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Stephen A. Peterson
While on duty in Mosul, Iraq, United States Army First Lieutenant Carrie Whiteside, a nurse, walked her section of the hospital checking on patients. An Iraqi woman injured during a roadside bombing lay alone without contact with nearby American military personnel. Though Islamic the woman had a Christian Bible on her night stand.
“Nurse, may I have a word with you, please?” she asked.
“Most certainly, may I help you?” responded nurse Whiteside.
“Yes, please. I have some questions I wish to ask you. Could you get me a Quran?
I am not a Christian. Because I did not have a Quran, I read this Bible. I read in this Bible where Jesus, your Christ, said: ‘It would be better that a millstone be tied about a person’s neck than to ruin a young child.’ Why does He say this? What does He mean?”
Lieutenant Whiteside smiled. “Well, ma’am, I believe Jesus said that because He knew children are easily taught things. Those who teach children bad things or evil things must be condemned to the worst punishment possible. Jesus also said those responsible for children must take care of them. Children grow up to be religious leaders, presidents, military leaders, and judges. They can affect the lives of others for good or bad.”
“Okay,” she lit up. “I like that message. We Iraqis treasurer our children. I am surprised Christians have the same belief. I also noticed that Jesus was born of woman. We have Jesus in Islam but He is a prophet not God. Only Allah is God.”
“Yes, I understand,” responded Lieutenant Whiteside. “In Christianity, Jesus came to save humankind from sin. He could have come in any form he came to earth. In Christianity, we believe it is a great thing that He came in the form of a helpless human baby. In this way, humanity can recognize Him as one of us in every way except that He was sinless. Christians, therefore, believe Jesus to be a prophet and much, much more—God Himself”
“I am sorry but that is very difficult for me to understand. So Christmas is for children. Is that why He was born?”
“Well, not exactly.”
“I do not understand.”
“Yes, He was born on the first Christmas many years. But Christmas is not just for children. Many people in the Christian world it seems that way because of the presents, Christmas trees, Christmas scene with the Baby Jesus in a manger, and children happily opening gifts. But Christmas is celebrated by all ages of people because God came to save everyone. So that is why we Christians of all ages celebrate Christmas.”
“Ma’am, I will leave now but I will return with your Quran.”
“Yes, thank you! While you are away, I will read a little more of your Bible. Maybe I will learn little more about Christianity. When you return, may I ask you some more questions, if you do not mind?”
“Certainly. I should be able to do that. I will return shortly and we’ll talk.”
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