So the last whole week I was going to do special posts on stress, not trusting God, midterms, etc.
And then this happened....
This isn't a post about how I saw this on March 5th, had an epiphany, and decided to drop everything and help.
Invisible Children has been the one and only organization that I have committed myself to for seven years now.
I had felt God putting it on my heart since Freshman year of college to start a chapter on my Campus but things we're set up right just yet.
But my Junior year the timing was perfect. I had started the chapter last semester and we were officially in business by January.
I had been in contact with the volunteers of Invisible Children in California (their headquarters) since December to schedule a viewing and a talk about Kony 2012 to come to our campus.
(Night commuter children sleeping at the hospital, the only place where it was safe)
I was shocked when I came back from my 7PM midterm to find my Facebook Timeline flooded by Kony 2012 and my notifications and e-mails went sky rocketing of people who wanted to join the Universities Chapter Facebook group that I had made and people who wanted to know what they could do to help.
My heart was so joyful and almost moved to tears by the response. We went from 23 members to about 210 members that night in just 2 hours.
Then the overwhelmingness started kicking in.
"How was I going to handle all this?"
"I am not prepared to handle this many members."
"I need help."
I had just gotten out of my 3 hour midterm at 10PM, and had another midterm at 9AM that next morning that I hadn't studied enough for, but I had allowed this to consume me. I was on the phone with my officers for hours. I was answering e-mails, reading all the trending topics and comments, approving members, looking at all the comments on the Facebook, trying to get a handle on everything, trying to get organized.
In the mean time my room looked like WWII, I was extremely exhausted, needed to write a blog post, needed to study, etc.
By the time I finally got a chance to breathe for a bit, it was 3AM. There was no way I was going to study now. So I went to bed, with hopes I would wake up 2 hours before my 8AM class to study for my exam.
That didn't happen. I woke up on time for my 8AM class, but got only about 30 minutes of study time in. I couldn't have been more disappointed with myself.
Not only that, but I let all of this come before God. I didn't go to God to handle this (even though I kept telling myself to trust Him).
The whole next week was a frenzy. I didn't do so well on my midterm and was mad at myself. I spent hours upon hours researching all the scandal and rumors surrounding Invisible Children. I knew about the rumors well before the video came out, but I wasn't worried about it. I felt confident about the organizations ethics. However, I told my officers and members that if there was any concrete evidence that these efforts of Invisible Children were going to do more harm than good, I would not hesitate to pull the plug. I don't care about my pride and whether or not the organization was mine on campus, I want what ever is best for the children.
However it blew up to something extreme that I didn't feel like I could handle. I felt the fate of these children on my shoulders and one wrong move could be fatal. Plus I had our second Invisible Children meeting on that Friday (perfect timing) that I had 60 people that RSVP'd to come.
Let's just say I was freaking out.
For the next few days all I did was research, work, school, & get with people. My officers and I had meetings that lasted until 2 or 3AM, trying to find out as much as we could about the situation in Uganda and the other African countries where the LRA is prevalent.
After days of exhaustion and stress, I finally realized something... Only time would tell whether or not Invisible Children's efforts would be beneficial and would actually capture Kony. We could read hundreds of theories, analysis, articles, opinions, etc. But to actually know what is going to happen we would have to wait.
My biggest fear for the Kony 2012 efforts and Invisible Children was not the amount that my dollar actually goes to the organization. I understand there is an overhead cost, and for the amount the founders are paying themselves, once you take out taxes, add in the fact that they have kids and wives, live in California which has an extremely high cost of living, and have devoted their lives to this, it's nothing. Plus once you find out that the head of the Susan G. Komen foundation makes $500,000, it's pocket money. My biggest fear was that we could possibly cause another war, ignorantly, because of our efforts.
I do not think Invisible Children is a scam. These men traveled to Africa not knowing what they were going to find. If if was a scam, they wouldn't have been giving away the DVD's in the beginning stages of the organization. They wouldn't keep risking their lives going back and forth to Africa, possibly risking death for their efforts against the LRA. Their intentions are good and noble.
When looking at all the campaigns Invisible Children has had in the past and looking at all their goals, they have completed every single one of them. They promised Jacob they would come back for him and promised to help him and the other children, they did that. Since the Invisible Children started about 10 years ago in Uganda, Uganda has had much improvement and very little if not any LRA attacks for the past 5 years due to Invisible Children's efforts and other efforts from the government and organizations.
Invisible Children set out to have Obama sign into legislation the disarmament of the LRA and the Ugandan Recovery Act. They have set up rehabilitation centers for children who have escaped or come back home from being abducted to receive the counseling and care that they need. They set up LRA Crisis Trackers (which you can download the App on your phone) for the people to be warned where the LRA is and where they have made attacks. They have had book drives, scholarship funds to send children to school, employed women to make bracelets to get out of their unjust debt so they can start to live their lives. They are fixing and preventing tomorrow's problems, not just today's.
Joseph Kony is real the LRA is real and his atrocities and child army is real.
However, like I stated on my Facebook status, we cannot make our efforts be about Kony 2012, it must be about Joseph Kony.
I stated at the meeting on Friday that our passion and our drive cannot be hatred and cannot be Kony. Out passion and our drive must be those children. That is the only way we can stay focused on the goal, which is to bring every child home and keep them at home.
We must be smart and we must be educated and realistic. No prevalent "bad guy" and their wars; Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, Sadam Hussein, has even been brought to justice "politely". There has to be military efforts involved, it is almost impossible. The 100 American Military advisors are there to train the Ugandan army, not to fight for them. The only time they are allowed to fight is for self defense. We must legally and respectfully go through the Ugandan Government and use the resources we have there. We cannot just waltz into a country and do what we want. The government must be involved, whether the government is corrupt or not.
Our efforts as Invisible Children is to raise awareness, that's all. We are not military advisors, we are not government officials, etc. Our job is to make Kony known (which IC did through their video, whether or not you agree with it, that was their goal), to make those children known, and to tell the World about the LRA and what they are doing. We do that through people, through technology, through marketing, through music, through videos, etc. However it gets done, it must be done. This has gone on for too long and this year, it is time to put an end to it.
Ultimately God is in control and you or I cannot change the world by ourselves, it is a group effort with compassion as the drive. I must remember that God is just, and pure and blameless religion in His sight is helping the orphaned and caring for the widowed (James 1:27).
Being President of my chapter, I will occasionally post what we are doing on the blog. I will have an opportunity on my blog for you all to be involved as well.
Until then, keep reading, keep praying, and keep fighting.