Sometimes, if you don't know how to help or what to do, the injustice of the world can leave us feeling overwhelmed and hopeless. So, instead of responding, we do nothing because we just don't know how to process the hurting or don’t know anything we can do that can make a difference.
This blog should help with all of that.
Years ago I heard about the “Invisible Children”. That’s pretty much about it. I heard about them. I don’t think I could have told you which African country the children lived in. I don’t think I could have told you why they were “Invisible”. I don’t think I could have told you anything about them, except for that they were children who fled from their villages each day at dusk to a “safe” place so they wouldn’t be abducted by rebels and forced into a life of being a child soldier. I considered the notion----that single sentence---to be all I needed to know. Now I just sit here shaking my head as I type that.
I suppose I thought that because I didn’t know how to get more information. I suppose I also thought that because my plate was full with the needs of children in one country that already was so far away from me and I didn’t know how I could help these children, even if I knew more information.
Again, I’m just shaking my head.
Our new work in Uganda has helped me to learn about the plight of these “Invisible Children”, and now we are finding God has placed Sweet Sleep in a place where we are able to meet the immediate needs of His hurting children. Let me share with you…
These children…..the invisible children are also known as “night commuters” or “child soldiers”. More than 20 years ago a man named Joseph Kony was trying to gain political power in Uganda. He was unsuccessful in his attempts and, evilly, began massacring northern Ugandans and abducting their children to force them into his army. During the last two decades, the men, women and children of northern Uganda have lived in unimaginable fear of night attacks on their homes and villages.
It’s hard to understand how a human could be so evil. It’s impossible to imagine the torture these children suddenly find themselves living in. I won’t share with you the ways in which these massacres are performed because they are too horrid to explain or even imagine. Children are forced…and I mean FORCED to torture and murder their families and others or risk being tortured themselves. It. Is. Unimaginable.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) exists to prosecute those involved in war crimes and crimes against humanity. According to the ICC, Joseph Kony is at the top of their most wanted list. The ICC calls this 20+ year war, the most horrific war ever. Think about that for a minute.
Just a few short years ago three college age guys from Southern California went to Uganda with nothing more than $300, a video camera and dreams of finding a good story to make a film about. What they actually stumbled across were these children….commuting at night in order to protect their lives. They were shocked. They asked questions. Their lives changed. As a result, countless lives have changed. Sweet Sleep is now a part of that…and you can be, too.
Through the brave work and unrelenting efforts of these three college guys, the world has become aware of the struggles of a nation…of a continent. They invited their friends to get involved. They rallied in DC and talked with Senators and anybody who would listen. And you know what, something amazing happened. People listened. The government responded. And because of people DOING SOMETHING instead of listening and then going on with their life or ignoring it and acting like it wasn’t happening because it was happening so far away, lives have been saved. Men, women and children. Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grandparents….saved.
Sweet Sleep always encourages our friends to go, give or pray. I probably cannot encourage you enough NOW to do SOMETHING. We are ALL needed.
Here’s something else you probably haven’t heard about in the news.
Last April…almost one year ago these college guys, the UN, officials from surrounding countries and a specially appointed White House representative gathered in northern Uganda. Kony had finally agreed to peace. Over several days they waited. Kony never showed came to meet with them. The peace talks failed. Kony vowed to continue.
This past December, Christmas Day 2008, Kony surfaced in the Congo massacring hundreds of people and abducting hundreds more---mostly children. The Congo had never seen anything like it. No one in Congo can understands what has happened. And how could they?
Back in northern Uganda thousands of children who have escaped are trying to figure out what to do next; most of their families have been killed others have families who think they’ve been killed. Once again, their lives are filled with heartache. This is where we can help.
Children….thousands of children…are living in refugee camps called IDP camps (Internally Displaced People) in northern Uganda. The government is burning down their huts because the camps continue to bring unwanted attention to Uganda and they want the children to move elsewhere. Just over a week ago nearly 100 children found themselves homeless, again, after their huts were burnt down.
Sweet Sleep is partnering with an organization which is building safe homes for these orphans which are two hours south of the danger of northern Uganda. There is an immediate need for these children to have mattresses, blankets and mosquito nets. This is where we can help.
Let me encourage you in three ways:
1) Come to tonight's information meeting for the July trip to Uganda to build beds for two orphanages. Now, this won't be anywhere near the area I've been telling you about, but some of the children who've managed to flee from Kony are being sent to orphanages around the country, so it's likely we'll have the opportunity to share healing and hope and love with these, and so many other, children.
2) Attend tonights screening of Invisible Children's, "The Rescue of Joseph Kony's child soldiers" to educate yourself and see how you can get involved. It's easier than you think. And, more important than you can even imagine. 7 pm--Brentwood Baptist Church Room 1150a.
3) You have an opportunity, right now, to contribute financially toward mattresses, blankets and mosquito nettings for the former child soldiers who have recently had their huts burnt in the refugee camps and are now waiting to have safe shelter in a new location where they will be loved and nurtured.
Sweet Sleep is partnering with Village of Hope, Uganda to provide mattresses, blankets and mosquito netting for these sweet orphans. The children often share mattresses due to space, so the immediate need is only for 40 sets of bedding. Can you help provide for these children?
To provide these items, go to www.sweetsleep.org/donate and put "Gulu" in the comments box or mail your check, payable to Sweet Sleep, to PO Box 157, Brentwood, TN 37024, and put "Gulu" in the memo line.
A whole bed for this child
So much more to say.....
See you in the next blog,