Sexual Violence. Suffering. Torture. Death. All these words took human form in Rose. She was not the perpetrator. She was the victim.
The Burma Army had taken much of her most sacred possessions by force. First they took her home, then her country, then her purity, and finally, her husband. Instead of curling into a fetal position of grief and bitterness, she started helping orphans.
The point is, Rose had every reason to hate the soldiers who took so much from her. That is why I was shocked when I went to her shack in 2003 and found a former Burma Army soldier eating lunch with the 60 + orphans and children that lived with Rose.
“Rose, who is he?” I asked while pointing at the skinny guy eating noodles with the children. Inviting me in, she said, “Oh him, he defected from the Burma army and now he’s the night watchman for my home.”
Rose told me how he had come to Ma La Refugee camp earlier in the week, how he asked for asylum, begged for forgiveness. Nobody would listen to him. They wouldn’t give him shelter. They left him in front of the hospital to starve. One day a man passed by and had pity on him and suggested walking up the hill. “There’s a lady there who helps everyone.” He said to this young defector.
Limping to Rose Mu’s shack, he called out to her and begged for mercy. She extended words that transformed him. “I forgive you.” She said.
Having lived through hell on earth where her captors are the officers of this mans army, why did she end up taking him in when 30,000 other refugees (the refugee camp population at the time) refused the same?
Her answer was clear and she replied without hesitation: “Because if you don’t forgive them, you become them.” And she added, “This is what Jesus asks us to do.”
The soldier before her represented the destruction of life as she knew it. He was the symbol of everything wrong in that room, perhaps the very man who killed some of the mothers and fathers of those orphans eating lunch as I talked with Rose that afternoon.
I looked over at the young Burmese soldier and felt inspired. He came begging for mercy and was granted it by the least likely person I knew of. He brought his wife and daughter to the refugee camp to live with Rose. They became Christ-followers too because they wanted more of the love they had met in Rose, and Rose credited Jesus as the source of her strength. He and his family lived with Rose until she died a year later.
If you want to meet God, hang out with a lady like Rose.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:43-45