I was nearly twelve when it happened. It was almost my time to begin as a one of those entrusted with guns. I thought maybe it had something to do with that. The soldiers lined us up and began to sort through our ranks. I saw they were choosing the worst of us, the weakest. I was chosen because I had a limp from a falling rock in the quarry. I tried to stand straight so I would not be hit but my shirt was too tight. Some years my clothes hung loose, some years they fit almost right. That day my clothes pinched my shoulders. I only had the clothes that were on my back. When I turned twelve they would have given me a real soldier’s outfit.
A man with a smile walked around us and took pictures. He put his hand on my shoulder. I shuddered. I still remember my friends. Most of them had painful sickness that people say came from laying with the soldiers. I don’t like it when men smile at me now. The commanders told us we had been cast off from the army and this man would soon take us because we were no good any more.
Several moon cycles later I was still in the army. I wondered some days what would happen when I left. The army was almost my only memory. Then I became very sick. My mind wandered and I cried for my father to come back and take me home. On the day the man came for me I could not get up when the rope beat its tattoo on my side. Later they piled my hot body into a truck. I lay among the others while we were driven to the place I now live. I think we were all very sick.
It was like a dream. Children from the new place came and helped me down from the truck. They looked very fat so I knew I was dreaming. At first we shared the beds of these nice, fat children because there was no place for us. Their beds were very soft. They were kind and so were the adults. I did not see any soldiers. Every day they fed us rice porridge and gave us medicine. I was told this was my new home.
They told me about a man named Jesus who loves me and a Father who lives in heaven who sent Jesus to look for me. They said when He found me He brought me here, to this place, just because He loves me so much. At first I could not believe, but then I did not die when I knew I should have. And the people were so kind. I had three meals a day and warm blankets, a change of clothes and new shoes. I even used soap for the first time in my life. I wept many tears of joy at night when I was in my new bed.
Now I have been here one year. At night we all gather to sing songs of thanks to this Father in heaven and His Son who came to be with us. We feel Him so near us when we sing and pray. I have decided that I will follow this Jesus. He is also a soldier I am told, but He is stronger because He is love, not hate. I do not understand all of this but I know that I have been rescued and it is God in heaven that I want to follow. I am now part of His good army.