Some months back I read a story that underlined the importance of the Bible in our world today. It was a story about Bao. Bao was a guerilla soldier. At 17 years of age he was accepted into Khmer Rouge. He was deeply affected by war and the movement he was part of. He saw his best friend being shot; his girlfriend raped and strangled and the only possible way for him to survive these atrocities was by chewing leaves with narcotic effects he found in the jungle. They gave him a momentary dream-world he could escape to, but when the effects wore off he was back in a living hell.
One day his platoon ambushed a South Vietnamese patrol. Only one enemy survived. They lined him up for an execution and gave him a last request, but instead of asking for a cigarette as most did, he asked them to read out a passage from a book he had in his pocket.
Bao took out the book and read: “And Jesus said…” He didn’t get any further. Suddenly bombs rained down – they were under fire. Bao threw himself to the ground to seek cover and survived the attack, but the book was gone. The next day he approached his leader: “What did Jesus say?”
His leader looked at him, shocked. Bao continued: “Listen, it must have been really important since that man wanted to hear these words before he died.”
His leader was furious and said he would report this. Now Bao knew he was in deep trouble. On their walk back he became really ill and had diarrhoea. His platoon took a break beneath a large tree while he could “step aside” to relieve himself. While he was “doing his business” he heard a loud explosion and when he returned he found everybody dead. A bomb had hit the tree and killed his entire platoon. He was the sole survivor.
He was a soldier for another four years, but every day he thought: “What did Jesus say?”
After a few years he ended up in Saigon, where he found a Bible on a dead person and throughout his journey from Saigon to Hanoi he read the Bible from cover to cover. Bao described it like this:
“I could finally read the words that Jesus said and I decided I wanted to die for those words as well. I was spared by God even though I was a sinner. Diarrhoea saved me. God sent it to save me. Otherwise I would have been blown to pieces like my platoon. But God wanted to save me and spared my life so that I could hear what Jesus said.”
Just think about how God is working through his word, the Bible. Bao was transfixed by three plain words: “And Jesus said…”
We live in a world without respect for the Bible. People are not interested in “What Jesus said”. People want meaning in life. We want our life to matter. We want it to count, but don’t know where to look. The answer is closer than we anticipate. The answer is found in the Bible.
The Bible tells us how God loves humanity so much that he was willing to sacrifice his own son.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Bao understood this mind-blowing truth. He was saved by God, despite the life he had been leading. God bestowed his forgiveness and mercy on him.
I am not a guerilla soldier. I haven’t actually been to war. But just as Bao I have realised that I am a sinner saved by grace. His Word helps me through all the phases of life and at the same time it challenges me to live a life of witness to the Word. Are you challenged by the words that Jesus said?
Captain Thomas Schou Andersen
Norway, Iceland and Færoes Territory
Thomas is the corps officer at Halden/Tistedal, Norway