If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you know that I am a supporter of Invisible Children. You’ve been barraged by updates and tweets this week as we prepared to host the IC roadies at our church and as the latest video went viral and discussions/criticisms ensued.
If you have followed me for any length of time, you know that I’ve been an advocate of Invisible Children since 2006 – showing movies and films, sharing their materials, purchasing their products (shirts, bracelets, MEND bags, etc) and coordinating local events with the Invisible Children roadies. I’ve written letters, made phone calls, and have attended lobby meetings with my elected officials concerning this issue. I say all that to say that I’m not new to this group and I’ve chosen to invest a lot of time and money in their work in Uganda and then in the Congo, Southern Sudan and Central African Republic.
On Tuesday and Wednesday after the video went viral and the dream came true of people KNOWING and CARING about what was happening in this region of the world after all this time, I was in a state of elated shock and prone to tears. The stories of these beautiful children and people of Uganda, Congo, CAR and South Sudan were being heard. They deserve to be heard. For nearly six years, I’ve wanted the world to take notice and finally, the world did – and in a huge way.
I’ve not come on this journey alone. I’ve shared it with the youth in my ministry at the church I serve. They have watched the movies, bought the products, wrote letters to elected officials, raised money, etc. They have prayed for these world neighbors and in hearing their stories because of the work of IC, their world is smaller and their family more diverse - as God designed it to be. And their hearts are passionate about fighting injustice – something I’ve prayed that I would help develop/nurture in them before they leave my care. IC has helped me raise up a group of teenagers who are not only thinking about injustice around the world but believing that they can actually do something to stop it. I have a responsibility to teach them how to use that passion for good rather than harm but everyone has to start somewhere. Who among us isn’t embarrassed or ,at least, more educated about how to do things? I destroyed some perfectly good Michael Jackson and WHAM tapes in high school after attending a Christian youth camp and becoming “passionate” about ridding my life of secular music. On Wednesday night, I had 135 teenagers packed into a room watching the latest film and listening to a young man from Uganda share his story in person! And they were moved. Like millions of others.
Then, the criticisms came and it felt a little like someone was attacking my family. I’ve been passing along information and wanting to circle the wagons on their behalf – not because the questions are wrong to ask but because so many people were believing false information and thinking things about the people involved with IC that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Instead of celebrating this amazing accomplishment in waking the world up, they were having to defend themselves.
But then I got over it. Because IC doesn’t need me to defend them. Their record stands for itself. The stories of lives changed are stronger than any wagons I could circle. The record-breaking viral campaign speaks volumes to the fact that they have succeeded in doing what they have been trying to do.
It is time to focus on moving forward – to end the longest running war in Africa, to capture Kony and to help those effected rebuild their lives – just as IC and many other amazing organizations have done in Northern Uganda. Why? Because those effected by LRA violence have asked us to (repeatedly) and because we have promised we would (repeatedly).
I’ll post tomorrow about my thoughts, as a peace-loving Christian, on the campaign to capture Kony.