Finding God in Aid to Children Despite the Kony 2012 Controversy
Seven years ago I became aware of a movement against a man named Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) upon seeing a film produced by Invisible Children.
The images in the film stuck with me for years; masses of Ugandan children hiding and sleeping in bunkers at night for fear of being kidnapped, then those who were captured, forced to commit murder. It was painful to see interviews with children who had been victimized before finally being rescued.
On March 5, 2012, film director Jason Russel uploaded Kony 2012 to YouTube to increase public awareness through social media on the plight of these children. (See the video below.) Three days later, the video had 50 million views and as of today it has been viewed a phenomenal 87,945,716 times.
Meanwhile, as typical on the Internet, many impulsive viewers posted harsh and vulgar comments about Russel, including accusations about lack of financial accountability. Russel emphatically disputed these claims in a video interview (see below) and he also posted online Invisible Children financial annual reports.
Russel has also been accused of not keeping current with the LRA activity (countries affected), yet below the Kony 2012 YouTube video, he included the message, ”You can learn more about Invisible Children’s recovery efforts in the post-conflict regions of northern Uganda AND their work with communities currently affected in D.R.Congo, Central African Republic and South Sudan at: http://www.invisiblechildren.com/programs.html. ” Additionally, there is also a link connecting to Real Time Reports on LRA Activity in the D.R.Congo, Central African Republic and South Sudan.
Sadly, within two weeks of posting Kony 2012 online, Russel suffered a temporary mental breakdown attributed to stress and severe dehydration and was hospitalized (not arrested) for exhibiting disturbing public behavior.
According to a Reuters article by By Dan Whitcomb and Cynthia Johnston, Ben Keesey (Invisible Children CEO) stated:
“The past two weeks have taken a severe emotional toll on all of us, Jason especially, and that toll manifested itself in an unfortunate incident yesterday,” and “Jason’s passion and his work have done so much to help so many, and we are devastated to see him dealing with this personal health issue.”
The full impact of the Kony 2012 video remains to be seen. Yet when my own teen daughter told me about it with tears in her eyes, I knew that video must have sensitized millions of young people to the needs of terrorized children in other countries.
More Help from Samaritan’s Purse
Samaritan’s Purse is another organization that has provided emergency aid to thousands affected by the LRA. Here’s a quote from Franklin Graham (son of the Rev. Billy Graham) in the April 2012 newsletter I received in the mail today, with the article: Combating Kony’s Reign of Terror: “Samaritan’s Purse is no stranger to Kony. For more than a decade, we have been ministering to the victims of his atrocities in Uganda, South Sudan, and Democratic Republic of the Congo.” Samaritan’s Purse continues to provide food, clean water, shelter and help for victimized children.
The Samaritan’s Purse online version of the article added: “Kony claims to be a spirit medium who communicates with the Holy Spirit and with angels he knows by name. He mixes elements of Christianity, voodooism, and tribal beliefs into a twisted belief system that condones murder, rape, child abduction, and slavery to achieve his goals.”
What a terrible crime it is, not only for Kony to commit such atrocities but to also tarnish Christianity and to take our Lord’s name in vain. Please pray that despite the Kony 2012 controversy, many children will find help. Pray as well for the Russel family.
Invisible Children CEO Responds to ‘Kony 2012′ Criticism
KONY 2012: Part II – Beyond Famous plus Cover the Night call to action: