Some thoughts on Invisible Children, the controversy, and their leader.

Next weekend, we are hosting a traveling team from Invisible Children including a representative from Uganda.  When we started the “Salt” series, we wanted to spend time focusing on our calling and need to positively influence the world with the gospel and the things that were important to Jesus.  Within a week, we had an opportunity to have Bob Lubell from ComeOnLetsGo.com and Invisible Children be with us during this series.  Both are working hard at changing the world around them, and both were catalysts to lead others to be a positive influence.

I’ve been familiar with IC (Invisible Children) for several years now and have attended their events in Chattanooga before, so when we had the chance to have them at Journey, we jumped on it.  The founders are followers of Jesus and their mission mimics that of Luke 4 – to rescue the oppressed and set the captives free.  And what I find amazing, is it all started with 3 friends and a camera.  IMAGINE. 3 friends and a camera are catalyzing millions of people to come to the aid of the oppressed.

Since the debut of their new film a couple of weeks ago, alot has happened with IC that has caused some controversy.  Critics have come out of the woodwork to try to discourage their efforts and raise concerns about their funding and practices.  In addition, last night, their leader was taken to a medical facility after what appeared to be a very public and embarassing mental breakdown.  For a small young church, that is enough controversy to consider canceling…and we did consider it.  Instead, we are still going to have IC at Journey and I wanted to tell you why if you have been following the news.

1.  IC IS making a difference in the world.  The critics…not so much.  We have hurt the efforts of rescuing the oppressed by trying to make it so complex and holding the rescuers to a standard that no one can reach.  Sometimes you just need to do it even if it isn’t perfect or not without criticism.

2.  IC has been criticized for only spending around a third of their income on the ground in Uganda.  However, that is only part of their mission.  Their primary mission is to raise awareness to prompt world powers to take action and they have been successful.  That is where the majority of the funding goes as stated in their financials.  It’s a different type of aid, but one that is clearly spelled out to anyone who is willing to research their site.  If you want to donate to their cause, be our guest.

3.  It is difficult to see a leader go down and that is just what happened last night.  If you are following the news, a dehydrated, undernourished, and exhausted leader absolutely flipped out and wandered through traffic.  The police were called and he was taken to a medical facility where he has been treated but no foreign substances were found.  The guy seems to have just crashed under the pressure.

After praying and talking about it, we chose to move ahead and to be honest I think all of this is indicative of bigger societal problems within the church and big media.

1.  We want someone to help change the world, but when they do, we criticize them ruthlessly.  I’m not saying I agree with every single thing they do or spend money on, but they are working tirelessly to stop a mad man that is enslaving, killing, torturing, and maiming children by the tens of thousands.  I think Jesus would be all over that.

2.  It’s just easier to criticize someone for doing something, so we can do nothing.  The breakdown of Jason Russell is heartbreaking and as a person that has put everything on the line for something I believe in, I know the emotional toll it can take on you.  Especially criticism.

3.  When did we stop trying to change the world with big dreams, audacious goals, and noble intentions?  Isn’t that what the Great Commission is? Change the world with the good news of Jesus? Perhaps our world would be less messy if we stopped vilifying the dreamers.

So, they are coming and those who are going to be sharing with us will undoubtedly be struggling through these events themselves.  Let’s remember that the enemy in this scenario is Joseph Kony, not IC.  Let’s be an arm of grace, healing, and encouragement for our brothers and sisters that are making a difference in the world.  Then, let’s join them with great dreams that are near to the heart of Jesus.  #Salt

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18–19

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