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A Loving Witness in the Muslim World

In the days leading up to 9-11, fighting in Afghanistan between local groups and then the Taliban resulted in thousands of refugees pouring down into neighboring Peshawar, Pakistan. There they were squashed into tents and mud hovels in refugee camps in intense heat and poor sanitation. J. Dudley Woodberry and his wife Roberta were working in the refugee camps at the time. Woodbury describes what happened in the camps:

Conditions at one camp were harsher than at the others; so Roberta and her class took school supplies to the students so they had more than just blank slates with chalk. Another group of eight workers imported thousands of sandals for the children who ran around with bare feet on the rough parched ground. But they decided that they would also wash their feet as Jesus had. My daughter-in-law joined the group.

For a week they washed every foot with antibacterial soap, anointed with oil, and silently prayed for the child. Then they gave each of them new sandals, a quilt, and a shawl, plus a small bag of flour for every family. At first the sores, pus, pink eye, and dirt were revolting. But then our daughter-in-law felt a deep love as she silently prayed, “Dear Father, this little girl looks like she does not have anyone to care for her. Let my touch feel to her as if you are touching her. May she remember how you touched her this day, and may she seek after you hereafter. Thank you for those who seek you will find you." Many children looked up and shyly smiled.

Sometime later a teacher in one of the tents used for a refugee school asked her class, “Who are the best Muslims?" A girl raised her hand and replied, “the kafirs" (a term meaning unbelievers that is often used by Muslims for Christians). After the teacher recovered from her shock, she asked, "Why?" The young girl replied, "The Muslim fighters killed my father, but the kafirs washed my feet.”

Adapted from Evelyne A. Reisacher, Joyful Witness in the Muslim World, (Baker Academic, 2016), pgs. 112-113.

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