I admit that the title of this blog post is an attention grabber but it’s not sensationalism or something I made up.  The General’s nick-name when he was a Liberian warlord was General Butt-Naked and now he’s a preacher.

Liberia is a tiny country on the western coast of Africa. The name of the country means “land of liberty” and the people speak English, but not because it was an English colony. The people speak English because Liberia was an American colony (of sorts) started by freed slaves sent back to Africa by the American Colonization Society in the early 19th century. The capital of Liberia is Monrovia named in honor of James Monroe who was President of the US when the country was founded in 1820.

No. 30; American view of Africa from 1839

No. 30; American view of Africa from 1839 (Photo credit: Edu-Tourist)

The country was dominated by the descendants of the original freed slaves and were called Americo-Liberians. A military coup over-threw the ruling class and the country was wracked by a succession of civil wars in the 1990’s. General Butt-Naked emerged during the civil wars and quickly gained a reputation for being among the most brutal warlords within the competing factions.

Blahyi today, preaching in his church.

Blahyi today, preaching in his church.

He earned the nick-name General Butt-Naked because he went into battle naked except for tennis type shoes wielding a machete. He believed that some sort of magic protected him while naked and indeed no bullet ever touched him.

General Butt-Naked (his real name is Joshua Milton Blahyi) is the subject of a fascinating three partstory in the English edition of Der Spiegel Online. The author is Jonathan Stock.

The gist of the story and the question the author seems to ask is how does a warlord, who readily admits to 20,000 deaths and too numerous to count atrocities become a preacher and start to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ?

It should be noted that Liberia (now peaceful since the civil wars ended in 2003) does not prosecute war criminals. Stock tells us why in the article and notes that the UN and other international agencies do not have the where-with-all to prosecute either. This means that for all practical purposes General Butt Naked got away with murder.

Yet, Blahyi (formerly General Butt-Naked) says that should he prosecuted because of some change in the law he would plead guilty and face prison time or even the death penalty should that be his sentence.

Blahyi, now in the garb of a preacher visits his surviving victims or their families seeking forgiveness. The reception he receives is a mixed-bag given the absolute horror of his crimes. Blahyi’s victims would be chopped up piece by piece until they died, women raped then murdered, unborn children ripped from the bellies of their mothers and Blahyi and his soldiers (many of them children themselves) would eat victims hearts and body parts.

Child soldiers in Uganda but the use of children as soldiers is common in Africa and elsewhere. Blahyi trained them to without pity and not feel anything as they raped and murdered.

Child soldiers in Uganda but the use of children as soldiers is common in Africa and elsewhere. Blahyi trained them to be without pity and not feel anything as they raped and murdered.

The horror of Blahyi’s atrocities is compared to the credibility of his conversion.

The author of the three-part series states that Blahyi is either a fraud or that he truly has changed. Later in the article Stock raises a third possibility that if the people of Liberia believe Blahyi has changed then it really does not matter if he has truly changed or is a pious fraud simply trying to escape justice in a country that has no judge.

It is an intriguing possibility that Stock suggests but Stock is wrong in at least one respect. Blahyi does have a judge. Blahyi may not have a Liberian judge or a UN judge but he will face a judge who knows the heart like no human can.

The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (John 5:22-24 ESV)