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Archive for September, 2014

“But Moses fled from the presence of Pharaoh and settled in the land of Midian, and he sat down by a well. Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters; and they came to draw water and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. Then the Zipporahshepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and helped them and watered their flock. When they came to Reuel their father, he said, ‘Why have you come back so soon today?’ So they said, ‘An Egyptian delivered us from the hand of the shepherds, and what is more, he even drew the water for us and watered the flock.’ He said to his daughters, ‘Where is he then? Why is it that you have left the man behind? Invite him to have something to eat.’ Moses was willing to dwell with the man, and he gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses. Then she gave birth to a son, and he named him Gershom, for he said, ‘I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.’” (Exodus 2:15-22)

Last week we posted a story about Jochebed, Moses’ mother. Jochebed bravely gave her son up for adoption so that he could live. An Egyptian princess raised Moses. This week we will see what a good wife, Zipporah, God gave to Moses.

When he grew up he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave. Moses killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. Pharaoh found out about it and tried to kill Moses, so Moses fled to Midian.

The Midianites occupied desert land in the Sinai Peninsula. Many years before this the land had been mined for semi-precious stones. By this time it was pretty desolate. It was occupied by a few sheepherders.

When Moses arrived he helped seven women water their flock. Isn’t it interesting that God found wives for Isaac (Rebekah) and Jacob (Rachel) in the same manner. Perhaps God wanted strong, hardworking wives for these men.

Anyway, Reuel (also called Jethro) had seven daughters and he gave his daughter, Zipporah, to Moses to be his wife. Zipporah’s name is translated “bird”. As she fiercely protected her husband and her sons she lived up to her name. Moses and Zipporah had two sons, Gershom and Eliezer.

Moses was content to live with Zipporah’s father and care for the sheep. One day God called Moses for the special task of delivering the people out from under the bondage of the Egyptians. Moses went to his father-in-law and asked for permission to leave. In the meantime the Pharaoh who had wanted to kill Moses had died, so it was safe for him to return to Egypt.

Jethro gave his permission and Moses, Zipporah and the boys left for Egypt.

Along the way a disturbing event took place. “Now it came about at the lodging place on the way that the Lord met him and Zipporah saving Mosessought to put him to death.” (Exodus 4:24) Apparently Moses had not circumcised his sons. We really don’t know why. Certainly Moses had been circumcised by his parents. He knew how important it was. Maybe he just didn’t get around to it. Maybe he didn’t think about it because his Egyptian family did not circumcise boys. Probably the Midianites didn’t either. But that was no excuse.

God was serious enough about it to seek to kill Moses. Zipporah “took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and threw it at Moses’ feet, and she said, ‘You are indeed a bridegroom of blood to me.’” (Exodus 4:25) So God let them go. The Bible tells us that Zipporah repeated that Moses was a bridegroom of blood to her because of the circumcision. (Exodus 4:26) We do not know why Zipporah said to Moses twice that he was a “bridegroom of blood”. Maybe it was for each son? We only know that Zipporah knew about the rite of circumcision and that it was important as a sign of the covenant people and God. Her quick action saved her husband.

Zipporah continued on to Egypt with her husband. Moses’ brother Aaron joined them somewhere along the way.

It could not have been an easy life for her when Zipporah got to Egypt. She was a stranger to the Egyptians and to the Israelites. Zipporah was in Egypt as a witness to some of the ten plagues. At some point however Moses sent her and his two sons back home to Jethro.

Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt after the last plague. Along the way to the Promised Land, God provided food in the form of manna for the Israelites and water from a rock. When the people had complained too much, God sent quails for them.

The Amalekites came and challenged the children of Israel to a battle. God helped them to defeat the Amalekites.

About this time, Jethro heard about all that had happened in Egypt. He went to visit Moses bringing Zipporah and Gershom and Eliezer with him. Moses greets his father-in-law and takes him to his tent. Jethro gave his son-in-law much needed important advice at this time.

We do not know for sure whether Zipporah stayed with Moses or went back to Midian with her father. It is most likely that she and the boys stayed with Moses. If she did then we have one more story about her.

During the journey to the Promised Land Moses had many problems with the people. They kept complaining. They sinned by building a golden calf to worship the minute Moses turned his back. Even Moses’ brother and sister, Aaron and Miriam, complained. They thought they should have a share in the rule.

Aaron and Miriam took an occasion to criticize Moses for the “Cushite woman” that he had married. (Numbers 12:1) Most scholars believe that they were criticizing Zipporah. Some Cushite people had migrated to Midian, so this would explain Aaron and Miriam’s slur of Moses’ wife.

Other scholars say that Zipporah went back to Midian with Jethro, and this Cushite woman was a second wife and that is why Aaron and Miriam were expressing their displeasure with Moses. The first option – Zipporah is the Cushite woman – is the more probable. There are no further children recorded for Moses, so it is hard to say. We will have to wait until we get to Heaven and can talk to Zipporah for ourselves!

Zipporah, like the wives of other Patriarchs – Sarah and Rebekah – was a strong woman with a trusting faith in God. Moses had no doubt instructed her in the ways of his people; that was how she knew about God’s covenant and circumcision. She remained faithful to God, her husband, and even her in-laws for as long as she lived. We can learn from her example of faith and fortitude.

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Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a daughter of Levi. The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was beautiful, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got him a wicker basket and covered it over with tar and pitch. The she put the child into it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to find out what would happen to him. The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the Nile, with her maidens walking alongside the Nile; and she saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid, and she brought it to her. When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the boy was crying. And she had pity on him and said, ‘This is one of the Hebrews’ children.’ Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women that she may nurse the child for you?’ Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Go ahead.’ So the girl went and called the child’s mother. The Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Take this child away and nurse him for me and I will give you your wages.’ So the woman took the child and nursed him. The child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. And she named him Moses, and said, “Because I drew him out of the water.” (Exodus 2:1-10)

The account of the baby Moses floating in a basket in the Nile River is a favorite Bible story. We all know that his sister, Miriam, took him to the river where an Egyptian princess was bathing. Miriam watched over her brother until the princess discovered him and adopted him. Miriam cleverly arranged for her mother, Jochebed, to be hired as a wet nurse for the baby. Later the princess would name him Moses, because she said, “I drew him out of the water” (Exodus 2:10).

Let’s review a little history so that we can understand why Jochebed had to go to such an extreme to save her baby boy. Why did she need to risk losing him in order to give him a chance to live? Why would a mother put her baby in a basket and put it in a river?

About four hundred years before this, ten of Jacob’s sons had sold their brother Joseph into slavery in Egypt. A few years later there was a famine over all of that part of the world. God blessed Joseph in Egypt. He was put in charge of all of the food in Egypt. (This amazing story is in Genesis 37-50.) Jacob and all of the rest of his family eventually moved to Egypt to live so that they would not starve. The Pharaoh at that time was friendly to Joseph and his family.

But about four centuries later “a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph” (Exodus 1:8). During this time the Israelites had multiplied until there were hundreds of thousands of them. Pharaoh was worried that he might be overpowered by the Israelites and so he imposed slavery on them. The Israelites had to do hard labor building his cities so that they would be too busy to be able to oppose him. This was not working as well as he liked and so he ordered all of the male babies who were born to the Hebrew people to be murdered.

This was why Jochebed put her newborn baby into a basket and sent him with his sister to be saved by the Egyptian princess. Like most mothers, Jochebed loved her children and was willing to make sacrifices in order to protect them. We have a hard time imagining how it would be to live under a government that wants to kill our babies. This must have caused a lot of sorrow for Jochebed and all of the Hebrew mothers. Most of the Hebrew women would have had to watch while their sons were taken from them and killed before their eyes.

Moses in a basketJochebed risked hiding her son for three months and then she knew that she had to do something before they were discovered. Somehow Jochebed must have known the place where Pharaoh’s daughter went to bathe in the river Nile. Maybe she thought that if only the Pharaoh’s daughter would see this beautiful, helpless baby in a basket, she would take pity on it. Surely the princess’s womanly instincts would make her decide to protect the baby. Jochebed decided to trust God and put her plan in action.

Scholars are not sure which one of Pharaoh’s daughters this was, but it is possible that she was later the famous Queen Hatshepsut, the sister to Thutmose III. Others believe that she was one of the fifty-nine daughters of Rameses II. We know that the princess was a very strong and compassionate woman. We also know that she was destined for rank or power. The author of the book of Hebrews would write, “By faith Moses, when he had grown up refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter” (Hebrews 11:24). This phrase implies that Moses could have continued as royalty in Pharaoh’s family, perhaps even have been in line for the throne. Instead Moses identified with his people and was willing to obey God and lead the Israelites out of Egypt.

Whatever her rank or influence over her father the Pharaoh, the princess not only wanted to save the child, she also decided to adopt him as her own. As soon as the princess opened the basket, the boy cried. Jochebed’s plan worked – the princess had pity on the baby. Pharaoh’s daughter took Miriam’s quick-thinking advice and agreed to let her find a “nurse … from the Hebrew women that she may nurse the child” for her. Miriam was very clever not to mention that she was thinking of the child’s mother. The princess no doubt knew the law concerning Hebrew baby boys. Nevertheless she was so filled with compassion for the infant that she disregarded the Pharaoh’s orders and spared the baby’s life.

Of course we know that God was watching over Jochebed, Miriam, the princess, and Moses. God had His plan for leading His people out of Egypt through this baby eventually.

So with the princess’s permission and protection, Miriam brought the baby home to Jochebed. What a blessing from God. Jochebed Miriam babyJochebed could have her son at least for a while and not only that but be paid to nurse him!

One wonders what Jochebed’s husband, Amram, thought of all of this. The Bible does not tell us. We can only imagine that he was glad that his wife found a way to spare their son even if the joy of having their son was temporary. Eventually the child would be weaned and sent to the princess.

In those days children were weaned at about age three or four years. During this time Jochebed would have a chance to influence her son. She would have tried to give him a love for his people and for Yahweh. We don’t know how much Moses would remember while living with the princess, but certainly Jochebed had a chance to instill some sort of identity with God’s people that Moses would remember later.

How hard it must have been for Jochebed to give up her son when the time came to give him to Pharaoh’s daughter. We do not know if she ever saw him again. Maybe she caught a glimpse of him if he played in the river with his adoptive mother. By the time that Moses led the people out of Egypt, he was eighty years old. So Jochebed must have been dead by then. She did not get to see the great purpose in which she played a part. She is an example for parents to have faith in God that He will take care of their children.

In our day many young girls who find themselves with an unplanned pregnancy should be encouraged to sacrifice for those little ones. If they find that they cannot, then adoption is a good answer – never abortion. Motherhood is a special gift and calling. May we have the courage of Jochebed who gave up her child to spare his life and the princess who defied the Pharaoh in order to raise him. We do not know what God’s plans are. Let us just trust and obey.

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Now it was after this that Absalom the son of David had a beautiful sister whose name was Tamar, and Amnon the son of David loved her. (2 Samuel 13:1)

Last week we studied about a woman named Tamar. She was Judah’s daughter-in-law and we read her story in Genesis 38. This week we are looking at the story of another Tamar – a descendant of our first Tamar. This Tamar was the daughter of King David. Her story is in 2Samuel 13.

Tamar was a beautiful woman, so beautiful that her half-brother, Amnon, fell in love with her. He wanted her badly and became depressed when he couldn’t get her.

Absalom and Amnon had different mothers and so they were half brothers. Tamar was Amnon’s half-davids_generations3sister. Today we would consider this too close of a relationship for marriage, but in times past people married into closer relationships.

Amnon was so in love with Tamar and so frustrated that he couldn’t get her that he made himself sick. A friend of his came up with a solution, “Lie down on your bed and pretend to be ill; when your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Please let my sister Tamar come and give me some food to eat, and let her prepare the food in my sight, that I may see it and eat from her hand.’” (2 Samuel 13:5)

King David heard that Amnon was ill and went to see him. He agreed to send for Tamar to go and serve Amnon.

Tamar suspected nothing; after all Amnon was her brother. She made food for him with her own hands. When she tried to serve it to him he said he wasn’t hungry and sent everyone else out of the room. He asked Tamar to lie with him.

Tamar resisted, “No, my brother, do not violate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this disgraceful thing!” She begged him to consider the shame that would be upon her as well as the guilt that he would bear. She even offered to marry him.

Amnon-ama-a-TamarAmnon would not listen to her. He could not overcome his passion. He was stronger than Tamar and he forced her to lie with him. Afterwards, he “hated her with a very great hatred; for the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her.” (2 Samuel 13:15) Then Amnon told Tamar to go away. He treated Tamar as if the whole incident was her fault. His guilt transformed into hatred for his sister.

Tamar protested again. “No, because this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you have done to me!” Tamar was reminding Amnon of the law as given in Deuteronomy 22:28,29. If a man lay with a virgin, especially if he forced her, he was supposed to marry her. Tamar was trying to get Amnon to do the right thing. He refused.

Tamar went away crying. She tore her garment and threw ashes on her head. These were the traditional actions when a person was grieving or distressed. Absalom noticed his sister’s sorrow and guessed that Amnon was to blame. He told Tamar to hold her peace for a while. He would take care of it. Tamar, desolated, remained in Absalom’s house.

King David heard of this terrible matter and was very angry. Apparently neither he nor Absalom spoke to Amnon about it for two full years. We are not sure about what happened to Tamar after this. Perhaps as a disgraced woman she just remained single living in her brother’s home until she died. She had no hope unless her brother Absalom or her father King David vindicated her. Apparently neither did. Of course Amnon could have confessed and done the right thing. But he refused.

After about two years, Absalom took vengeance on Amnon. He had Amnon murdered. Then Absalom had to flee the country. David mourned for his sons for the next three years.

Absalom’s wicked way of dealing with this tragedy would lead to his estrangement from his father, King David, and have far reaching consequences for Israel’s leaders. The fighting would continue and eventually Absalom would be killed. How much better it would have been if he would have tried to help his sister and his half-brother. Later Absalom would name his daughter after his sister, Tamar (2Samuel 14:27). Compared to what he allowed to happen to Tamar, this doesn’t seem like much of a gesture.

Why didn’t King David do something about Tamar? Perhaps Amnon’s sin reminded David of his own sin with Bathsheba. (See the story about David and Bathsheba in 2Samuel 11). Maybe he could not find it in himself to condemn his son for something he did himself. If King David had made Amnon marry Tamar as the law called for Amnon would not have died and Absalom would not have fled the country. What a mess Amnon caused. But some of it could have been salvaged if the men would have been thinking about Tamar and her needs.

Tamar’s story is a tragic one. We know from her words to Amnon that she must have been a woman of courage and high principles. She sought to keep her virginity by pleading with her half-brother. Even after the brutal rape, Tamar sought to get Amnon to do the right thing. He probably was not her first choice for a husband, but she would have obeyed God’s law. She was sensitive to Amnon’s needs as well. She sought to prevent him from having to live the rest of his life full of guilt.

What can we learn from Tamar’s life? We must trust God even when things don’t seem right. Sometimes terrible things happen to good people. We do not always understand these things but we know that God has a purpose. James tells us, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2,3) While we are experiencing the trial, this is hard to do. We will not know until we get to Heaven and can ask Tamar what happened to her.

At least Tamar could live the rest of her life knowing that she had tried to be obedient to God. Her life must have been hard, but she had peace with the Lord. This is something to remember when someone commits a wrong against us and we don’t get human justice. We can look to Tamar as an example of faithfulness during hardship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Now Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord took his life. Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife, and perform your duty as a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.” Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother’s wife, he wasted his seed on the ground in order not to give offspring to his brother. But what he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord; so He took his life also. Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Remain a widow in your father’s house until my son Shelah grows up,” for he thought, “I am afraid that he too may die like his brothers.” So Tamar went and lived in her father’s house. (Genesis 38:6-11)

Tamar was married into Judah’s family. Judah was the fourth son of Jacob and Leah. Isaac was his grandfather and Abraham was his great-grandfather.

Our story interrupts the general flow of the story of God’s dealings with the Israelites in the early days of the Jewish nation. At this point in our story, Joseph’s brothers have sold him into slavery. A passing caravan had purchased Joseph and would eventually sell him to Potiphar in Egypt. (Genesis 37:36) At home, their father, Jacob is grieving because he thinks that Joseph is dead.

Genesis 38 is a “time out” in the story of Joseph and Egypt and how the Israelites eventually went there during the time of the famine. We are very familiar with the story. After working in Potiphar’s household for some time, Joseph gets unfairly thrown into prison. God helps Joseph get out when he interprets Pharaoh’s dreams. Joseph is given leadership in Egypt, wisely guiding that country through seven years of tremendous harvests and then seven years of famine.

When Jacob hears that there is grain in Egypt he sends his sons there to purchase some. Eventually all 11 brothers and Jacob end up there. The Israelites remain there for four hundred years as slaves to the Egyptians and then God raised up Moses to take them out of Egypt back to the Promised Land.
That is the general flow of the history of God’s people.

So why do we have this whole chapter in the middle of the story talking about Judah and Tamar? Why is Tamar so special?

Perhaps it is because the writers of the Old Testament, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit were tamar genealogygiving us details of the history of Israel AND of God’s larger plan of redemption. For we find out that Tamar is an ancestress of Jesus. We know that Jesus was a descendant of Judah. “Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar…” (Matthew 1:3). This story in Genesis 38 gives us the background to how that worked out. We also know that Jesus was a descendant of David. Tamar was an ancestress of David as well. This story shows us God’s great sovereignty over history. It shows us that God’s plans worked out just as He foretold through the prophets. Tamar would be in the line of ancestry of the Lord Jesus along with several other Bible women – Sarah, Rebecca, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Rahab.

Tamar had married Judah’s eldest son, Er. Er had displeased God in some way, so God took his life. According to Levirate Law (Deuteronomy 25:5-10) a brother could try and give a child to the widow so that his dead brother would have an heir. Onan, Er’s brother, married Tamar but “wasted his seed” instead of giving Tamar a child. He was disobeying God’s law by doing this and so God took his life too. (For all of the details read Genesis 38.)

Judah was apparently afraid to give Tamar his third son, Shelah, after watching the first two sons die. Apparently Shelah was not quite old enough to marry, so Judah sent Tamar home to her father.

Time went by and Shua, Judah’s wife died. Someone told Tamar that Judah was going to be nearby soon for the sheering of his sheep. Tamar decided on a plan. She would deceive Judah into thinking she was a prostitute and thereby get the child by him that she had been promised.

Tamar and JudahSo she removed her widow’s garments and covered herself with a veil, and wrapped herself, and sat in the gateway of Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah had grown up and she had not been given to him as a wife. (Genesis 38:14)

It is hard to put ourselves into Tamar’s shoes and think about why she would commit a sin like this. Wasn’t she taking things into her own hands? Why didn’t she just trust God? What did she think would come of this?

We won’t know until we get to Heaven, but the fact is that she chose to waylay Judah and trick him into lying with her as if she was a prostitute. Judah promised her a goat from his flock as payment. He said he would send it later. Tamar was wise enough to get his seal and cord and staff as a pledge for payment. She also surmised that she would need proofs later when and if she got pregnant. She was so right.

Sure enough it was discovered that she was pregnant a few months later. Judah was told that it was by harlotry and he believed it. After all, Tamar was an unmarried widow. Judah demanded that she be brought out and punished according to the law at that time – she was to be burned.

In the meantime, Tamar sent word to her father-in-law that she was pregnant by the man who owned theGen 38-26 seal and cord and staff that she possessed. Judah recognized them and was humbled. “She is more righteous than I, inasmuch as I did not give her to my son Shelah.” (Genesis 38:26) Judah repented and “did not have relations with her again.”

God gave Tamar not one but two sons. She had twins, Perez and Zerah. In fact, the name of Perez became great in Israel and was later used as an example of blessing in the book of Ruth: “And all the people who were in the gate, and the elders, said,.., ‘let thy house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore unto Judah’” (Ruth 4:11-12). It was through the line of Perez that Jesus would come.

What can we learn from Tamar’s life? A woman in her place and time had very few options. We cannot just dismiss her as a terrible sinner. Judah did not. He said that she was more righteous than he was. He knew that his sin in not giving her Shelah as he had promised led her into desperate means. If not for Tamar, Judah’s line would not continue. It was his responsibility and he neglected it.

Another lesson for us is the incredible love and mercy of God. God did not reject Tamar either, making her an ancestress of the Savior, His Son. God works out good even from our mistakes (Romans 8:28). Let’s don’t presume on God, however and always strive to obey Him without sinning. While the method that Tamar used seems wrong, we live in a sinful world and we should not judge her too harshly. God blessed her!!

 

 

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Precious in the sight of the LORD
Is the death of His godly ones. (Psalm 116:15)

I got a call from Afghanistan early one morning in August and learned that my friend cheryl beckettCheryl Beckett had been killed, along with nine other aid workers. They were ambushed by Islamic militants. I can’t allow myself to even think about how she died. She was a beautiful soul who never failed to lift my spirits with her joy in Christ. … I don’t expect a good answer to why at thirty-two years of age she should be taken. She brought so much strength to the team, and she put Calvary love on display for the Afghan people to see. There are already so few there, so few willing to got there. It still hurts to write about her.       (Tim Keesee, Dispatches From The Front, page 226)

Over the past few years many women have sacrificed their lives in order to show the love of Jesus to the poor in Muslim countries. These women know the dangers. Not only do Muslim men treat women with disdain in their countries, they also especially target all Christians, even women, for arrest, persecution, and/or death.

Religiously, the Muslims are probably among the hardest people in the world to reach for Christ. Muslims are held in bondage to a religion that is very easy to get into – you only need to recite the prayer claiming that Allah is God and Mohammed is his prophet. It is at the same time the hardest religion to get out of – adherents are threatened with death if they think about converting to some other religion. Islam is not a religion of peace; it is a religion of slavery. It is a very dark religion and Muslims need the light of Christ very badly.

Christians have been going to Muslim countries like Afghanistan when they are able to get in. Doctors, nurses, and other caregivers go to help the victims of the Middle East wars. In places like Kabul the Christians are caring for the poor and destitute; the Taliban is not. The Taliban has been targeting aid workers for decades killing many. In spite of this people who care about the innocent women and children in these countries keep going hoping to bring as much aid as possible to those in need.

One such woman was Gayle Williams. (See last week’s post for more on Gayle’s story.) Gayle was a physical therapist who went to Kabul to work with children who were injured by landmines. Gayle had been working in Kandahar, but the threats of death and kidnapping were so great that she went to Kabul. On her way to her office she was gunned down. The Taliban took credit for the slaying saying that Gayle was guilty of the crime of spreading Christianity. Gayle was only one of many Christian aid workers who had been kidnapped or killed.

On August 5, 2010, ten aid workers from International Assistance Mission were killed in Kuran, Afghanistan, on their way to Kabul. Again, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the murders.

The group consisted of six Americans, one German, one Briton and two Afghans. International Assistance Mission organized the trip. The group, led by team leader Tom Little with over 35 years of experience in Afghanistan, was going to distribute eyeglasses, toothbrushes, pain relief, and prenatal care in remote villages that they were traveling to on foot. In short they were on a mission of mercy.

Beckett_WebOne of the team members, Cheryl Beckett – aged 32 at the time, had already traveled around the world. She had been on many church sponsored mission trips and went to Afghanistan six years before this. With a degree in biology, Cheryl wanted to do something really useful for the women and children. Cheryl planted vegetable gardens and tried to establish a park on the east side of Kabul on ground that had been devastated after years of war in Afghanistan. Her hope was that teaching the people how to grow food would help them survive. This is why Cheryl Beckett found herself in Afghanistan. Cheryl loved Christ and Cheryl loved people.

Cheryl also worked in women’s clinics. She worked with women and children to teach them about health. She loved the Afghan people. Cheryl once organized a relief effort for more than 200 Afghan families staying in one dilapidated building with no electricity or heat during the winter. She was not discouraged because her heart of love for the people gave her hope to continue.

Cheryl knew the risks of traveling to remote villages with a group of foreigners. Because of her familiarity with the language she was invited on the fatal expedition. She was going as a medical worker and translator. She was excited about an opportunity to be the “hands and feet” of the Lord Jesus Christ to these needy people. She willingly took the risk because her love for the Lord and these people was so great.

The needs are so great. Christians know that following Christ may cost them their lives. These martyrs are just a few in a long line of those who love Jesus and others enough to take the Gospel wherever they are called. Despite the attack on Cheryl’s group other Islamic Relief groups continue to work in Muslim countries. How can they refuse the call of their Savior to take the light of the Gospel to lost people along with the works of mercy that the Lord Himself would perform?

Many gathered at Cheryl’s funeral in Knoxville, Tennessee. Sadness was expressed at how theCherylBeckett-IAM Taliban treated those who went to their country only to show love. How tragic that the killers took the life of one who denied herself many freedoms in order to live with the Afghan people abiding by their customs and laws.

One of the last to speak at her funeral was Cheryl’s father, Charles. He said that Cheryl was “full of life and laughter.” Cheryl just wanted to get married, live on a farm, and raise children and a garden. She did get to do these things, but only for a short time and only in Afghanistan where she served the Afghans whom she loved so much.

Truly Cheryl showed the love of Jesus to the Afghan people. She sacrificed for them. Now she is with the One Who sacrificed for her.

 

 

 

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