who am i?

"I write for the unlearned about things in which I am unlearned myself." - CS Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

General Butt Naked

Joshua Milton Blahyi  aka General Butt Naked was a feared and ruthless, blood thirsty warlord in Liberia during the Civil war. He was also ordained as a priest over his tribes men when he was eleven. The 'General' went into battle as an act of revenge, after Rebels videotaped their torture and murder of Liberian President Samuel Doe, a member of his tribe.
He would go into battles striped of everything but a pair of leather shoes and his Ak-47, thus the name 'General Butt Naked'. Some of his boys went in naked with him while some dressed up in women's clothes and colored wigs. He partook in and led several rituals that saw young innocent children sacrificed, their blood drained out and body parts butchered for he and his followers to feast on before every battle. This practice was their insurance against death. A deal with the devil; cannibalism and human sacrifice in exchange for power.

He recruited child soldiers as young as nine years old, and traded blood diamonds for guns and cocaine. Cocaine that he fed the young boys with, draining every emotion out of them as he led them out on killing sprees, using severed heads as a football sometimes. The 'General' destroyed lives, caused pain and ruined hope.

Today General Butt Naked is Pastor Joshua Milton Blahyi.
After years of a close bond with the devil(he claimed to have nightly conversations with the devil) He had a blinding vision of Christ, one that changed his life, that put an immediate stop to the sacrifices, and a distance between he and his followers. One that haunted him and tortured him as he struggled with the fact of what he was and the truth of what he was meant to be.
Today he runs a rehabilitation center for ex-child soldiers, he goes around Liberia as an evangelist preaching the message of redemption. He knows he must pay for what he's done and has expressed willingness to face the International Criminal Court at The Hague and be tried for war crimes.

How easy is it to forgive? For stealing, for lying, for cheating, for betraying, for cutting the line and going ahead of us at the payment till? Not easy. Harder to forgive when a person has eaten your child, kidnapped your child and made him kill, killed your mother and your brothers, raped your sister and your daughters.

Maybe we can forgive, but can we really forget? I watched a documentary on the 'general' and I was torn between two emotions, joy for his salvation and pain for lives that were ruined and cut short.
I can't imagine how hard it must be for his country to forgive him(although he was pardoned by the Liberia's TRC)
Seeing them watch him preach repentance, teaches me a lesson in forgiveness, change and God not writing anyone off. No matter how gruesome your sins are and how far gone you are, he still leaves the door of hope and redemption open to us. He really means it when he says "...Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." Isaiah 1:18
There isn't any human logic to that.

Thank God for the change in his life. But then, only the strong can truly forgive and forget, and seat under his sermon without seeing pictures of him as he was. It's easier for me to wipe the tears off my face as i hear about his past and see his redemption... but how emotional and forgiving would i be if i lived through a war in Liberia, if i lost a loved one to his ruthlessness?
Makes me think how the Christians and Apostles must have felt when Saul became Paul. How many people grumbled about his acceptance into the gathering of the saints. How many people read his letters and heard his messages with a flash of him giving the command for Steven to be stoned to death, and many other Christians?

Pastor Joshua Milton Blahyi's life is a story of redemption, from the darkest night into the light of truth; the power of change, a transformed heart and the length, breath, and weight of forgiveness.

“The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.”C.S Lewis

7 comments :

  1. you know...this stuff beats me..so much that I almost resent Christ's love..but then something strikes my heart - although we may think otherwise, we are inherently as evil as this guy (only that God in his mercy has not exposed us to circumstances that will bring out this beastly nature in us)

    So, I realise forgiveness is not just a rule, it is an appreciation that Christ overlooked our similarly evil potential

    I pray God grants his victims (direct and indirect) strength to forgive him.

    Ironically, if the innocent victims fail to forgive him, they won't escape hell...again may God grant them grace to forgive

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  2. Ahhhh, this is a really difficult one.

    I think there's nothing God cannot forgive but I feel he should serve punishment for his crimes

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  3. It is easy to forgive when we are not directly involved.

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  4. I could only sigh when I read this. I think the strength to forgive such a harsh crime can only come from God Himself. Forgiveness is an affair in which God holds our hands and leads us, even through tears, to do it. There's a scripture that says, "the peace of God which passes all human understanding will guard our hearts and mind." Forgiveness brings this kind of peace where onlookers will even be confused how it can be so.

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  5. With such atrocities, it can be more difficult to forgive and forget. maybe if the perp faces justice first. God help them.

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  6. God's ways indeed are not our ways, I am given to believe that even when he was running around "butt naked," he had already being forgiven! Jesus's sacrifice @ Calvary paid eternally for our sins, we are all forgiven but its now up to us to accept this forgiveness!

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  7. I think of the apostle Paul, who was first Saul, who killed hundreds and hundreds christians. With Jesus, anything is possible. but, we can forgive but sometimes it hard, very hard to forget....

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