Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Global Night Commute

Last Saturday, April 19, 2006, Atlanta decided to sleep on it.

The process started for me around 5 p.m. that afternoon. A small group of us met together to travel into the city for the Global Night Commute, an event geared to raise awareness for the night commuters in Uganda. Some time during the prior weeks, each of us saw the documentary, "Invisible Children." My friend, Matt, simply ordered it off www.invisiblechildren.com.

The film tells of three college guys in San Diego who decided in 2003 to respond to Colin Powell's grave announcement about genocide in Sudan. With no prior travel or film experience, Jason, Bobby, and Laren purchased a camera on E-bay and flew over to Africa. Due to rebel forces shooting the truck just in front of them, they took a detour into Uganda. It was there that they found their story.

They stumbled upon the invisible children. Each night in Uganda, thousands and thousands of children migrate into the cities, seeking refuge from abduction. The children sleep in bus parks, in hospital basements, or anywhere they can find safety from rebel forces. In Uganda, the rebels target children and force them to become child soldiers or make them victims of rape and murder. Each night the children pile together with no food or adult supervision, becoming a community of sorts. They desperately want nothing more than safety.

Their footage of the night walkers, the invisible children, broke our hearts. Unlike most documentaries of mass political violence, this film tells the story of devastation that is happening now. Even tonight, the children will walk in Uganda seeking to save their own lives.

What worldwide ripples will stir when we finally decide to respond to global needs?

And so began our trek. The Global Night Commute, the GNC, was our way, my chance, to get in the game of changing the world. The organization behind "The Invisible Children" organized the GNC to raise awareness and connect the concerned. In cities all over the world, people commuted into their cities to sleep. We paid homage to the children of Uganda by walking into the GNC sites and sleeping outside.

With a sleeping bag, art supplies, and pink Nikes in tow, I walked with people I am proud to call my friends onto MARTA, moving towards the Midtown station. From there, we walked to the meeting point at Piedmont Park. They sent us on the commute to Georgia Tech, the site of the GNC, in groups of 100. We walked the streets of Atlanta in mass.

Rounding the corner at Yellow Jacket Park and seeing a hill covered with sleeping bags was amazing. We joined the crowd of about 1,000 to unpack our bags, to write letters to the President and to Congress, and to make art that tells the story of the children in Uganda.

Erwin McManus, pastor of Mosaic Los Angeles said, "You are a resource placed on this planet by God Himself to serve and to heal and to help a hurting and broken and desperate world." Each one of us on Saturday night joined as resources stepping out to help.

My friends in Los Angeles say that 2,000 came out in Santa Monica on behalf of the children. In Lexington, KY, friends sat through a downpour of rain, with hearts breaking thinking of the kids in Uganda who sleep in the rain at least 3 days a week.

As I read about Jesus and the way He lived, I realize that no one was ever invisible to him. He saw everyone, even those who seemed the most insignificant to their world. He tells us in Mark 10:14-16 (The Message), "The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: 'Don't push these children away. Don't ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God's kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you'll never get in.' Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them."

He wasnt just talking about American children.

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