Scott and Jean Adam, of Marina del Rey, Calif., were on a mission to distribute Bibles when they were killed by Somali pirates last week. | Del Rey Yacht Club via AP
With eyes wide open. That’s how missionaries face lives where uncertainty and some risk may be unavoidable, said mission leaders reacting to the killing of four people by Somali pirates off East Africa.
Scott and Jean Adam of Marina del Rey, Calif., used their yacht to distribute Bibles to remote places across the world.
The Adams were on such a voyage, in an area known for pirate attacks, with another couple, Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle of Seattle.
The boat was hijacked and all four were taken hostage by the pirates. They were fatally wounded before U.S. naval forces could board the vessel to try to save them.
There have been no reports religion played a role in the attack.
But risks are increasing for missionaries, said Bob Klamser, a retired police lieutenant who leads Crisis Consulting International.
The group trains mission organizations in security concerns and also responds to crises, including negotiating the release of an aid worker and his driver who were kidnapped last year in Afghanistan.
“The real difference we’re seeing is that missionaries are being targeted more often because of who they are and what they’re doing. That is a change,” he said, noting hostility is aimed both at Western culture and Christianity.
Klamser counsels people to take precautions, but he never advises them to stop mission work.
“People have a deep core belief that God calls them to the work,” he said. “You don’t stop because it’s hard or dangerous.”
James Rolfe is a humanitarian, not a missionary. He’s a dentist who operates a clinic and a dental technician-training school in Afghanistan. He doesn’t talk about religion to his patients and has no motive other than helping people.
There have been times when born-again Christians offer to journey to Afghanistan to help with the clinic.
“If they mention anything about religion at all, I say you probably shouldn’t go,” he said, referring to people who want to proselytize. “I think that’s tantamount to committing suicide in Afghanistan.”
By TOM KISKEN
Scripps Howard News Service