I was forced to kill. I remember the first time… it changed me.
My name is Baraka. I was 14 years old when I was abducted and taken into the forest. I was trained to fight, trained to shoot, I was forced to kill. I remember the first time… it changed me. We did not want to be killers. If we refused to obey, they would kill you and your friends. We saw this happen. We only wanted to be children.
At 16, I was taken by a different rebel group during an ambush. They put me in a hole in the ground for one week with no food or water. I thought my life was over. I thought, ‘God, why have you brought me here to die?’ But later, I was able to escape.
I found my way to the UN and they gave me food and clothes. But, there were many nightmares. Too many nightmares – in the day and the night. Too many bad memories.
They saw me for more than what I had done.
Eventually, I was taken to Exile International’s Trauma Healing Center. It took time, but my life and my mind got better. They cared for me, they loved me, and they showed me (in words and actions) God’s love.
They saw me for more that what I had done – for more than what was done to me. I was seen and treated as a loved child of God. They believed in me – they believed in my future. For once, I had hope.
We met for counseling and had trauma care groups using music (my favorite), dance, and drama. Through these groups, my friends and I were healing. We were getting better. Through the programs, I was able to return to school! We also learned peace-building and learned about leadership. I graduated as a Young Peacemaker not as a former child soldier.
We replicated the program that transformed our lives.
God is good and my story gets better every day. After graduating, I knew I was saved for a reason… for a purpose. I wanted to help others – to give others what I was given. So, two other graduates and I started a care program in our town. We replicated the program that transformed our lives.
Today, 86 rescued child soldiers are healing their wounds of trauma in this program. We give them a safe place to heal. We believe in them and their futures. They have counseling, peace-building, and conflict resolution activities. We are discipling each of them and their lives are changing!
But, still… we wanted to do more dreaming.
What if rebel fighters could be changed by the love & forgiveness of Jesus?
What if rebel fighters could be changed by the love & forgiveness of Jesus? So I went to them… started meeting with guys carrying guns every week. They, too, wanted something more. So, we bring them bibles. We share the words of Jesus. We invite them to another way of living. Just as I was redeemed, they, too, can be redeemed… transformed.
God saved me for a reason. I am a son of God. I am loved and I am grateful. Now… I want to say ‘Thank You.’
Thank you for believing in me…
Thank you for believing in me… for believing in us. We will never forget what you have done for us. Because of you and because of our loving Father… we live! And, we will pay it forward. We will see lives and communities changed.
By His grace,