should I sterilize my Internet presence for travel to high-security countries?

This topic contains 1 reply, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  jake.beard 5 years, 11 months ago.

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  • #1541

    I am a newly elected missions pastor and am looking for resources for questions that I have.
    One very simple question is about
    security. We have several missionaries in different countries where
    security is a concern. As a church we have committed to visit our friends
    on the field at least once every 18 months. I have heard that if you are
    going to be visiting someone on the field in a “closed” country or at least
    countries that are hostile to the gospel, then you should sterilize your
    internet presence. I’m just wandering what is your take on this. I have
    several online profiles such as Facebook, twitter, and Linkedin. Should I
    keep those sterile and mention nothing about being a missions pastor and or
    missions in general? Thanks in advance for any insights you may provide,


  • #1551



    Jake –

    It’s a pleasure for me to answer your question.

    To the question:

    Yes, it is wise to take a close look at your Internet presence.
    I, too, function as the Missions Pastor at our church, besides our regular Propempo International ministries.

    If you don’t have plans for a long-term presence in a creative access country yourself, you don’t have to be as concerned.
    You are, after all, probably entering the country as a tourist status and not staying for long periods of time.

    We have found it helpful to let Facebook and LinkedIn (and Instagram, Google+, Twitter, WhatsApp, Vine, etc.) friends and circles know about the seriousness of the ministry security issues.
    We do not post Bible verses, Christian music links/videos, local church links, and such just willy-nilly all the time.
    We try not to ever use “M”-words:  ministry, missionary, evangelism, preaching, certainly not conversion, crusade, etc.
    Instead we let our friends know that we will be using terms such as:  meetings, travel, business, work, strategy, consulting, teaching, etc.

    It can be useful to have a business card as “International Business Consultant”.  Purge your wallet and ID tags of direct church connectedness, if possible.
    When you travel abroad, use that business card and refer to yourself as a consultant and advisor for NGO’s interested in projects meeting the greatest needs of people.

    Over time, your Facebook page, etc., will be populated with your new vocabulary and persona.

    You may need to go into your church’s website and sanitize your biodata a bit.  Put the initials of your schooling rather than full names; state your work with the church in more generic terms – something that American readers would understand right away but the curious foreign researchers would not immediately associate with your specific role.

    You’re never going to be able to completely disassociate yourself with your actual role and identity , without creating an alter-identity and pseudonym (which is a lot of trouble).
    So, brother, be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove.  It is helpful to actually role-play with someone else; have them ask you, as a foreign immigration officer, “What do you do for a living?, Why are your here?, Are you a missionary?” – and learn to be easy and on-target with the right answers. contains other resources and articles that would be helpful for you and your workers in those countries.

    Your servant in God’s grace,  Propempo

    see also:

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