The High Cost of Service

The International Assistance Mission (IAM) began in 1966 in  Afghanistan and except for  a brief 3 month period in 2001, they have been there ever since. Their work primarily focuses on eye  care, although they provide other services as well. Their current executive director is Dick Frans who is based in Kabul. I  think one could  call them unique since Afghanistan is the only place they work.  Frans expresses their approach this way. ” Our faith motivates and inspires us but we do not proselytize.”

Most of those who serve do so at their own expense or through the generosity of  others. On August 5, a 10 member team plus an Afghan driver was returning to Kabul after an arduous 2 weeks working in the remote Parun valley. Initial reports said  they were surrounded by armed Taliban and brutally murdered by gunfire and hand grenades. As further information emerges, it appears that the act could have been perpetrated by armed bandits. It’s possible the truth will never surface or if so, not for some time. I would also doubt whether those responsible will ever be brought to justice.

I have read several articles about this tragedy and the more I read  the more devastated I become. Those ten who were killed were  quite  a disparate group. There were six Americans, a German, a Brit  and two  Afghans who served as a guard and a cook. Their  ages ranged from two grandfathers in their 60’s to a 25-year-old photographer/videographer   and the 24-year-old cook. One, Karen Woo, was a London surgeon who gave up  a lucrative career to serve. The senior member was Dan Terry who arrived in country in 1971 and  met and  married his wife and reared three daughters in the country. Tom Little was much like Cherry and had been in the country for four decades spearheading the mission’s work in providing eye care.  The group’s junior was member Brian Carderelli  from Harrisonburg, Va. Both of his parents had worked there and he knew somewhat the potential dangers he faced. When the opportunity came he grabbed it. Ironically he was putting together an album of photos entitled “The Beauty-It’s Not All War.”

Other team members were dentist Thomas Grams of Durango, Co, nurse Glenn Lapp of Lancaster, Pa and an interpreter from Germany Daniela Beyer. The Afghans killed were Mahram Ali, a guard and a young cook named Ahmed Jawed.

Certainly all had calculated the risks involved and chose to take those risks. Beyond the incalculable losses felt by the families and friends are the heavy toll on IAM’s work. At the least, much of it is in limbo. The  attack was one of the worst carried out on foreign aid workers in many years.

Heartfelt prayers go out to those impacted by these losses, especially those closest to these who gave their all.



August 19, 2010 Posted by | Christianity | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Future of Europe?

This is a subject that   I have been pondering for quite  awhile and  is probably just an initial effort at expressing  some opinions. To me the subject is at once complicated, disturbing and perhaps  a view of  our ( United States ) future.

I am a great fan of political novels, especially those set in our era. Those that depict events similar  to those that are occurring and make reference to actual people and places in the course of their books. I have referred before to Daniel Silva whom I thoroughly enjoy and I have just finished a book by Michael Walsh, Hostile Intent, that addresses some similar issues but from a  quite different perspective. Factored in to my post is a challenging nonfiction book that I have just begun to read. It  is by British author Melanie Phillips  and it its premise dovetails nicely with my fictional reading.

These slightly disparate works all have one word common to them that struck me quite forcefully. That word is Londonistan, which is the title of Ms Phillips book. Walsh mentions and I am fairly certain that Silva does also. Both fictional writers speak heavily of the concept as well.

What is the concept of which they speak? Ms Phillips says it best in the intro to her book. She begins her intro with the London subway suicide bombings of July 7. 2005 and  its implications . She asserts that  it reveals London as the  epicenter ( good Joel Rosenberg word) of Islamic militancy. She uses the word ” Londonistan” which is  a mocking play of the names of London and state sponsors of terrorism such as Afghanistan. You can think of others. She added this chilling detail that one could argue that al-Qaeda actually began in London in the 1980s and 90s. She continues to  talk about Britain in essence turning on itself and attacking its own historical values.

And this next may be the most troubling. There is underway an attempt to establish a separate Muslim identity in the country. This is  in  a country approximately 5% Muslim . So there is a  minority attempting and succeeding in many ways to impose its values on the host country. A tiny but illustrative example is that piggy banks are banned from British banks lest Muslims be offended. Funny, maybe, but not ha-ha funny by any means. British Muslims actually insist they are under Western attack  and blame any wrongdoing by Muslims on others. One more thought before part #1 closes.

 British liberals fear being labeled racist or Islamophobic so Muslim extremism goes somewhat  unchecked and  criticism is against the so-called bigot. The London train bombings were, by this logic, caused by American , Israeli or British policies.

My intent is to refer to Ms Phillips book  again in part #2 as well  as some fictional  references from Walsh and perhaps Silva. As I alluded,  her book is a difficult read for me but I hope to plow through  a bit further.

August 11, 2010 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Proclaim Liberty Throughout All The Land

… unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be  a jubilee unto you:and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. The King James Version, Leviticus 25:10. And the first part is inscribed on our Liberty Bell itself, although it wasn’t even called that at first.

The bell is for certain one of our country’s iconic symbols and is one of the few that I have been privileged to see  up close and personal. This was a picture I took while on a Habitat for Humanity trip with our church(First Baptist -Eden NC). The young ladies , whose names I forget ,were part of our group that spent a week working in the city of Brotherly Love. I had originally intended just a single post about the bell, but I really liked the look of the enlarged picture, ergo, we shall have a couple days on the bell as we prepare for Independence Day and our country’s 233rd birthday. One small tidbit among many that intrigued me. A gentleman named Isaac Norris, Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly,  commissioned  the Assembly’s agent in    London, Robert Charles,  to buy a bell. Mr Norris was also the person who  chose the scripture that is inscribed thereon. Interestingly, it comes from an Old Testament book that is probably somewhat obscure to many churchgoers today.

Tomorrow, who made the bell, where has it traveled, when did it crack and when and for whom it was last rung.

Liberty Bell, 1991

Liberty Bell, 1991

June 30, 2009 Posted by | History | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Worry About North Korea

Those fine gentlemen  in Pyongyang have been at it again. We are going to launch a rocket, because we can. You can’t do anything about it but not to worry, there is no threat to anyone. Today, they began the process of  fueling said rocket which supposedly  intends to launch a communications satellite.Those  good ole boys threatened retaliation if anyone attempts to shoot down the rocket. Japan was singled out in particular. If it interferes, it would be struck with a “thunderbolt of fire“. The United States also came in for a little threat, saying that American warships in the area should withdraw if they don’t want to receive  damage.

As one might expect South Korea is a mite nervous, along with Japan. So, President Obama and South Korean  President Lee-Myung-bak  issued a joint statement from the G-20 summit in London.They agreed on” a stern, united response from the international community if North Korea launches a long-range rocket.” Japan meanwhile plans to call for an emergency Security Council meeting.

Unfortunately, China  has not shared its opinion to all  this bluster which includes calls from this side of the pond to shoot down that nasty rocket. Not to worry though, press secretary Gibbs there are no such plans unless the rocket strays toward  Hawaii. Feeling better are you?  Remember just a few days ago  when Hilary was on television asking the North Koreans to call if they were watching.  Guess they weren’t watching, probably preparing a rocket or something.

Don’t worry though, Obama has it all handled. We  should certainly hope so. One more little tidbit from David Wright, co-director of  the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists said we should not jump to conclusions if the launch is successful. He agrees that said success would indicate that North Korea has increased its missile capabilities(duh!)  but may not necessarily indicate they have  the capability of launching a nuclear warhead to inter-continental range. We certainly should hope not!

Remember, a stern warning!

April 2, 2009 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beware of the Yuck

I recently read about a London based organization called the National Children’s Fund ; of course it is government sponsored .These folks have issued a 366 page report about racist behavior in babies and children. Babies ,they say, must be included because they can recognize different people in their lives, duh . And why is that a problem; dont know . But one should also be aware of children who”react negatively to a culinary tradition other than their own by saying yuck ” So, be careful what you say when there is a food put before you- eat it quietly or develop a quick case of the i am fulls . The list of potential foods that could be offensive could be grits , sweet tea or barbecue among others. Just dont say I didnt warn you.

July 9, 2008 Posted by | Children | , | 1 Comment