The Checklist that May Save Your Life {Book Club}

Today we will discuss Chapters 11 and 12 in Facing Danger: A Guide Through Risk by Dr Anna E Hampton. These two chapters covered stewardship (11) and danger (12) when it comes to risk.

I kept trying to put my finger on it, but Chapter 11 reminded me of several chapters from Looming Transitions: Starting and Finishing Well in Cross-Cultural Service(Okay, in truth, Chapter 10 and the discussion of emotions tugged at me, feeling familiar to LT, but it wasn’t until this chapter that I saw the parallels as more than a sensation.)

Is this book reminding you of other books you have read? Discussions you have had?

I will say it for the umpteenth time reading Facing Danger that I appreciate how Anna does not go for the low hanging fruit, but invites—nudges? challenges? pushes?—us to aim higher. When it comes to stewardship, so often the subject is associated with material objects or financial aspects. But here it “includes the physical and nonphysical components to be stewarded or risked. It also includes stewardship of self in terms of our relationships with God, our relationship with others, and stewardship of our inner life.”

The image I kept getting as I read this chapter was of someone doing bench presses. You know, when you lay on your back and press the weight above your head. While I did take weight training for three semesters in college, I have never “seriously” lifted weights and this image comes more from what I have seen others do, than what I have actually done. Just wanted to be clear on that. Hehehe!

In this book, Dr. Anna does not do the heavy lifting for us. She is like the person who spots the weights. She points out what we need to think about and helps to organize our thoughts. For instance, I loved the lists of physical and nonphysical resources. It was helpful to read and think through the items she shared.

But Dr. Anna does not tell YOU what YOU need to do in a situation.

I find this oddly refreshing. Even if you are not in a “high risk” situation, I kept saying to myself, “How helpful if singles, couples, and teams talked about these things!” For instance, the section titled “Physical Preparation” is one of the most comprehensive lists I’ve read. See if you are like me, when I first went to the field I was young and in good health. I thought I was going for two years, so when I was asked by my organization if I wanted to pay out-of-pocket for emergency medevac insurance, I said no. First of all, going to the field is no cheap endeavor (here is where we would high five and say, “No kidding!”). Second of all, hello, I was young and healthy, it truly never occurred to me I might need to be medically evacuated.

Today with sites like this and the ease of sharing information on social media, my thoughts and beliefs seem naive. But at the time, it seemed to reasonable.

I do not want it to sound like I am finger pointing at my former organization. It was a different time, but no one sat down with a list like the one Dr. Anna gives and asked me what my plan was for potential situations that could come up. All that I did to prepare to go to the field was … and I’m using lots of words to stall because I cannot believe this is what I did, but it is. Please do not shake your head too much at me … I got a power of attorney and added my parents to my bank account so they could pay bills and sign my taxes.

So, when in year two I became deadly ill, I indirectly complicated the situation for everyone not in a coma (in other words, I got a big fat pass on dealing with the initial crisis). Later, much later when it was appropriate to ask, my parents asked me why I didn’t have medevac insurance because even they had gotten it to come and visit me. Without me having it, my parents and organization had to decide if they should pay a very large amount of money to fly me from inside of China to Hong Kong. My parents assured me that if push had come to shove and it was apparent that flying me out would save my life, they would have found a way to pay. But if I had thought through a few of these issues on Dr. Anna’s list, they would not have add to even consider what they would need to mortgage, borrow, or beg for me.

In my notes for this chapter I wrote “risk mitigation” and underlined it three times adding “I heart that word.” Mitigation creates space for the mysterious dance between our responsibility and God’s sovereignty. Yes, there are things we can do to prepare for and (maybe) reduce the likelihood of an event. BUT. But that does not mean we will be spared harm.

I haven’t even touched yet on Chapter 12! I really appreciated the basic assessment tool for figuring out the severity and impact and likelihood of an event. Have you or your team done something like this? How did it go?

I also appreciated the distinction between risk that can be avoided, transferred, limited, or accepted. “There were times when Paul escaped or avoided risk altogether; sometimes he transferred it to those who stayed in the situation. He limited risk at times by not entering a more dangerous situation, and he accepted it when he purposefully headed into known danger.”

These thoughts are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to these chapters. What stood out to you? She asks good questions at the end of each chapter, how would you answer them?

Until the comments,

Amy

P.S. next week we finish with the final two chapters.

2 Comments

  1. Kiera December 2, 2017

    Finally had a chance to catch up and read these chapters. Like you said, Amy, I didn’t really do a lot of this kind of preparation for going over to the field. Our organization had some things in place, but nothing this comprehensive. The area I was in wasn’t really considered high risk at the time, but I think you can consider any cross-cultural situation a risk because of the complications of things like illness that you mentioned. Having not been in as high risk a situation as Anna, there are times I don’t relate to what she is saying. Other times, I think – yes, I’ve done that (such as deciding what you would take in various situations.) I am a natural organizer and so making lists is a helpful way for me to deal with/fight anxiety over a potential situation, but I also think it’s great advice Anna gives about taking pictures and keeping lists etc. so that if the worst happens, you are clear-headed enough to deal with it.

  2. Kiera December 2, 2017

    Finally had a chance to catch up and read these chapters. Like you said, Amy, I didn’t really do a lot of this kind of preparation for going over to the field. Our organization had some things in place, but nothing this comprehensive. The area I was in wasn’t really considered high risk at the time, but I think you can consider any cross-cultural situation a risk because of the complications of things like illness that you mentioned. Having not been in as high risk a situation as Anna, there are times I don’t relate to what she is saying. Other times, I think – yes, I’ve done that (such as deciding what you would take in various situations.) I am a natural organizer and so making lists is a helpful way for me to deal with/fight anxiety over a potential situation, but I also think it’s great advice Anna gives about taking pictures and keeping lists etc. so that if the worst happens, you are clear-headed enough to deal with it.

    I also want to second the point you made that there are all kinds of examples in the Bible of dealing with risk in different ways and I like that Anna hasn’t prescribed one right “Christian” response.

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