Last week 10 members of a medical team, working with the Christian organization International Assistance Mission, were shot dead in Afghanistan. One of those who died was a British doctor, Karen Woo. She died alongside 6 American and 1 German colleagues, and 2 Afghan interpreters, as they provided eye care in remote villages in North East Afghanistan.
The motive for the killing is unclear. The Taliban have claimed they were killed because they were Christian missionaries who were telling people about Jesus Christ. Others think the motive was robbery because all their possessions were taken. Whatever the motive, it was an act of mindless evil. International Assistance Mission has worked in Afghanistan since 1966 and provides medical care to ¼ million Afghans each year.
Karen Woo had given up a well-paid job, with BUPA, to work in Afghanistan for minimal financial reward. Her motive for doing this was a desire to improve the lives of ordinary Afghans and spread the word about their plight. On a visit to Kabul in 2009 she gained an insight into how the lives of ordinary Afghan people are being affected by the conflict. She knew that working in Afghanistan put her life in real danger. She was due to be married in 2 weeks time.
The murder of these people was an irrational act. The team was bringing desperately needed medical care to many people who will now have no one to help them. Our own reactions can also sometimes be irrational. We react against the God who made us. We feel, mistakenly, that our lives are better without him, yet every day he showers his blessings indiscriminately on us all.
The lives of the medical team were a powerful testimony to the difference Jesus Christ makes. They were willing to put their lives in danger in order to enrich the lives of others. They came alongside people of another nation and religion to show Christian love to them.
The example of this team reminds us of Jesus himself. He went around “doing good.” He brought healing and hope to many people and restored sight to blind people. Ultimately he came “not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” As he hung on the cross he prayed, “Father forgive them.” Those who live and serve in the same spirit remind us of him and make this world a better place.