Wednesday, November 23, 2011

135. Uganda: moves to quell LRA

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 135 | Wed 23 Nov 2011


By Elizabeth Kendal

The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is a blasphemous cult militia established in the late 1980s ostensibly to fight for the rights of the long-marginalised and abused Acholi people of Northern Uganda. The LRA quickly lost its political focus, becoming infamous for its unrivalled brutality, most of it directly targeted at Christian communities, churches and seminaries. Squeezed out of Uganda, the LRA moved to South Sudan and more recently to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Central African Republic. The LRA has long been armed and funded by the Islamist regime in Khartoum, which has employed the LRA as a proxy force against the South Sudanese and their Christian allies. The LRA's founder and present commander, Joseph Kony, is a former Catholic altar boy turned occultist / spirit medium. Children who have escaped Kony's camps have told social workers that when Kony gets 'possessed' -- he claims by the Holy Spirit -- he will demand worship, crave human blood and prophesy things that come 'exactly true'. This goes some way to explaining why this band of rebels has eluded capture for more than 20 years. In such an overtly spiritual battle, it should be unsurprising that prayer has proved to be the most powerful and effective weapon of all. In the opinion of this writer, the most effective local force against the LRA has been Northern Uganda's religious leaders and particularly the long-suffering and supremely courageous pastors and bishops of the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI).

With the stated aim of seeing the LRA removed from the battlefield, the US recently sent 100 combat-ready Special Forces troops to Uganda, tasked with providing 'technical assistance'. The LRA's evil and the local suffering may well be not the main reasons why the US has entered Uganda. Other possible motives include the discovery of oil in Uganda five years ago and China's quick investment in it. Also a quick moral victory in Africa would look good on President Obama's resume in the lead up to the 2012 US presidential elections. Importantly though, an 'oil war' is looming in Sudan, and the LRA -- long a proxy of the Republic of Sudan -- is presently lurking in the hills of South Sudan awaiting orders. Eliminating the LRA would greatly assist South Sudan. Furthermore, American Special Forces assistance in East Africa could be helpful in countering al Shabaab or at least in seeing that Kenya and Uganda are rewarded for their counter-terror efforts. All these possible reasons aside, removing the LRA from the battlefield would be a very good outcome indeed.

However, as the ARLPI notes, military means have never worked against the LRA. In December 2008 US military advisors assisted Uganda, DRC and the South Sudan-based Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) as they joined forces in Operation Lightning Thunder to fight the LRA in the heavily-forested Garamba National Park region of north-eastern DRC. Mysteriously alerted to the allied advance, the LRA tactically retreated and dispersed. In early January 2009 the alliance boasted that the LRA had been routed but by late January the LRA was enacting reprisals and terrorising civilian populations across the region. By March the Ugandan army had pulled out. The military operation, which cost a huge 500 billion shillings, was an unmitigated disaster, subsequently blamed on 'leaky intelligence'. Today the region is relatively calm and though sporadic violence continues (see LRA Crisis Tracker), the ARLPI believes that gains are being made through dialogue which offers a more holistic outcome than military action ever could.

So the dilemma is this: whilst everyone wants to see the end of the LRA, most Acholi do not favour a military solution. One reason why the ARLPI is opposed to the military option is because the LRA never had popular appeal and it could only fill its ranks by kidnapping young children. Consequently, apart from its top leadership, the LRA comprises mostly abducted, traumatised, terrorised Acholi children, who, after being forced at gunpoint to murder their own parents, were then brainwashed to believe they have no other home nor life than the LRA. However, the churches of Northern Uganda have, in great generosity of spirit, worked very hard over many years to prove that this is not so. These children deserve the opportunity of rehabilitation and reconciliation.

For more background on the LRA see blogs --
Religious Liberty Monitoring label: Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin label: LRA


* Yahweh Sabaoth -- the Lord of Hosts (literally the commander of heaven's forces) -- will open the door to victory on earth by delivering a victory in heavenly realms; may demonic spirits be bound, through 'Jesus Christ who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him' (1 Peter 3:22 ESV).

* Joseph Kony and the other senior leaders of the LRA will be removed from the battlefield in accordance with the will and purpose of God.

* multitudes of abducted children will be spiritually and physically freed to leave the bush and surrender themselves to those who will in amazing grace -- and usually to the bewilderment of the children -- love them, rehabilitate them and facilitate reconciliation.

* Ugandan churches -- both northern and southern -- will unite across deep tribal divides to pray for the above outcomes and to work together as one people in Christ for peace, justice and equity across the nation.


The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is a blasphemous cult militia established in northern Uganda in the late 1980s. For decades it has wreaked terror across the largely Christian regions of central Africa, often directly targeting churches and seminaries. Its leader Joseph Kony is a spirit medium. The Islamist regime in Khartoum arms and funds the LRA as a proxy against the South Sudanese and their Christian allies. The US has sent 100 combat-ready Special Forces 'advisors' to Uganda to help fight the LRA. All past efforts to destroy the LRA militarily have failed and even made things worse. Lacking popular appeal, the LRA fills its ranks with abducted local children. Ugandan religious leaders are very concerned but they are making real gains through dialogue. Please pray for them and the Church.

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