Last night before I went to bed I read an article in Men's Journal about former MTV mogul Tom Freston (who brought us Beavis and Butthead and South Park) and work he's doing now with Bono's ONE organization in Africa.
It was the picture that caught my attention. Freston is in Liberia, standing next to a man the caption describes as "Former cannibal and and warlord Joshua Biahyi (a.k.a. General Butt Naked)." The article opens with a description of how "The General" used to sacrifice humans and eat babies to placate jungle gods, mediating between people and these unhappy deities. Then - in almost a throwaway line - the author explains that this savagery stopped when The General "found Jesus in a burst of bright light." Now, he pastors homeless kids, helping them detox and learn trades rather than eating them.
Reading this, I had one of those totally inappropriate responses where I could not stop giggling. Could. Not. Stop. What kept running through my mind was how practical Jesus is:
- He told me: if you want a husband, stop living with the guy who does not want to marry you.
-He told Steve: If you want a good wife, you need to become more of a stand up man.
-And he told the cannibal warlord: Stop eating people.
He knows the big step we'll need to take to get our lives back on track, and gets right to the point, saying, "Here is what you need to do." And coming from Jesus, it seems like an offer filled with possibility, rather than a scolding rebuke. I forget sometimes just how amazing Jesus is.
Now I don't know the particulars of how former General Butt Naked came to his faith in Jesus, and I suspect it's more complex than this quick anecdote used to hook readers into an article implies. But it speaks to Jesus' unfathomable ability to get the attention of anyone when the time is right, and to convince them that it's worth the effort it will take to change direction.
I find this reassuring. The next time I'm despairing about when/if/how God will come through, I hope I remember the former cannibal warlord, and the true nature of Jesus' power: it is beyond all I can ask or imagine, and not just in a "ponies & rainbows" kind of way.
Thank you, Men's Journal...my new source of Christian inspiration :)