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Campbellsville University professor speaks on ethical dilemmas in missions

Feb. 16, 2015
For Immediate Release

dr. twyla hernandez
 Dr. Twyla Hernandez speaks about missions and ethics at a Campbellsville University Quality Enhancement Plan event. (Campbellsville University Photo by Josh Christian)

By Josh Christian, student news writer

Mission work is supposed to be honest and free of ethical dilemmas. However, Dr. Twyla Hernandez, associate professor of Christian missions and director of the Hispanic Baptist Bible Institute, spoke at the Campbellsville University Quality Enhancement Plan event, Feb. 10, about the ethical dilemmas missionaries face everyday.

“I must first consider the fact that there should not be ethical dilemmas in missions, that the subject matter itself is an oxymoron. Ethics. Missions. They should go hand and hand; there shouldn’t be any dilemmas,” Hernandez said.

“Well while this is absolutely true in theory, the fact is that we live in a corrupt world with corrupt agents,” she said.

Hernandez illustrated through the use of mock situations that it was challenging to always remain ethical while doing missions.

One of these mock situations dealt with a common issue for many Christians involved in missions. The question was whether it was ethical for Christians to smuggle Bibles into countries that prohibited any religious material.

Another mock situation was the issue of giving a child a pair of tennis shoes while on a short-term mission trip. While on a mission trip there may be children running around without shoes and any person’s natural reaction would be to provide what they don’t have. This may seem like a simple situation but what about the other children? What will that child expect the next time short-term missionaries come from the United States? Will this help the long-term missionaries that are working there?

“These are the questions that we must deal with on a daily basis in missions. And sometimes there are really no good answers. It would be so much easier if our world, and all of our situations, were really black and white. This is right. This is wrong. The truth of the matter is that sometimes the truth is somewhere in the middle, in the gray,” Hernandez said.

However, many of theses situations and questions were left open to interpretation, Hernandez not giving a specific answer. Instead, Hernandez continued to urge students to follow Jesus’ teaching from the gospel of Matthew.

In chapter 10 of Matthew, Jesus sent his disciples out to preach the gospel but warned them before saying, “Behold, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves.”

Hernandez suggested that Christians should always think of this verse while doing missions in a corrupt world as well as claiming that there weren’t answers to some of these questions.

“Sometimes there are no clear answers to these ethical dilemmas,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez concluded by encouraging Christians to not get stuck on the hard questions, but to “Make disciples.”

“If we are making disciples our whole priority, some things just fall in line,” Hernandez said. “Make your goal making disciples.”

Dr. Joseph Early Jr., associate professor of theology, introduced Hernandez. Early is director of the QEP at Campbellsville University known as “Find Your Compass: Developing a Basis for Ethical Decision Making” and is a five-year plan in conjunction with the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097, (404) 679-4500).

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 3,500 students offering over 80 programs of study including 24 master’s degrees, seven postgraduate areas and eight pre-professional programs. The website for complete information is