Summer 2006 Evacuation from Lebanon: Member Care versus Witness and Partnership?

In Summer 2006, Interserve and many mission organizations, decided to evacuate their mission personnel from Lebanon.  They felt that the war between Israel and Lebanon created too much risk for their personnel.  This brief article shows the problematic question mission agencies faced. ‘This experience in Lebanon has forced us to reevaluate our policy towards evacuation and the role that leadership plays in the decision.’

We have our tidy and neat organisational procedures which seek to assess the complex issues of risk, liability, guilt, pressure from families at home, children, solidarity with the local church, effect on ministry, etc.   The question is: Should leadership ever overrule?  Ought we rather to decide that evacuation from a location is a personal choice of the Christian workers and their families?
We, part of the mission community in Lebanon, were in the evacuation exodus from Libanon as a result of a decision by leadership to order mandatory evacuation.

There are a number of factors involved in any decision to leave; a major factor is the assessment of the level of risk.   Risk assessment is more like art than science, always a “best guess”.   We make “risk assessments” each day when we drive our cars, but, because of the benefits we enjoy, we are usually willing to live with a significant level of risk.  What level of risk can we “live with” in our missions’ community?  (It should be noted here that maybe some from the non-western mission world are willing to live with a higher lever of risk than our western brothers and sisters.)

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