Afghanistan (MNN) — Following the execution deaths of 10 humanitarian aid workers with International Assistance Mission, many aid organizations are concerned about their future. IAM has worked in Afghanistan for 44 years.
CURE International worked side-by-side with IAM for eight years. CURE founder and president Scott Harrison says, "We relied on them when we started for advice and support. Over the years, we've seen our paths cross in many different ways, and they've been very helpful."
According to Harrison, many of the 10 workers had been in their hospital, which makes this situation especially close to home. "It was something that was almost paralyzing when I heard it. We got to know them very well. They're more than just a group of people. We have affection for them. They're people we share a vision with. We share a commitment to the people of Afghanistan."
The victims include Tom Little, an optometrist from New York: he had worked in Afghanistan for 30 years.Karen Woo, 36, a British surgeon: she had given up a job in London to work in Afghanistan. Cheryl Beckett, 32, an American: specialized in nutritional gardening and mother-child health. Thomas Grams, 51, a dentist from Colorado: provided dental care to children in Afghanistan and Nepal. Glen Lapp, 40, a nurse from Lancaster, PA: arrived in Afghanistan in 2008. Dan Terry, 64, had lived in Afghanistan since 1980 with his wife: had three daughters. Daniela Beyer, 35, from the city of Chemnitz, west of Dresden. Brian Carderelli, of Harrisonburg, VA: the videographer for the expedition. The two Afghans were Mahram Ali –a driver, and a man named Jawed.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the executions, saying the group was proselytizing. Harrison says, "Of all the groups we work with–and we probably work with hundreds of groups, I can't think of any group that is more sensitive about not appearing to proselytize than IAM." He added, "And although individually they're deeply committed Christians, they make no effort to pass out Bibles or tracts or in any way make their service they're giving to the people of Afghanistan contingent on them hearing the message of Christ."
In light of recent bombings in Kabul, and now these attacks on Christian aid workers, Harrison says CURE is taking precautions. "It's an on-going process that we have for security. We do it in a very low-key way. We use professionals who volunteer their time to upgrade our security. So, it will never be something that has an end point."
Harrison says their Afghanistan team needs prayer because it was so sudden. "I think many of them are in a daze right now. Most of your listeners have suffered the loss of a loved one, so they have some sense of what these people are going through. We're sending over a team to offer grief counseling."
While IAM officials say they plan to stay in Afghanistan, Harrison is asking people to pray for their work. "Our ministry there is one which has always been very tenuous because of this kind of violence. We need prayer, and they need prayer. How do we continue on honestly serving the Lord, certainly not offending the Afghanis who we've been serving now for eight years."