Christian parents should indeed consider taking their children on dangerous mission trips to save unreached people, said evangelical theologian John Piper, who argued that the "eternal impact" is worth the risk of death.
Piper was responding to the question, "should a Christian couple take their children into danger as part of their mission to take the gospel to the unreached peoples of the world?" His answer was "yes."
"Why? Because the cause is worth the risk, and the children are more likely to become Christ-exalting, comfort-renouncing, misery-lessening exiles and sojourners in this way than by being protected from risk in the safety of this world," the Reformed pastor wrote on desiringGod.com.
While it is important for parents to provide for their household, they also need to practice self-denial and risk, as instructed in the Bible, he noted.
"After all, doesn't Proverbs say, 'Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6)? Perhaps we lose too many of our children because they weren't trained as soldiers. Maybe we trained them in comfort and security, and now they won't leave it," Piper wrote.
"Or what about providing for the young ones the way Deuteronomy 11:19 says? Teach them the wartime manual of life when you are walking among the hostile hearers, and when you lie down under the mosquito nets, and when you rise in the 95-degree heat. Come, my precious children, learn from mommy and daddy what it means to live with joy in the service of the King," he added.
The author took aim at "Western, comfort-assuming, security-demanding, risk-avoiding Christians" who think otherwise, and said that there are "worse risks" for children than death.
"This is simple Bible-reality. Not easy. Just simple. It is not complex or hard to grasp. There are things vastly worse than death. Wasting your life is worse than losing it," he insisted.
He advised parents to aim for an "eternal impact" for their children, and reiterated his words that the risk of taking them into danger is worth it.
"We have a promise: If God is for us, no one can be successfully against us (Romans 8:31). If they take our lives, our spouses, and our children, they cannot succeed. In all these things, we are more than conquerors. How better can we show our children this truth than to take them with us to the nations?" Piper concluded.
He made similar comments in 2009, saying if everybody took the route of not doing mission work when one's life is at risk, then the "Great Commission will never be finished."
"I don't think it's automatic that you keep yourself, your wife, or your children out of risk, out of danger, and out of suffering," he noted then. "But there will be times when you sense, 'Yes, it is time, for the sake of the kingdom and for the sake of all concerned, that I will move to another place and another ministry.'"