“We Failed Here. We Didn’t Tell her About Jesus.” (A Dialogue that Changed My Faith.)

*trigger warning for violence* Yesterday I told the story of when I left Calvinism behind. Today I will talk about hell, and tomorrow I will talk about when my entire foundation fell (while in Europe).

I told this story in my post Missions As an Unfundamentalist Christian. Here’s the longer version.

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Deep within Phnom Phen, I entered what once was a lively high school turned into one of the darkest torture chambers in the world. A friend took me around the torture chambers. He described the torture techiques. But I just saw a cold, metal bed I wished would disappear. In the courtyard I was shown where the Khmer Rouge would hang members upside down by their feet and dump their heads into human wastes. And I saw photos of every inmate that had gone in, a display of every life lost. All it took was a glance at a photo or two of the same inmates naked and starving months later for me to run out the building as fast as I could.

I tried to force the tears to come, but I was numb.

The next day I went to the most well known Killing Field in Cambodia, the field where thousands died, including women and children. Skulls lay on top of the ground, more skulls that had washed up during the rainy season. Death was around me.

I saw the trees where women and children were beat up against until their skulls cracked. I saw the pit where people were buried, still alive. I saw the building where people were stuffed, awaiting their torture. I saw where Combrade Duch watched the evil.

I could not even cry. I was just numb.

The mass grave evoked shivers. I saw flashbacks, in my mind, of what must have happened. Axes came against the men’s heads, the women after months of rape and work at the labor camp lost their lives, and together they were thrown into the massive grave, and then their spirits kept falling and falling and falling and falling. Until they met the creator who said, “You aren’t in the lambs book of life.”

This. Was. My. Faith.

My God called genocide wrong, but he was dumping his wrath upon their souls because they were Buddhists.

These Buddhists came with faces. I would walk out of the slums, and desperate women and children would throw themselves into my face, “please, my baby is starving,” “can you buy a book from me, please, ma’am?” I saw a desperate need that I was powerless to fullfill, and I needed a God who would say, “I will sustain them until the very end that never ends.” I needed a God not like my theology.

As I hugged small children, I began to feel my God loved these children less than me.

To drop bitterness on my already dampened heart, I learned that Combrade Duch, responsible for all these deaths, was on trial, that very month. He had become a Christian. I read every news piece on the internet. Mindboggling. God had mercy on him, but not the victims.

My heart ached. So bad.

II.

One day back where I lived we were eating lunch, discussing the lady who had died in our village and been cremented in the field we drove by earlier that day. My friend got tears in her eyes, and looked around to each child at the table, and then back at me.

“Lana,” she said, “the Bible says she is burning in hell. We failed her. We didn’t tell her about Jesus. We didn’t get the news out. And there is thousands of others out there, all within our reach. Why are we so slow?”

It’s a very helpless feeling, to live in a place where so few people know Jesus.

“Lana,” she continued, hoping, asking, “Do you really believe God would let her torture for all eternity? Do you really believe that?”

“Surely not,” I replied, “surely not…..there’s no way.”

I paused, and then said “I just want to vomit.”

This time, it wasn’t hell that made me sick. I just couldn’t believe I had said it. I was now a universalist of sorts, and it bothered me.

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