how do you live truly free?

{and what you can do to help}

Wow these last 24 hours have been a whirlwind over here.  So many of you have clicked and read and shared  the last post, and prayed too.  I am so humbled by that.  Please keep sharing, keep clicking, keep praying, keep wrestling with what love looks like when it is most costly.

I want to share a little bit more with you as we pick our way on this unpaved road we travel.  May I?

This picture above is of my favorite captures ever.  It is of a little girl whose world was torn to shreds, who came to us barely alive on the heels of an LRA attack almost in our backyard. {If you haven’t already, you can read about it here.}  A few months later she was running down our trails, leaping off of fallen tree trunks and flying into my arms.  She has been teaching all of us about what it means to live truly free.

She, and many of our other children, show us there is nothing any of us has walked through in our lives, that He has not already paid the price on the cross to heal.  His love never fails.

But the story does not even end with her healing and restoration, as miraculous as it was.  When God moves, He is building a living history that changes the way we see and interact with the world around us.  His past faithfulness becomes a platform for our present faith.

Six months later after the initial attack near our compound, the LRA again returned less than ten miles from us.  Unbeknownst to me, our children had decided enough was enough.  They began to call early morning meetings in their houses.  Getting up at 5 am, they worshiped and prayed, pouring their hearts out in prayer.

They were tired of violence in their backyard. But they also knew the real enemy would never be defeated by physical force or firepower.  Their prayers were not ones of vengeance and retribution.  They cried out for three things primarily.

  1. That the LRA in the area would walk into to local police stations and turn themselves in.  That they would tire of killing and want to stop.
  2. That the police would be merciful to them and help them.
  3. That the surrendered rebels would be restored and reunited with their families and come to know the love of God.

Again eight, nine and ten year olds storming the gates of heaven that the captives in their midst might be set free. Little children leading the way and humbling us all with their examples. They embodied a forgiveness so profound, so supernatural I have no doubt heaven itself silenced to lean low and listen to their cries.

Why do I believe that?

Three days later, a group of ten LRA members walked into our local police station of their own accord and turned themselves in. From the accounts we heard, they basically said, “We are tired of killing people and stealing, can you help us?”  This does not happen.  Not at all.  But in the kingdom of God, the prayers of one small child are enough to stop one of the most feared rebel movements on the planet.

What might He do in response to 50 million people pausing their clicking for prayer?

Where armies of the earth had failed, the prayers of children who know they are sons and daughters of their Papa in heaven were moving mountains!  Our children were not crying out for destruction but for mercy on their enemies.  How heaven must have marveled.  I know we adults did.

Over the next six weeks, our children prayed each morning.  Forty-seven more LRA rebels turned themselves into area police headquarters all around us.  And just as our children prayed, many were able to be reunited with their families and repatriated back to their communities.

I am reminded every day here, it takes no great love to love those who love you.  BUT what GREAT love it takes to love and pray for an enemy that has raped and pillaged and stolen everything from you.  Some of our children were praying, not for an impersonal threat, but for the very enemy that had ripped apart their homes and lives.

I am reminded that if we are going to live truly free, we must embrace radical forgiveness as both a hard choice and a beautiful grace.

Our children show us time and again that the unfailing love of God is strong enough to look hate in the face and choose mercy, that it is powerful enough to cause rebel armies to bow their knees, that it is big enough even to stop a war in its tracks.

I read about a precious man I have never met last night.  He is a church leader in the area of northern Uganda that was ravaged by the LRA before they were chased out of Uganda and into South Sudan, DR Congo and Central African Republic six year ago.  (That’s right: they are not active in Uganda at present.)  He has lost loved ones, was captured and experienced the horrors of this rebel group first hand.  These are his words.  I can only pray we listen.

You cannot heal a land filled with violence with more violence. That may seem like a quick solution, but in the end it only brings more pain and revenge. We need to look to Christ’s true example of reconciliation in order to learn how to heal this land. Forgiveness must exist in the darkness in order to bring about Truth and Light. –Father Martin from Northern Uganda

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP:

  • Read more on the implications of the #Kony2012 campaign for us here on the border of DR Congo in South Sudan and some thoughts on what it means to love our enemies.
  • Consider a very balanced critical analysis of the broader issues surrounding the #kony2012 movement.
  • Retweet, repost and pass these posts along if they resonate.
  • Read and learn more about alternative interventions of restorative justice, as well as the differences between propaganda and advocacy/awareness raising.  Truly I am not making any assertions here, but dig a little and make your own mind up on where this falls on the spectrum and whether it is helpful or not.  The lines are often very fine. I just find it an interesting thing to ponder.
  • Partner with local indigenous organizations enacting positive change on the ground like the ones listed in the second article or other ones you can build an ongoing relationship with.
  • For churches or Christian groups considering hosting a Cover the Night event associated with Kony2012, consider perhaps hosting a targeted prayer event instead for the restoration of the nations and peoples ravaged in this conflict.  Cover the night, but cover it with prayer and awareness of God’s heart that makes Him famous not the works of the enemy.  Contact me if you would like more information on how you might do that.
  • Write to your lawmakers and policy makers and express any concerns you might have.  In terms of the USA, I once was told on capitol hill that “All politics are local.”  In other words legislators and decision makers weigh constituents who voice their concerns as speaking for more than just themselves.  If you are concerned enough to speak up and write, there are likely a whole number of folks who are concerned and have remained silent.  Your voice matters.
  • Come visit Uganda/South Sudan, build relationships with people on the ground and see the situation for yourself.