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Union students spotlight hardships of Ugandan children

JACKSON, Tenn.May 5, 2006 – About 70 Union students spent a windy and rainy night April 29 on the concrete floor of the West Tennessee Farmers Market in Jackson.

They did it to demonstrate to themselves and the community the daily hardships faced by children of war-weary northern Uganda. It was part of a national event called the Global Night Commute in which more than 50,000 people in 130 cities drew attention to a group of “invisible children.”

“As a [Christian] believer, we have a responsibility to care for the poor and oppressed,” said Union student Matt Elia, who participated in the event.

He cited 1 John 3:17, “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”

The night commuters handwrote letters petitioning political support for their cause and watched “Invisible Children: Rough Cut,” a documentary offering a glimpse of the harsh reality faced by these children.

Amidst national attention on social issues like illegal immigration and Darfur’s genocide, the non-profit organization Invisible Children Inc. is circumventing the mainstream media to organize a grassroots movement among college campuses and youth groups. It is a movement dedicated to raising awareness and action for the estimated 30,000 Ugandan children kidnapped and conscripted by the Ugandan rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Invisible Children Inc. hopes that, in addition bringing aid and political action to Uganda, the night commute will connect the youth of America with the youth of Uganda.

“We haven’t been encouraged enough by the older generations,” said Union student Camille Ransdell. “We need to force ourselves to be socially aware.”

Elia said he was encouraged by the number of “globally-minded Christians” he sees in Christian colleges.

“Our only opposition in the issue is apathy,” Elia said.

Kevin Furniss is a Union freshman who helped organize the Jackson night commute.

“The Lord has laid Africa on my heart…and with this knowledge I have, I feel, a responsibility for these brothers and sisters,” Furniss said.

He plans to volunteer for Invisible Children Inc. next summer and, like others at the event, has plans for missionary work in the future. Another of the organizers, Tyler McMurtry, learned about the Ugandan crisis from his brother Brody’s experiences with the International Justice Mission in Uganda. He invited Invisible Children to present its documentary to Union University in February.

After the screening, representatives informed students about the Global Night Commute. McMurtry said that after seeing the film, he couldn’t remain uninvolved.

By Chris Pearson ('08)


Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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