Sunday, August 8, 2010

the least of these

“Be at peace, brother. We will have a happy supper with the Lord tonight.”
John Bradford to John Leaf, England, July 1555. [1]

On Friday August 6, 2010, the bodies of ten aid workers were discovered in the remote northern Afghanistan province of Badakhshan. Six Americans, one Briton, one German and two Afghan interpreters were killed while working as part of a medical mission. The only survivor of the group was a local translator who offered proof of his Muslim faith by quoting the Quran, according to the Associated Press. The Taliban took credit for the executions, alleging the charity workers were proselytizing poor villagers. A Taliban spokesman stated, “They were Christian missionaries and we killed them all.” [2] The workers were part of International Assistance Mission (IAM), “an international charitable, non-profit, Christian organisation, serving the people of Afghanistan, through capacity building in the sectors of Health and Economic Development”, in existence since 1966. [3]

According to the IAM website, all foreign workers are unpaid volunteers, some spending their own money to live and work in Afghanistan. The medical team was en route to Kabul following a 15-day mission providing eye care to rural villagers. Victims who have been identified are New York optometrist Tom Little, Colorado dentist Thomas Grams, Pennsylvania's Glen Lapp and Britain's Dr. Karen Woo. Grams had quit his dental practice in Durango, Colorado, to volunteer full-time, providing impoverished children with free dental care in Nepal and Afghanistan. Woo also gave up her job in London to work with Afghans. Optometrist Little had worked in Afghanistan for three decades, even learning to speak fluent Dari, one of the two main languages in that region. He supervised a network of IAM eye hospitals and clinics around the country. An associate of Grams and Little stated, "The kids had never seen toothbrushes, and Tom brought thousands of them. He trained them how to brush their teeth”. [4]

We commend these brave men and women and pray that those in Afghanistan who were touched by their selfless acts will recognize the love of God shown through their lives. “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” (Revelation 12:11)

[1] John Foxe, Foxe’s Christian Martyrs of the World (Westwood, NJ: Barbour Books, 1989), 124.
[2] Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “Taliban Strategy: Kill aid workers”, August 8, 2010, p. A1.
[3] < >
[4] MSNBC, “Christian Group denies Afghan Taliban claims over dead workers”, posted 8 Aug 2010, < >