By Charlotte Ishkanian
annibalism is not dead. The practice of killing—and devouring—enemies sometimes raises its ugly head even today, even among what appear to be peaceful people.
Daniel is a Dayak, the main tribal group on the island of Borneo, in Indonesia. Daniel had been baptized as an infant, but Christianity had not changed him. One day after he had been drinking, Daniel got into an argument with his wife. He picked up the Bible and challenged her. “If this Bible is really God’s Word,” he shouted, “then let God show me the right path, and I will follow it.”
Several days later Daniel met his old friend Jaki. The two men had once been members of a gang, but Jaki had changed. When Daniel offered him some wine, Jaki asked for water instead. “What has gotten into you?” Daniel asked.
Jaki explained that he had accepted Jesus as his personal Savior, and he no longer wanted to drink alcohol. Jaki challenged Daniel: “If you really want to follow God, then go with me to the Adventist church.” Daniel was startled, for Jaki’s words mirrored his own challenge to God just a few days earlier. Soon he began attending church with Jaki.
A few months later war broke out between the Dayaks and the Madurese tribes. There had been sporadic fighting and many peace agreements between the two tribes, but the fighting broke out again.
At first Daniel protected some Madurese people in his home so that they would not be killed. But when his uncle was killed, Daniel went crazy with anger. He sent the people he had been protecting out of his home and went to join the Dayak men who were preparing to fight the Madurese.
But before the Dayak warriors would fight, they visited the house of the ancestor spirits to ask for advice. Should they go to war? The spirits’ answer came: “Go to war.” Armed with assurance, Daniel and the other warriors took up their primitive knives and wooden shields and set out to fight their enemies.
For three weeks the Dayak warriors fought under the influence of the spirits. They ate nothing but the flesh of their enemies.
Daniel returned home when the fighting ended, but he was no longer the loving man his family had known. He was restless, often staring with a glazed look in his eyes. Daniel’s wife was afraid that evil spirits possessed him. What if he turned on her and the children? She prayed that God would free her husband from the demon spirits and bring peace to their home.
Daniel knew that something was wrong. Day and night he wrestled with his guilt. He wondered how God could ever forgive him for what he had done. “Heaven is not mine anymore,” he moaned.
The pastor visited him and heard Daniel’s confession. “You must confess to the church and to God,” he said.
“Pastor,” Daniel replied, “I’ve asked God many times to forgive me. But the weight on my heart grows heavier. I want to know that I am forgiven.” Daniel took the pastor’s advice and confessed his sin to the church and to individuals whom he had wronged. He asked those he had harmed to forgive him. Then he asked the pastor to baptize him.
Daniel offered his life to God. “If it is Your will, God, I am willing to work among the people whom I persecuted,” he prayed. Today his sword is the Bible, and his shield is his faith in God. He became a Global Mission pioneer and planted a church among his own people in an area not far from where he once lived. In the first six months of his work seven people were baptized and 20 more are preparing for baptism.
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