Kony 2012 is stirring an incredible media storm this morning. This 30-minute video has been seen more than 41 million times since Monday and was mentioned yesterday by White House spokesman Jay Carney.
What is the furor about? The film tells the world about Joseph Kony, a warlord who has abducted 30,000 children in Uganda over 26 years. He sells the girls as slaves and forces the boys to fight in his rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army. Nearly ten years ago, a film-maker named Jason Russell began working to stop him. He formed “Invisible Children,” an organization that aims to mobilize global support for this effort.
His group has built schools and created jobs in Uganda. They constructed an early warning radio network to protect villages from attacks. All of this is funded by an army of young people giving a few dollars a month to a program called Tri. Using culture-makers and political leaders to spread their message, they hope to mobilize people around the world to join them. Their goal is to encourage our government to continue supporting efforts to bring Kony to justice and stop his reign of terror.
If you’ve been following the story, you know that Invisible Children has its critics. Some claim that Kony left Uganda years ago and say that money spent on publicity should go to education, sanitation, health and jobs in central Africa. Others point to the overhead costs of the organization, with only 30% of its funds going to programs on the ground. Others allege that the Ugandan government and military are also abusing the people. And some claim that Russell’s movement is promoting “slactivism”–the idea that sharing, liking or retweeting is enough to solve a problem.
All that said, there’s something incredibly encouraging about a grass-roots movement that is mobilizing Americans to help change Uganda. Whether you decide to join them or not, they challenge us to do what we can to make a difference. If you think one life can’t change the world, look at the global impact one film-maker is making. John F. Kennedy made a statement I keep on my desk at home where I can see it every day: “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.”
Here’s biblical proof: an elderly, childless man was told by God that his heirs would become a great nation and that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3). Later the Lord appeared to this man in a vision and said, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward” (Genesis 15:1). He surrendered his life and future to this God, and the Lord made him the father of the Jewish people and ancestor of the Lord Jesus, the “son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). In the words of my friend and mentor John Edmund Haggai, Abraham attempted something so great for God that it was doomed to fail unless God be in it.
Jason Russell’s cause is clear: “Where you live shouldn’t determine whether you live.” What is your cause today?