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Former terrorist trainees turn to Christ
Shiloh Lane, International Mission Board
July 19, 2011
6 MIN READ TIME

Former terrorist trainees turn to Christ

Former terrorist trainees turn to Christ
Shiloh Lane, International Mission Board
July 19, 2011

SOUTHEAST ASIA — As a teenager, Budi Mulyadi* trained to

kill Christians with a 9 mm pistol.

For months, he aimed it at a target while an instructor

shouted slurs against Christianity. Mulyadi didn’t know anything about the

religion, just that it threatened Islam. Not once did someone explain Christ’s

sacrifice to him.

Yet, almost 20 years later, he serves as a Christian worker.

Today Mulyadi works with American Christian workers to

manage worship sessions for youth in Southeast Asia. He helps local farmers

learn better ways to raise healthy fish and grow their crops. He gives food to

poverty-stricken families.

As Mulyadi works, the jobs and the people he works with

bring him joy and he smiles, but his smiles fade when he talks about his

adolescence. At the age of 14, he lived in an Islamic terrorist camp that

imbued him with wrath and hate.

Hate “was something that was implanted in my mind,” he said.

“I could just think about Christians and the hate would pop up.”

An obstinate child, Mulyadi ran away from an Islamic

boarding school in his early teenage years. The school merely taught him Muslim

scripture but had too many rules for his taste. He had already run away from

home after a violent disagreement with his father. The 13-year-old had nowhere

to turn. Then he met an Islamic extremist who promised him a new education.

The man took the young Mulyadi to a large compound

consisting of tents and surrounded by trees.

Twenty other boys slept in these

tents at night and trained with knives and guns during the day. They only

stopped for sleep, food and prayer. When their instructors talked to them, they

touted the supremacy of Muslims and the wretchedness of Christians. The

Christians, they said, deserved to die.

“We were told that the Christians were infidels,” Mulyadi

said. “If we would kill Christians, then that would be a free ticket into

Heaven for us.”

At the camp, Mulyadi felt anger and self-righteousness

boiling inside. As he practiced with a gun supplied by the camp, hate filled

him. At times, however, he also felt doubt and confusion. The instructors told

him that Christians should burn in hell, but did he want to send them there?

The boy continued to mull over these questions as his

marksmanship improved and as the gun felt more and more familiar in his hand.

Eventually, the leaders believed, Mulyadi and four other boys were ready to

prove their worth. Without a clear strategy, they sent their students out to

kill anyone they could.

“There wasn’t any specific hit, so there wasn’t any specific

contract,” he said. “If we could find someone that was particularly ‘holy’ —

someone that would really make a dent … then that’s who our primary target

was.”

Once they left the compound boundaries, Mulyadi discovered

he wasn’t the only one with doubts. The other boys had examined themselves as

well, eventually determining they had no desire to kill.

“We were given a task to go kill Christians, and we had to

make a decision — did we want to do that or not?” he said. “And, that was the

point that we broke (and went our separate ways).”

All five boys decided to abandon the jihad. For all the

camp’s brainwashing, they never wanted to kill anyone — no matter how much they

hated them.

Mulyadi went home briefly, but his father’s anger forced him

out on the road again. He eventually landed in a city several hours away and

found a job tending the lawn of a health clinic. He spent the rest of his teen

years living alone in a rented room.

The Damascus Road

As he trimmed hedges year after year, Mulyadi became

interested in general spirituality — not simply what he found in the pages of

the Koran.

During his spiritual search, he found the name of Jesus, a

prophet according to the Koran, and questioned why Muslims never mentioned Him

in their lectures and discussions. He seemed overlooked. Mulyadi picked up a

Bible and investigated.

Then, one night, as he prayed alone in his room, he heard a

voice say, “I will send a Helper unto you.”

Mulyadi didn’t know where the voice came from or who the

“Helper” was, but he turned to Scripture, and after exhaustive reading, found

John 14:16: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to

be with you forever” (NASB).

From the moment he read that verse in John, the young man

devoted himself to Jesus, a man who had the power to send him a Helper — the

Holy Spirit — and the power to tell him about it 2,000 years after His initial

promise.

“My whole demeanor has changed, and God has filled my heart

with love,” he said. “I’m not an angry person anymore. My temper is gone. I

don’t get mad at people like I did before. Because God loves me, I am able to

love others.”

This love turned Mulyadi into a Christian worker. He loves

the people he once hated. He leads worship for people he once scorned. He

desires to bring people to Christ when he once wanted to punish them for

following the Savior. This is his new passion.

“Until God chooses to take me home, I’m going to be here on

a mission to share the gospel with people who need to hear it,” he says.

As Mulyadi preaches God’s word in scores of villages and

spends time with his family — a wife and daughter — he rarely speaks to anyone

of his time as a terrorist in training. Only after an hour of questioning does

he mention it, and until recently, his American partner didn’t know about that

section of his life. It’s personal.

However, every once in a while, he reunites with the four

other men with whom he left the Islamic camp. They get together and discuss

their work and families, and they discuss God. Although Islamic extremism

filled them with revulsion for Jesus, Christ pursued every one.

All five are Christian pastors.

*Name changed

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