May 2, 2006

Hundreds make Global Night Commute

by Huong Nguyen, Contributing Writer

Most of our parents know exactly where they were or what they were doing when President Kennedy was assassinated. And most of us can recall where we were when the fateful attacks on 9/11 occurred. For more than 500 Liberty students and Lynchburg residents, April 29, 2006 will be remembered as the night they walked to downtown Lynchburg and slept on the steps of Monument Terrace. Insignificant as that may sound, this was a hopeful act of demonstration in response to one of the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today.

On Saturday evening, nearly 60,000 people gathered in over 130 cities across the country for the Global Night Commute (GNC), a movement organized by the Invisible Children Inc. organization.

The non-profit group formed in 2004 after three young filmmakers from California ventured to Africa in the spring of 2003. Upon their travels, the trio was exposed to a tragedy that, according to the organization’s press release, “disgusted and inspired” them.

The film they produced, “Invisible Children: Rough Cut,” is a documentary that depicts the effects of a war that has been going on for 20 years, where children in northern are both the weapons and the victims.

According to Invisible Children Inc.’s fact sheet, there are an estimated 20,000-50,000 children abducted to fight as soldiers, as well as 1.7 million people forcibly displaced. With the Lord’s Resistance Army fighting against the Ugandan government with methods of anything other than peace, joining the rebel army is hardly a voluntary choice. Abducting children and brainwashing them to be cold-hearted killers is the only way to keep this resistance army going.

Mimicking the nightly commute that thousands of Ugandan children are forced to make in order to survive and hide from the rebel army, the GNC’s tagline is “Americans are closing their eyes to open the worlds’ (eyes) to an unseen war.”  These nightly commutes often require miles of walking to the nearest city and sleeping on the streets that are overcrowded by other “commuters.

“By talking to other people about this and by writing letters, the goal of tonight is to have our government take action in northern ,” said Sophomore Bryan McHenry. McHenry, joined by a group of friends, walked from Liberty’s campus to spend the night at Monument Terrace.

 “I wanted to get the full experience, or as much of it as I could, of what children in go through,” said McHenry. There were packs of students arriving on foot throughout the night.

Graduate student Linley Harrison, whose masters degree is in Children’s Ministry, was heartbroken after she saw the documentary about the children. “After watching the movie and seeing what these kids have to go through, I can’t believe that we complain so much in the ,” said Harrison. She was excited to see how many students came out despite the fact that it is the busiest time of the semester.

When asked what it meant to be a part of the movement, Junior TeeJay Heaslip answered, “it means what we should be doing what we’re expected to do—the bare minimum of what is required of being a Christian.” He added, “this is but a fraction of the pain and hurt in this world,” and that when a way to help is “made into such a tangible form and is so accessible to students,” it was hard for him to imagine why there weren’t more people taking action.

After two months of planning by student Michael Christmas and a handful of friends, Christmas was excited about the turnout for Saturday’s GNC. He saw the “Invisible Children” documentary for the first time this past summer, and made plans with a buddy of his to go to and work in an orphanage this summer. After that, Christmas hopes to make it to Gulu, where the “invisible children” reside.

“You can’t learn about love and learn how to love without community,” said Christmas. And that’s exactly what this evening was about.

Contact Huong Nguyen at hnguyen@liberty.edu.


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