We don’t take care, we take risk

A Letter from the Founder

Written by Joel Parker

Artwork by Christian Watson

Feb 24, 2021

In my youth, I dreamed of being the center of heroic achievements and adventures. Optimistic “What if’’s” led me to think that I could be the final ingredient in a solution that might change the world. My worldview acknowledged that there was indeed evil in the world, but that evil was defeatlable—and I just might be the one to defeat it. Maybe that sprung from the influence of Hollywood’s predictable plots. But maybe, this stemmed from a holy desire to participate in something bigger than myself.

The older I’ve become the more those dreams waned and were replaced with longings for security and comfort. The “What if’s” turned negative. I have become a victim of complacency and dullness. Heroes of mine turned from Charles Lindburg and Nate Saint to Dave Ramsey (no offense to Dave Ramsey). The wooing invitation of danger and risk for the sake of heroic victory no longer consumes my imagination.

Recently my friend shared a story about an encounter he had with missionary and reformer Brother Andrew. My friend ended their conversation with the normative phrase, “Take care.” Brother Andrew replied, “We don’t take care, we take risk. Life was not meant to live on the edges of safety, but rather to give away for the Gospel. That is why we don’t take care, we take risk.” 

Brother Andrew is well known for smuggling Bibles behind the Iron Curtain in his old Volkswagon and taking the Gospel to some of the most hostile places on earth, work that earned him the nickname “God’s Smuggler.” When Taliban members were imprisoned in Afghanistan, Brother Andrew smuggled them letters from their family, which in return built trust and an unlikely friendship. The fruit of this friendship will be eternal. 

When I shared Brother Andrews’s story with friend and artist Christian Watson, he was inspired to create the image on the opposite page. What moves me about his interpretation is the clear balance of juvenile curiosity and courageous exploration with the very real presence of fear and darkness. The young girl carries a hopeful “What if.” Christian’s piece reminds me of a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale where the uncomfortable realities of evil and death are just as visceral as the courage and hope that the hero displays. 

Artwork by Christian Watson

So why is risk seen as something to be encouraged during our youth and avoided as we age? Could it be that it is our natural substitution of exploration for certainty that is actually leading us to the anxiety and depression that is plaguing our world? Maybe the pursuit of security and self-preservation can actually be a prison, and comfort a slow death. Maybe our unwillingness to enter into the tough and uncertain places keeps us from full joy. 

Yes, risk-taking ushers into the presence of formidable foes, woes, and wrongs. More importantly, it reminds us of the very act of salvation—letting go of our false security and inevitable death and trusting the invitation for fullness of life. The risk it takes to let go and lay ahold of Jesus’ hand is exhilarating! 

Our hope is that the stories you will find in this sixth volume of Nations Journal give you the imagination and courage to take risk. So consider this an invitation to read and interact with these articles and dare to involve yourself with something uncertain and messy. As you do, we hope you find fresh life being offered by God to re-imagine your youthful and holy “What if’s”.

Take Risk, 

Joel Parker

Founder and President