Assassinations of missionaries strengthen the resolve of other missionaries to continue their work, said a minister who just returned from a conference in Beirut.
"These killings of missionaries are modern-day martyrdom," said Gary Wiens, a pastor at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. He returned three days ago from teaching a seminar at a missionary conference in Lebanon, which included missionaries working in Jordan, Kuwait and Cyprus.
Several of the missionaries, he said, talked about the loss of their friend Bonnie Penner, an American missionary nurse in Lebanon who was shot in the head in November.
On Monday, three Baptist missionaries in Yemen were slain by a Muslim militant who slipped into a hospital, cradling a gun as if it were an infant.
"Everyone at this conference was very aware of the political situations in each of their countries," he said. "Sure, missionaries feel vulnerable, and especially so if a war breaks out; their level of risk would increase exponentially. But not one of them said they were leaving. They're there for the duration because of their love of the Lord and their love of the Arabic people."
He said missionary work has always meant self-sacrifice -- sometimes even the ultimate sacrifice of life. Wiens recited a Bible verse, Revelation 12:11, which he called every missionary's motto: "They did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death."
"And they won't shrink from death," he said. "Missionaries will go anywhere and do anything because they have a romance with Jesus that empowers them to do it with a glad suffering."
Still, there has been a lot of prayer over events in Iraq, he added.
"We're praying that God would step in and quietly remove Suddam Hussein from power. A war would have catastrophic implications for Americans, civilians, missionaries and health care workers. These people are not leaving. No matter what."
At the One Thing Young Adult Conference in Kansas City's Bartle Hall, more than 10,000 young people recently sang worship songs, listened to sermons and visited information booths encouraging them to consider missionary work.
"There's a new kind of Christian believer growing up that's finding God worthy to do whatever it takes," said Kirk Bennett, a minister in the prophecy division at the International House of Prayer.
"These believers, most of them young, are unafraid to say, 'I'm an American and I believe in Jesus Christ.' There's even a name for them: the new breed of believers."
Bennett said that a worldwide movement called The 10/40 is focusing on bringing the Gospel to countries between the 10th and 40th parallels -- many of which are mostly Muslim.
"Remember the two women from Texas who were held in Afghanistan? They were part of that new-breed believer," he said. "They knew it was a high-risk situation, yet they were compelled to go. This is how missions started in the Christian church years ago, too."
But preparing would-be missionaries for real life is crucial, too.
Peter Loth, a Holocaust survivor from Poland, teaches young missionaries at the International House of Prayer. His title is healing minister. His gift, he says, is the rare perspective he brings to help prepare young people who otherwise might be starry-eyed about the perils of traveling to a foreign land for missionary work.
"I tell them that people can be ugly," he said. In his teachings, Loth recounts his life experience in a child labor camp, then shows photos of victims from Nazi concentration camps.
"The world is not nice, you know. I tell them that there are some places they may go to where saying 'Jesus loves you' won't affect people at all. They'll still shoot you. They'll still rape you. They'll still murder you."