Exactly 3,326 died in that campaign. Easy assignment – round up nonviolent Christians and deport them to the concentration camp.
The colonel’s troops ransacked several villages, snagging almost 3,000 rebels. His 500 soldiers herded them up the hill to the clearing where he awaited.
“You Christians are pathetic little creatures with no backbone or heart. Concentration camp is too good for scum like you.”
He droned on for another twenty minutes, attacking not just the Christians, but their God as well. When he cursed God, several men in front stiffened their backs – the first sign of protest displayed by the captives.
Noticing the change, the Colonel smiled. “I see that spark in your eyes. Perhaps you aren’t as namby-pamby as I assumed, but it’ll do you no good. My god directed me to do this and he is greater than yours… now move out.”
Instead of trudging to the camps, the Christians joined arms and shuffled toward the soldiers singing, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…”
“Shoot the next person who takes a step,” the colonel shouted.
Movement faltered as the singing stilled … for a moment. With renewed vigor they stepped out as one, singing, “I once was blind, but now I see-”
Staccato bursts of gunfire erupted, quenching the singing and snuffing out life. Almost as if on cue, the shooting ceased; replacing confusion with silence. Battle hardened soldiers bowed their heads in shame as they considered the carnage before them.
“Get a bulldozer up here to bury this trash before they stink the place up… and make sure they’re all dead.”
Sharp retorts of gunfire echoed off the hills, evidence that some survived. Final count was 2947.”
“But grandpa, you said over three thousand died. Who were the rest?”
“My own men, sweetie. You see the earnestness of the believer’s faith demoralized my troops worse than anything I’d ever seen. It started with a few here and there. I personally executed those first ones who believed, to send a message… but it didn’t stop. Instead, it was as if someone turned a tap. In the end, 379 of my elite troops defected to the cause of this Christ. They died… I received the Medal of Tribute, the highest award our nation bestows.”
“Did you have to kill them Grandpa? I mean, what harm were they?”
“Harm? Worse than parasites, they sucked the life out of our nation from the inside.”
“But that was years ago. Do you still feel the same today?”
“I don’t know Kristy. I think so… but I can’t forget them facing those bullets and singing that song… What drives men, women and children to do that?”
“It’s because they serve Jesus Christ. Death isn’t the end; it’s like a promotion. They closed their eyes in death and awoke in the presence of their Lord.”
“But they died in vain.”
“No Grandpa. Through their steadfast faith, three hundred seventy-nine souls swelled their ranks, making their deaths a down payment for those who followed….” Kristy smiled, “You know Grandpa, you can make it 380.”
“But I can’t… I kill Christians.”
He perceived a change in her demeanor, that same change he saw all those years ago.
Kristy lifted her chin. “I’m a Christian Grandpa. You can kill me now or let me tell you how Jesus can forgive you.”
“But I’m too wicked… God could never forgive me.”
“Oh but Grandpa he can…all you have to do is ask.”
“Wo…Would you help me? I want what they had.”
“Oh Grandpa, I’m so happy. Let’s get on our knees and talk to God right now.”
“I’d like that,” he said. They knelt. “God, I don’t know what to say-”
“So, the great General falls to his knees to pray to a non-existent God.”
“I sent Kristy here hoping you’d talk her out of this nonsense. Instead, she converts you.”
“You don’t understand son. He’s real. I’ve known it all along but fought it.”
“So you’re a Christian then?”
“I’m sorry about that dad, Kristy.” He turned to a soldier on his right. “Take these two out and execute them – now!”
Grandfather and granddaughter joined arms and followed the soldier.
“It’s been a long time; can you help me with the words?”
“Sure Grandpa, let's sing… Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…”
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