Monday, March 12, 2012

"Kony 2012" : Whose Right Is It To Right A Wrong?

 (Editor's note:  I have purposely chosen not to link the "Kony 2012" video or anything related to Joseph Kony.  It is my belief that he has already received more notoriety than he deserves.  The only links provided are an article from Tim Challies who was asked to respond to the video, and also one from a survivor of Kony's atrocities (see below for both links), and that also reinforces my position on this "charity.")
I am pretty confident that most, if not all, of my readers have either heard of or watched the "Kony 2012" video that has gone viral on YouTube.  It was recently reported that within mere days, around 60 million people had viewed it.  And if you are like me, you experienced tremendous grief over the plight of the men, women, and children in Uganda who are subjected to this brutal and evil man.
The atrocities Joseph Kony has committed under the name of God certainly must have brought you outrage, greatly offending your moral compass.  You understand that the "Lord's Resistance Army" is an abomination to God and does not line up with his nature, character, or righteousness anymore than that of other cults and those who usurp His holy name for their own twisted and wicked ideologies.
At the video's conclusion,  your reaction probably lined up with the millions of other viewers.  All of the emotions that overwhelmed you while watching it caused you to rise in indignation and disgust and alignment with the movement to rid the world of Joseph Kony as quickly as possible and by using whatever means necessary.  Many of you responded to the producers' request to unite with them, send in your "few dollars," and hunt Kony down like the rabid dog that he is.
And that is exactly what the producers of this video desired, and it is exactly the response they received from the majority of those who watched it.
Although I have known about Joseph Kony for a few years, and his viciousness towards subjecting the people of Uganda to him through brutality and terror, my reaction was slightly different than what I describe above.  In the past, I would have gladly expressed my outrage by joining with those who want him brought to justice, even by taking his life.  But because of who I now am, a true child of God, there was a bit of discomfort that nagged at the back of my mind over "Invisible Children[s]" agenda and how they were working to see it accomplished.
I attempted to express this discomfort on Facebook.  Unfortunately, I seemed to stand alone.  The point I was trying to make was lost amidst the impact the video had made.  What appeared overtly wrong about it was ignored, even by those who share in my faith and belief.  Below is the post I shared with my Facebook friends, many who are brothers and sisters in Christ:
I've been watching the "Kony 2012" video go around FB for the last couple of days and, after reading comments on it, decided to watch the video. Before you rush to judgment and condemn me for what I am about to say, please consider a few things:

1. Am I appalled over what this man stands for and is doing to the children of Uganda? YES, VEHEMENTLY SO!!

2. Do I wish and pray that he would be arrested and brought to justice and his brutality stopped? YES, VEHEMENTLY SO!!

My heart bleeds for these children and the horrors they have suffered through this twisted and God-less man's ideology! My secret hope is that he would be found and forced to greatly suffer himself. But I have another question for all who may be considering joining in this effort:

Where is Jesus Christ and His Gospel in this? As he wept over his brother and yearned to see him again one day in heaven, was "Jacob" told that he would if he held tightly to his faith and trusted in his Savior? Although it was obvious that in his life someone had planted that seed, I didn't hear it reinforced. I only heard that man has the ability to change this world and bring this wicked and evil man to justice. I saw altruism and those whose voices I would never listen to because of their liberal ideologies and unbelief.

I didn't hear the Holy Spirit's voice. I only heard man's.

"Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” ~ Mark 10:29-31

" Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." ~ Rom 8:34-39

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." ~ 2Cor 12:9-10

"Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account." ~ Heb 4:11-13

"So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." ~ Heb 6:17-20

"Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name." ~ Rev. 3:10-12

May God have mercy on these children and may His justice come swiftly with all accordance to His perfect will, and for His honor and His glory.
After carefully selecting and reading a few recent commentaries and opinions on this video, I am relieved that I am not the only one who experienced nagging discomfort and doubt over whether or not we, as Christians, should be involved.  Just because what we hear or see is beyond our imaginations and compassion does not make it immediately worthy of our participation.  We should never allow our emotions to dictate what "causes" we throw our money, energy, and time at, especially when that voice of reason or conviction is heard.  As Tim Challies (click to read his article) encouraged all of us to do:  "breathe."  Take plenty of time to pause, pray, and listen.

I did.  And it was well worth the time it took to do so.

Please take a moment to read a short post entitled "Kony 2012: A Survivor's Perspective."  Because he and his family have lived through the barbarism Kony has inflicted, the author expresses himself in ways that I am incapable of doing.  And the most beautiful part of his letter is his undying belief in the LORD Jesus Christ and how HE expects him to react to this video:

The solution to our problem is not to capture Kony but to help us continue in this process of healing, the thought of capturing Kony arouses more anger, more pain and feelings of revenge that are unbiblical. In fact if you asked me ten years ago what I would do with Kony if I captured him, I would revenge all the evil he has brought on my family. Now I realize that revenge is for God, I personally have handed Kony over to God. The gospel of Jesus has helped me over come these feelings, the thought of arresting Kony arouses sin in me, reminds me of how hopeless I am and how people do not understand me. ~ Kilama Dennis

Instead of rushing out to support this group's altruistic efforts to rid the world of Kony's barbaric cruelty, we should be employing the tools that God has given us and that He expects His children to use.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ should be shared with those who are in fear and living in trials, tribulation, and persecution.  They need to hear from us that there is only ONE Who has the absolute right to right the wrongs committed against humanity.

Kilama Dennis understands that vengeance belongs solely to God.  Because of his relationship with Jesus Christ, he knows that we should never take up our own gauntlets and swords, seeking our own justice and proclaiming that victory is ours.  In spite of what he and his family were subjected to, Kilama has given it all over to God to deal with men like Kony, knowing that God's justice will be exacted with swiftness and finality when the time comes.

 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Romans 12:19-20

The founders of "Invisible Children" apparently want just the opposite.  Their desire is for justice to be meted out immediately on their terms and using violent means, if necessary. I have no idea if any of them are Christians, but they are attempting to sway the hearts and minds of believers to ignore God's mandate and take matters into our own hands.  God certainly can use situations like this to bring justice.  But I am thinking this isn't one of those times.

Because we understand God's clear and precise instructions of just who is allowed to seek vengeance, our prayers should reflect those of Jeremiah's:

"O Lord of hosts, who tests the righteous,
     who sees the heart and the mind,
let me see Your vengeance upon them,
    for to You have I committed my cause."
Jeremiah 20:12

...of David's:

O Lord, God of vengeance,
    O God of vengeance, shine forth!
Rise up, O judge of the earth;
    repay to the proud what they deserve! 
O Lord, how long shall the wicked,
    how long shall the wicked exult?

Psalm 94:1-3

...and of Isaiah's:

Strengthen the weak hands,
    and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who have an anxious heart,
    “Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God
    will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
    He will come and save you.”
Isaiah 35:3-4

By now you are probably saying that I believe we should never defend the defenseless, or that we Christians should isolate ourselves from the world and all that is happening.  If that is your assessment, you are wrong.  What I am saying is that the world needs to know their Savior.  They need to know that there is nothing to fear that man can bring because, if they know Him, He has their back.

Because Jesus Christ or His Gospel of forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life was never mentioned in the video, the producers are doing a great disservice to Him and to the world, not to mention turning believers away from His Word and giving precious dollars to what may not be something we should involve ourselves in, instead of supporting the work He has determined for us.  The people of Uganda need Jesus Christ, not George Clooney, Bill Gates, or a myriad of other "do-gooders" who allow their reputation, voice, and image to be used to further "causes."

I might also note that we must always remember that NO ONE is beyond redemption.  As distasteful as it seems, even the likes of Joseph Kony.  Our God will make that determination, not us.

In the meantime, pray for the safety of the people of Uganda and for the Gospel to be broadcast upon their hearts.  If you are unswayed by what I have written and want to support "Invisible Children," pray your donations go to bring healing and to restore hope to the hopeless that have suffered under Kony.

I think this is the most that Kilama Dennis and his people can hope for through the efforts of "Kony 2012."


Katy said...

I have yet to watch the video, and because of your post I probably won't. It is so such a sad story but bringing fame to the makers of such a video is not anything I want to be part of. So I will pray for these people and leave it to God.

Emma said...

Thanks for posting this, It's exactly how I felt after watching the video, but I wasn't able to express it in words :)

Also, even God would mourn the death of an unbeliever. We should be celebrating his salvation someday, not his death. Not easy to say for someone that has committed such aweful crimes, but the truth none the less... No one is beyond God's reach.