not invisible for long

They had to turn ACU students away at the door.movie poster

800 students made it in, but many were told they couldn’t fit into the swelling Cullen Auditorium. The last time Cullen was this full, Madagascar or some other silly movie was showing. Not this time, though.

800 students packed into theatre seats to experience a film they knew would be difficult to watch. A film about children who are abducted at 5, 6, 7, given guns and taught to fight, and forced to participate in a rebel uprising against the government of Uganda. Because the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) kidnaps children from their sleep at night, thousands of children hike many miles each night to abandoned schools to sleep in safety, but they sleep literally on top of one another. These “invisible children” live in fear, and most of the world doesn’t know about it.

That is changing, thanks to three young filmmakers (in their late teens, early 20s, I believe) who made it their mission to document the horrors taking place in Uganda and tell the story everywhere they could. This week, the Invisible Children film has been in Abilene — 500 Highland Church members experienced it Sunday night, several hundred Hardin-Simmons students on Monday night, and the 800+ at ACU last night.

We were all moved, most to tears, while watching a young boy named Jacob sobbing at the thought of his older brother who had been killed in the war. Earlier in the film, Jacob said that the children could not cry, because they would be killed themselves. Resiliance, forced callousness in children who ought to be able to freely express emotions. Perhaps years of pent-up emotions came out, however, in a moment of telling one of the filmmakers what he would say to his brother if he could see him again. I can’t — I won’t — get that image out of my mind.  Countless images from the film will stay with me, a spectator watching from a comfy seat thousands of miles from ground zero, as it stayed with the filmmakers, who experienced the horrors first-hand three years ago.

One thing I love about my generation (and especially the younger ones) is its propensity to act when convicted. Last night, 800 college students were convicted by Jacob’s story and seeing what some of their peers have been doing to bring into the light the injustices around the world. One student raised his hand and challenged every student in the room to contact their respective high schools about showing the film there. Another student asked how he could take a trip to the war-torn region.

Hundreds of students lined up to buy T-shirts, hats, and $20 Ugandan-made bracelets that will put a kid through school for a month. I am hoping that hundreds of Abilene residents will show up tonight at the Cockerell Building on North 2nd at 8 p.m. for a showing and sale of artwork inspired by the film, along with some great music (from my brother’s band, Homer Hiccolm and the Rocketboys). All the proceeds will go to the Invisible Children project.

Whatever we do, Christians need to stand up and be a voice for the voiceless. These children must not remain invisible.

For there is nothing hidden, except that it should be made known; neither was anything made secret, but that it should come to light. — Mark 4:22

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Invisible Children has set up an aid program for those who cannot work in Uganda because of the war. The bracelets I mentioned earlier are made by Ugandan people who are paid a wage for their work and paid for each bracelet they produce, then sold in the United States (similar to Eternal Threads). Right now, all of the proceeds for the bracelets, sold for $20, goes to putting children through school for a month (all education, even elementary and secondary education, requires a tuition in Uganda, a price that many children are unable to pay.)

That is just one way the Invisible Children project is making a difference in the situation. Please help in any way you feel called.

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