The civil war in Liberia has produced many stories of tragedy and suffering. Why do men treat each other this way? What is the source of all this hate? Here is a true up-to-date story of a miracle of escape, as told to us by Joedafi
Escape to Monrovia
Months of hunger had turned us into walking skeletons. I saw the sad faces of once-happy friends, and sorrows filled my heart. Why were we suffering like this in our land? There were no vehicles at all on the road. Besides, even if you saw a vehicle, you dreaded to stop it, for fear of the soldiers which it might contain.Anything could happen to you at any time. We had to cover the 72 kilometre journey on foot. That wasn't our worry - but safety. We decided to use the shortest route to Monrovia - three of us young people about 20 years of age. We walked on and on in silence, afraid that our voices would attract attention. Through the bush we went.
At one place in the bush, we came upon rotting bodies. By now, their children would be crying out for them, hoping that their dad or mum would return after the chaos. As we passed by these disgusting scenes which had been committed by fellow human beings, the shortness of life came strongly to me. I had remembered Psalm 23 (a part of the Bible), and kept going back to it as we went along. I had a feeling that we were not safe. I prayed, "Lord Jesus, please save me!"
Caught by the rebels
I was hearing voices, then suddenly we heard 'paw!' 'paw!'Those were gun shots! Eh! What's happening? We were in rebel leader Charles Taylor's camp! Quickly we dashed under the bushes in attempt to hide, but it was too late. Before we had time to run away, soldiers jumped on us, beating us! They accused us of spying for their enemies, and committing various crimes. They searched us harshly. We were accused of being recruits in the late President's army. Of course, I was just an ordinary citizen. I wasn't sure for my friends. One of them was accused of being of the Mandingo tribe, who were not regarded as citizens until Doe's regime. Because of their loyalty to the Doe government, the Mandingoes had become enemies to Charles Taylor. He wished to exterminate all Mandingoes. Any who fell into the hands of Taylor's rebels were to be killed.
Murdered as we watched
My friend fought the rebels, but he was only one, and had no other means with which to fight. The rebel soldiers broke his arms. We watched on with horror as they detached his arms from his body with a sharp machete. But the worst was to follow. In an instant they slit through his throat. The man's head rolled off his body like a ball. My stomach churned!! Could human beings be so inhuman? What were they going to do with us? Were we going to face the same fate?
In answer, Psalm 23 came to mind. Through this journey, I had been reciting it. Now I knew I must hang on to the words I could remember: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall lack nothing". I continued to pray to the Lord.
Then the commander said that since we were not Mandingoes, we should be put in jail. He would prescribe a different type of punishment for us at their camp. The jail was in a very dark place in the middle of human bones and skulls in the centre of a thick forest.
Terrible scenes were all around us. I was sure if they kept us in this place for a week, we would be dead anyway. Every morning we were brought outside and offered some green cassava leaves to eat. A few days later, we were taken to another place deep in the forest. Here, I began to feel that I would be set free by the Almighty God. I'm not sure how I came to have such a feeling, but it was ever there. This thought was quite wild, because I witnessed the soldiers' disregard for life. They made us drink from human skulls, bury dead bodies, and live on leaves.Yet Psalm 23 was giving me the feeling that out of this valley of the shadow of death, God would deliver me. In the past, I read my Bible daily and went to church. Now I believed that God would do something and prove Himself. I had believed in the Lord, and trusted Him to lead me in my life. I took faith in the teaching I heard, that the Lord delivers those who trust Him, and commit their ways to Him.
The silent voice spoke to me
Truly Jesus saves! While laying down one evening, as I was dozing off to sleep, I heard a silent voice call my name, commanding me to rise up and walk away from my captors. It was so commanding, I obeyed instantly, and walked past sleeping guards out onto the main road. I walked on spell-bound, and passed by many rebel soldiers along the road, but not one of them dared ask me any question. I walked through many check-points and wasn't stopped once.
Safe at last
After a half-day journey on foot, I came upon a soldier who was struggling to get his car started. He called me to give a hand to push the car. After it started, he gave me a ride the rest of the way to the free port of Monrovia. There I was fortunate to board a ship for Ghana, where I now live as a refugee.
Truly, Jesus is alive and saves!
I have found new life in Jesus and have forgiven those soldiers. Though it was not easy, but I understand from the Bible that I should forgive and let go of bitterness.