January 2020: LIONS TO LAMBS
Why a man would participate in the rape of a woman, I will never understand. While the war in South Sudan has been deadly, the evil of what men can do to women and children rates as some of the worst things imaginable. As a soldier, I can understand having to fight and kill your enemy to protect those you love.
It’s another matter for men to see women and young girls as the spoils of war—to be used—this I will never tolerate.
My head of security is John Paul,he is a very serious warrior and soldier. Men of a particular group captured women and raped them repeatedly. John Paul knew if these men were arrested and taken to prison, their families would come and pay to get them released and justice would not be served. The men were unrepentant, believing their freedom would be purchased. Rather than letting these men escape justice, to rape and kill again, John had them executed. For many in the U.S. this might be hard to understand. But, living in South Sudan, I do understand and approve of John’s decision.
Chaplain Joseph Ater, Chaplain C00310, was deployed to a very difficult area where a garrison of over 17,000 enemy soldiers were deployed. Their units occupied Uru, Dalkuru and Koredelep. The enemy raided the area, and were not only killing people, but were also taking women and children into slavery. The women would be used by the men for sex and would have no control over their bodies. Often, they were used, then beaten, and always left humiliated. Children were trained to be child soldiers and sent back, after being brainwashed, to kill their own people.
The trauma that was being inflicted on the local populace was having a terrible effect. People could not live without fear, and many began to flee the only homes they had ever known. On the 14th of May, the enemy launched a sneak attack on Joseph’s unit. It was a quick “hit and run”, leaving two men dead and seven wounded. The enemy made a quick escape, with a clear victory, and no personal loss. Joseph had been reading the Word at the time of the attack and was not directly in the base at the time.
When he heard the fighting, he ran to his unit. The enemy had already left, but the aftermath of the dead was difficult to handle. The men were still reeling and were clearly in shock when Joseph said that the Lord spoke to him and said that he was to pursue the enemy. Much like King David at Ziklag, when he was away, the enemy attacked David’s camp and took all the women and children.The men of David’s army were so distraught, that they were not thinking clearly, and wanted to stone David. The Word tells us that David did not take this personally; instead he strengthened himself in the Lord and pursued the enemy. David had been through many tough situations in the past, and he knew this was not the time to feel sorry for himself, but to trust in the Lord. He pursued and destroyed the enemy, bringing back all the people. David’s clear thinking and trust in the Lord did not allow for the weakness of others to stop him. Today, weakness is the norm, individuals giving up hope without even asking the Lord for help. In the book of Judges, chapter three, God’s Word tells us that these are the nations the Lord left to test those of the Israelites who had not experienced wars in Canaan. He did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience.
God does choose men and train them for warfare in order to protect others, and Joseph is one of them. Joseph rallied the men, after the attack on his unit,
and 40 followed him in pursuit of the enemy for five hours. When they arrived at the enemy’s camp, the enemy was sitting down to dinner, happy with the women they had abducted. They, no doubt, had plans for them that night. This was not to be a night that wickedness would prevail. The determination of this chaplain would change the fate of these women and children.
The garrison of enemy soldiers was 700, but the ferocity of Joseph and his men caught the enemy off guard. The enemy began to flee in panic. Joseph’s men killed about a dozen of the enemy, captured 18, including two high-ranking officers. The enemy could have easily defeated Joseph’s men, but they just could not believe that they were being attacked by only 40 men. The place they captured was called Uru.
The next day, rather than return with the captives and freed women, Joseph took the men and attacked Dalkuru, where there were 300 enemy soldiers. They killed 45 of them, captured two generals and five junior officers. Joseph knew that the Lord had given the enemy into his hands. Rather than delay, Joseph rallied the men again and then attacked Kordelep the same day, on the 15th of May. They killed 47 enemy soldiers and sent 150 people fleeing. In both places, they recovered many of the people, who had been taken captive, and were able to obtain much needed supplies that had been left behind.
On the 16th of May, they attacked Korager, which had 300 enemy soldiers. Joseph’s men fought for over four hours. The fighting was fierce, but Joseph’s men were resolved to either come back victoriously, bringing these people, or not come back at all. With this determination, they soundly defeated the enemy. In all, 70 people were freed from captivity, but many who had been taken from earlier raids had not survived. What is remarkable, is because of Joseph, the enemy was convinced that there were many more soldiers than what there actually were. The enemy pulled out 17,000 men, restoring peace to the area.
It is because of Joseph’s bold determination to defeat the enemy that he will be presented the Knight’s Cross for Bravery, the highest award given to a chaplain.
The citation for this award will read:
In the face of insurmountable odds, and with great risk to his life, Chaplain Joseph Ater accomplished the impossible. With forty men, he sent an army of thousands to flee. The lions who had come to destroy and devour were turned into lambs. By this man’s trust that he had heard from his God he walked out his faith.
Far Reaching Ministries