danger zone missions

Despite kidnappings, U.S. Christians still support mission trips to embattled nations.
by Eric Reed, CTI Rapid Response

American Christians who are active in their churches still strongly support missions work in dangerous regions, despite the recent kidnapping and killings of South Korean aid workers by the Taliban in Afghanistan. A new survey conducted by NationalChristianPoll.com for Christianity Today International shows 69 percent of Active Christians support missions work in places where the U.S. is engaged in military operations, specifically Iraq and Afghanistan, and 66 percent support missions in countries that are under U.S. sanctions, Cuba, for example.

With the number of U.S. churches sending volunteers abroad for short-term missions increasing each year, the poll asked, "Are missions to dangerous places are irresponsible?" Only two percent of the active Christians said yes; 63 percent said, "Only if the missionaries are unprepared."

Of the 884 Active Christians surveyed, 94 percent support missionaries financially, and 57 percent said they or a family member have been on a mission trip. Considering the fate of South Korean aid workers, 53 percent said church members should continue to volunteer for short-term mission trips in dangerous places; 56 percent said mission work should continue, even in nations where Christian evangelization is forbidden by law.

The poll by NationalChristianPoll.com identifies "Active Christians" as people who believe in salvation through Jesus Christ, who are regular church attenders and often leaders in their churches, and who are committed to personal spiritual development through Bible reading and sharing their faith with other people.

The survey was conducted August 15-16, 2007, and has a margin of error of 3.3 percent.

Here are the findings:

1. Are missions to dangerous places irresponsible?
Yes 2%
No 29%
Only if the missionaries are unprepared 63%
Don't know 6%

2. Christians should voluntarily travel into hostile countries for short-term mission trips.
Strongly Agree 18%
Somewhat Agree 35%
Neither Agree nor Disagree 28%
Somewhat Disagree 15%
Strongly Disagree 5%

3. U.S. missionaries (long or short-term) should serve in countries where Christian evangelization is forbidden by law.
Strongly Agree 25%
Somewhat Agree 31%
Neither Agree nor Disagree 26%
Somewhat Disagree 14%
Strongly Disagree 3%

4. U.S. churches should send missionaries (long- or short-term) to countries in which the U.S. has military operations under way (e.g., Iraq and Afghanistan).
Strongly Agree 29%
Somewhat Agree 40%
Neither Agree nor Disagree 14%
Somewhat Disagree 13%
Strongly Disagree 4%

5. U.S. churches should send missionaries (long or short-term) to countries which are under U.S. sanctions (e.g., Cuba).
Strongly Agree 29%
Somewhat Agree 37%
Neither Agree nor Disagree 19%
Somewhat Disagree 10%
Strongly Disagree 5%

6. If an adult family member close to you planned a short-term mission trip to a country where Christians are routinely persecuted, jailed, or killed, how supportive would you be of your family member's decision?
Very Supportive 40%
Somewhat Supportive 36%
Neither Supportive nor Unsupportive 5%
Somewhat Unsupportive 12%
Very Unsupportive 6%

7. How likely would you yourself be to consider volunteering for short-term mission service in a country where Christians are routinely persecuted, jailed, or killed?
Very Likely 9%
Somewhat Likely 21%
Neither Unlikely nor Likely 17%
Somewhat Unlikely 23%
Very Unlikely 29%

From a survey of 884 Active Christians, conducted August 15-16, 2007, by NationalChristianPoll.com for Christianity Today International. "Active Christians" as defined by the survey organization believe in salvation through Jesus Christ, who are regular church attenders and often leaders in their churches, and who are committed to personal spiritual development through Bible reading and sharing their faith with other people.

Copyright © 2007 by the author or Christianity Today International/Leadership Journal.