Missionaries Abroad Say Their Safety in Hands of Divine Providence

Article excerpt

Byline: Teresa Mask and Robert Sanchez Daily Herald Staff Writers

They put their health and lives in danger to open schools and hospitals and teach people about Christianity.

Still, these missionaries believe it's just part of a fulfilling calling to help others and convert them to their religion.

On Sunday, two Americans were killed and many others, including a Carol Stream couple, were injured in a grenade attack on a Protestant church in Pakistan. And an American husband and wife missionary team has been held captive by kidnappers in the Philippines since May.

It's a reminder of how risky missionary work can be in areas where terrorist attacks, civil wars or tribal fights are the norm.

The attacks and kidnappings, along with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, have suburban church officials paying closer attention to how to protect their missionaries.

They also are giving them the option to come home to safety - an offer respectfully declined by nearly all who get it.

The missionaries say God will protect them.

"We never think it's going to happen to us," said Dave Davis, a regional director with the Carol Stream-based Evangelical Alliance Mission. "But most of our people are ready to face it if it does happen."

And when it does, many still choose to stay.

Chris and Nasim Ali of Carol Stream were injured in the Pakistani church attack on Sunday. But the couple has no plans to come home, said Mark Burgund, administrative pastor for Calvary Church in Naperville who spoke to Chris and Ali by telephone Monday.

"He asked me to tell his friends that they are doing fine and that God is good," Burgund said.

Even though Chris has undergone three operations to stop bleeding in his foot since Sunday and Nasim suffered a broken leg, friends say, the couple plans to remain in Pakistan unless their doctors advice against it.

Churches throughout Chicago's six-county metropolitan region have hundreds of workers in countries such as Nigeria, Africa, Guatemala, Mexico and Colombia.

Bloomingdale Church, for instance, has missionaries in Kosovo, Indonesia and Cambodia. …