Aid:Faith

http://www.iam-afghanistan.org/

This post has to do with the ten aid workers killed in Afghanistan almost three months ago.  I’ve got the link above, but if you are unfamiliar with the story, on  the 6th of August,  ten International Assistance Mission aid workers were murdered in Afghanistan. The Taliban took immediate responsibility, claiming they were killed by a Taliban patrol for violating sharia standards regarding Christian proselytizing. IAM countered the claim and stated that while IAM is an openly Christian organization, it does not proselytize, in accordance with the laws of Afghanistan and International Committee of the Red Cross guidance.

It’s been on my mind ever since it happened, although I don’t really understand why. It happened as I began thinking harder about the ideas of aid and charity we’ve been talking about a little bit over the past few months, which might explain it. Not too long ago, I asked for comments from you all regarding how you viewed the concept of “aid,” and I got responses that were both varied in perspective as well as insightful. From definitions of aid in more primitive times, to the fact that aid looks very different depending on whether you’re receiving or donating; it was interesting to hear what you all thought and I appreciate everyone who took the time to comment.

What happened to the IAM workers was a sad and disturbing event. The facts are that Mahram Ali, Cheryl Beckett, Daniela Beyer, Brian Carderelli, Abdul Masjedi, Dr Tom Grams, Glen Lapp, Dr Tom Little, Dan Terry, and Dr Karen Woo were murdered in Afghanistan while providing free medical aid to Afghan people in the most remote areas of the country. These people sacrificed comfortable Western lives, and a lot of money in some cases, and went to Afghanistan to provide for a specific need. They were true heroes who not only treated those in need; they also trained Afghans medical professionals to do it for themselves, a basic principle of sustainable aid. In the wake of what happened, NPR ran an interesting article here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129155780 . It’s a good albeit brief, read on faith-based aid and some of the issues surrounding faith-based aid in hot zones like Somalia and Afghanistan.

I guess the question on my mind, is this: If they had been preaching, would it have made their murders any less horrific? Even cursory research of the media surrounding their killings reveals that the story was less the way they died, but what exactly they were doing there. Some of the flail was no doubt due to the Taliban message that they were killed for spreading Christianity. However, the media response to the claim appears not to have been, “So what? You murdered innocents.” IAM’s response on their website seemed to be as much directed as a response to the Taliban claims as it was to the generating media interest in whether or not they were over there proselytizing.

It bothers me to think that there is a cynical tone within America that might say, “Well, they got what they deserved,” as if in response to the many crimes perpetuated by so-called “Christians” over the ages. It bothers me to think that we might tolerate injustice perpetrated by any faith. The basics of the major faiths of the modern world, Judeo-Christianity as well as Islam, include the following but are not limited to: Love. Tolerance. Charity. The pollution which results from the actions of an extremist fringe, whether on board an airliner bound for DC or in a moving truck parked in front of a federal building, should not blind us from the truths of the faith itself. None of those acts is representative of the majority of the faith, regardless of what a media pundit or radical mullah might tell you.

In closing, I ask you to think, once again, about your ideas of aid.

Is it possible that zakat, the Koran-mandated charity incumbent upon all Muslims, would allow the light of a merciful God into the life of a Christian in need?

Is it possible that the aid provided by a Westerner could re-frame the a Muslim’s perception of a Christian God?

To the uneducated, the beggar, the cripple…does it matter in his or her time of need?

One response

  1. Well said Matt! I do believe the issue was not addressed in the media as it should have been because it may have been interpreted as the media being in favor of the “Christians”. We have a church in our area that has been part of the Christian Reformed church and this past year has left that church in order to be a church that embraces all faiths. I thought Ron asked a valid question as they were going through this process, “how do they worship and what do they stand for?” Their sign out front regulary challenges people in the community. After the elections their sign read, “Thinking of moving to Canada?” I am in favor of freedom to express yourself however I believe that works both ways. I may not agree with you, however to openly chastise a community as they drive by your church everyday for not thinking as you do does not speak brotherly love to me. They are no different than the Baptist church that protests at military funerals across the country. Jesus lost his temper in the temple with the religious leaders but when He was out among the people He met their need whether it was feeding them or healing them. I don’t recall ever reading He had first asked what their religious affilation was.

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