Finding God in a Cardboard Box


U2's Bono urges President Bush and other leaders to provide more aid to Africa.

Peter Pretorius, our mission partner in Africa, called me recently with some amazing news as he prepared to return to Johannesburg after attending the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C.

“It was one of the most powerful speeches I’ve heard in my life,” Peter said. He wasn’t referring to the President, a Senator, or even a member of the clergy. Peter was reacting to the message presented by Bono, the lead singer of the rock band U2.

“God may well be with us in our mansions on the hill… I hope so,” Bono said to the crowd of political and religious leaders. “He may well be with us as in all manner of controversial stuff… maybe, maybe not. But the one thing we can all agree, all faiths and ideologies, is that God is with the vulnerable and poor. God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house…”

I’ve seen people living in cardboard shelters. I’ve picked up a newborn baby left on the streets in a cardboard box. I understand what Bono is saying. Many years ago, God changed my life when He opened my eyes to the plight of the poor, hungry and hurting people all over the world, and particularly in Africa.

The “dark continent” is an amazing land. It holds some of the world’s greatest natural resources; yet the greatest resource in Africa is the most abused and exploited resource in our history – the people. We must never look at that great continent for its natural resources, but we must focus on the people resources and love and help them. If we do that, I believe that the natural resources will be released to the countries that genuinely care about the people.

“This is not about charity, this is about justice and equality,” Bono continued. “Because there's no way we can look at what’s happening in Africa and, if we're honest, conclude that deep down, we really accept that Africans are equal to us. Anywhere else in the world, we wouldn’t accept it.

“Look at what happened in southeast Asia with the tsunami. 150,000 lives lost to that misnomer of all misnomers, ‘mother nature.’ In Africa, 150,000 lives are lost every month. A tsunami every month. And it’s a completely avoidable catastrophe.”

This has been my message for years. After the devastating tidal waves of 2004, I referred to those forgotten areas of human suffering that seldom make the evening news as “unseen tsunamis” and continue to seek ways to help them, so I am thrilled to hear this message from a rock star speaking at a political meeting. (It is refreshing to hear someone in the entertainment industry working for good, rather than working to destroy the family and other foundational beliefs.)

Aid must not be thrown indiscriminately at corrupt governments and regimes, and that is where Bono must walk with caution, but certainly we can do more to save human lives. In theory, if another one percent of the free world’s gross domestic product were dedicated to providing food and clean water to the people of Africa, starvation and disease could be wiped out and most of the 6,500 Africans still dying every day of a preventable, treatable disease could be saved. This is more than a noble effort. This is the work of God. However, healing in Africa cannot be administered through the iron fists of proud men; it can only be administered through the caring hands of humble servants.

Bono also touched on a theme that I preached on September 11, 2002 – the night of the terrorist attacks.

“’Thus sayeth the Lord,’” Bono quoted the Old Testament, “‘Bring the homeless poor into the house. When you see the naked, cover him; then your light will break out like the dawn and your recovery will speedily spring forth; then your Lord will be your rear guard.’ The Jewish scripture says that. Isaiah 58. That is a powerful incentive: ‘The Lord will watch your back.’ Sounds like a good deal to me, right now.”

Divine shelter sounds like an excellent idea to me! But it won’t come through preaching or piety. It will only come when we align ourselves with God Almighty.

Given the times we live in, many are seeking God. Rather than try to bring God into our busy lives, we would be far wiser to take our lives to where we know God exists – with the poor. We must humble ourselves and climb into the cardboard box of human suffering. When we feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, clothe the naked and comfort the afflicted, we place ourselves on the side of God. And that is where we will find peace, joy and protection.


Author: James Robison

Word Count: 796

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, an international humanitarian aid ministry; host of the television program, Life Today; and author of The Absolutes.

Media Contact: Randy Robison, editor at

Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.



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