I read a story this week about Kaing Guek Eav (or Khang Khek Iue according to Wikipedia), who is now 66. He who was a leading torturer of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime that terrorized Cambodia at the end of the 1970's. Known as "Comrade Duch", he facilitated the torture and murder of thousands of people at Tuol Sleng, a former high school converted to serve his heinous purpose now a museum establish to always remember the cruelty committed there.
"Duch" is now on trial for his complicity in the regime and this story tells of his return to Tuol Sleng and how he fell to his knees is tears and prayer as he toured his home of horror. The story then mentions that "Duch" is now a Christian.
For four years, the Khmer Rouge killed, tortured or forced into deplorably harsh slavery people they considered to be "enemies". This included professionals, intellectuals, anyone connected with the former government, suspect agents of other countries, ethic Chinese or Vietnamese trapped in the country, Muslims, Buddhist monks and yes Christians. Oh yeah, LGB and T people, too. In all, nearly two million people lost their lives. The Oscar winning movie "The Killing Fields", is a vivid, true depiction of that incredibly horrible time.
I am glad that "Duch" is finally facing justice. I am also glad that he has experienced a profound changed in his once black heart. This is, in fact, part of the Christian belief...the concept of powerful transformation of the soul.
What bothers me, though, is that somewhere, someone - a Christian or a Christian church - had to accept this murderer into their care to minister the Christian way to him. I'd be willing to bet that there are those who would hold up his conversion as testament to God's power to forgive, to transform, to love. But why him and not me?
I have killed no one. I have tortured no one. I have done my utmost to lead and live a responsible, caring and involved life. And yet in so many thousands - millions - of Christian homes, I would not be welcome, I would be - and am - specifically excluded. There are those that will suggest that I will be headed to Hell in eternity, but because "Duch" has somehow magically made his atonement that he will find the Pearly Gates open.
This is the part of Christianity - my faith - that I don't understand. I must accept "Duch" now as a Christian. In fact, I must Welcome him. Sometimes it's hard.