This is the story of my new friend Geoffrey. June 7th, 2000. Geoffrey was attending Senior One at his school about five kilometers outside of Lira, Uganda. He was fifteen years old. One night, a group of LRA soldiers broke into the boys dorm at the school and arrested Geoffrey as well as thirty-eight others. They layed on their stomachs and were tied behind their backs. They were assembled along a roadside and were addressed by someone who told them they may be disturbed bu Ugandan forces. As they made their way through the bush they captured others as well. The way Geoffrey described life in the bush was very interesting because of the way that they were forced to live. They would survive by moving from place to place and stealing whatever they needed. Whether it be cattle, crops, women or any other sort of food. They would raid properties and burn it to the ground and then kill those staying there. As well as raping innocent women.
Although Geoffrey was with the LRA for three years, he was never forced to kill anyone. Although, he would fake beat those he was ordered to hurt but if you were found to be faking a murder or beating, you were automatically killed. God’s grace was definitely upon Geoffrey during his time in the LRA. He said that it was difficult to have faith while being with the LRA because he had to keep his faith hidden but he knew that God had a purpose for his life.
Geoffreys position while in the LRA was an escort, meaning he would make sure that new abductees wouldn’t escape. His other jobs consisted of fetching water and cassava (potato like veggie) for commanding officers as well as carrying injured enemy soldiers after fire fights with the UPDF. He said that they were hard to carry because of the resistance they would give as he tried to carry them.
When Geoffrey escaped, he was fetching water for his commanders. As he got to the watering hole he noticed nobody was around. So, he through down his guns and took off his uniform and began to crawl through the bush. It took him four days to find the UPDF barracks where they transported him to Lira. He stayed in Lira five days where he received some counseling.
When Geoffrey returned home to his family he was welcomed warmly by his father as they reunited with eachother after his three years of being gone with the LRA. Shortly after arriving home he was told that his mother had died of cancer while he was gone but had given birth to triplets. Hearing the news of his mother passing was very hard for him because he and his mother were very close and he could talk about anything with each other. Geoffrey also found out after returning home that a lot of his friends in the village had died as well, so many of his peers were gone.
In 2004, he returned back to school at a vocational school where he began to learn building. It took him three years to become a junior level builder. In that time and up to now he has been supporting his three younger siblings. Early on after returning he would make bricks and sell them to raise money for school fees. He also roasted maize and mixed concrete to support his three younger siblings who are now in P3. Geoffrey us currently working as a builder as well as a teacher while still caring for his siblings in the village, even though he lives in Lira.
Geoffrey is an incredible example of God’s faithfulness and strength. He was put in unbelieveable situations but remained humble even in those troubling times. The fact that he remained faithful after being abducted is crazy by itself! He is the perfect example of Hebrews 11. I think of one part of in verse 37 & 38 that I think attests to Geoffrey’s story perfectly. – 37 They were stoned, they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins, and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated – THE WORLD WAS NOT WORTHY OF THEM. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. Geoffreys story of faith and courage is incredible and I hope you find it encouraging and inspring as well.
Thanks everyone for reading! God bless!