Archive for Child Soldiers

Responding to KONY – Raising up leaders who act, not peanut-gallery criticizers

So, pretty much the world heard about KONY 2012 overnight…and that was the plan.  Well, actually – that was way BEYOND any plan or hope of Invisible Children and Kony 2012 film maker Jason Russell.  With the unexpected, instantaneous success of the publicity of the Kony Campaign, came a tsunami of critiques…..some of which were fair, but honestly –  most were uneducated and just downright lazy.  The saddest thing for me personally were hearing the critiques that came from church.  I was at church this weekend and I heard a man casually comment, “Yeah – I heard the guy who made that Kony video was arrested.”  Pretty sure the death stare on my face gave away my feelings about his comment….not because I’m completely settled on how to deal with KONY 2012, but because it was an ignorant, arrogant comment.  First of all – He wasn’t arrested – get your facts straight! He had a breakdown of some sort and he deserves our prayers.  Secondly, in the conversation,  I came to find out that the man speaking about Jason Russel didn’t even watch the KONY 2012 video, didn’t have a clue what it was about, and didn’t know anything about child soldiers.  Awesome.  Ignorance at its best: when it is loud.

So I ask…why do we do this?  Why are there so many peanut-gallery criticizers of this campaign?  I offer some possibile answers to that question and hopefully some facts to clear up any false reason to critique.  All this is also that we might (as leaders of youth, children, and just as citizens) lead better, be more educated, and live with more integrity.

1.  We don’t trust the source

Well – I personally heard about Invisible Children about 5 years ago.  I knew it was well respected and leading a lot of the awareness for child soldiers. You can find background from Invisible Children from years ago in an interview from the Christian Broadcast Network:  http://www.cbn.com/700club/Guests/Bios/Jason_Russell120205.aspx

This doesnt mean you have to trust the source, but it hasn’t just started yesterday or anything.  It has had a following and accountability for quite some time.

2 . We find holes in what they say

Many critiques I read were just plan misrepresentative of the organization.  However, some critiques were fair based on what the KONY 2012 video showed.  Those criques were very well addressed on the invisible children website in a transparent, well-defined manner (issues about their budget, about Kony in Uganda, about oversimplifying the issue…honestly very good clarifications): http://www.invisiblechildren.com/critiques.html

3.  We just don’t believe them

Other organizations (ones I TRUST) support this organization.  They may have alternatives for how one may with a desire to care for child soldiers, but they regardless account for reality of child soldiers as a horrible issue facing children todayl  They detail the account of the need for the restoration of children in Uganda and Sudan and currently the desperate need of help for those being victimized in the DRC.  These issues are happening NOW.  When Adam (my husband) was inUganda last May visiting a good friend who is a Veterinarian and Pastoral/Ministry leader in Northern Uganda, Adam met a girl who was a rescued child from the LRA from just a few years ago.   She was abducted and kept as a sex slave to men.  One night she heard bombs and she ran away from camp…hiding under an ant hill, getting bit until she could be rescued.  So, yep – It is real.  If only we could all go and hear the stories and see the faces, we would believe.  But since we can’t all go, let’s get educated:

http://www.child-soldiers.org/childsoldiers/child-soldiers

http://www.usip.org/publications/children-war-screening-united-nations-spotlights-efforts-aid-child-soldiers

Read Girl Soldier or A Long Way Gone  or A Thousand Sisters

Watch movies  showing child soldiers like documentaries Children of War, War Dance or even blockbuster Blood Diamonds

4 – Last reason we criticize ….We just want an excuse to NOT do something about it

Jen Hatmaker, an awesome author and pastor’s wife in Texas blogged about the issue:  http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2012/03/15/kony-critics-throwing-rocks   She says things better than I could.

Even a newspaper article was making a plea to stop criticizing and do something about the issue:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/misha-lyuve/kony2012-take-action_b_1338665.html )

THE SOLUTION:  Stop criticizing (unless you have a better plan) and do something

1 – WE NEED TO PRAY

We do not know what caused Jason Russel to have what seems to be a breakdown of some sort.  If it is due to the stress of the massive critique…I can totally get that.  I mean, I get diarrhea if I have to speak in front of more than 10 people (I’m totally serious), so if millions of people started attacking my life’s effort and family… it would bring me to total devastation too.  I’m just saying.   http://www.stltoday.com/news/national/leader-of-kony-video-group-to-focus-on-health/article_8f65be51-644c-5e54-8dd5-0eac8e3088cb.html

****But I would like to suggest another possibility…one I am NOT sure of, but this is something worth considering: When my husband was with our friend in Uganda last May, Adam saw where our friend hid from the LRA in the bushes as he grew up.  They talked about Joseph Kony.  Most people in Uganda (esp. nothern Uganda where he did most of his damage) know Kony isn’t there, but know that he is somewhere near Congo, but it is truly believed by many Christian churches in Uganda that Kony is using evil spiritual power (he has a history deep in Voodoo) to hide from getting caught.  Our friend explained to Adam that there are so many times he should have been caught and so many times that somehow he knew how to escape.  So…what does this have to do with Jason?  When I first heard about Jason’s episode, my heart instantly felt like this was some sort of attack on him.  Maybe you don’t believe in the power of Voodoo or other spiritual warfare in this manner, but most people who have been on the mission field (or just live in other countries like Africa or Haiti) live seeing this stuff play out in very real ways.  Again – I do NOT know what is going on with Jason, but my heart is burdened for him…that the attack on him is more than panic.

WE MUST PRAY – No matter where you lie on this KONY issue or why Jason had a breakdown, this man needs our prayers.  He is under an attack (of stress at the VERY LEAST) and I believe that God has used him to bring attention to an issue that God longs for his people to hate along with Him…an issues that feeds off of children’s lives, bodies, families and memories being absolutely destroyed.  If you want to go beyond and encourage them (or Jason specifically)…email info@invisiblechildren.com  and do that.  Be a voice of GOOD in the crowd.

We can also pray for the children – the ones healing and the ones being taken.

ACT – If not comfortable supporting the KONY 2012 Campaign…noone is making anyone do it…but let’s not shoot down a brave, intensely smart group that IS doing something….something that got Big FAST.  Let’s ask ourselves why so many people stepped up to the plate to get involved?  Maybe this generation is starving for causes bigger than themselves?  Maybe we have done a poor job in the past as a church on educating people on these issues that have been going on for 20 + years with this LRA alone.  I could go ON and ON about all the other issues that we are uneducated on:  Sex trafficking is only more recently becoming a blip on many churches’ radar and yet issues like genocide are rarely talked about (No the Holocaust was not the most recent or biggest Genocide – try googling genocide in the past 40 years and see what comes up – what you never heard of ).  THere is so much that our congregations are clueless about….that isn’t on the radar screen of our 5 o’clock news or sermon notes.

There are lots of other ways to act on this issue if you aren’t going to KONY 2012.

You can have your kids get involved in the Red Hand Campaign (doesn’t just have to be on the day indicated): http://www.redhandday.org/index.php?l=en&view=home

http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/Resource%20Pack%202012_updated_0.pdf

Sponsor a child or advocate for them directly through organizations like World Vision:

http://blog.worldvision.org/conversations/standing-side-by-side-with-northern-uganda/

New ideas of redemption: http://vimeo.com/38709196

Come up with your own idea….but the key is –  do something.  Let us not be criticizers unless we are willing to do something better and pray for the person we are criticizing.  Let us remember who the enemy is and whose fricken team we are on.  I’m thrilled that people like Jason Russell are on my team.  I thank GOD for him, regardless of how I choose to respond to KONY 2012.  Tonight, my family is praying for him.

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