Archives For Uganda

So, you heard a story about a man who is kidnapping children and forcing them to fight in his personal army and you want to help bring it to an end. Have you considered methods beyond the ones suggested to you from a single source?

Have you asked why Kony might be doing these things?
Are you aware of the history and politics of the place where it’s occurring?
Is the situation the same today as it was 5, 10, or 20 years ago?
If we petition the U.S. government to get involved, how do you think U.S. leaders and military will respond based on their record?
Are there Ugandans already helping?
Are other African nations or agencies involved?
Why haven’t previous efforts produced the intended result?
Who should receive your money, your time, or your voice?

All of these questions and hundreds more need to be asked before you can determine what methods you should use to respond to a problem like the one which has been raised in Kony 2012. Our ideas of how to best help someone in the U.S. could produce an entirely different result if done in the same way in a different culture.

I’ll use this final post to direct you to people who are presenting some other thoughts and ways for you to consider what is going on, what others are already doing, and what you can do to learn more and decide if you should act.

A few responses from some thoughtful people living and working in Uganda:
Kony 2012 and Social Media: Think Before you Post
Kony 2012: A Survivor’s Perspective

A list of organizations I trust, operating in Uganda:
Africa Renewal Ministries
New Hope Uganda
International Justice Mission

A list of organizations that promote nonprofit accountability and transparency. Search their databases to learn more about a particular nonprofit and compare it with others:
Charity Navigator
Guide Star
Ministry Watch
Better Business Bureau

The most humbling thing for us to consider is whether we are really even needed in this, or in any given situation. We are often being drawn into someone else’s cause or mission. There are any number of things you can do in a day or decide to devote your life to accomplishing. We are aware of many things that we simply cannot do and it makes us feel powerless. We love to hear that we are needed and that we can make a difference. There are things in our personal lives we know we should do and we often do not do them. It is humbling to realize sometimes that God is accomplishing something with other people and he has a different job for us to do. Your mission may not be glamorous and it may not capture the attention of the masses, but you are called to be faithful with your time and place in God’s story.

I’ll leave you with one final thing to consider from Colossians 3:23-25.

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.”

Question #3: What is your motivation for wanting to get involved or respond to the Kony 2012 movement (or any other cause)?

We are often convinced by a good argument or the way something makes us feel. We trust in the authority of people we respect, people we love, people we want to imitate, or a good story with a vision that is bigger than us. We love to believe that we can make a difference. We want to change the world. If we think something is bad, we want it to be good. If we see something that looks like injustice, we want to help bring about justice. If someone is suffering, we feel compassion and want to help. What is it that causes these reactions?

The Christian, of course, has the Spirit of God, the Scriptures, examples from history, and the fellowship of other believers who encourage us to do things that are pleasing to God. Your motivation may have been sparked by one or most of those things while watching the Kony 2012 video. But does your motivation to do something good include a concern for the means you use to accomplish the good thing as much as it includes a desire to see a particular result? In other words, do you believe the end justifies the means? Or do you believe that the way you do something is just as crucial to getting the kind of result that will please God?

I’m aware that questions can be never-ending and may even become useless or detrimental to those who are actually suffering if they never produce action. Our fears of doing the wrong thing can paralyze us and prevent us from doing a good thing. Failure to confront injustice out of fear, or acting impetuously because we believe that “doing something is better than doing nothing” are both bad motivations.

Much of the criticism about Kony 2012 and Invisible Children comes from people who have knowledge and personal experience with the situation in Northern Uganda. They are not saying that nothing should be done. Often they tell us of things that have been done. Many of them are simply advocating for solutions other than what has been proposed by IC. And these are not armchair aid workers. They are people who have lived and worked in the area since before the conflict began. They understand the culture and they have lost family and friends. You can hear from former child soldiers, politicians, international aid workers, missionaries, and community leaders who have been connected to the situation in different ways. Many of them are motivated out of love for God and their actual neighbors. They have important things to say to us and should not be ignored.

You need to consider very carefully whether you want to get involved because of some sense of responsibility you believe Americans have to help the rest of the world. That motivation has led to all kinds of abuses of power and influence perpetrated by the citizens of one country towards another throughout time. You may even have the idea that as a Christian you need to be involved because God calls us to care for widows and orphans in their distress. It’s true that he does. But does it mean you are the one who needs to help them every time? Does it mean you don’t care if you don’t get involved? There are an estimated 143 million orphans in the world. The relatively small scale of the Kony situation does not make it less important, but it must be viewed in relation to many other things that also need to be done in Uganda, and over 190 nations in the world that all have issues of injustice to be addressed.

So what is motivating you? Might your motivation need adjusting? What would be the best way to flesh out that motivation?