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.
U2's Bono urges President Bush and
other leaders to provide more aid to Africa.
“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
“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
Media Contact: Randy Robison, editor at jamesrobison.net
Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for
complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.