Humanitarian aid, Kony 2012, and YAV


Due to much talk and criticism of the Kony 2012 project, I felt the need to do a quick blog post. I jumped on the band wagon early on because I knew about the Invisible Children NGO and was already familiar with the situation. I must first admit that I first saw the Invisible Children video when I was in college (about 5 years ago).  This is not the video that has gone viral but spoke to the problem of children soldiers in Uganda.  This was also a problem in Latin America in the 80’s and if you want to know more you can watch the movie Voces Inocentes.

I posted the video on many of my social media sources to help get the word out.  A day or two later, I thought twice about what I did after reading some of the criticisms and decided to take down the posts. I listened to some of my conservative friends and I appreciated some of the points they made. Such as: 1) activists of this sort usually tend to be against military actions yet the Kony 2012 calls for US military support, 2) this is not a particular concern for the majority of Ugandans at this point, and 3) the promoter of this viral video seems like he has a Messiah complex or at least feels to me like a “great white knight” trying to fix the problems of a culture he does not fully understand.  I have continued to read articles about the Kony 2012 campaign and one of the most helpful for me came from the Washington Post.

Though I agree with many of the criticisms, I still support Invisible Children and the Kony 2012 campaign.  Why? Well, this is still an important issue of justice and Africans in the region (though maybe not in Uganda) are still in danger.  Plus, the main goal is to make people aware of the situation even if it is late in the ball game.  My prayer is that after this year the Invisible Children organization will focus mainly on restoration and reconciliation of the people who have been affected in the region.  I hope they also take more time to listen to the needs of and the desires of the people of Uganda rather than just the things they feel passionate about.

As Sarah and I are working as humanitarian aid workers in some capacity here in Peru, this matters to me.  I love the model that we work with and alongside the people in our communities.  Where we are invited to help and support is where we go.  We do not pursue our American interest or try to change the things that we see need attention.  I am not saying this because I think Invisible Children is guilty of this, but that all international NGOs walk a fine line between aiding and hurting the people they desire to support.  It is only with the help of God’s grace and mercy that some of our actions might enrich the lives of the ones we serve.  I feel that it is good to reflect on what is happening and use discernment to know when it might be time to work ourselves out of a job (which should be the goal of all humanitarian aid).  Peace to you all in this time of Lent and please feel free to comment or disagree.


4 thoughts on “Humanitarian aid, Kony 2012, and YAV

  1. I know this isnt facebook, but I would like to “like” this post. I recently posted the Kony 2012 video and it took only minutes to catch the back lash of others oppositions. Its nice to hear a voice of someone else, someone who realizes, hey its not perfect but it still is worth while. If we gave up on every cause because it wasn’t perfect we would get nowhere.

  2. Hi Shane and Sarah,
    Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I have several friends who have posted Kony on their Facebook page and I haven’t been on Facebook enough to follow and fully understand it. I plan to share your comments with a couple of them from our church as well as the people I am working with on the Global Mission Committee. ELCA has accompaniment as their model for mission, also.

  3. Shane, thanks for the balanced perspective. I’ve been receiving a lot of pressure (mostly from my youth group who see everything online as the gospel truth) to publicly advocate for the KONY 2012 movement – even use the pulpit as a soapbox. As much as my Christ-softened heart yearns for social and cultural justice, I hold exposition of the Word in higher esteem than to parrot forth everything that makes the YouTube top 10. OWS is another prime example of how mob mentality can lead to knee-jerk preaching.
    Granted, the angst of that region will melt much more quickly if Kony and the LRA are removed, but I’ll leave the manhunt business to the military. And although I condemn acts of atrocities *everywhere*, I choose to focus my ministry on championing Christ’s illustrative Good Samaritan who advocates for and heals those in the wake of the Destroyer. I feel our mandate as the church is not to promote hatred but to be about the business of restoration.
    God bless you and Sarah for your ministry in the midst of God’s mission.

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