Wednesday, March 14, 2012

with great change,

With great change, comes great adversity.  And last week the world was introduced to Joseph Kony.  In the matter of a couple of hours over a million people had watched Invisible Children’s new film, Kony2012.  Within six days, near 100 million had.  The way the world views justice is changing before our very eyes, and for some reason unknown to me, I get to be a small part of it.
(remember, I am writing this all from my own personal opinion)
There are no words to describe it.  All I know is that a week and half ago, Kony2012 going viral was a distant dream and before we knew it, Jason Russell was on CNN.  I am driving around the country in a van with the world’s biggest story painted on the side.  How did I get here?  What is happening?  I have tried to wrap my head around what has happened in the last week but I’m having trouble grasping it and honestly, I may not be able to grasp just how huge last week was until 15 years down the road.  Until the day when parents are telling their children, “yeah, I remember when that film came out.  I remember the day when Joseph Kony was arrested.” 
My friends, there isn’t much to say and I’m not going to take long.  I know that there is a ton of controversy surrounding Invisible Children and Kony2012 right now, and it’s probably the first time in my life that I have felt this much criticism and adversity for what I have decided to do with my life.  Just know this, there are answers for every question (just ask!) and I am humbled to be a part of such an incredible organization of world-changers.  I am humbled to be under the leadership of incredible men, such as; Jason Russell, Ben Keesey, Zach Barrows, and Jedidiah Jenkins.  I am humbled to be a part of a movement that is changing the world.  I am humbled to know that when history takes attendance and asks, “where were you when this injustice was happening?”, I will be able to answer, “I showed up.”  I am humbled to know that the day is coming soon, maybe today, maybe tomorrow, that Joseph Kony will be arrested and brought to justice and the world will hear just how powerful our voices are.
It doesn’t matter what one thinks about Invisible Children, what matters is that we finally open our eyes and see what the real issue here is: human souls.   This world is not how is should be and it is up to us to change that.  It is up to us to radically challenge the way the world is run, and turn the power balance on its head.  We will hold human souls over everything else, no matter what and this generation is finally coming together to say that with one loud, strong, and magnificent voice.  We are the generation that has said no more to injustice.  We are the Fourth Estate.  And the word “humbled” to use how I feel to be a part of that is not only overused, but obscenely inadequate a description of how I truly feel to be on the frontlines for people and justice.
Three years ago when I stood in a Displacement camp in Gulu, Uganda I promised Jesus that I would do everything I could to fight injustice.  I prayed, “Here I am. Send me” just as Isaiah did, and look where He where He has sent me.  We are truly changing the world. 
When people ask me, “how did this happen? How did this go viral?”, my only answer for them is simply, God.  He desires justice and has heard the cry of the oppressed, as He promised in Psalm 10.  He has perfect timing and He is allowing Kony’s crimes to be made known so that when Kony is arrested and brought to justice, the world will see.  The world will see that no man can take children into slavery for his own selfish gain and get away unnoticed.  We care, we see, and we will stop at nothing for freedom. 
Last week, when the video went viral, a period of my life started that will prove to have changed me forever.  There were four days last week where every waking moment of the day, we were answering phones calls, emails, everything you can imagine about our cause.  We were trying to give answers to every criticism and tell people the truth.  We didn’t sleep, we didn’t breathe, but my friends, we danced.  In those four days I learned so much about myself.  I learned how far my mind and body can be pushed and how when the world feels like it’s against you, you can choose to not give in.  Each day was a roller coaster and I truly didn’t have time to sit down and begin to process what had happened that week until Friday morning.  And even then, I had a very hard time and will have a hard time processing everything for a long long time.  But I know this, that Jesus is faithful and strong and can give me grace to do much more than I ever thought possible. 
There is so much to say about Kony2012 and the worldwide phenomenon it has become.  I know that many of you have questions and I would love to do my best to answer them, but I wanted to say a couple of really quick things to wrap up this scatterbrained blog.
Remember this, it’s very important: we are not calling for Kony’s death.  We are asking for his arrest so that he can be tried and brought to justice. We do not believe in death, we believe in life.  To call for his death would be counterproductive because killing is what we are trying to stop.  And there are people who are praying diligently for Joseph Kony to meet Jesus after he is arrested, so please, join us and pray with everything you have for him to be brought to justice and for him to come to know Jesus.  We are changing the way the world views justice and with that, comes resistance.  Hold fast.  Think of our heroes who have died for what they believed in; MLK, Dietrich Bonheoffer, Steven.  Hold fast, because Jesus is for us and if God is for us, then who could be against us? 
Today I was at a high school and a student walked up to me, looked me in the eyes and said, “we will stop him” and walked away.  He’s right.  The world has new rules and we are in the midst of great change.  Dance with us, as change overtakes us and makes us beautiful.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

with childlike simplicity,

I don’t remember the kid’s name, or maybe he never actually told me.  I was in Fountain City, WI and it had just started to snow outside.  The town has a population of 700 people, give or take a few depending on the number of graduating seniors from the year before.  We were presenting out new film to the senior high at the school in the town, and the school actually held K-12.  And to add onto everything, we met a wonderful lunch lady named Barb who supplied my team with a very nostalgic plate lunch of tacos, complete with chocolate milk. 
The kid came up to me during when the presentation was going on when I had the job of standing at the merch table that was set up outside of the cafeteria.  It was the elementary school’s turn for lunch so many of the children would wonder past the table with wide eyes, far too intimidated to stop and talk to me.  Many of them would slow down when they reached the table and when I would say hello, they would either start giggling profusely and run away or stop dead in their tracks, gasp and back slowly away in terror.   But not this kid.  He was different and stopped to talk to me.  Actually, thinking back on it he walked up to the table with a strut that was full of confidence and innocence.  He stopped right in front of me, pointed to the table and asked, “what’s this all about?”  I told him that we were a group of people who were giving a presentation to the high schoolers.  He then asked, “what kind of presentation?  What do you guys do?”  Now, I love elementary kids and had the privilege to work with them when I was in Fayetteville, but I haven’t exactly had practice in trying to explain Invisible Children or justice to a second grader before.  So I opened my mouth and let the small amount of truth I know proceed.  I stumbled on my words but ended up saying something along these lines: “we are a group of people who are trying to stop a really bad man from kidnapping kids and making them hurt people.”  I can honestly say that I will never forget the look on his face.  He instantly lost the confidence that he had held and his face turned from a sheepish smile to a concerned frown.  He lowered his voice and just asked, “what?”  I tried to keep it light and we stood there in the hallway of his school and talked for another two or three minutes.  He and I both knew that it was too heavy for the moment and he turned to walk away.  But when he started walking, he stopped after two or three steps and turned around.  He looked at me in the eyes and when we made eye contact, his mouth formed that same smile he had approached me with and put his arm up, formed a peace sign with his fingers and said, “peace” as he started walking again down the hall.  In that moment, I learned something profound: injustice is not complicated, it’s simple… it’s wrong and there are no questions attached to that.  Seeing the heart of a second grader break might have been the thing that finally helped me understand how simple all of this really is.  Injustice is wrong, it has to be stopped and we are the ones to stop it.  There are no ifs, ands, and buts about it, it’s time to act.
I wonder why we all can’t understand like that kid understands.  Why do we see something wrong and write it off by saying it’s too complicated to solve?  “Oh, it’s just another problem.  There are thousands of them out in the world, why work on one?”  My question is, why not?  If there are a thousand problems in the world and I don’t work to fix the one I can, then there are still 1000 problems, instead of 999.  I have learned so much in the past two months of being with Invisible Children and I am so thankful for everything I have experienced.  The stories are many and beautiful and even thinking back about them, makes me laugh and smile thinking about how much change has accompanied me in the past 53 days.  But one of the main things I have learned is the importance of simplicity.  Sometimes things are complicated and I understand that and I am not too na├»ve to say it, but often things are so simple that we can’t see them for what they are.  Just like injustice is simple, so is my walk with Jesus.  Love God, love people and if I pursue those two things, then I will learn and live all that I need to. 
Maybe Jesus was onto something when he said that in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, we must become like children.  Maybe just maybe, when Jesus said that the greatest command was to love God and to love people, he wasn’t just suggesting. 
I have been on the road for just over a week (following a monumental month and a half in San Diego) and I have already experienced so much adventure.  It’s been an incredible journey thus far and I am so excited to see what happens over these next two months of being on tour.  I believe with everything that I am that we will see Joseph Kony be brought to justice and also see the youth of America be turned upside down with the story of humanity and being global citizens.  I am humbled to be a part of something that is truly shaping human history. 
Just like that kid left me with, I will also leave with you.  Peace.  It’s achievable and it’s real.  
Take my hand, let’s dance and let’s teach everyone else as well.