Outside the gate of a United States Army compound was a group of Iraqi citizens who looked like they were trying to gain entry. At the head of what appeared to be a small crowd was a young man beating on the gate. Immediately, a platoon size unit mobilized into action to defend against a possible attacked. When the officer in charge, Second Lieutenant Lars Petersen arrived at the gate, he discovered a man, his wife and relatives had a sick child with them. Lieutenant Petersen opened the gate then ordered the father, mother and infant be immediately transported to the Brigade hospital.
Within fifteen minutes of the family’s arrival, the infant was found to be with an illness that no one on the medical team had been able to diagnose. Her temperature was 104 degree Fahrenheit. All efforts to bring her temperature down had been to no-avail.
As the man and his stood holding each other and in tears, Lieutenant Petersen lay down his M-16 rifle. With his Arabic translator approached the weeping parents. “Would you like to join us in a prayer for your daughter?” They looked then nodded a “Yes”.
Lieutenant Petersen looked up and a nurse, Army Captain Agnes Chavez, and two other nurses came toward the small group. She had on a tray small loaves of bread and cups of a beverage for the weary couple. It seemed odd to Lieutenant Petersen at first that the group sat there eating bread and drinking a warm but the child’s parents had been so stressed to think of food. It was obvious that they had not eaten in a while. When given the opportunity to eat a little was made available, they did so thankfully. Nurse Chavez ministered to the parents’ spirits as well as to their bodies.
Then two of Lieutenant Petersen’s soldiers joined the group to pray for the well-being of the Iraqi couple’s daughter. After two hours of constant unending prayer, an Army physician came before the group to announce that the infant’s temperature was subsiding, that she was out of danger and should recover without any brain damage. With that news, all the participants stood up, held hands and prayed…and cried.
Fifty-five hours of waiting and praying resulted in the infant child’s being able to leave the hospital as a well-baby. Before the man and his wife left, he stood up, raised his voice then said, “I thank Allah for my child’s recovery. I thank you Americans for your goodness to my child and my family. All of my life I had heard Americans are evil and want nothing more than to kill Iraqis. I learned over the last few days that this is not true. I was surprised so many prayed for my child. I was even more surprised when you wept for my daughter. I asked myself ‘why would do that?’ I could believe what I witnessed. Thank you! Thank you! May Allah bless you all!”
Lieutenant Petersen and nurse Captain Chavez came to realize that there is always something one can do in a crisis. Even though seemingly small acts of love and kindness, they can be big as well as significant to someone else.