The U.S. joins the hunt for Uganda rebel leader

By October 19, 2011

Uganda (MNN) — The United States sent 100 military
personnel–mostly special operations forces–to Uganda to ferret out Joseph Kony, head
of the Lord's Resistance Army.

Their job is to help the local government fight the rebels
through intelligence gathering.

When Kony came to power in 1987, he was filling a power
vacuum. He claimed his group was based
on the Biblical Ten Commandments and said he was a disciple sent by God to
bring peace and purity to Uganda.

The group has done anything but bring peace in the years since. Rather, they've engaged in a brutal fight
against the government. Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court for
his group's attacks. They're known for killing, torturing, maiming and
kidnapping tens of thousands of people. The LRA is also blamed for the
abduction of more than 65,000 children for use as child soldiers or sex

Lorella Rouster with Every Child Ministries says, "We
welcome the aid of the U.S. personnel. We hope that they will be able to take
down Kony and his cohorts. We hope this is just not a political move."

Finding the elusive LRA leader could be difficult. When the
rebels were driven out of Uganda, they cropped up in the Central African
Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan.

And they left behind ruin and waste. "He did not just kill children. That
would have been bad enough, but he
forcibly recruited them to do the slaughtering for him."

Rouster says,
"We have been working with the children and families who survived his
Konyan holocaust in northern Uganda since 2006." She notes that sometimes, the survivors are worse off than those they slaughtered. "The thing that Kony and his cohorts have
forced children to do have done such deep, searing damage to their souls, that it will take generations to recover from
the damage that has been done."

Rouster explains that Kony's forces often struck at night in
small villages, so it was unsafe for any child in northern Uganda to
sleep with the family. As a result, tens of thousands of children began
"night commuting," walking for hours into towns. 

The fortunate ones found shelter provided by Christian and
humanitarian agencies. The unfortunate children slept on the street, exposed to
theft, assault and rape. These "night commuters" were
called "invisible children" because when night falls, they seemed to
appear in droves in the cities, as if from nowhere. 

The teams responding to the needs are overwhelmed and
exhausted. But they weren't the only
ones.  Rouster says the work has been an
uphill battle. "When we first went
there, they just seemed dazed. They seemed so unresponsive. But after working for several years, we're
beginning to see some of them smile; we're beginning to see some of them come
to Christ." 

Intense prayer efforts of Ugandan Christians may be yielding
results and spiritual breakthroughs.
"We're beginning to see some of them express a need to talk about
some of the things that they experienced during the war, but it's going to take
a long time for that situation to heal."

The Gospel is the only thing that can heal the hurts left by
the rebels. Rouster says, "Every
single family in the area where we work has been affected by the war. Either
they killed, or family members were killed."

A whole generation of children in Uganda was
lost, but there's hope. "These kids
need to know that no matter what their level of guilt was during the war, no
matter what they have done, Jesus can forgive them," says Rouster.

Christian children's teachers were trained by ECM to help in the
refugee camps. They're also developing a sports ministry as
well as sponsorship programs. "Once the children are sponsored," says Rouster,  "they're
able to go to school and to attend Bible teaching every week–and they have somebody watching over them and helping them." 

It costs a little over a dollar a day to provide hope for
the future for these Ugandan children. Click here if you want more information
about sponsorships.

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