Thursday, February 21, 2008

Invisible Children

Invisible Children Poster, originally uploaded by nl_photography.

I feel really behind in my blog posts. There has been so much happening in my life these last few days. I've felt very overwhelmed at times. Overwhelmed at the hurt, the suffering, and the brokenness that permeates and saturates this world we live in. The week of events that we have been doing on campus has been an intense time as we talk about things that I find my mind and heart thinking about often.

Last night's event, showing the film Invisible Children was no exception. We packed our little coffee house in downtown Morgantown, sozo, to the brim with people who came out just to see what the film was about. And then, we had a letter writing campaign to encourage our senators to support legislation to work toward ending a civil war in Uganda that has displaced over 800,000 people and led to a generation of children being abducted and forcibly enlisted into a militia group. The film itself is heartbreaking, but I think what is even more heartbreaking is knowing that the resources are available to bring healing and resolution to this twenty year conflict.

I realize that a truly lasting peace does not come without Christ, but when I think about the resources and we have available here, I just know we can do some very tangible things here to make a lasting difference there.

That's why I wrote a letter to our senators. Here it is.

It is my distinct privilege, as well as my personal responsibility to write you about an issue of which I have recently become aware. On February 20th, I attended an event at West Virginia University partially sponsored by my church, Chestnut Ridge Church in Morgantown. I watched a film called Invisible Children. The film tells the tragic story of a 20 year civil war in Northern Uganda. Over 800,000 people have been displaced because of this conflict, and many more have suffered. A large number of these people have been children--little Ugandan boys and girls who have been denied safety and the freedom to play and truly be children. These people need our help, and we have the resources.
Senator Byrd, I implore you, for the sake of these people who were made in the image of God and for the sake of our conscience in this land of freedom and plenty, support the legislation now in congress to grant $25 million to re-integrate those displaced by the war and allow them to return to their homes and begin the process of rebuilding their lives and their nation. Further, continue to support lasting peace in this region by voting for legislation for a signed peace agreement in Uganda.
Thank you for your time and service,
Billy Willams

It's the first time I've ever written a letter like this. I took time last night, and typed up letters on my computer. Honestly, I can get a bit cynical about letter writing and really feel like it doesn't make a difference. I usually don't voice this thought, I just keep it to myself and choose not to participate. But you know something, these gestures DO make a difference. Even if my letters don't get read by the senators themselves--I have a responsibility as a voter and as a citizen to use my citizenship for the welfare of the world around me.

I encourage you to write your senator as well. I wish I had more links to describe what is happening, but I don't. If you have an opportunity to see the film, take advantage of it. It will be shown in the Gluck Theater at WVU March 4, 2008.

You and I, we get the privilege of making a difference in this world. It happens with small gestures though. Gestures like letters. Or events on college campuses. Or talking to friends and family. Or spending time in the areas of hurt. Sometimes it happens with all of those. Prayerfully consider where God wants you to enter into making a difference in His world.


BigMama said...

Elwood purchased a copy of the film on Wednesday night and we watched it in our home last night. What a powerful piece of art.

In addition to the letter writing campaign, which is absolutely a good and important thing, Elwood and I are going to try to get the DVD into the hands of as many people as possible. If you purchase a copy of it, a second DVD is included with it to share. We're going to see if we can't set up some kind of DVD ring for it, to get the word out to more people and hope that they are as effected by the plight of these children as we were.

Thank you for bringing this group to our attention -- we will certainly do what we can to see that the word is spread!

Michaelanne said...

Diane told me to check out this post; I'm so happy to hear you talking about letter writing and about the responsibility we have from our privileged position. I help lead a letter-writing group at my church in N. philly. we focus on 2 things: US prisoners either from the families of our church or just cold, pen-pal relationships (letter writing is so key for inmates; prison is a hard place). secondly, we write letters to those around the world who are persecuted or imprisoned because of their faith in Christ. Sometimes we write to the christians if we have addresses but most often we write letters of advocacy to government officials (ambassadors or national leaders) on behalf of people or situations that we have heard about. I've always been a big letter writer personally... and because we meet once a month, we can have consistency in our relationships and be intentional in our own learning about what the Church is facing around the world. It helps; so much. it helps the writers b/c when we hear about these injustices and we weep over the brokenness, the actions of our gathering, praying, and writing are ways that our bodies can work out the redemption that the Lord is bringing. and it helps those who hold the letter in their hands on the other end. it's a physical testimony. we know that if we write to those who are imprisoned for their faith, it's very unlikely that they will ever read our words but the guards or someone will hold these letters (sometimes we write "Jesus Christ is Lord" on the envelope). anyway, i get excited...

as always, your blog was encouraging to me to see such a like-minded person. keep writing (letters and blogs!)

Anonymous said...

Although writing to your senator is a great start on helping with this issue, there are so many others things you can do. But,most important is to tell people about it, then more people can get involved. We,as a group, are planing on buying this movie and watching it in our class for English. We're doing this to help raise awareness about this crisis. We should help the cause in Uganda by sending supplies over to help them out because they need it much more than we do. We can never understand the brutality that is going on over there and for people to help those kids in Uganda. We think they need to see for themselves what it is like, and we think it takes more than writing a letter to make them believe. This issue has been under the radar for far too long. We need to take a stand and help these children be kids again.