General CBF

Foreign and Vulnerable

The events in Egypt recently captured the imagination as brave protestors eventually brought down an entrenched ruling elite.  There were powerful stories of people standing up against goon squads and corrupt officials.  There have also been stories of abuse against innocent citizens and visitors which caused me to ponder the situation which continues to unfold.  Some foreign media crews were attacked specifically to inhibit the spread of the revolution.  That was understandable.  Those in power wanted to remain in power.  News was something to manipulate.  Just recently, however, news surfaced that Lara Logan, CBF correspondent and regular on “CBF’s 60 Minutes”, was brutally attacked physically and sexually by a mob of people cavorting as part of the huge celebrations in the streets after  Mubarak announced he was leaving.  Her crew, security detail, and translators were attacked but she was targeted for ugly sexual violence. 

News of this ugly attack stung the western world.  It contrasted greatly with the gutsy success of the people against repression in the Arab world.  This reminded me of an uncomfortable reality which has exhibited itself in many places through the years.  If you’re the one that looks different from the rest of the people on a street or in a section of a city, you might be subject to intense scrutiny and attention.  It’s not rocket science that something different stands out.  This can be positive.  Sometimes foreigners are treated with utmost respect and given preferential treatment.  Sometimes, however, the ones who are different are held in contempt, taken advantage of, or abused.  It is an unpleasant truth.  We prefer to think that a complete stranger to a city and culture can arrive by jet, live in a nice hotel, see the tourist sites,  and leave to go back home without incident.  Often, however, being foreign results in being taken advantage of, becoming ill when exposed to new germs, or worse. 

Mission personnel who live out their call to serve among the poor, the disadvantaged or marginalized, are also easily identified as being different or not fitting in.  The lack of local dialect, a common skin color, or being taller can set a mission worker up for being the odd person in the mix.  Yes, it can be advantageous at times, but it can also be a constant source of negative associations.  It has made me appreciate the willingness of mission workers to endure being different and vulnerable.  They do it not for the adventure, but to be faithful to their calling.  May their tribe increase!

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