I stood at the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek in Phnom Penh reading an information board: “Duch was found guilty of crimes against humanity relating to the torture and deaths of about 15,000 people.”
As I stood there appalled at the magnitude of such a number, these words passed through my thoughts, “it is all forgiven.”
You see, I knew more about Duch than the information board shared.
The information board explained Duch was in charge of the most well known torture prison in Cambodia, S-21. During the reign of the Khmer Rouge, he torturing individuals, and then mass executed them in the very place I was now standing. It shared how he fled when the Khmer Rouge fell; but, eventually he was caught, persecuted and is now serving a life sentence in prison.
What it didn’t say is, during his time of hiding, Jesus found him and saved him. Which is just like Jesus isn’t it? Colossians 1:13-14 says:
“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
I can’t think of anything that represents the dominion of darkness better than genocide. Yet God saw Duch, and said “he is worth saving.”
Just stop and think about that for a minute. God extended forgiveness to a man who caused unimaginable pain and suffering. God saw a murderer of thousands, and said “he is my child.”
If may be hard for you to comprehend why God would save such an individual; but I find beautiful truths in this story; truths in which we can rejoice.
Truths to Rejoice in:
1. God is the ultimate rescuer. While walking through the S-21 museum and the killing fields it is impossible not to think those in charge were pure evil; but God didn’t see Duch this way. Yes he did evil things, but I think God looked at him and saw someone who became lost in the darkness and eventually overcome by evil. He saw someone who needed to be rescued.
“the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,” Galatians 1:4 (Emphasis added)
2. No one is ever too far gone. Stories like Duch’s are rare because once you are that consumed by sin and evil, it is hard to break free. Yet, nothing is beyond God’s ability. Paul is the perfect example of what happens when God is determined to rescue someone.
When Ananias is brought to Paul to heal him, Ananias says, “but God, this is an evil man, he is causing nothing by pain to your people” (my paraphrase of Acts 9:13-14). Look what God says in response:
“But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.” Acts 9:15
3. ALL of our sins are forgiven. My first thought after realizing “it is all forgiven” was, “I haven’t ever done anything this bad, and if God forgave Duch’s sins, then mine must also be truly forgiven.” The reality is God doesn’t measure the size of sin. Any sin distances us from God, and all sin is forgiven when we repent and turn to God.
Psalm 103:12 says: “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
I don’t know where you are today in your battle with sin, but I hope these truths have resonated with you in some way. Won’t you join me is rejoicing in God our rescuer and redeemer?
Linking up at Grace & Truth