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November 1, 2021

Dr. Anna Hampton Offers Insight, Clarification

Three weeks ago, a gang in Haiti kidnapped 17 North American missionaries as they were leaving an orphanage; the group who is taking responsibility is demanding a $17 million dollar ransom. Though Haiti has struggled to become a stable nation, the past several years have been particularly challenging and produced increasingly dangerous and unpredictable situations in the country. Because of this, the missionaries have received both praise and criticism for their willingness to remain in such dangerous circumstances rather than returning home to a safer place.


In this episode of Quick To Listen, Dr. Anna Hampton, a missionary and author, explores how Christians can and ought to think about risk in their lives. Hampton, who wrote the book Facing Danger: A Guide Through Risk, understands the topic personally. Though the topic was the material for her doctoral dissertation, Hampton has also spent considerable time in Afghanistan as a missionary with her husband and kids.

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Hampton argues that most American Christians conflate a theology of suffering with a theology of risk when they shouldn’t. Risk is always a situational question, but the western church typically responds to risk with Scripture that does not answer the question of risk. Moreover, statements like “You will never be safer than in the center of God’s will” or “You’re going to be ok” can minimize the very real risk of loss of life or limb. Especially when it comes to missions, whether a Christian choosing to live in a crime-ridden neighborhood or going overseas to places like Afghanistan or Haiti, thinking about how to assess risk, act in wisdom, and walk in obedience to the Lord is more important than ever—and more confusing as well.


Hampton says that while we must turn to Scripture, we must also read more deeply and carefully than we often do. When we apply Deuteronomy 31:6 (Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you), many assume it is wrong or sinful to be afraid. But oftentimes, fear is something the Lord gives us or uses to lead us in His will. 


Moreover, it is easy to apply biblical stories to someone’s circumstances like saying, “You should stay in your work because, like Esther, God has called you to a time like this.” Or “You should flee in the night like Paul because it is dangerous and the Lord is leading you away.” Hampton says that these stories provide helpful insight into how each is a situational decision and more importantly a situational leading from the Lord as each person walked by His Spirit and in His will. 


Hampton also points out that we are not going to be held accountable for the things we were afraid of, we are going to be held accountable for our faithfulness and obedience. This furthers her point that assessing the risk of a situation first and foremost depends on what the Lord is calling a person to and being faithful to that call.


This thought-provoking podcast dives deep into how Christians should study and apply Scripture and theology to our daily lives. Christian Union features speakers like Hampton to discuss and teach on topics ranging from inner healing to the hiddenness of God to hearing from the Holy Spirit to developing spiritual disciplines. In each of Christian Union’s ministries—Universities, Day and Night, and Cities—participants get to hear from world-class speakers on topics that will enrich and challenge their faith. 


Listen to the full episode here.

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