II. A Cup of Cold Water for Moslem Women
by Bill Hunt
As we undertook our trip through the frontier regions of Northern Pakistan, the black bus periodically braked along the very narrow roads used more intendedly by lumbering ox carts and gala painted rickshaws. We picked up a few occasional villagers who waved wanting to travel in the same direction. Giving rides seemed to be the tribal touch of hospitality in frontier Pakistan.
On the last pickup, our Pakistani driver boarded three women wearing black burgas 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 ranged about 120 degrees.
As the fussing babies in the hot bus cried, I thought about a story I'd heard where a native husband stabbed a young American in the back for trying to help the native wife to her feet when she stumbled and fell. Unsure of relating to these women, I was moved to seek a non-threatening way to help them. The babies continued crying 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" (NIV: Matt. 10:43).
The words of Jesus rang repeatedly in my spirit. I could not succeed in ignoring them to avoid my inner fear. 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 timidly.
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 as a gasoline tanker truck pushed 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 one of the most dangerous points in the Hindu Kush Mountains.
“Freeze!” a man in the front of the bus ordered.
Looking down through my open window, I could make out tiny specks that proved to be trucks and vehicles that dropped in past times all the way to the bottom of the mountain, and remained still. 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 it was God's call.
With one man directing, the other men from the front of the bus one-by-one, step-by-step, hand-over-hand on the seats, moved very slowly back toward the middle of the bus to change the balance of 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 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 burgas and appeared to be quite free in their actions. A dozen cheerful smiles and waves returned 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, he granted me back the gift of life.
(# 2 True Story in series: Life is 100 Million Miracles.)