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Oprah Winfrey takes notice of students' humanitarian efforts

May 11, 2009 : Mitzi Bible


Liberty students Kailey Spivey, Chris Neill, Randy Carroll and Olivia Reyes arrive back on campus after attending a rally for Invisible Children outside Oprah Winfrey’s studio in Chicago.

Four Liberty students had a chance to be on The Oprah Winfrey Show on Friday, May 1, as part of a segment to foster awareness of the thousands of children being trained and used as soldiers in the civil war in Uganda.

Kailey Spivey, Chris Neill, Randy Carroll and Olivia Reyes travelled to Chicago as part of “The Rescue,” a 100-city global rally organized by Invisible Children, an international group that advocates on behalf of the 3,000 Ugandan children who have been kidnapped and turned into child soldiers. The rallies were meant to increase awareness of the atrocities occurring in northern Uganda and the surrounding countries by garnering the attention of the media and a local public figure. At each city, participants symbolically “abducted” themselves to represent the child soldiers, and then camped out in a public place, waiting to be “rescued” by media and a public figure.

The Liberty students demonstrated with hundreds of other “rescue riders” on Thursday outside Oprah’s Harpo Studios in Chicago, the last city to be “rescued.” They camped out there that night, and on Friday morning lined the curb, holding peace signs in hopes of influencing Winfrey to join their cause.

“We wanted to be a voice to the voiceless. We wanted to see one of the most influential women of our day lend that influence to this cause,” Spivey said.

After a two-hour stand, Oprah arrived, and about 30 minutes later, “She came outside, right behind Randy and me. A simple ‘Hey guys’ announced her sudden approach. She took the three guys who started the organization inside, and when they came out, they told us between jumps and screams and a bold 'God is so good,' that we were getting an interview at the beginning of her show,” Spivey said.

The leaders were interviewed outside by remote, in front of the crowd.

Spivey said she and the other LU students were not recognizable on television, but she was proud to witness that moment.

Spivey was one of the students who formed a new campus group this semester to support Invisible Children. She spoke in convocation, urging Liberty students to attend a rally on April 25 in Washington, D.C. About 300 Liberty students attended.

Owen Davenport, one of the LU group’s organizers, said the student-led effort at the nation’s capital was successful.

“Liberty made quite an impression at the event, as the students made up just about 12 percent of the group. All the students wore red wristbands to represent themselves as Liberty students. Many people asked about the wristbands and were impressed and encouraged by the number of people who had driven all the way from Lynchburg.”

The D.C. group was “rescued” by Pete Wentz and Patrick Stump of the popular rock band Fall Out Boy and Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe.

Spivey, who hopes to do mission work in Uganda someday, said her time on the road with the “rescue riders” has made a big impact on her life.

“We literally saw God do miracles and were continually praying together, thanking God and pleading with Him to change Uganda through this event, and to allow us ministry among the non-Christians that we were sleeping next to. God did allow us many conversations of a spiritual nature and kept us fed and safe like He promises.”

 

Liberty University students have been involved in other missions in Uganda this year. Through World Help, students collected $25,000 to pay for the expansion of a home for orphans there. Recent LU grad Sarah Pisney will be travelling to Uganda as a full-time missionary with World Venture and several other students are doing short-term mission trips and internships there this summer.

For more information on missions at Liberty, go to the Center for Global Ministries website.