July 25, 2011

Invisible Children: 8 Years Later and Emotional Reaction

Invisible Children  is a documentary about what 3 young men from San Diego, CA find when they visit Uganda in 2003.  They come across the effects of a guerrilla war that is going on.  The most moving aspect of the conflict is how it affects the children of the area.  Thousands of them have been abducted and forced into becoming child soldiers.  Those who are not abducted constantly live in fear for their lives.

So when a friend of mine invited me to a showing of the film, I decided to go ahead and finally watch the film.  After watching it, here's what I wrote to him:
I watched Invisible Children recently. It was a really good gripping documentary. Definitely, it has opened eyes to what kinds of things are going on in the world and the hard lives and misfortune of some people. I guess my biggest concern is that because it is so gripping, people tend to give money, without really knowing what the money will do and without knowing if there are perhaps greater needs elsewhere in this world that don't have a wonderful documentary to express the need. I see this a lot in missions. It's a little frustrating honestly. Good intentioned Christians will often give on emotion, without learning a little bit more about the world and what some of the biggest needs in the world are. Whether a ministry thrives or dies often depends on how well they promote their need, rather than on what ministries are doing the greatest things for God and have amazing fruit. It's unfortunate.
Invisible Children seems to still be touching the hearts of people who are in a puddle of tears by the end of the film and ready to write a fat check.  I noticed a wise person comment on the video that there hasn't been any violence in Uganda with the LRA for the last 4 years, but Invisible Children is still taking donations of course, since they've set up some type of relief operations and on the field they still see needs.  Here's a newsflash; THEY WILL ALWAYS SEE NEEDS.  Anyone operating in a poor country is going to see needs.  When good-hearted believers see needs, they generally want to help.  That's great.  It's the way God made us.  We are loving individuals.  However, a challenge I love to give to Christians is that just because we notice a need, it doesn't mean it is the greatest need.  Sometimes we have to sacrifice the good for the best.  This documentary was made 8 years ago and there hasn't been much violence lately, but there are certainly lasting effects.  However, please take the time to learn more about the world and what God is doing through many different non-profit organizations before donating or serving for a particular organization.  In the beginning of the documentary, the guys didn't even know what their story was going to be about.  They seemed to stumble upon it.  I fully believe God can pave the way for chance encounters such as this, but I also can't help to believe that if those 3 guys chose instead to go to Pakistan or Bolivia or Laos, we would have all heard about an amazing documentary that uncovered (insert horrendous phenomena here), and we would all be donating to a cause in that part of the world.

If you want to help out in the world or use your time to serve God somehow, the best thing to do is learn, ask questions, pray, and then take action.  Start by reading Operation World, Let the Nations Be Glad, and Revolution in World Missions, checking out websites like uscwm.org, joshuaproject.net, imb.org, aboutmissions.org, and taking an introductory course on missions.  It's best not to take action on the first amazing documentary you watch.  Use that emotional reaction and guide it into finding your proper place in God's Kingdom.  Then go crazy.

Before I decided to volunteer for Gospel for Asia, I spent 3 months researching missions and analyzing 60+ missions organizations.  I'm very grateful I did that.

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