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Praying for a warlord

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Leader of the Lord's Resistance Army Joseph Kony speaks to journalists after a meeting with U.N. humanitarian chief Jan Egeland at Ri-Kwamba in southern Sudan November 12, 2006 (Credit: Reuters/Stuart Price/Pool)

Joseph Kony is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, an African militia that has abducted more than 30,000 children in Uganda over 26 years.  He forces the boys to fight in his rebel group and sells the girls as slaves.  Nearly two million people have been displaced by fighting his militia has initiated.

His story is remarkable and frightening.  Kony was born in 1961 in northern Uganda.  His aunt, Alice Auma, was the tribal mystic of the Acholi people.  She convinced many in her tribe that God wanted them to unseat the government and initiate a paradise on earth.  He inherited his power and movement from her, claiming that he is a spokesman for God and a spirit medium.

Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity; his militia has been labeled a terrorist group by the United States.  He and his rebels have been in the public eye for years.  In the 2006 James Bond movie Casino Royale, the archvillain Le Chiffre supports the LRA and is threatened by them when he fails to deliver finances he has promised.

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{/source}The documentary “Invisible Children” was made public that same year, focusing on a group of Ugandan children who seek to avoid abduction by the LRA.  The organization that produced the documentary has been using the video “Kony 2012,” social media and culture-makers to encourage our government’s actions against him.  While Kony has been forced to flee Uganda and his militia has been reduced in size, it still threatens hundreds of thousands of people in the region.

This week we have been discussing five conversions that would change history.  Four are heads of state in Egypt, Iran, Israel and Turkey.  Joseph Kony represents the opposite extreme—a criminal without a state or platform.  But like Mexican drug cartel leaders and radical Islamic terrorists, his renegade status only increases his influence.

Imagine the difference his Christian conversion would make in Africa.  If such a notorious warlord could become a disciple of the Prince of Peace, anyone could.  If a man who is responsible for atrocities that have victimized millions could become God’s child, no one is beyond the reach of divine mercy and grace.

Looking back over his years spent persecuting Christians, the Apostle Paul could say, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst” (1 Timothy 1:15).  His conversion shocked the Jewish and Christian world of his day and proved that anyone can be transformed by the love of God.  Would you join me in praying today for Joseph Kony to experience such a conversion as a trophy of grace for the world?  And would you thank your Father for “grace that is greater than all our sins,” even yours?