Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Martyrdom in Afghanistan

Today's New York Times has a sympathetic portrait of the ten civilian aid workers who were recently killed by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Here's the Associated Press photo and caption from the Times:

The 10 civilian aid workers killed Thursday in Afghanistan, from top left: Glen D. Lapp, Tom Little, Dan Terry, Dr. Thomas L. Grams, Cheryl Beckett, Brian Carderelli, Dr. Karen Woo, Daniela Beyer, Mahram Ali and Ahmed Jawed. (New York Times)

I had heard that these folks were with a Christian organization, but today's story mentioned the NGO they were working for--the International Assistance Mission--and it makes clear that these were not crazy or naive Christians trying to convert Muslims by preaching. Instead, the father of one of the victims made clear that they were savvy.
Even Charles Beckett, the father of one of the victims, defended his daughter’s colleagues. “These are brilliant people,” he said. “It’s not like they’re naïve and uneducated and have some fantasy about going on trips to help some people in dangerous areas.”
This was a terrible tragedy: brilliant people with medical knowledge and good hearts trying to demonstrate God's love by binding up wounds and healing diseases.

Two thoughts come to mind at this sad time. First, I don't think it's a stretch to name these ten as martyrs who died for the faith, like Tom Fox, who died in Iraq in 2004 (his story is described in chapter 7 of my book). Unlike so-called martyrs (shaheed) in radical, sectarian Islamic groups, who kill others in suicide attacks, these folks were trying to heal. Second, this demonstrates the increasingly multinational, global nature of the Christian church (a theme of chapters 9 and 10 of the book).

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