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Former LRA child soldier finds hope in the Gospel

Healing a Child Soldier’s Heart: Jonah recounts his rescue and salvation story.

One of multitudes of Children abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) at a tender age has told the story of his capture, eventual release and encounter with Christ.

Only identified as Jonah, he was taken captive with many other boys when he was just 6 years old. He was ordered to kill and forced to fight.

“I heard stories of rebels that kill everyone and burn entire villages,” Jonah told CBN News. “So, when our neighbor screamed, ‘They are here,’ I ran and hid all day, but they still found me.”

Jonah explained, “I was the youngest among them. We walked for days then arrived at their base. The commander gave me a big stick and ordered me to kill a man. If I didn’t do it, they would kill me. I beat him and beat him, but I was so small and weak he would not die.  Then I said, ‘Just let me die too, I am too young to kill this man.’”

Led by 56-year-old Joseph Kony, the Lord’s Resistance Army is responsible for Africa’s longest running conflict. At its peak, the rebels’ brutal insurgency displaced nearly two million people in large areas of northern Uganda.

To date, the conflict has seen more than 10,000 people killed in massacres, while twice that number of children have been abducted by the LRA and forced to work as soldiers, porters and sex slaves.

On the fateful day, Jonah said the LRA leaders gathered all the boys in his villages and told them not to cry or shout, but only to laugh and celebrate what was about to happen.

Jonah said, “They made the man lie down and cut him in pieces as he begged for mercy. There was so much blood. My heart cried out for him, but I kept it inside. I lost all my good memories, and only saw the madness around me.”

Forced to fight for the LRA, Jonah was badly injured during a crossfire. The soldiers asked him if he wanted “to rest.”

Jonah told CBN Reporter, Dan Reany, “When they ask that, it means they’ll make you rest forever. I said, ‘I can walk.’ I prayed and asked God to take me home. I knew it was out of my hands, I could no longer do anything.

Nobody took care of Jonah, so when his wound didn’t heal, a soldier took him to an empty field to kill him. But instead of shooting him, the soldier let him go.

“I wanted to get as far away as possible,” said Jonah.  “I stayed in abandoned huts as I fled, and everywhere I went, I was in so much pain. At night, I woke up and heard a voice saying, ‘You have to keep on going.’  I looked to see who spoke, but there was no one. Now I know it was God.”

In one abandoned hut, Jonah found beans and a few matches, and managed to start a fire.  An army fighting the rebels saw the smoke, and surrounded the hut.  When they found Jonah alone, they took him to safety. Jonah went back to his village, reunited with his family, and joined a Peace Club.  The club was started by Exile International, a ministry supported by CBN’s Orphan’s Promise.  Through the Peace Club, he learned about the God who saved him.

Jonah said, “Even before I knew Him, He took care of me. I have given my life to Christ and I know there is nothing I have outside of God. You didn’t find me by accident. God sent you to me, and your love and acceptance has helped heal my heart.”

The Christian media outlet enrolled Jonah in a boarding school where he is doing very well.

“My life is complete,” said Jonah. “You have cared for me like a parent and given me everything I need. There’s nothing I can give you in return, but I pray that God will bless every person who has been part of helping me.”

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