The little Afghan girl was sitting on her mothers lap. In spite of her illness, an inquisitive smile now crossed her eight-year-old face. She was fondling a little notebook with blank pages and a tiny box of coloring crayons. These were new to her, sent by a lady in Sprague River, Oregon. The girl and her mother were part of thousands of refugees from fierce fighting in Afghanistan. Girls had not been allowed into the scattered schools for many years since the Taliban had taken control.
An elderly man, with a turban, weather-beaten face, gray beard, and long white robe, stepped forward from a waiting crowd and greeted us. He was the village chief and mullah. His village had been labeled by UNICEF as an “Al Quaida village”. We were starting a medical clinic in this remote village. They had received no previous outside help. The chief wanted us to know that the reputation was wrong. They had now started including girls in their school. We talked, saw many seriously ill people and initiated a weekly clinic. We also had the privilege of dining with him and other men, including combining of prayers before and after meals. Everyone seemed very encouraged.
I have been privileged to see the power of encouragement in hurting areas of the world many times over. I recently read ads in Christianity Today looking for teachers in Irbil and Sulaimania, Iraq. We, and others, had tried to encourage many there who were trying to survive the sadness of terrible warfare and atrocities. Good things have increasingly happened since then.
I can tell almost countless stories of the effects of encouragement and hope. This is spoken so well in I Corinthians 13:13. Regardless of your age—six years or eighty—you also have a special role in furthering God’s Kingdom of peace and justice with encouragement of others. Please realize your purpose—both old and young.
Contributed by Ken Magee, Klamath Falls Friends