Simu and Kere spent the night in tears. Come the dawn, their two-year-old boy, Dexjo, would no longer be theirs. He had been chosen to become the Peace Child. While everyone else rejoiced that the Mauri tribe had accepted the agreement, Simu and Kere just could not get into the spirit of the celebration. How could they when they would never see their boy again?
The party went deep into the night. For the past seven seasons, the Yifo tribe had been fighting a losing battle against the Mauri. As one season bled into the next, the conflict had grown ever more lopsided. Things had grown desperate and for the Yifo, the struggle for supremacy had turned into one of survival. How many more seasons could the war continue before the Yifo simply ceased to exist? That was the question that had been on everyone’s minds but it would no longer be a worry,
The albino from across the seas who had come to live with the Mauri tribe must have convinced those elders to make overtures of peace. At first, the Yifu had been hesitant to listen. Why would the Mauri want peace when they had every advantage? That is not the way of things. Why did they not let things continue until the Yifu were all dead of fled to take refuge in more distant tribes? Peace is only meant to be offered when neither side can get the upper hand or when a third group threatens to sweep away both.
Simu believed it was because of this albino that peace had been offered because he had heard the man’s stories. No, he had not been to listen firsthand. That would be quite difficult to do in the middle of a war. But new stories have a way of spreading among all the Sawi tribes faster than the clouds can race overhead. Simu knew the story about the hero, Judas. Jesus, an avatar of God walked around doing mighty deeds and Judas became one of Jesus’ picked warriors and closest friends. Then, at the perfect moment, Judas pulled coup. He betrayed Jesus and caused his retinue to be scattered. Imagine the cunning and the prowess necessary to pull off a feat like that over one who was supposed to be a representation of God. Simu could only wish to be able to pull off some mighty deed even half as devious as Judas’. If the albino came from a line of heroes like that, then he was most certainly one to be watched closely. There must be much more to this offer of peace than what meets the eye.
Despite the chemical induced revelry that kept the tribe partying into the early hours of the morning, the ten picked warriors who would accompany the baby Dexjo were preparing for the journey before the rising of the dawn. While he was being painted, Simu watched his wife place the ceremonial markings on their baby. He was proud of the way she held her composure. It was one thing to shed tears in private, but she had the bearing of a princess as she readied the Peace Child who until last night was her son. Now he was something more. He was the promise of peace and the hope of survival for the Yifo tribe. He would be raised in a place of respect and honor among the Mauri. As long as they protected him from the predations of the forest and the violence of other men, there would be peace between the Yifo and Mauri tribes. Simu was giving up a son, but in doing so he was saving all twenty-nine surviving members of the Yifo.
Upon arriving at the site agreed upon for the exchange of the Peace Child, Simu saw first hand the disparity of the two groups. The Mauri had already arrived and each of the ten picked warriors was a man in his prime. In contrast, three of the Yifo men were too young to have been blooded and one more was old enough that he should have put aside his spears of war long ago. In addition to the ten warriors, there was an eleventh, the albino. Once the ceremonial words had been said and gifts exchanged, the albino spoke up.
“My friends of the Yifo, I have a story to tell you…”
The white man had a funny way of speaking and he used only simple words, but the story he told cut Simu to the heart. He said that God had once lived in peace and fellowship with man. But man became greedy and stole from God. They broke the peace and initiated war against God. But how can one wage war against the Divine? At any moment God could have ended that war by wiping out all of humanity. It would have been no effort for him to do so. But that was not what God wanted. He wanted to return to peace.
Instead of waging war against a weaker opponent, God sent his only Son, Jesus, to become the Peace Child. Jesus came and lived among us just as Dexjo would now go and live among the Mauri. However, we failed to protect Jesus. We did not treat him with the honor and respect he deserved but instead, we killed him. Judas was no hero but rather a fool who conspired with other fools to restart a war against God they had no hope of winning. Again, God had every right to destroy all men. Even now, however, that was not his desire. He still wanted peace. So God raised Jesus up from the dead. By doing so God guaranteed that the Peace would last forever. He proved that not even death would be able to stop his love.
Simu was barely aware of his surroundings on the return journey. Normally, it is death to be anything but fully alert in the jungle, but Simu could not keep the albino’s words from scampering through his thoughts like a bandicoot trapped in the grain jar. How much of what he said was true? How much legend? There were many questions Simu wanted to ask this albino. He had not even returned home and already he was thinking of what excuse he could use to return and speak with the albino again. If what he said was true, then Jesus was twice over the greatest gift ever given in history. After all, Simu should know. He also had given up his son.