A few weeks ago, I saw many of my friends on Facebook writing about and discussing the Invisible Children documentary Kony 2012. If you happen to be uninformed, it is a thirty minute film about Joseph Kony, a Ugandan warlord who kidnaps children, forcing them to fight in his army, known as the Lord’s Resistance Army. The movie is supposed to be a call to action, publicizing Kony’s crimes and causing the world to pursue and bring him to justice. Invisible Children also has an Action Kit, which is filled with T-shirts, bracelets, and posters; from what I understand these sold out within days of the release of the Kony 2012 film.
This post is not a critique of the film, because plenty of people are doing that, and I myself am among the few who have not seen it. I am not personally attacking anyone involved with Invisible Children’s work. This post is an appeal to those of my friends who have seen the film and would consider themselves a supporter.
Ironically, I have not heard a peep from anyone since a few weeks ago about Uganda or the atrocities that continue to happen there. What this has shown me is that we are primarily a sensational generation. By this, I mean that we move from one tragedy to the next, like bees flitting from one flower to another; our care for these issues is only momentary. The question is, how much have we really done?
Do you remember a year ago, when Japan was struck by an earthquake and tsunami, causing their nuclear power plants to fail and destroying many homes? Even after a year, there are still people there who are suffering, besides the fact that the Japanese people remain one of the most unevangelized people groups in the world. Or what about Haiti – for a moment, the lens was on them; yet despite large amounts of orphans and homeless still there, you don’t hear much about them. And they are still in need of the gospel.
Why does it take a tragedy or a documentary to open our eyes to the needs of the world around us? There are people starving physically and spiritually all over this earth, but unless they are struck by a tsunami or an earthquake, we turn a blind eye. And then our eyes are opened, but only for a brief moment; we blink in shock, cry out in horror, and turn our faces away. What have we really done?
1 John 3:18 tells us, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” It is very easy to update your Facebook status, proclaiming how shocked you are about some tragedy; it is very easy to wear a wristband you bought to support some cause. I can say I love someone, but words can only do so much. What is our attitude towards these things? Is it, “That’s awful!” or “What can I do to help?”
God has called us to more. It is easy to feel like we’ve done our duty, spreading the word about these tragedies; we can pat ourselves on the back and say, “Well done.” We say we love those far away, but do we really?
Not only that, but hear me on this, for I am guilty of this as well: what have you done lately for your family? Your neighbors? Your co-workers? Your friends? Your enemies? It is so easy to say we support some cause overseas, because we garner the applause from the world around us. You don’t get that from washing the dishes, cleaning the bathroom, or going the extra mile at work. Anyone who is without Christ around you is without hope in this earth (Eph. 2:12); they could be dying inside, and you may be unaware. Your Christian friends could be struggling with their faith or some tragedy in their own life; have you opened your eyes, ears and hearts to them?
Friends, I am not saying it is bad to spread the word about Joseph Kony or any tragedy in this earth. I am not saying that if you are the type to go to places like Haiti when there’s a tragedy to support them, that that act is wrong. I am simply asking you, what are you doing about the tragedies that occur around you daily? How are you praying for and loving on those closest to you? For if we do not love our actual neighbors, what makes us think we actually love our foreign “neighbors”?
Uganda doesn’t primarily need Kony to be stopped; its primary need is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the hope of Eternal Life, and the forgiveness of sins. Praise God if Kony is once and for all brought to justice; but Jesus said that “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents” (Luke 15:10).
Let us bring the good news to all, starting with those sitting right next to us.
I would like to share two videos as well that helped me put my thoughts into words. The first is much less serious, titled “You Are Not an Activist”; much of what I said was inspired by this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4U5sPXSvFXY
The second video is quite different, and is a story from a Ugandan about the power of the gospel and forgiveness. I hope you are as blessed by this as I was: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pdNgQr-I6w