of us dying would undeniably change life forever. And that’s ok, because at the end of the day, we know that our safety doesn’t rest on a set of earthly circumstances, pandemic or not.
We can be sensible, and we can minimise our exposure to risk; we’ve been following the advice of the New Zealand Embassy here, which is essentially the same advice as in New Zealand. But the safety we enjoy is in the hands of God, it is in an eternal safety.
Our surroundings may not always feel safe, but Christians live and serve in the knowledge that our souls are safe with Him. Psalm 46 says the God of Jacob is our refuge and we serve in an unsafe place so that others might come to know this eternal safety too.
Want to keep thinking about this theme of "Godly Safety’? Join in on our "Happy Hour" zoom meeting on Thursday, April 23.