In May 2011, I sat on the lawn at Biola University in southern California watching my oldest son graduate. The Commencement speaker that year was a woman named Libby Little. She and her husband Tom had spent the previous 33 years in Afghanistan — bringing medical care and eyecare to remote villages high in the mountains. They served the Afghan people, long before many of us could find Afghanistan on a map.
In August 2010 — just nine months before Libby Little stood behind that Commencement podium — Tom and nine other aid workers were ambushed and killed by the Taliban; their bodies riddled with bullets. The dead included six Americans, two Afghans, a Briton, and a German.
The group had spent nearly three weeks trekking across high mountains with donkeys and backpacks, sleeping under the stars and in shepherds’ huts by night. They traveled from village to village, ministering to the sick, the injured, and the suffering. At the end of their journey they returned to their Land Rovers only to find that the river had swollen during their absence and they had to wait to cross it. As they waited, they died.
As Libby Little reflected on her husband’s murder and that violent day, those of us in the crowd were moved by the injustice, the violence, and the senselessness. Horror, helplessness, and even anger crossed our minds. Yet Libby, resolute and faith-filled, proceeded to remind us (and the graduating class of that year) that her beloved husband Tom didn’t give his life for Christ in August 2010. He gave it for Christ many, many years earlier.
He was a bondslave of Christ; a slave by choice and a slave for life. May such conviction take hold of us all.