Tom Fox decided to join CPT as a result of reflecting on what he valued most in life and what he hoped to contribute in the aftermath of the devastating attack on September 11, 2001. He shared the same vision as Quaker leader George Fox - a shadowy sea of chaos, and flowing over it, a sea of light. Tom said, "I want very much to find some way to pull us out of the darkness and move the world (even if it is the movement of one human being) towards the light."
That one human being has moved towards the light, and the world has moved with him.
Tom started work in Iraq during a time of shadowy chaos. After Multinational Forces bombed the city of Fallujah, opposition groups began kidnapping foreign contractors then journalists and aid workers. Some were brutally killed. It was during that time that Tom asked to go to Iraq.
The Iraq team talked about kidnapping, about what could happen to them, about the dangers and risks to themselves and to their Iraqi partners, whether they should stay in Iraq. Tom wrote, "If I am ever called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice in love of enemy, I trust that God will give me the grace to do so."
Tom's trust was not misplaced. God gave Tom that grace.
Pearl Hoover, a Mennonite pastor and member of Tom's support community, reminds us that "Tom was not exceptional; he was an ordinary man. What is exceptional is that he listened to God. When Jesus said, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,' Tom took him seriously. This is nothing more than is asked of any of us who claim Jesus as our Savior and Guide."
The question now is who will take Tom's place?
Jesus said, "Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." (John 12:24). Tom has died. Let us nurture those seeds of compassion and courage.