2:30 P.M. EST March 11, 2010 | NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)
Mozart Adevu (right), a missionary with the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, is presented with honey by beekeepers at the Ganta mission
station in Liberia in July 2008. A UMNS photo courtesy of June Kim.
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No United Methodists are assigned to Pakistan, but the March 10 murder of charity workers there points to the need for constant vigilance regarding the safety of missionaries, church officials said.
Six Pakistani employees of the U.S.-based Christian charity World Vision were killed and seven others were wounded in an attack on the aid group’s offices in a remote village in northern Pakistan, according to news reports.
The United Methodist Board of Global Ministries has not had missionaries in Pakistan for at least 20 years, said Lois M. Dauway, the interim top executive for mission and evangelism. “We do relate as a mission partner with the United Church of Pakistan, but the arrangement does not involve personnel.”
In any mission posting, however, safety is a primary concern, Dauway said.
“We carefully investigate political, social, economic and religious realities in each country where United Methodist missionaries work. Our staff is constantly alert, as are our local partners, to security issues,” Dauway said.
The board does all missionary placements “in collaboration with indigenous mission partners,” she explained. “Questions of security figure in our dialogues on continuations and new placements.”
In volatile areas, the board has procedures for preparedness, and missionaries have been withdrawn or moved to safe locales within countries where conflicts occur.
“As a matter of precaution,” Dauway said, “missionaries scattered in Kenya were called into Nairobi for safety reasons just a few years back. We also moved missionaries from one place to another during civil disruptions in West Africa and a few places in Asia in recent years. The same was true earlier in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
In places with reputations for danger, the board is “constantly in a state of preparedness. To be prepared is part of what it means to assign and support missionaries.”
Dauway reported that in 1977, Glenn Eschtruth, who served in a mission hospital in Kinshasa, Zaire, was killed in warfare. According to her records, that was the only such instance of a missionary dying violently.
“Safety and security are thoroughly included in missionary training and covered in our missionary handbook,” she said.
Missionaries and the staff members who relate to them, Dauway said, are “well-informed on the nature of armed conflict and other threats; they are vigilant, agile and capable in confronting such challenges.”
*Dunlap-Berg is internal content editor for United Methodist Communications.
News media contact: Barbara Dunlap-Berg, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5489 or email@example.com.