I was on the phone with a friend when I first saw news of Invisible Children Co-Founder, Jason Russell’s arrest. I read the article out loud and was literally sick to my stomach. Not because of what he had done, but because of what it meant.
I am a huge supporter of Invisible Children. Not financially, necessarily, but I tell others about their organization, follow them closely, dedicated my novel, Collision, to them and am giving a portion of the proceeds of copies sold from my website, to them. The non-profit changed my life and I am forever grateful.
I was ecstatic when the #kony2012 campaign burst on to the scene. I was elated by the response and seeing my Twitter and Facebook streams fill with screen caps of the film and photos of Kony. I bought my kit and my family made plans to cover the night on April 20th.
Then, the skeptics started talking, casting doubt and fear onto the waters and turning some people’s excitement into more of a muddy uncertainty. I’ve spent the last two weeks defending Invisible Children to friends, family and fans that are asking my opinion about the negative press the organization has received.
And now, Mr. Russell’s arrest. I fully expected the deluge of “what do you think now?” e-mails and yes, they came. So, this is what I say:
“Put down your stones.”
Did Mr. Russell just commit an indiscretion? Yes. We all do – his just happened to be in public (and if you’re pulling out the “but I’ve never done that” card, go back and read the Bible to see what it says about placing sin on a scale of bad to worse). The indiscretion was not only public in the sense of where it happened, but public in the fact that Invisible Children has the attention of millions around the world and a lot of those people want nothing more than to see the organization fail. I can literally visualize those people salivating over this “failure”.
Part of what makes me sick to my stomach is knowing that Mr. Russell must know that too. I can only imagine what he’s feeling right now. Shame, embarrassment, disappointment in himself, fear of what this means to his wife,children and the organization he loves so much. I’ve beat myself up to the point of being bloody and it wasn’t even over stuff with such possible negative consequences.
Instead of jumping up and down at someone else’s problems, why not actually give him some grace? Realize that we have no place to judge and stop to think about what he has managed to do through his good choices.
Do his actions of a few nights ago erase the slaughter of multitudes of human lives over the last twenty-five years? Does it erase the fact that women all over Northern Uganda, Sudan and the Congo have been raped? Or thousands upon thousands of children have been taken violently from their families and forced to kill in order to live themselves? Does one man’s weakness nullify all of that? If so, then God help us.
Even the most loved Bible heroes were complete and utter failures in at least one area of their life, yet they are still held up as examples of how to live. Why? Because we’re all moral failures, ours just look different and we tend to hide that reality from others.
I urge people to keep the focus where it belongs… On Kony. He is the criminal we are after. He is the abductor, the killer, the rapist, the mutilator. He is the enemy. And when he’s caught and brought to justice, then guess what? We’re going to be called to forgive even him.
Drop your stones of judgement and pray for Jason Russell, his wife, his children and his organization. Pray that the ultimate enemy, Satan, will not win in this. Don’t let him take our focus off of doing good because we’re so busy reveling in someone else’s “failure”. And don’t let the enemy convince you to use this as an excuse to do nothing.
If you’re waiting for the perfect person to lead us into battle, you missed him. He came two-thousand years ago and he’s begging you to rise up and be his hands and feet.
Let’s drop our stones, give grace and ACT.
When I wrote Collision over a year ago, there was no way I could’ve known how timely it would end up being. Turns out, its national release (March 27th) is within the same time frame as the push for #KONY2012 and the “Cover the Night” events all over the world. The fact that the atrocities going on at the hands of Kony is again being pushed to the forefront of social consciousness excites me! Maybe now, this man will finally be stopped.
In their first documentary, it was Invisible Children that opened my eyes to the crimes of Joseph Kony and the plight of the Ugandan people – children especially. It was through the Invisible Children that God awakened my spirit and compelled me to learn more… do more.
Within months we started the adoption process. And within a year and half we adopted a son, Yohannes, from Ethiopia. We tried to adopt from Uganda, but at the time, adoptions to non-Ugandan citizens were not permitted. Eventually, we were one of the first families to try to adopt from Uganda and had accepted the referral of two children but after an almost two-year process, the adoptions fell through. (You can read more about this on this site, under the category of ‘Adoption’)
Also within a year of seeing the documentary, my husband and I were on a plane to Gulu, Uganda, the very city that the documentary was filmed in. We were hosted by an amazing organization called Favor of God Ministries (their information is listed in the back of Collision). It was on that trip that we fell in love with the people and it was on that trip that I wrote a very detailed journal.That journal turned into parts of Collision. All of Cabot’s first impressions during his trip to Uganda came from this journal.
I walked away from that trip with memories that would last a lifetime and a burning desire to help… in some way. I hadn’t even started writing yet, so writing a book about it didn’t cross my mind, but I knew that I would end up doing something.
Fast forward a few years, after I finished writing Salvaged and Rise and I was looking for a new project. I looked up at my wall and saw the faces on the photos in front of me. I sat down, started typing and Collision was born. I told the story of boy named “Cab Stone”. He had everything a guy could ever want… minus one thing. A purpose. He meets a girl who has almost nothing but one very important thing… you guessed it, a purpose. She lives in Gulu, Uganda and serves those brutalized by the LRA and their 20 year attack on Northern Uganda. She opens Cab’s eyes to a whole new world. Once his heart opens as well, – there’s no going back to how he once was. (You can read the first two chapters and see the book trailer by clicking on the tab at the top of this page)
So far, about 350 copies of Collision have been purchased from my website or at one of my speaking events.
Lives have been touched.
I’ve received letters from people who put the book down and immediately signed up for mission or humanitarian trips. I got a tweet today from a wonderful girl who put the book down and within minutes was sponsoring a child from Uganda. Many high schoolers have read the book and vow to try to make a difference…. somehow. All because of a story. And all because…
… ten years ago, three guys went on a trip. They ended up uncovering something that nobody on our side of the world knew about. They promised a boy named Jacob that they would do something about what they saw. They didn’t fail to deliver on that promise. Because of them…
… millions upon millions of eyes have been opened. Lives have changed – mine just one of them.
I encourage you to watch this amazing video. Thoughtfully consider helping by making a donation. Take part in the “Cover the Night” events in your town. Sometimes, it only takes one person to change the course of mankind. You could be that one.