Top Ten Security Tips

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    Each of the top ten tips here could be expanded and given more detail as a forum subject thread on its own.  We’ll not give too much detail here; but, hopefully, it’s enough to get you thinking and researching a bit more toward implementation.  Our thoughts here apply to environments where security is an obvious concern.  However, workers in almost any environment in the 21st Century should take note and take steps to grow in security awareness.

    1. Prayer and the practical trust in the sovereignty of God.  Why do we, who have bold confidence to teach and preach the sovereignty of God in all things, often melt down under pressure?  Prayer is an effective balm for the soul.  It helps us put things into perspective.  The act of prayer itself states our dependence upon God and His grace, power, and personal intervention in our lives.  A deep confidence in the sovereignty of God informs and enables us to trust Him, no matter how difficult or humanly hopeless the circumstance.  We teach it; we believe it; we should make it practical when the tough times come.
    2. Be a hard target, not a soft one.  The bad guys are always scoping out the choices in their sphere of activity for soft targets; i.e. – Who is the easy mark?, Where is it easy to break in?, What are the least risky paths to steal, extort, kidnap, etc., and escape?  So, vary your schedule and travel routes.  Be unpredictable.  Walk with or carry people or means of protection (e.g. – a full sized umbrella, walk with confidence and steady pace, don’t travel alone).  Use appropriate locks, gates, doors.  Train your family to keep doors and windows latched/locked.  Don’t leave things out unattended.  Let your neighbors and any onlookers see that you take appropriate precautions.  Don’t flash expensive jewelry, cash, technology, etc. around in public.
    3. Get a loud whistle for your gals/ladies.  Mace or pepper spray, or even a stun gun, is thought to be a deterrent; but unless used effectively and the view of public onlookers, it is likely to just enrage the attacker.  A loud whistle will bring attention and people to your aid.  A CO2 charged expanding baton might be useful; but you have to be willing to use it to cause debilitating harm.
    4. Your best defense is good relationships with your immediate neighbors.  You can expand the concept to becoming friends with people in places you frequent, e.g. – coffee shops, grocery mini-mart, supply vendors.  Don’t be so chummy as to show them all your treasures!  Your neighbors will look out for you and pass along information and/or warnings that might be actually be more valuable than the random rumors of anonymous public imagination.
    5. Make language and culture acquisition your first priority in the country.  We cannot overstate this as a priority.  Even if your primary ministry language is English, you must develop facility in the local language and culture in order to truly understand people.  If you are ever in a compromised contingency situation, you very life may depend on it.  You do not always have to let your listeners know how fluent you are; you may overhead and understand gossip-y comments made about you or your family as you walk down the street.  This is just good awareness and implementation of your language fluency.  Learn the language!  It will enhance and enable your ministry AND your security far more than you might imagine.
    6. Role play the “tough” questions with our family, like a direct question such as:  “Are you a missionary?,” “Are you CIA?,” “How much money do you get?,” “How do you get your money?,” “Are you trying to convert us?”  As (mostly) Westerners, we have a morally idealistic view that a direct question should receive a direct and honest answer.  Not so!  Not so for most of the world!  Not so in a high-security environment!  First you must establish what the inquirer really means.  How do they intend or understand the terminology used in their question?  If the category “missionary” does not exist in their legal immigration system, then you cannot be one of those; your legal status may be student, tourist, educator, teacher, nurse, business owner, etc.  Think about it; talk to other workers about the right approach; practice it, especially with your children.  Then, you may need to determine if the person asking the tough direct question has a right to know the answer.  If it is just a curiosity-seeker, then even a humorous deflection may be the best course.  Bottom line:  it’s OK to clarify, deflect, misdirect, use double-meaning, give part answers, etc.; however, you should be truthful; don’t outright lie.
    7. Predetermine code words and/or nicknames.  If you are ever detained or held against your will, you may be given the opportunity to have limited communication with your spouse.  Your code words or special nicknames, like: “honey,” “sweetheart,” “boo-boo,” “dearie,” may be your indication that you are well or that you are hurt or that you are under duress, etc.  You decide what works for you and your family.  You need both “I’m OK” and “I’m NOT OK” subliminal messages in your repertoire.
    8. Obtain and know how to use multiple, redundant means of communication.  In a politically unstable environment mobile phone technology may be overwhelmed or completely turned off?  How are you going to communicate with your family and or teammates?  Don’t be dependent on Internet and cellular phone technology.
    9. Obtain and run practice simulations for multiple, redundant paths of evacuation.  How can you get out of your house/building, if the front door is blocked or dangerous?  Where would you go and how would you get there if you needed to evacuate from your immediate neighborhood?, your town/city?, your province?, your country?  Can you devise a plan to depart via land, sea, or air?  Are there private means of transport without depending on the nearest international airport?
    10. Always practice good situational awareness.   This is kind of technical term in security circles.  “Situational awareness” simply means that you have a continuously active perception of what’s going on around you.  Are you being followed or watched?  Are unusual things happening in your neighborhood?  Are local political skirmishes growing more dangerous?  Are there current threats to foreigners you should be aware of?  What areas of town should you avoid?  What brand of taxis are the best and safest to use?  What are the characteristics of safe or unsafe food to eat in your environment?  Should you drink the water?

    Lastly, don’t go nuts with security measures and worries!  Remember tip #1:  God is sovereign.  You want to be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove.  Take appropriate measures to be safe.  Live a “normal” life.  Don’t spend too much time, energy, money, etc. on trying to be totally safe.  Living and isolation and in a fortress does not bode well for incarnational ministry.  Seek wisdom, trust God, and give Him glory.

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