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, such as Cuba.
With the increasing number of U.S. churches sending volunteers abroad for short-term missions, the poll asked, "Are missions to dangerous places 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 from NationalChristianPoll.com identifies "active Christians" as people who believe in salvation through Jesus Christ, who are regular church attenders and often church leaders, and who are committed to personal spiritual growth 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?
Only if the missionaries are unprepared 63%
Don't know 6%
2. Christians should voluntarily travel to 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 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%
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The kidnappings of Korean Christians in Afghanistan have stirred debate about the ethics of missions in dangerous places. Our coverage includes:
Hostages' Pastor: 'Remorse Is the Face of the Church' | Interview with Park Eun-jo: 'I don't want this to be a stumbling block for missions.' (September 4, 2007)
Costly Commitment | In wake of abductions, Korean Christians take heavy criticism. (August 13, 2007)
South Korean Politicians Blame U.S. for Taliban Hostages | Korean officials seek direct negotiations with kidnappers. (August 3, 2007)
After Taliban Kills Two Hostages, South Korea Pleads for Compromise | As another deadline passes, Taliban abductors make threats and Afghanistan warns of military action. (August 2, 2007)
From CT Liveblog:
Remaining South Korean hostages released | The government will seek compensation from church. (August 30, 2007)
Taliban releases Christian hostages | Eight of the 19 released so far. More are promised. (August 29, 2007)
Deal Reached to Release Hostages [updated] | S. Korea promises to withdraw troops, ban missionary work. (August 28, 2007)
Can the state kidnap? Can the church object? | Following up on "Freeing Christian hostages the Jack Bauer way." (August 16, 2007)
Freeing Christian hostages the Jack Bauer way | Report: South Korean government stopped plan to kidnap kidnappers' family members. (August 14, 2007)
Weblog has links to more articles and commentary on the hostage situation.
Other articles on missions and ministry are available on our site.