This weekend one of our old friends, Matthew Williams, was in town. Matthew and his wife Bethany lead Exile International. Exile exists to empower children of war to become leaders for peace.
Matthew pointed us to a recent testimony from Issac and his journey to freedom. Exile is one of the mission organizations Normandy supports and Issac's testimony is a great example of why!
“I was told killing with a gun is nothing. It’s like you haven’t killed. For my initiation, they handed me a machete and told me to kill a man. They said if I refused, they would kill me.”
Isaac was 14 when the Lord’s Resistance Army came to his village in Uganda.
“I told my mom to run,” he says. “I was going to lock the house and catch up, but they came too fast.”
Isaac hid inside. When they torched his house, he ran out and was captured. Forced to become child soldiers, he and many others were given uniforms.
“My friend refused to put on the uniform,” he remembers, “They made me watch as they stabbed him to death with bayonets.”
Isaac put on the uniform. He and two other boys were told to kill a man with machetes.
“The man cried, ‘I’m innocent.’ But the commanders screamed, ‘Kill him, kill him.’ If we didn’t, we would take his place. It was the worst moment of my life.”
He tried to run away many times, but was caught and beaten nearly to death. During one battle, he was shot in the leg, and later forced to keep marching.
“I prayed all the time, ‘God get me out of here. Please get me home.’”
Knowing he would be killed if he got caught again, Isaac planned another escape. He went to fetch water, but didn’t return.
“When they came after me, I hid in a banana plantation,” he says. “I heard one of them say, ‘If we catch him, we’ll cut him into pieces and take him back for meat. We will show everyone this is what happens when you try to escape.’”
Eventually the soldiers gave up their search and left. Isaac could finally go home.
“When I arrived home people were afraid, and told their children to stay away from me. I felt so guilty. At night I dreamt of everything I was forced to do, and I woke up screaming and shouting.”
Then Isaac went to a gathering in his village held by Exile International, which is supported by CBN’s Orphan’s Promise. Through one on one therapy, singing, dancing, and drama, we’ve helped many former child soldiers and war orphans heal from terrible trauma.
“You have brought so much joy back into my life. You helped me know God. Ilearned not to focus on the past, but to look at what is new,” he says.
We helped pay Isaac’s tuition and fees, and enrolled him in a Christian boarding school, where he’s made lots of friends.
“It makes me so happy to be here,” he says. “My school uniform is always clean and fresh, and it smells so nice. The LRA uniform was for doing bad things, and it was always dirty. When I put on my school uniform, my thoughts are good, and I am so proud to wear it.”
We also gave Isaac a Bible, which he reads as often as he can.
He says, “Reading my Bible brings me so much peace. I know that God is the reason I survived. Without Him I would be dead. He knows the plans He has for me, and I know that I am completely free and forgiven. I appreciate all your help. You will be blessed for it. My future is bright because of you.”
You can donate to Exile here.