No Greater Love
9 August 2010
For the past five days there have been various articles and reports in the media regarding the ten aid workers, aged 24 to 63, who were slaughtered by the Taliban in Afghanistan. They were members of a Christian aid organization called International Assistance Mission, which has been serving the Afghan people for the past 44 years.
Through this incident, we once again see the stark difference between the love and light of Christianity and the hate and darkness of Islam.
According to Libby Little, the widow of Tom Little, who was leading the group that was cut down, "There's a lot of preventable blindness in Afghanistan — blinding eye diseases that can be solved with just very small work." The article on CNN continues: "Risking their lives to help disadvantaged Afghans became almost a norm for Tom and Libby Little. Tom Little was heavily involved with training in optometry overseas, 'enabling Afghans to start picking up the work of eye care, because it wasn't there,' his widow said. His passion for helping Afghans ran deep, she said. 'We went [to Afghanistan], and we thought it was going to be two years, and it was 33,' Little said. 'We loved the people. ... The Afghan people were wonderful, absolutely wonderful to us. He died right where he loved to be — and that was doing eye care in remote areas.'"
It is very illuminating that neither the Taliban nor any other Muslim organization had enough love and compassion to help the poor of Afghanistan, their own people, with their eye problems. No, it took outsiders — people from foreign countries and a foreign religion — to have the necessary love and dedication to make the sacrifices to go to Afghanistan and help those whom no one else cared about. As Dirk Frans, the director of International Assistance Mission, recounted: "The team trekked about 100 miles into the mountains of one of the poorest and most remote areas of Afghanistan. They were selfless professionals who volunteered themselves for the mission, willing to spend their lives and energy in a meaningful way."
Various family and friends shared about their slain loved-ones:
  • "Cheryl Beckett loved and respected the Afghan people. She denied herself many freedoms in order to abide by Afghan law and custom. She was honored to be included in this most recent three-week medical journey to the remote populations of Northern Afghanistan."
  • "Brian Carderelli quickly fell in love with the Afghan people and culture and hoped to stay within the country for another year."
  • "Dr. Thomas Grams was a general dentist who gave up his private practice to do relief work."
  • "Tom Little was much loved by both foreigners and Afghans, and was the inspiration for other IAM team members coming to Afghanistan."
  • "Dr. Karen Woo gave up a comfortable life in London to work in Afghanistan. She was excited about the trip but was fully aware of the risks she faced making this kind of journey."
Secretary of State Hilly Clinton stated:
At their next stop, they planned to run a dental clinic and offer maternal and infant health care. They were unarmed. They were not being paid for their services. They had traveled to this distant part of the world because they wanted to help people in need. They were guests of the Afghan people. The Taliban stopped them on a remote road on their journey from Nuristan, led them into a forest, robbed them and killed them.
Yeshua (Jesus, Isa) once said, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). Yet that is not the whole story. Yeshua also said,
If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for He is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. (Luke 6:32-36)
Yeshua didn't just talk the talk, but more than anyone else in all of history He walked the walked. He didn't lay down His life for us as His "friends". No — as it says in Romans chapter 5: "Most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed His great love for us by sending Yeshua to die for us while we were still sinners.... our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies" (Romans 5:7,8,10).
As followers of Yeshua, He commands us to follow His example and lay down our lives for our "enemies": those who hate us and injure us and kill us. Yeshua said, "When I am lifted up from the earth [on the cross, being executed by those who hated Him], I will draw all men to myself" (John 12:32) When we imitate Yeshua and live (and die) the way He did, giving our lives in love to those who want to kill us, then, and only then, will large numbers of Muslims be drawn to Isa (Yeshua, Jesus). As one of His followers wrote so long ago:
Don't be surprised if the world hates you.... We know what real love is because Yeshua gave up His life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives ... let's not merely say that we love others; let us show the truth by our actions. (1 John 3:13,16,18)
The death of these ten, who were trying to visibly demonstrate the love of Yeshua by serving the Muslims of Afghanistan, is not a tragedy but a victory! "They did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens!" (Revelation 12:11b,12a). But it is just a small victory — a drop in the bucket.
In the same passage where Yeshua was talking about drawing all men to Himself through His death on the cross, He also said, "I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds" (John 12:24). This is the kind of multiplication through death that the Islamic world desperately needs!
What if, instead of ten followers of Yeshua laying down their lives for the Muslims, there were a hundred? Or a thousand? Or ten-thousand? Or a hundred-thousand? Or a million? When enough Christians decide to "hate their lives in this world to keep them for eternal life" (John 12:25) — when followers of Yeshua are willing to give up their cushy Western lives in order to follow Him to Islamic lands, to visibly demonstrate to the Muslims the love, life and death of Isa (Yeshua, Jesus) — THAT is an army of love that will cause the Satanic powers of darkness, which are keeping the Muslim peoples in bondage, to tremble in fear!
Regarding whether the International Assistance Mission would continue its work in Afghanistan, director Dirk Frans stated: "As to whether we will withdraw or not, it's unlikely we will. We've been here for 44 years. We've been here through all the civil war. And we remember that there were times when security was much worse than it is now. So I don't think this is the time to leave."
No, it is definitely NOT the time to leave! Rather, it is a time to advance and increase! May those ten seeds which fell into the ground last week multiply a hundred times over, resulting in wave upon wave of followers of Yeshua going to the Islamic lands of this world! May the eyes of the Muslims be open, to see that Isa (Yeshua, Jesus) is the true God, and that He loved them enough to die for their sins while they were still His enemies. May the chains of Islam be broken off them, that they may be set free to truly live as children of God and know Him as their Father!
I freely confess that I am not living what I preach. Most likely I love my life and my cushy Western lifestyle too much. But I want to live these things, and I am praying that God will send me and use me for His purposes — I am continually looking to Him and patiently waiting for His specific directions and instructions about my role in His army of love. I pray that you too will be earnestly seeking God for YOUR marching orders.
You can read some CNN news reports about these murders by clicking on the following links: Also, be sure to visit the International Assistance Mission Web site, and consider making a donation to help them in their efforts to show God's love to the Afghan people.
Finally, be sure to read this article called A Small Version of the Grand Narrative in Christianity Today, written by Libby Little just days before her husband was killed.