Posts Tagged ‘travel warnings’

The recent State Department travel warnings for Americans going to Europe raise good questions for those of us who are planning imminent trips to Europe—or really to anywhere in the world where these BIG warnings about terrorist threats occur.

In our own personal travel and in planning the travel for Let’s Start Talking teams, we have dealt with these kinds of warnings, threats, and sometimes actual occurrences of public violence in many different countries. We had workers in Russia when tanks rolled down the streets of Moscow in 1991, in Yugoslavia in 1989 when civil war broke out, and in Thailand during at least two major episodes of violent uprisings.

Sherrylee and I flew in and out of the Vienna airport where terrorists threw hand grenades and opened fire in 1985. The same year on June 19, another bomb exploded in a trash container in the Frankfurt Airport, the very one we were flying in and out of that year with our three kids and our LST workers.

Let me repeat though very clearly: at no time have we or any of our LST teams ever been in imminent personal danger that we were aware of. So the question is, how do we try to keep ourselves safe in a world where terrorists hijack planes, shoot up tourist hotels, and blow themselves and others up in public market places?  First, get your thinking straight!

  • If we are afraid and stay home, the terrorists have won. If we are afraid and stay home, the Devil has won (just that battle, not the war!)
  • Staying home is not safe either. Sherrylee and I were in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. One hundred sixty-eight people were at home—and died in a terrorist attack. We can’t be afraid!

Then there are also very specific things you can do when traveling—but you can do these things without being afraid. For instance,

  • I am always aware when traveling that I am safer AFTER going through security than before. So we don’t dawdle any longer than necessary in the pre-security area.
  • We listen to the news when we travel—the international news—and try to anticipate hot spots politically.
  • If we find ourselves or a team unexpectedly caught in a threatened area, we listen to what the local people are saying about how to respond. Sometimes, running to the nearest airport and trying to flee the country is the most dangerous thing that you can do.
  • Avoid large political gatherings. Actually large crowds of any kind are bigger targets.
  • Keep your eyes open for anything unusual.  This means being aware of what is usual in a foreign place, so it just means looking around a little more purposefully.
  • Register your trip with the U.S. Embassy. You can do this online at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/.  The State Department has a special travel site at travel.state.gov with lots of good information and tips.
  • Give your loved ones your itinerary and overseas contact information before you leave.

That’s probably enough.  Some people’s risk tolerance is much greater than others, so people make different choices about where to go and when.  Occasionally we have had to rein in some college student that thought he was invincible and was doing things that even made the local people nervous!

The best advice I can give you is to walk close to God and to live in a way that if Jesus comes today, you will be delighted.  To live without fear of the Second Coming makes the uncertainty of traveling through this world much less frightening.



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