This is a Letter I sent out on September 25, 2001
PATA-Potato and Products Aid Alliance To Africa
"Bringing Life Abundantly"
805 North Eve Drive
Idaho Falls, Idaho 83401
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
When we see the horrific pictures of devastation and death of September 11th replayed over and over again on the news, the gentle commandment of Jesus Christ to "love our enemies" seems laughable.
How can we afford to love people who are bent on our destruction, even at the cost of their own lives?
I certainly didn't feel that way in the first days after the bombing of the World Trade Center.
Yet, I cannot discount what the God I believe in said. Jesus was no air headed idealist. He knew that the time would come when wars could not be clearly fought against shadowy cowards who would hide behind innocent targets to avoid justice.
As we have seen on the nightly news, we Americans now know that the people of Afghanistan have been decimated by internal and external wars, disease, hunger and ignorance. As one commentator said, "What more can anyone do to us that we haven't already done to ourselves?"
Therefore, waging a conventional war against the country that hides these monsters would be counter productive. It would strengthen the argument that the United States is the Great Satan. The ashes piled on top of the already smoking rubble would only breed more terrorists to menace the future.
These survivors would feel justified by our violence towards them to taking more lives.
But what if we did the unexpected?
What if we took the words of Jesus seriously?
What if all the Christian churches and their aid groups openly proclaimed to the people of Afghanistan, "Look, your country sent people to murder thousands of our innocents, but we forgive you. We are willing to build you schools and hospitals, to dig wells for clean sources of water, to feed and clothe your poor and hungry, at no costs and with no strings attached."
"All we ask if that you declare yourselves at peace with us by refusing to hide or support Bin Laden, and that you allow us to practice our own religion as we minister in your country."
This would cause several things to happen:
1) It would prove to that nation and to the world that America is not out to destroy the people of Afghanistan. We are not at war with starving women and brain washed children. We have seen the images of oppression and fear coming from that nation and we want to help them seek a better life. They don't have to be Christians. They just have to NOT be terrorists!
2) It would separate the crazies from the sane. What Muslim would feel obligated to join Bin Laden's call for a "holy war" if Americans were feeding and healing their people?
3) It would provoke a quiet grassroots revolution against the terrorists and those who support them. How long will this man last when the people see his wealth supporting war and death in the face of their sufferings; especially when the "evil" Americans are giving their all to help them?
4) It would remove any moral high ground Bin Laden thinks he has against America. Then the whole world would see him and his kind for what they are-bullies, cowards and terrorists.
The military has its role to play. But, when you study military history, even in that part of the world, many ancient conquerors won more with giving bread than swinging the sword. What would happen if President Bush declared a reward of aid for the people as well as the bounty for Bin Laden?
In any case, here are three actions every Christian church can do to wage this battle and win:
1) Fast and Pray
What if every church declared one day a week for fasting and prayer for peace in the world, the healing of Afghanistan and justice for the terrorists? The force of that action in unity, regardless of denomination, would change things in our hearts and uncover the unseen powers behind our enemies.
2) Give To Aid the People of Afghanistan
Take the money saved from the weekly fasting and give it to your church's local or national aid group on behalf of the people of that nation. If every Christian gave up one meal once a week to support this cause millions could be raised easily.
3) Write Letters Expressing Love For the People of Afghanistan
The children can all do this. Then send them to their embassies, to their organizations, to their countries. I wish I had a plane to drop them over their nation, just to let them know that the Christians of the United States are following their Master in forgiveness and outreach.
Our own aid group, PATA has been organized to bring aid to Africa. But, we will also set aside 30% of whatever we have to help rebuild Afghanistan. We ask other groups to do the same.
Let us show the world the truth that we have forgotten: that Love, Kindness and Faith are more powerful than Hate and Cruelty. We were shown the political power of non violent resistance and compassion when Ghandi, Martin Luther King JR and Caesar Chavez rocked the world with their peaceful protest of forgiveness. Bin Laden called us crusaders. Very well, let us live up to the title by showing him the strength of Christian love. If we do this we will win this war and change the hearts and minds of the world forever.
Pastor Trimelda C. McDaniels
PATA International Coordinator