Happy New Year everyone!  I was having dinner recently with a few friends.  One of the couples, who are devout Christian believers, lives in an Islamic state where there is severe persecution of Christian believers.  During our meal, he invited me to come to visit and minister in his adopted country.  I don’t know whether I shall ever be able to do so.  It’s not that I am afraid to go, even though I have to admit that I do not even look forward to going to the dentist for a cleaning.  Nevertheless, as Christian believers, we recognize that being in God’s will is always safer than being outside of God’s will.  However, since the dawn of 2013, I have read of some terrible atrocities from Islamist extremists.

In one example, the British newspaper Mail reported yesterday that six female aid workers and a male physician were murdered by Taliban gunmen in Pakistan on January 1st.  What was the reason that the seven aid workers were murdered?  The killings sought to stop their work in administering polio vaccinations.  Police reports indicated that most of the women killed were between 20 and 22 years of age.  The murder of these aid workers comes after nine other health workers died in a series of attacks two weeks ago.  Those nine health workers also were part of the national polio vaccination drive in Pakistan.

The most recent murders took place in an area about 45 miles northwest of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.  Their aid agency ran a school and a dispensary in the area, and helped vaccinate children against polio.  The aid agency has now instructed its 160 other staff to suspend their work following the murders.  For those of us for whom polio is a distant memory, we forget that this disease can cripple or kill within hours of infection.  Prior to the development of the Salk and Sabin vaccines in the 1950s, children and teens would suffer terribly from the disease’s effects.  In the 1952 polio epidemic in the United States, more than three thousand died, and over 21,000 were left in some form of serious paralysis.  Even today, there is no known cure for polio.  Pakistan is one of the three countries where polio is still endemic, and has the highest rate of new cases in the world (followed by Afghanistan and Nigeria).  Last summer, the Taliban commander warlord, Hafiz Gul Bahadur, banned polio vaccinations in North Waziristan tribal area just days before 161,000 children were to be inoculated against the disease.

I don’t know exactly why the Taliban desires polio to spread in Pakistan.  Of course, vaccination was not used in the 7th century.  Perhaps it was because the Obama “Administration” used a polio vaccination campaign as cover to kill Osama bin Laden.  Perhaps it would have been more prudent for the Obama “Administration” to keep the details of the OBL raid secret (as they are capable of doing with the facts surrounding the September 11, 2012, attacks on the Benghazi, Libya, facility, or the “Fast and Furious” gun-running scheme).  Of course, if I were mildly cynical, I would remember that there was an election coming up at the time.  But Obama could have avoiding endangering the lives of many children in Pakistan, and now, the Obama “Administration” has given the Taliban an excuse to distrust anyone involved in polio vaccination campaigns.  Of course, the Taliban said that they did not carry out those murders.  However, according to the Mail, Taliban leaders have repeatedly denounced the polio vaccination programs as a plot to sterilize people or to spy on Moslems.  Of course, it is the women and children of Pakistan who are the true victims here.  They have no voice, and no means or hope of escaping these barbaric Taliban monsters.  Yet we are encouraged by the words of the Lord Jesus, who taught us in St. Matthew’s Gospel, 18: 10: “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.”  Please pray for the women and children of Pakistan.