Kony 2012 Response

I believe many of you have noticed Uganda in the news lately, especially in regards to the video put out by Invisible Children titled Kony 2012, which has been all over Youtube and facebook. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Joseph Kony, he is the leader of the rebel group, the L.R.A. (Lord’s Resistance Army) and for too many years has believed that he is doing the “Lord’s” work by forcing children to kill their parents and many others by becoming child soldiers. The atrocities and horrors of what he has done are endless. That is just the nutshell version.

Many have emailed or asked us what our thoughts are about the current video. Our ministry New Hope Uganda has put out a brief response to this video which really gets to the heart of what we believe about this whole situation. It is worth checking out.

Jonnes Bakimi and Charles are the men in the video. Jonnes Bakimi has served with New Hope for nearly 25 years and co-founded the ministry. Charles was a former child soldier and he is now part of New Hope as one of our sons we have taken in at our Kobwin Children’s Center.

Also included immediately below in this post is the written response of Keith McFarland. Keith is the director of the New Hope Institute of Childcare and Family and I think you will be interested to read some of what he wrote.

Are you tired of hearing about Kony? I hope not. We’ve been living with him in our backyard for many years. I am thankful for the publicity that the video Kony2012 has generated regarding Kony and Northern Uganda. Yet for many who have viewed the video, the natural question has been, “So what do I do with this?” The questions have been coming to those of us living in Uganda, “Is this organization and their video legit?”, “Can we really make a difference in this whole Kony issue and the suffering he has caused?”, and “How do we respond, because we feel like we need to do…something!?” It is my hope and desire that every person who has watched the video and been touched by God for Northern Uganda can grow in understanding the shortcomings of the video itself, can understand the BIGGER picture of what’s behind Kony, and also understand how to be a better part of the healing of his atrocities here in Uganda. I’ll try to hit on these three issues below.

Let me begin by saying that I would LOVE to see Kony brought down and taken in to stand trial for his crimes. I would love to see those who have been “ruined” by him gain some sort of vindication in this world and I’d love to SEE justice prevail against Kony on this side of the veil. But I also know that God has not forsaken His people nor made his people to suffer in vain. I know that this has not caught God off-guard, that He is in control and that Kony is working on a divine time-table and that his end WILL come. So how do these work together and what is God calling His people to do in response to the reality of this man’s abuses, injustices, and atrocities?

Before I get into these areas, let me say that I’m so proud of Invisible Children for their effort in this video, their hearts to see change come to Uganda and the perseverance that they have had in battling to see Kony brought down and relief come to Gulu and Northern Uganda. I’m also glad that thousands of young people from all over the USA and other nations have been moved to some sort of action and called out of their own comfort zones to face the realities of life around the world for millions of people. Awesome.

1. The BIGGER Picture of What’s Behind Kony
The video creates a response for many of us of “Wow, we really can do something to bring Kony down!”, but the reality is that it is NOT that simple. While the West tends to simply view Kony as a terrorist who can be brought to justice through military power, the reality is that BEHIND Kony is deep Satanic bondage and power. Kony is in a line of witchcraft-using children-abusing “warlords” who love POWER- demonic power, material power, and power over people through fear. There is deep and serious spiritual bondage here, beyond the simplicity of a simple “Let’s go get him!” This Satanic ritual did not begin with Kony, but was passed on to him from his predecessor in the “use fear to control people” line of control.

The reality that we all need to face is that to bring Kony down will not change the foundations on which his regime was established and currently uses to maintain its “power”, that is apart from God Himself intervening. Another Kony will arise and terrorize wherever he can get away with it.

2. The Shortcomings of the Video Itself
While there were many shortcomings overall, my biggest concern was when the video was speaking about the help being given to the children of Northern Uganda. This is where you move into what’s really happening on the ground. The focus was on one MAIN thing- SCHOOLS. One Ugandan woman in the video spoke and said, “The BEST you can offer a child is by letting them be INDEPENDENT and that is by providing EDUCATION (emphasis mine).” In essence, this captures a pervasive and dangerous philosophy.

While most of us here in Uganda understand the need for GOOD schools and education that has the ability to touch and impact lives, education must be seen in the context of the needs that are much GREATER and DEEPER in the lives of hurting children. Is the BEST thing you can offer a child really INDEPENDENCE through EDUCATION? The answer must be NO. Education cannot replace family, and independence (a characteristic of the orphan heart) leads to self-reliance, isolation and ultimately death. We need to beware of the danger of meeting the external needs of orphans instead of their greater and deeper needs, creating cultural orphans who simply perpetuate the cycle.

We are convinced that the best thing you can offer a wounded child is loving, caring FAMILY. And of course the greatest thing you can offer is ultimate HEALING through the Gospel of Jesus, discovery of the perfect Father-God, and inclusion in the great, beautiful and diverse family of God- this is true and freeing DEPENDENCE, and is also the place where healing is lived out. This is what we need to be looking at for the long-term care and healing of the children of Northern Uganda.

3. How to be a Better Part of the Healing of Kony’s Atrocities Here in Uganda
So what is a proper response for people being touched by God in a genuine and compassionate way to help in Uganda?
1. Pray- consistently and with purpose. Pray in the larger realm for God’s Glory to be manifested in the midst of the darkness. Pray for the works going on in Uganda and for broken children to find genuine healing through God and His people.
2. Research and find out what is happening in-country. What are Ugandans doing? What are solid local organizations and churches doing who understand the broader issues and what are THEY saying that they actually need?
3. Support is good, but partnership is best. Find out how you can truly partner. The book When Helping Hurts has some good insights into this discussion, as much Western “help” can actually end up hurting.
4. Check financials of any ministry you are considering working with. If only 30% or 50% of the money given is actually getting “on the ground” or directly to those in need, you should step back and re-evaluate. Any organization has overhead, but HOW MUCH is being used and for what purpose?

Feel free to write with any thoughts or comments.
Keith