Mzungu Memoirs

Kony Who?

Many of you, along with 70 million of your closest friends, have probably viewed the Kony 2012 video developed by Invisible Children, a San-Diego based charity.  Garnering a large support base and raising awareness of Ugandan history, the video is unfortunately about 10-15 years too late.  Although well addressing a serious issue, the video only scratches the surface of the complexity of broader regional issues.

Despite Rush Limbaugh’s claims of the Lord’s Resistance Army involving Christians fighting Muslims in Sudan, the LRA in reality acts diametrically opposite to that of the Lord Jesus.

The Lord’s Resistance Army, now led by the messianic psychopath Joseph Kony, had the initial intention of overthrowing the Ugandan government.  Enlisting child soldiers, raping women, burning villages, and spreading terror has been their method for three decades.  Between LRA child soldiering and Ugandan government IDP camps, Northern Uganda was ravaged for about 30 years up until about 2007.  During my first trip to Uganda in 2004, we discovered the LRA had fired an RPG into a loaded bus with 14 passengers about 30 miles from where we were located, killing all the occupants.  A previous blog First Mzungus in the Village – 10 Apr 2011 describes some stories I heard of the LRA’s terror while on a recent project trip.

By 2007, the LRA had been pushed into Sudan, DR Congo and the Central African Republic.

Recent news of 100 US troops in Uganda, the Hollywood movie “Machine Gun Preacher” and now the Kony 2012 video have catapulted this issue into at least United States media.  Previously, 30 years of strife in Uganda barely made a paragraph in major newspapers.  But now, the discovery of oil reserves in Uganda, potentially the size of Saudi Arabia’s, seems to have turned heads in Washington.

Child soldiering is a serious problem all over the world, not just in Uganda’s recent past.  With regards to total numbers, the worst is Myanmar, where the predominantly Christian Karen ethnic group is suffering a genocide.  Other places that come to mind are the DR Congo (1994-2006) and Afghanistan.  Other recent hotspots include Sierra Leone, Liberia and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was happening in North Korea.

I wholeheartedly agree that Joseph Kony is a complete madman that has committed heinous atrocities against humanity.  Talk about someone who needs Jesus.  But then again, I need Jesus too.

There are a lot more regional (Central African) political issues beyond just getting rid of one “bad guy”. Some leaders are trying to become regional power brokers, the DR Congo had its first election in over 40 years in 2006, South Sudan is the newest country in the world right now, Chad is still dealing with Christian vs. Muslim strife, North Africa has been a volatile cocktail over the past two years, and the recent civil war in the DR Congo featured armies from seven other African countries fighting over natural resources and money.

Africa is way more complex than most of us see or understand.

Several of you have asked for our opinions since we live in Uganda.  All I can say is Kony has not been in Uganda for at least six years and the Ugandan military that the Kony 2012 video encourages to support has been known for its own brutality and would have to operate in potentially three other countries.

I have worked with several organizations who are serving in Northern Uganda to rebuild and rehabilitate the scars left from three decades of war.  We also know several at our church who live in Kampala working with organizations serving in the north.  There are a lot of good things happening here.

I hope that helps shed what little light I know on a very complex issue.

This world is fallen and poisoned with sin.  It does not fully show the Glory of God, only glimpses.  When I have preached or been asked to share or encourage people on project trips, I often struggle with the thought, “How do I, born into a society of privilege and wealth, actually offer any encouragement to people who have endured so much pain, whether through extreme poverty, wars, witnessing the murder of family, relocation, oppression, or so much more?”  What I keep going back to is the passage in Romans 8.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:35-39

Some helpful links:

Some reflections and thoughts on the KONY 2012 video from the MISSIONS 101 blog of Training Leaders International:  MISSIONS 101 Blog

Perspective of an Acholi man who survived the LRA war in Northern Uganda.  Written by Kilama Dennis, Academic Registrar at Africa Renewal Christian College.  Kony 2012: A Survivor’s Perspective  Interestingly, this college was founded by Pastor Peter Kasirivu, who I worked with for my first Uganda eMi project in 2004.

Ugandan responses to the video:  Many Ugandans frustrated, suspicious of Kony 2012 Video

Another blog on the Training Leaders International MISSIONS 101 blog about Invisible Children and social media:  MISSIONS 101 Blog2

Reviews on charitable organizations:  Charity Navigator

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