A little over a year ago, my church lost one of our family. Ronnie Smith was teaching English in Libya when he was gunned down while out on a morning jog. Ronnie, his wife Anita and young son had lived in Benghazi for over a year and prior to that he was a pastor at The Stone. It was such a heart-breaking time and a reminder of what many people overseas face while loving people. (Side note: His widow Anita is pretty amazing and you can see a short clip of her forgiving the attackers on CNN here).
So when I heard about a story based off of real life events in Afghanistan, I become interested immediately.
All she needed were stamps and signatures. Marie and her translator stood in the government offices in Kabul, Afghanistan to complete the paperwork for her new literacy project. The women in her hometown, the northern village of Shehktan, would learn to read. But a spattering of gun shots exploded and an aid worker crumpled. Executed. On the streets of Kabul. Sending shockwaves through the community.
The foreign personnel assessed their options and some, including Marie’s closest friend, Carolyn, chose to leave the country. Marie and others faced the cost and elected to press forward. But the execution of the lone aid worker was just the beginning. When she returned home to her Afghan friends in Shehktan to begin classes, she felt eyes watching her, piercing through her scarf as she walked the streets lined in mud brick walls.
It took only 14 days for her project, her Afghan home, her community-all of it-to evaporate in an eruption of dust, grief, and loss. Betrayed by someone she trusted. Caught in a feud she knew nothing about, and having loved people on both sides, Marie struggled for the answer: How could God be present here, working here, in the soul of Afghanistan?
Based on real life events, including the killing of Gayle Williams on October 20, 2008, this story shares about many of the actions taken during turbulent times and what led to many workers leaving the places and communities they were serving. While fiction, it reads much like a memoir of events spanning over a two week period.
While I appreciated the story, since it went through each day, it was a slower read for me, but the last part of the book really picked up, as it dealt with the intense happenings surrounding the real life events (I don’t want to give away anything else, so I’ll leave it at that!). If you’ve seen the end of Argo, just think the intense last few moments! It was an honest and real life look at work overseas (and it reminded me to pray for those out on the field!)
Here’s a bit more about the author: Kate McCord, a protective pseudonym, lived and worked in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2010. During her years in country, she worked as a humanitarian aid worker, delivering projects to benefit the people of Afghanistan. She also learned the local language and developed deep and lasting friendships with local Afghans. After evacuating from her home in Afghanistan, Kate transitioned into a mentoring, training, consulting and coaching role to other workers serving in the region. Prior to moving to Afghanistan, she worked in the international corporate community as a business process and strategy consultant. Today, Kate serves Christ through writing, speaking, mentoring and conducting workshops and seminars.
What are some true stories you’ve been encouraged by recently?
(Thank you to River North for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)