Article 2021-08 Missionary Security Measure
Chapter 67: Missionary Security Measures
A spiritual war rages between God’s Kingdom and Satan’s domain. Therefore, there is a place for secret missions among God’s soldiers. The latter should be careful with information and communication. Names, strategies and tactics should be kept from hostile observers; sometimes codes need to be used.
Then Joshua … secretly sent two spies … (Josh. 2:1)
I set out during the night … I had not told anyone … (Neh. 2:12)
The devil is called ‘the prince of the world’ by Jesus and ‘the god of this world’ by Paul. Since man handed his authority over creation to Satan through disobedience, the devil has occupied that position. When Jesus conquered him, his power is being taken from him gradually in a spiritual war that will eventually encompass the whole world. Christ’s followers are His soldiers, assigned to force Satan and his kingdom backwards and to establish God’s Kingdom in the hearts of people that Satan keeps in bondage. Therefore, evangelism and missions are acts of war, one that cannot be lost, but where God’s people can be wounded and killed. Skill and caution are demanded to fight that war. Part of the mission has secret elements: there must be caution with regard to finding information, personnel deployment, communications, and the planning of strategies and tactics.
When Joshua sent spies into Jericho, he did so secretly. Certain missionary research tasks must be performed without being noticed by enemy agents, before the occupation force can move in, or the execution of plans takes place. Nehemiahdid this, once he arrived in Jerusalem, of which the city wall was ruined. He investigated for some days and at night inspected the damage, in the presence of only a few people. After that he proposed a plan to the city leaders. This was necessary before they could face the opposition.
When the disciples asked Jesus where to prepare the Passover meal, He told them a weird command ‘Go into the city. Follow a man with a water jar into the house, speak to the owner and prepare the room he shows you’. Why such secret directions? Jesus could have been specific, but it was important that Judas didn’t know where the last meal would be used, so that it could not be disturbed. Jesus avoided this by acting the way He did.
Years later, in Rome, Peter used some coded language in his first letter. Speaking about Rome, he called it ‘Babylon’ and the ‘she’ refers to the church there. In his second letter, John used the same analogies.
To the chosen lady and her children … the children of your chosen sister send their greetings (2 John :1,13)
In his second letter John addressed a female person. The ‘chosen lady and her children’ indicate a church and her members rather than a woman, otherwise John would have used a personal name. The greeting at the end is similar: John sends greetings from his own church and her members, probably in Ephesus. One reason to use a code is that of security: the church faced persecution. In his 2nd and 3rd letters John wrote to different churches; both are about itinerant missionaries.
Not all of these travelers could be trusted: some false prophets had made it their ‘mission’ to lead churches astray and John warns against them in his second letter. The good ones had been given hospitality by Gaius, for which John compliments him in the third letter. Missionaries are to be received by people as if they are Christ Himself, but not everyone favors them. Diotrephes made life difficult for the missionaries and for others who wanted to help them. We talk about these men in the next chapter.
We must be aware of the vast importance of the security of fellow-believers. We need to do everything within our power to protect them. Many live in countries that are hostile towards Christians, because of their anti-Christian ideologies. Caution needs to be taken in who is being visited and when; in all telephone- and written communications and in what one carries on his person. Of course calculated risks need to be taken – without risks there will be no success. Our motivation should not be one of fear for our own life or safety, but for that of the fellow-believers we visit, or contact in other ways.
Discussion & dialogue
- What precautions need to be taken to evangelize the population? How can one move about inconspicuously? What words cannot be used in communication? What are the alternatives? What are the best times to contact believers? How can truth be spoken to authorities, without giving sensitive information on visa-forms or during interrogations?
- Discuss the dangers of carrying letters, manuscripts, photos, tapes, CDs and DVDs. If they really need to be carried, how can this be done in the safest possible way? What creative smuggling possibilities can you develop?