This was my friend's immediate response when I excitedly mentioned to her that my parents would be leading a church trip to Egypt and Israel in October.
While I understand why someone would ask this question, I have to admit that I was surprised by the negativity with which the question was asked. The question and the attitude seemed to imply that not only was the trip not safe, it wasn't responsible either. I was further confused by the response, as my friend is a Christian. I assumed she would be excited for my parents' opportunity.
It seems that in today's world concerns for safety and security trump all others - even among those of us that claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. Yet the very example of Jesus - coming as a vulnerable child into a very dangerous world and ultimately offering himself up to his protagonists for the salvation of us all - challenges all of his followers to be willing to risk for the sake of justice and compassion. And yes, maybe even for nothing more than the opportunity to experience first hand the historic lands of our faith.
I am not suggesting that we throw caution to the wind and rush mindlessly into dangerous or questionable situations. But, as we all know, risk is part of life, and security is often an illusion.
The tenuousness of safety and security came into sharp focus here in San Diego last week as a deranged man walked onto an elementary school campus and started shooting. Thankfully, the physical damage was limited to two children with minor injuries. But this incident, and similar ones here in San Diego, come at a time when tourist travel, and, more importantly, ministry trips to Mexico - and specifically Tijuana - have been greatly curtailed due to harrowing reports of gruesome violence as a result of the drug wars. Many, many people wouldn't dream of traveling to Mexico at this time for any reason - altruistic or otherwise. But what do we do when seemingly random violence invades our own "tranquil" neighborhoods? Where do we hide now?
I think we need to remind ourselves, especially those of us that seek to follow Jesus, that a life without risk is a life without faith and ultimately a life without love, compassion and joy. Even people with a faith in nothing greater than themselves risk life and limb for some personal achievement or to meet the needs of those suffering the effects of war, disaster and disease. How much more should the followers of Christ that share his confidence in the faithfulness of the Father and the Father's good purposes continue to reach out in love, compassion and courage to our neighbors and the world?