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Friday, March 09, 2012

On Kony and viruses

Or, how should we respond to "bad guys?"

A couple of days ago Scott and I watched the KONY 2012 video made by Invisible Children.  I wasn't entirely comfortable with the message and methods, but like millions of other people I shared it forward in fb as a thought-provoking piece that draws attention to African children.  I only watched it once.  In the last 48 hours this video has exploded across social media, and because we lived in Uganda for 17 years a few people have asked me what I think.  So here goes some reflections on a sunny Friday morning in Kenya, far from those front lines (but close enough to many others that this won't be a well-researched long-pondered post, but like all of them, simply personal immediate reflections from my heart).  

First, what I LIKE about Invisible Children.

Eight million children die in the world every year.  Four million of those deaths occur in Africa, invisibly to most of the rest of the world.  The people with money and power and weapons and decisions are not often confronted with the most significant realities of our current time.  So when talented passionate young people with resources pour their lives into making the invisible visible, that is a step towards change.  We are a global community and the voices of the most vulnerable will not be heard, their faces will not be seen, unless someone with cameras and internet access and computers and the ability to write and speak in widely accessible languages, takes time and money to do so.  When Jesus was walking around Palestine, he stopped to touch and listen to and heal very marginalized people, often to the dismay of his supporters.  

The Lord's Resistance Army has left a decade-long trail of abduction, murder, rape, arson, enslavement, war, and chaos in a swathe across central Africa.   Read Aboke Girls (http://www.amazon.com/Girls-Children-Abducted-Northern-Uganda/dp/9970022563) for a chilling first-hand account of their tactics in raiding a girls' secondary school and capturing 139 13-16 year old girls for sexual slavery and use as child soldiers (109 were rescued when a lone Italian nun who was one of their teachers, and a Ugandan employee, tracked the raiders on foot and asked for the girls back).  Or watch "War Dance" (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=documentary+uganda+music+competition+&x=10&y=18), a well-done documentary about an LRA-affected community of children entering a music competition in Uganda.  This is palpable, unadorned evil, flourishing in a vacuum of order and resources.  Contrary to uninformed comments by an American political commentator recently, this is NOT a liberation movement fighting for Christian values.  The beliefs and methods of the LRA are demonic.  

The video interviews Luis Ocampo, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (who also has his hands full with corrupt politicians from Kenya who instigated post-election violence here a few years ago).  There is a clear message that the leader of the LRA, Joseph Kony, should be brought to justice.  This is a Biblical theme.  Some people water down the message of Jesus.  Peace and Love are strong words that can not exist in a messed-up world without Justice.  

Invisible Children has brought this story to the world.  And has used some of the resultant revenue for tangible good.  My own daughter Julia slept in a dorm built by the Invisible Children organization at a school in Gulu when her Ugandan football team played in a national tournament there.  She was the same age as most abductees.  I was thankful for the solid walls and doors that kept her safe at night.  

Now, what bothered me.

The video seems to be as much about the excitement of a popular movement as it is about the reality of war in Africa.  There is some way that bracelets and posters and marches and kits kind of bother me, can't quite put my finger on it, but by simplifying the problem and making the response a feel-good we're-cool party, something is lost.  This is most grating in the sequence with the cute blonde little American boy, son of the author, pointing to the picture of Kony as the "bad guy".  With a reference to Star Wars.  I give the creative team some benefit of doubt, perhaps this helps a wider audience relate to the problem.  But for me it was too cutesy, to trivializing.  One "bad guy" is not the root cause of the problem.  Kony only continues to survive, and perhaps thrive, because the issues he feeds on are broader and deeper.  
1.  Africans kill each other because they believe they have to for the survival of their own children.  The Acoli people felt marginalized post-Amin (who was a northerner as well) when Museveni came to power.  There were many small rebel movements who did not buy into the unifying post-Amin government.  This is the root of the Rwandan genocide as well.  And I suspect many of us would be willing to fight against a group (another tribe, etc) if we believed it was a choice between them or our kids.  
2.  Adults  join rebel movements when they are desperate.  You don't find the well-off taking those risks.  It's easier to believe the "other" tribe is a danger to your survival when your survival hangs by a thread.  Poverty and fear are the context for the LRA, and those are complex problems that require life-long investment.  Perhaps life-ending investment.  Jesus defeated evil by laying down his life.  Christians today can not defeat evil by pushing a share button or attending a fundraiser.  Those are good things, but at some level a bigger sacrifice is required.  To build schools and bring clean water, to protect the widow and orphan, to care for the environment creatively so that food and fuel are adequate to sustain life, to embody the love of Jesus in a way that the poor can hear and see and touch and be transformed.  I know this sounds hard, and I don't mean it to sound self-righteous.  We struggle with this issues, with our natural tendency to walk across the road and ignore the beat-up man on the ground.  I hope the excitement and awareness of this generation will propel hundreds and thousands to turn away from a life devoted to comfort and enter into the hard and dangerous work of teaching and healing and preaching.  It won't be easy, or quick.  Real solutions rarely are.
3.  Children join rebel movements against their will, but then they stay.  Because they've been traumatically psychologically injured and enslaved in a way that is powerful and binding.  They are targeted because this is only possible with humans who are at critical formative stages of development.  Removing Kony from his position of leadership is a good thing.  But there are tens of thousands of children who are now in their teens and 20's, who need reconciliation with their communities.  Who need land and jobs and homes and an alternate way of life.  This requires counselors, teachers, medical people, artists, parental influences, pastors.  
4.  The "big man" is part of African culture in a way that Americans perhaps do not appreciate.  We Americans are egalitarian.  Anyone can do anything.  Africans have more respect for elders, and leaders.  Putting one man's name on campaign-like posters all over the world could backfire.  People could respect him as someone able to evade international capture.  People could come to believe in his spiritual powers even more firmly.  His status and ability to inspire fear could grow.  Africans who resent western interference could actually begin to protect him.  
5.  The LRA is not the biggest problem that African children face.  Poor care for pregnant women, unsafe deliveries.  Preventable infections.  Malaria.  HIV-AIDS.  Malnutrition.  Abysmal schooling.  These are killing 3,990,000 of the 4 million.  Again the solutions here can not be condensed into a bright red one-word poster.  But as long as this video is circulating and generating discussion, let us think about the invisible majority who are taken by the chronic background of high mortality.  I watched two babies die this week directly related to the health care strike in Kenya.  Corruption on the part of politicians, and self-promoting desperation on the part of health care workers.  I just got off the phone following up the rape of several young girls in our community.  Cover-up on the part of parents, and police.  There are forces of evil at work here, bigger than Kony.  Some reports say that the LRA has dwindled to about 250 combatants.  Those are valuable lives that deserve justice and rescue, but let's pour ourselves into bigger problems too.


Perhaps oversimplification is inevitable in a culture raised on the one-minute sound bite.  Our attention spans are limited.  Few people are probably still reading this far into this post.  If you really want to get the full picture, here is a link to a blog that links further on to dozens of articles and resources:  http://rachelheldevans.com/invisible-children-kony-2012-resources

My problem with the critics, too.

It's always easy to find something to criticize when 32 million people jump on a bandwagon.  I won't say much here, but there is one issue I can't ignore.  Many of the critical comments imply that the UPDF, the Ugandan army, is just as bad the LRA.  Having been personally rescued from rebels by the UPDF, I have to say this is not a fair comparison.  They have done some bad things, as has the American military.  But as African armies go, I would rather meet the UPDF in a remote jungle than any other I can think of.  Ugandan political decisions have taken a bad turn in the last couple of years in suppressing dissent.  And whenever you have young men with guns some bad things will happen.  But the UPDF is a force of stability, working in harsh conditions, with minimal resources.  They are in no way comparable to the LRA which only exists to prey upon innocent civilians.  That said, supporting the UPDF has little impact on Kony now.  They must stay vigilant, but in reality Kony has fled far from even the border of Uganda for many years now.  It is really an African Union issue.

Here is the link to Invisible Children's response to the critics:  http://www.invisiblechildren.com.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com/critiques.html

Parting comments.

My hour to post is almost up.  So I want to end with two bigger picture comments about viruses and Kony.  First, while the video has gone "viral", one could say that Kony himself is like a virus.  A harmful, infective particle that has to commandeer the resources of healthy cells to exist and propagate.  But as Solzhenitsyn wrote, the line between good and evil runs through every human heart.  Kony's heart, and mine.  Do I believe this man is redeemable?  Am I?  Well, is there any evil too great for God to forgive?  Kony is a human being, not a virus.  As are his victims.  We can learn from our brothers and sisters in Rwanda and South Africa, and from those who are attempting peace and reconciliation in Northern Uganda, and South Sudan.  Africans lead the world in forgiveness.  The success of rebuilding Rwanda came from a military intervention to stop the genocide and establish safety (a local military, after the failure of the international peacekeepers).  Then a public, organized, system of trial for bringing the leaders to justice.  And then a community-level system for re-assimilating the perpetrators, for telling the truth, for acts of forgiveness.  Africans know how to do this in ways that are amazing and humbling, and we shouldn't get in the way.

Second, Jesus and politics do mix, just not in the way most think.  Jesus was a politically challenging figure.  It is good for Christians to think about and involve themselves in issues like war and international courts and school buildings and media.  But we shouldn't confuse our American ideals with Christian truths.  Sometimes they are parallel, but often they are not.  Even as Jesus lived on earth, much of what he said was politically shocking and confusing to his followers and detractors alike.  Here is the reading from NT Wright today, in Lent for Everyone (Friday, week 2):
But what is the real battle? For Jesus, it wasn't the battle they all expected him to fight — with the occupying Roman troops, or with Herod and his supporters, or perhaps even with the Sadducees and their would-be aristocratic clique in charge of Jerusalem and the Temple. Jesus' followers probably thought he would fight one or all of them. Having watched as he did many other remarkable things, it was quite easy for them to believe that he could fight a supernatural battle against these natural enemies. Jesus himself spoke, later on, of being able to call several legions of angels to his help. But on that occasion he refused; because that was the wrong sort of battle to be fighting. In fact, as gradually becomes clear, the real battle is against violence itself, against the normal human wickedness that shows itself in the desire for brute force to win the day. If you fight fire with fire, fire still wins. And Jesus has come to win the victory over fire itself, over the rule of the bullies and the power-brokers, in favour of the poor, the meek, the mourners, the pure in heart. It is precisely because Jesus is right in the middle of the real battle that it is vital not to confuse it with other battles. The real battle, then, is against the real enemy, who is not the flesh-and-blood enemy of foreign soldiers, or even renegade Israelites. (When the Romans crushed the Jewish rebellion in ad 66—70, more Jews were killed by other Jews, in bitter factional fighting, than were killed by the Romans themselves — and they killed quite a lot.) The real enemy is the power of darkness, the insidious, sub-personal force of death, deceit and destruction that goes in scripture by the name of 'the Satan', which means 'the accuser'. It goes by other names, too; a familiar one was 'Beelzebub', which means literally 'Lord of the flies'.

Let us follow in His steps, into harm's way, to spotlight injustice, to walk alongside the suffering, to lend whatever gifts God has blessed us with to bless others.  And let us remember that our real enemy is not Kony, but the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms, the forces that will only be overcome by prayer and service, by the blood of Jesus and the living word and testimony of His followers who do not love their lives unto death (Rev. 12:11).







29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Scott and Jennifer: Thanks for posting on this, and for your perspective. I'd been emailing with Heather Frazier on this topic this week, and she pointed me to this post this morning.

Benjer McVeigh said...

Hmm...I thought I'd entered my name. That above comment is from me. Apparently I'm still figuring out Blogger's new comment interface!

Mrs. Hiccup said...

Thanks so much for these thoughts... The problems are deeper, wider, more profound than they might seem at first glance or sound byte. I'm going to share this with some friends.

The Petersons said...

Great post! I really appreciate your thoughts. Thank you for taking the time to share them. -Matt

J Stew said...

Thank you so much for sharing. It is refreshing to hear from Jesus loving people who have done the hard work and sacrificed because of the grace they have been given. I was just reading in Luke 14:12-14 this morning...
"He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

My fear is that with the generations growing up in the "west" that we will simply become mindless, emotional, and reactional societies. I thank God for the information we have access to from basically anywhere but I believe it causes us to be lazy in using the minds the Lord has given us...minds to love Him and others. Minds to bring about the redemption and restoration that you write about.

Bill Steere said...

Thanks for writing this - amid the clamor. It is so easy to trivialize deep issues because we want a simple graspable explanation.
So good to meet you both on my recent trip. You mean the world to Andy and Mardi - you are exceptional mentors in many ways. Thanks also for the use of the sleeping bag!!
Bill Steere

Renee said...

Great Post... Very well rounded and true...

Laura Ward said...

Thank you for your thoughtful, nuanced perspective. Libba Long Roberts directed me to this post and as an MK who grew up in East Africa, I resonate with your thoughts on this complex issue. Your post has challenged me to think more deeply, and to encourage others to do the same.

Rache said...

Hi Scott and Jennifer,

I think you bring up relevant and good issues and, certainly, you have put your "money where your mouth is" (or better yet your obedience to your faith!) in your work over in Africa. So I just want to start by saying, “awesome work!” And thank you for being out there in the heat of the battle and sacrificing all you have – particularly as I sit in a Starbucks coffeed-up, showered and cozy while I write you this comment.

I too am a Christian and I have been really inspired by the efforts of Invisible Children for the past few years, ever since I saw them come to Nyack. I wanted to share some of my thoughts on your post, which I heard about from a good friend of mine over at Nyack College. It was interesting to read it, particularly as I just presented the video to my students and plan on attending and writing about the IC movement. May I share with them your blog post, as we discuss the Kony 2012 campaign? I also wanted to share some of my thoughts on this, as it’s been on my mind the last few days.

I completely agree with you in that these are complicated issues with some oversimplifications in the video. To recap a few that you mention: Yes, we are definitely persuaded by the pathos of watching a really cute little blond kid (so cute)! And we receive the message that Kony is "the bad guy" that we need to stop. I agree: a simple removal of Kony will not solve everything. Didn’t we think (or at least our politicians encouraged us to think) that removing Saddam would improve Iraq? As far as I know, things still aren’t so great over there. And as you point out: everyone has good/evil in them. Kony is presented alongside of comments on Star Wars, which evokes the Hollywood common trope of the overblown Darth Vader-Lord Sauron-Voldemort-Agent Smith-Scar- bad guy. It plays upon our hunger and thirst for justice. (I want to note though that even if Kony is just a person, he has grossly participated in the enemy’s efforts and I know we agree on this. So I agree with the 3 year old: I think we need to go after him and stop him! Add to that that we need to temper that with forgiveness and love. He is, after all, just a person. But, as you’ve noted about the LRA, there is something demonic about their actions. What I hope is that those at IC are blessed with the ability to balance mercy with justice in their hearts. Balance is excruciatingly difficult!) Anyway, to me, there's no doubt that we are reached by the video in a very "low-patience-inspiring-Hollywood-American way."

But I think the fundamental question in all of this is: "will removing Kony be a positive step?" Of course, I'm really not positive actually.

But I tend to think that removing Kony will be positive. Why? I’m not sure. It is my judgment that the filmmaker’s have good intentions. Of course that’s not enough. But I also think they are seekers of truth. They went out there to seek truth (or to put together a really awesome movie, but I think it’s the former) and I think they’ve had meetings of the minds with a lot of people, from the common man (or child!) up to politicians, and not just those in America but in Uganda. In seeking diverse counsel, it seems they are going about their efforts practically and wisely, along with having a noble purpose. This, of course, is just my estimation. And though they may not present the story as wisely as they may know it, I think they present it shrewdly. (cont. next post)

Rache said...

So the answer to the question, “will removing Kony be positive?” to me results in a yes, I really (and hopefully) think so. And if it will, let's do it: "The end justifies the means." I think that the filmmakers are of this belief. Facing obstructions on every side to the pragmatics of actually affecting change, the filmmakers have found a very young and fresh approach. They aren't fighting evil with evil. But they are using a manipulative approach through media. And I'm ok with “manipulative” if the purposed intention is good. Jesus says, "be innocent as a dove," but he also says be "shrewd as a snake." I think these filmmakers are being shrewd as snakes in the way they are presenting this issue. They are taking social media that is fully symbolic of American-lack-of-patience, and using it to stir hearts. They are taking the celebrity culture and turning it on its head. Can this be done? I'm not sure. But I think that these are the means available to us Christians, especially those of us in America. So even though this method may (and does, as Russell notes himself) oversimplify the issues, I think there is merit in it.

After all, Paul says, “to the Jew, I become a Jew; to the Greek, a Greek.” Wouldn’t this be an excellent example of meeting people where they are at? In their comfy, virtual worlds of celebrity culture – meet them there, and slowly draw them out! ☺ This is first and foremost about those in Africa who have been the victims of great atrocity and pain. But this is also about those who would help. Those who help others are “reached” too; living in America, this is my “mission field.” There are a lot of people here who are in great pain. I guess it’s kind of ridiculous to state that. And I realize the absurdity and perhaps even insensitivity of my comment. But as a Christian, I guess ultimately I think that the worst sort of pain is being separated from God and the subsequent chaos in life that results from (often) our own hands! And so that is why I can say that. I speak as one who has never lost a parent or a loved one by the hand of brute violence, or been forced to kill. I speak ignorantly, from what I know…

Rache said...

As a writer, I have to constantly ask my students to identify advertisement appeals – ethos, pathos, and logos. They are everywhere here! I want them to be aware when they are being manipulated. But I want them to know that it is OK to be “swayed” to a good cause. If we don’t allow ourselves to be emotionally persuaded sometimes, we will become like the jaded skeptic – all minds and no hearts. We’ll routinely and indiscriminately walk by homeless because we’ll say to ourselves that they will probably just spend it on alcohol anyway. The mind can be an enemy if it doesn’t allow itself to succumb to emotional appeals. So though I recognize the oversimplification and the pathos in this rousing video, I’m into it. I’m inspired. I won’t lie – I need a little of that. I need a little hope. And I think we all really want to believe that there is hope. Russell offers hope in a clear, direct voice. He speaks as one “with authority.” And I’m willing to go with him on it.

I think my students are of the same mind. I showed the video to my college writing students and they were SO excited. I just think that this excitement is awesome! I'm excited to see them get into something that “means something.” I don't want that kind of idealism to be tempered -- I've found from first hand experience that soon enough, life has a way with doing that! I don't doubt that some will get excited and - like seeds fallen on rocks that don't take root -they'll fall away when the "bigger problems" or the Christ-sacrifice-to-death-like-situations that you talk about come up. But you can't take huge leaps of faith without taking small steps. So ultimately, I think that, of the Americans that jump on the bandwagon, some will actually change their lives from this movement and ultimately confront the bigger problems. So I kind of think: let them have the small first. Let them see how awesome it feels to press "share" in their safe social networking environment. To donate a few dollars. To buy an “action kit” and take 30 minutes to post a flyer instead of spending 30 minutes on Facebook. Perhaps that will grow so that one day they will be standing out there with you - how cool! I think Jason Russell and the others from IC are cool examples of how these seeds have begun to sprout! They've definitely put a lot of work into this and I think that work results in a harvest if it's good -- we'll see what the fruit of this all is?

You mention that the LRA may have only 250 combatants and then you say accurately that: "Those are valuable lives that deserve justice and rescue, but let's pour ourselves into bigger problems too." Then you mention that: "Perhaps oversimplification is inevitable in a culture raised on the one-minute sound bite."

While I completely agree with your statement, I think that what you are saying (and with all due respect) is an oversimplification of the issue, too. I don’t really think we can get around over-simplifications. Certain things are less simplified than others. But, ultimately, the world is in such a tangle by sin. And we have to figure out, as Christians, how to make it better. We can’t swallow a horse without taking a bite of it first. (Oh, poor horse!) And, ultimately, I think we aren't going to throw ourselves into bigger problems until we take some little steps of faith first: “those that are faithful with a few things will be given more…” And those who are getting excited by this, for the most part, are just not going to tackle the big problems. Not yet, at least. So let’s leave them (and me) the small pressing of a button and hope more of us join “the big.” The big problems you guys are tackling, probably everyday. So thank you!! ☺

Rache said...

Like Russell says, “people don’t know.” He is referring to Kony. But I think it applies to something else: let the people know about goodness. Raise interest in justice and then maybe in time these mustard seeds will sprout into a tree “that the birds perch in.” I think the filmmakers are operating off of this assumption.

What's bugging me, more than the oversimplification of the video, are the American critics are out there poking holes in the "means" of the IC approach when a lot of them are not out there on the front lines. (This does not include you!) I feel like when someone tries to do good, we have this tendency to pick out why it’s not good-enough. (“Speck in the eye?”) This doesn’t mean, of course, that there shouldn’t be room for careful, thoughtful discussion like you are engaging in. My comments reach out more to those who – most of them without front line experience – are looking to criticize the tactics of these young people. Sure, it’s a pathos-filled video. Yes, it’s trendy. Who cares? That’s my ultimate, personal conclusion. It kind of makes me mad because it is a waste of time to jump in to stop the “not-good-enough” stuff when there is so much really, really bad stuff out there for them to rail about. To them I say, “too bad that the video wasn’t perfect.” And “too bad that you feel that the filmmakers are too trendy and that the film is about Jason Russell and his hero-ego.” To them I say, “If Jason Russell has an ego, yours is much bigger in judging him.” Sorry! That sounds so harsh! And I am not speaking to you. I’m just annoyed by the skeptics that are all brain and no heart. Or are so fixated on what’s not perfect that they may miss a good boat as it sails away. How can we make any good change if we spend hours and years and lives arguing about how to achieve good? The “how to” achieve good is certainly so important (“a wise man builds his house not with wood, hay or straw”); but, in the end, there will never be a perfect way. Any way that’s chosen will inevitably be tinted by human beings and our management of the “project.” I think I’d rather see someone try and fail then not try at all. I’d rather see people ban together and “go for it.” I sort of think (from my limited knowledge) that it can’t make things that much worse. Right? That said, I do respect the opinion of those who have legitimate concerns about the actual pragmatics and implications of finding Kony. There may be real reasons why doing so could bring more unrest? I’m not versed in politics or in cause/effect logistics in war-torn areas.If there is a way that capturing Kony could make things worse, I’m listening. But since he’s not leading the country or anything like that, I kind of think that it can’t hurt to capture him. Now, truth be told, once he is captured, there will probably be 5 others that rise up in his place! Ugh! But I have to put that aside and see a little hope. Removing Kony from his evil work will not remove evil. But I think we have to take little victories as they come – and work for them – or else we will have sick hearts. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick!”

Rache said...

I guess I view all of this all as a positive step: it raises awareness for Africa and gives the American young populace a taste for good works. I could be wrong. Someone said to me recently (an educated writer) that he didn't want to believe in God because "evil is much more fun." I wish I had thought to respond that, "it is because he had not tasted goodness, righteousness, glory, forgiveness, love and justice." Because at the time I could commiserate – there is something fun about evil. Something alluring. But there is just SO much more fun to seeing good stuff happen to people. I think the young that see this video are getting a sense of this "good stuff" right now and I'm hoping that whets their appetites so that, a few years later, a few more mistakes, and a few more Freudian-lost-objects afterward, they can still have passion for good. If we can help just a few of our brothers and sisters – in Africa and in America – I hope we do it! Help, it seems, for everyone, is hope… This trend could bring a little of it to everyone… I hope! All best, Rachel

Joey Cook said...

Great perspective, thanks for sharing. I haven't been to Africa yet (going to Ethiopia for the first time this summer) so I don't really have a good grasp of Afircan culture so I really appreciate your voice on this. I'm a youth pastor in Nova Scotia so my grasp is better on N.A. culture, so I know that this is one of the few things in recent years that has the indifferent generation I work with excited and motivated to do something (whether we actually do something remains to be seen). The truth is most of them live on Facebook and Twitter and have no idea what's happening around the world (most adults too for that matter). So while I agree that there are lots of things about the film and the movement that are seem trivialized, this is the first time in years, maybe ever that young people around me are opening there eyes to things that are happening around the world. The Church here largely doesn't give a rip for what's happening, maybe this can wake the church up too. I know the issues are super complex and finding Kony is just pebble in the ocean compared to the volume of the problem, but if it gets people to see the ocean at least its a start. I think these guys got called by Jesus to help stop Kony, we can't rest all the issues of poverty and pain in Africa on them, what we can do is see how they responded to the thing they are called to do and ask Jesus what he's calling us to do. Hopefully it leads to a generation standing up and helping to end more of the problems of poverty and justice for least of these.
Thanks for your work in Keyna, and shedding some much needed perspective for the rest of us and keeping in real,
Be Blessed.

smiddyra1 said...

Thank you so much for sharing this!

DrsMyhre said...

Thanks everyone for reading. I do believe the intent is holy, and that the Spirit will bring much good out of all this awareness and discussion. Pray for the children of Africa. Jennifer

Anonymous said...

Maybe the real revelation is in why KONY2012 is so appealing, so inspiring? Maybe joining this will solve my underlying sense that I need to be part of something else, something beyond myself, something with meaning, something that can make a difference in this world. That yearning is strong and I know it- I just don't know how to satisfy it. Where do I fit in? What can I do, really?

Kony 2012 offers the excitement of joining something big, something important, something beyond my trivial pursiuts and further, offers an opportunity to do something specific and definite against something definitely bad.

I long to find a place where I can be a part of doing something to make things right in the world.

The Drs. McLaughlin said...

Jennifer, thanks for the time you devote to writing, in the midst of a lot of busyness.

A. Nash said...

Thanks for your comments on Kony 2012. Because my wife and I found your broader and deeper perspective on the problems and needs in Africa most helpful, we put together a hand-out sheet containing a link to your web-site and made it available to our fellow church members in Ft. Madison, Iowa, this morning. My wife will take the same hand-out to her Bible Study on Tuesday which includes people from other churches and communities.

Mike Wise said...

Nice work... on several levels.

BSFmama said...

I always appreciate hearing from someone who's either "been there or done that." I have been hearing about the children hiding at night to evade the LRA's army for years and could never figure out why someone wasn't doing something about it. So I am not surprised that someone is trying now, but there are always bigger, badder problems to address. I, too, fear that this viral message will cause some to idolize Kony because of all the worldwide media attention, and more Konys will emerge as a result.

Gretchen said...

Scott and Jennifer, thank you. I came to your blog at Challies.com recommendation and was greatly helped by your thoughtful information. I too forwarded the Kony video on to others and was fascinated and touched by the issues it brought to my attention. Yours is the first article I've taken time to read about Kony since seeing the video and the balance with which you report the story is just perfect. Again thanks.

I especially appreciated "Peace and Love are strong words that can not exist in a messed-up world without Justice. " Also, I thought you made your point well here "But we shouldn't confuse our American ideals with Christian truths. Sometimes they are parallel, but often they are not. Even as Jesus lived on earth, much of what he said was politically shocking and confusing to his followers and detractors alike. "
Blessings in your service!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this! It does help to give a broader perspective on the issue. Kindest regards from Holland.

Jill said...

My husband and I really appreciated reading this today. Thanks for taking the time to write all this for us to mull over.

Anonymous said...

thank you for sharing

Anonymous said...

Hello,

This was an excellent article and I appreciate its depth and insight.

I guess I'm too simplistic. I just see the need and don't analyze the what ifs.

Of course, this is a nation and not about bringing someone a pie and worrying if they don't like apple.

Yet, at the same time, I liken this story to the Holocaust and the 6 million Jews who were murdered. Isn't it okay to just go in and rescue? If at all possible? And leave the details to God? And won't Jesus receive the act of love, even if it's not perfect?

I will read your article several times. Thank-you.

Sango Jacques said...

I recently retired from 28 years of ministry in several counties of central Africa. I watched Kony 2012 and much appreciated your from-experience analysis, etc. I would write more now, but I am recovering from a broken arm.

Sango Jacques said...
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