In the deadliest attack since U.S. authorities handed sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government a suicide car bomb tore through a downtown street Wednesday, killing 68 Iraqis and wounding 56. According to several sources, the rise in incidents of terrorism around the world is having an impact on international short-term missions, particularly those trips to some of the more dangerous locations.
Warren Janzen, SEND International's general director, said incidents such as the terrorist bombings can affect a church's plans, but many church groups seek to make alternate arrangements. SEND International, an international ministry that has 55 years of missions outreach experience in 20 countries of the world, organizes short-term missionary opportunities for students and working adults.
"Timing is very critical," Janzen said, "especially for church teams that are going out. [Bombings] or elections in certain countries may deter the church group from going to that country. But they don't [opt not to go]; they redirect, often, to other places."
Also, during an interview with Mission Network News, the ministry director noted that while many young people are staying clear of terrorist "hot spots," many older workers are actually volunteering for these dangerous locations.
"On the college campuses we find that there are more and more students who are not choosing dangerous locations. There are more parents who are stepping in and discouraging kids from going to some of the hot spot, places where we have Muslim work," said Janzen.
However, Janzen older workers "it's even putting more of an edge on missions. And, they're articulating that fact that, hey, this is worth dying for. And, so for some it's taking them deeper into commitment."
But as problems arise in a country, Janzen says many teams change fields and go to a safer area of the world. That can have a negative impact on ministry as the work isn't completed as planned.
As terrorism continues to grow around the world, Janzen says it does help in evangelism. "It brings seriousness to life. It brings a new reality that something might happen and I might have to face up to whatever is happening after death. And, that does give us opportunities to address that kind of question, to talk about life after death, to talk about the consequences of our actions now. So, yeah, I think it is giving us more opportunities to expose people to the Gospel."
This summer, nearly 500 people will take part in short-term projects organized by SEND International.