Why do we need a crisis consultant?

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Carrie Pither has recently taken on the role of AIM’s Crisis Consultant, with a colleague, Harry*.

We are based in Nairobi, Kenya, although our role provides a service across the whole organisation, including the mobilising and receiving regions. Our respective professional backgrounds in policing and law enforcement have given each of us a great foundation in security and risk management. We have spent the first months researching the main aspects that will underpin our roles and work, which has included the theology of risk and AIM’s duty of care.

Security in action

Security in South Sudan is constantly changing, and for the team living with their families among the Laarim community, swift responses are necessary. One morning in April last year an armed group attacked a military outpost, killing fourteen military personnel. The AIM team woke up to hear heavy gunfire with occasional mortar blasts. Immediately, the team leaders began to implement the contingency plans and to consider evacuating the team. They formed a communication group so that everyone involved had all the information.

Due to the likely retaliation, the leadership decided that it would be best to evacuate the team to a location where they could easily assess the situation and where the team would not be in danger of being caught in the crossfire between community defenders and the military.

Jordan Scotland, the Unit Leader, said, “As soon as the green light was given by me, AIM AIR sprang into action and the team was pulled out of Kimatong within 45 minutes and were safely in Torit 30 minutes after that. It is a great comfort to have resources available to draw upon such as contingency plans, AIM AIR, Regional Directors and a Crisis Consultant to know that decisions are made with clarity and without emotion.”

Many of the risks and challenges that missionaries today face are the same as those faced by our founder, Peter Cameron Scott, back in 1895, but much has changed in this landscape too. The countries in which AIM serves may be plagued by war, political turmoil, terrorism and crime, therefore continual security awareness and practical preparation are essential. Our role is to support our missionaries in continuing their ministry and calling, wherever they serve. As Crisis Consultants, we have access to international, national and regional security networks, which are invaluable in enabling us to provide real time alerts, advice, and recommendations to our missionaries, teams and leaders.

Prepared and aware

Christian workers build resilience into gospel ministry through good security practices to ensure that both the voice and presence of the gospel will continue to advance in hard places. New missionaries are prepared prior to their departure to the mission field. They undergo training and orientation in security protocols, contingencies and safety. Missionaries living and serving in their communities remain aware of their security through risk assessment and contingency plans.

AIM’s policy states that “As Christ’s disciples sent like ‘sheep among wolves,’ members shall be ‘shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.’ Therefore, when confronted with obvious dangers, it is imperative that members always seek wisdom from God to act in a manner consistent with his will and with wise stewardship.”

Whilst our job description states our role in simple terms as, “to strengthen crisis awareness and preparedness of our members”, we know that balancing the tension between the leading of the Holy Spirit, wise stewardship, and God’s invitation to risk is complex. But AIM’s mandate remains to be to fulfil the Great Commission. As missionaries continue in our founder’s footsteps, though the dangers involved in reaching the unreached remain, we are called by a loving, caring and faithful God to be his witness to a world who hasn’t yet heard his name.

*name changed for security reasons.

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