In light of Veterans Day and the tragic shootings at Fort Hood, I wanted to re-post this article I wrote in October 2008. I am so grateful for our veterans on this day and every day as they risk their lives and health to protect our freedom. I am also grateful for the aid workers, medical personnel, and missionaries who serve in dangerous places to bring freedom to others.
Tragically, a Christian Aid worker was killed by the Taliban in Afghanistan on Monday. Gayle Williams, a 34 year old South African, had been serving impoverished and disabled children through SERVE (Serving Emergency Relief and Vocational Enterprises) for the past couple of years. Ironically, she had recently moved to Kabul from Kandahar since it was perceived as a safer place to be.
The Muslim extremists who took responsibility for her murder claimed they were justified since she was trying to convert Muslims to Christianity. SERVE denies this accusation emphasizing their work serving those too often overlooked. From their website:
“SERVE Afghanistan’s purpose is to express God’s love and bring hope by serving the people of Afghanistan, especially the needy, as we seek to address personal, social and environmental needs.”
So many tragic thoughts go through my mind:
The tragedy of a lost life – a woman who was still so young and so willing to risk her life for an oppressed people. There aren’t enough Gayle Williams-type people in this world.
The tragedy of everyday life for the women and children who suffer from poverty and disability in Afghanistan. They have lost an advocate.
The tragedy in places across the world that do not offer freedom of religion. Around the world, people are told what they can believe and what they must do. Freedom is such a gift and should never be taken for granted.
The tragedy of well-meaning people who stereotype all Muslims as extremists. Such a tiny % of Muslims would strap a bomb to their waist to kill innocent civilians, yet too many of us see all of Islam as the enemy.
A year or so ago I was having an honest conversation with a Christian leader who pushed back in our conversation as I told him about the importance of loving, serving, and even reaching out to Muslims (see my story about “Kidnapping a Muslim”). Frustrated with me, he asked: “If Muslims are training their children to kill our kids, shouldn’t we be training ours to do the same?!?”
The simple answer: “No.”
We cannot give into hate. We cannot lower ourselves to the lowest level of humanity as these terrorists have done.
Gayle Williams risked her life and ultimately gave her life loving and serving people who needed her help. The Muslim families she served didn’t kill her – terrorists did.
Peace loving countries need to defeat the terrorists who seek to destroy the freedom of others by killing others, creating fear in others, and imposing their beliefs on others.
Those of us who have freedom need to thank God for those willing to give their lives protecting our freedom – including the Muslim soldiers fighting for our country like Specialist Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan.
Gayle Williams shed her blood for the people of Afghanistan. Her willingness to die for people with whom she disagrees speaks volumes to the kind of life we should all aspire to live.
Specialist Khan shed his blood for the people of the USA. “He wanted to show that not every Muslim was a fanatic and that some would risk their lives for America.” He too died for people who disagree with him and even for those who saw him as the enemy due to his Muslim faith.
May we become people willing to live and even die for those who hate us because we have a God who so loved us….