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Amazing Grace

I first heard about Grace Akallo earlier this year, when I was working with our contemporary worship planning team in putting together a series on missions. I was already reeling from my newfound exposure to the horrible situation of children in Northern Uganda, who are terrorized by rebel leader Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army. Kony fuels his army by abducting children and forcing them to be soldiers, laborers and sex slaves. According to World Vision, more than 30,000 have been kidnapped since the war’s beginning in 1987, and more than 1.7 million people have been forced into displacement camps, where food and water are scarce and disease is plentiful. But children aren’t safe even in these camps. So, up to 50,000 leave their homes and the camps each night and walk miles to cities and towns to sleep on sidewalks or, if they are lucky, a shelter where they lay on concrete floors with thousands of other children. This nightly routine has earned them the name “night commuters.” (For more information, see World Vision’s synopsis.)

When the folks at church asked me to do some more research on how we could incorporate Northern Uganda into our series, I contacted one of our missionaries. He and wife knew Grace well and suggested that we could invite her to speak during the service. We did, and her testimony changed people’s lives.

Now, thanks to a very powerful article at the Washington Post earlier this week, thousands more are hearing her story. (The article mentions her testimony before the U.S. House on April 26; her statement is on World Vision’s site). The only thing I’d add to the Post article is more about her incredible faith, which, to hear her tell it, is less in spite of what happened to her and more because of it. (This audio interview with Grace includes more about her faith: scroll down until you reach “Uganda—A Former Child Soldier Tells Her Story.” It runs about 30 minutes.) Also of note, Invisible Children are also mentioned in the Post article. For a personal experience during one of their recent Global Night Commutes, read here.

(Image: A room full of "night commuters" taken by U.S. Agency for International Development)