Q. A Cup of Cold Water rings a scriptural promise. Could a male traveler dare to overcome a taboo and relate to Muslim women wearing black burkas?
|PRAY FOR MUSLIM WOMEN IN BURKA|
Photo by Bill Hunt (c) 2010.
We stopped for a few occasional villagers here and there who waved to travel in the same direction. Giving rides seemed the tribal touch of hospitality in rural Pakistan.
On the last pickup, our Pakistani driver boarded three women wearing black burkas which covered their heads and bodies full-length. They carried two little children on their arms, one a young baby.
These women sat down quietly in the back of the bus apart from the others. They selected one seat behind me just across the aisle. The children, however, soon began to fuss. On a very hot, typical summer day, the temperature broiled about 120 degrees.
As the fussing babies in the stifling bus cried, I thought about a story I'd heard where a husband knifed a young American visitor in the back for trying to help the native wife to her feet when she stumbled and fell.
The babies cried.
Unsure of relating to these women, I sought a non-threatening way to help them. The babies continued fussing from the heat, and the women nervously tried to calm them.
"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward” (Matt. 10:43 NIV).
The words of Jesus rang repeatedly in my spirit. I could not succeed in ignoring them to avoid my inner fear. Finally, I unscrewed my red thermos cap, poured it with cold water, and daringly turned to hold it out toward the women.
"Here, a cup of water in the name of Jesus for your babies," I spoke softly.
Quickly, they took the thermos cup and gave the drink to their babies who stopped crying. Unexpectedly, the women let their veils fall open, and I was most surprised to see their youthful beauty. They were very pretty. One spoke in clear English.
"Thank you," she said sweetly.
The women began to chatter busily among themselves as women do.
Our bus suddenly lurched sideways.
I saw a gasoline tanker truck push pass in a flash forcing us off the main road.
The frontier roadbeds are paved only wide enough for the wheel track of one vehicle. Two vehicles oncoming from opposite directions “played chicken” as a matter of custom. The first to flash his headlights took the right of way. We braked and skidded to a stop in the side gravel, scoring second best.
Something felt very wrong.
Our front left wheel hung out over the abyss, an 8000 foot cliff, balancing at a dangerous point in the Hindu Kush Mountains.
“Freeze!” a man in the front of the bus ordered.
I looked down through my open window.
I could make out tiny specks, trucks and vehicles that dropped in past times all the way to the bottom of the mountain.
I surrendered my life now to the hands of the Lord.
"Jesus, if I live I live and if I die I die."
I quietly prayed in his name. Fear kept me from saying much more. I knew this was God's call.
With one man directing, the other men from the front of the bus moved one-by-one, step-by-step, hand-over-hand along the seats. They crept very slowly back toward the mid section of the bus to balance the vehicle hanging over the cliff.
The Pakistani driver, under direction, very, very carefully pulled the shift lever and changed gears.
He slowly accelerated the gas pedal, keeping his other foot on the brake. The engine pulled against the brakes. The driver reversed the bus inch-by-inch on to the solid roadbed to all four wheels.
A sigh of relief sounded through the bus.
A beautiful day now blessed us. Around one bend in the road, we waved at mountain women bathing clothed, waist deep in a stream-fed pool of flowing water.
Unlike the desert village women, the mountain women did not wear burkas and appeared to be quite free in their actions. They returned a dozen cheerful smiles and waves to us as we passed. This friendly scene marked such a contrast to the precarious experience of just a few miles earlier.
I reflected within my thoughts.
In impossible danger, I yielded myself to God. His Word proved true. He cares for us.
In exchange for a cup of water, God granted me back the Gift of Life.
– Bill Hunt © 2010