God's Politics

God's Politics


Agnes, AIDS, Bush, and Bono (by Jim Wallis)

posted by God's Politics

Bono was in town the other night and had a small thank-you party for friends and allies to celebrate some successes in Africa with regard to poverty, AIDS, and other pandemic diseases. Joy and I went along, and it was nice to connect with him again. He gave a few remarks about signs of hope, even in the midst of so much still to do.


But there was another speaker. Agnes Nyamayarwo is a Ugandan nurse who has become an amazing activist in the battle against AIDS. She is HIV positive herself, lost her husband to AIDS, and unknowingly transmitted the disease to her unborn son, who also subsequently died. But Agnes is a woman full of hope. Joy and I got to spend some time with her and heard her story.


Agnes is an extraordinary woman and a person of deep faith. “When I had nothing else left,” she told us, “I learned to walk with God.” She is very grateful to the American people for the aid that made possible the HIV/AIDS treatment that saved her life. There are 1.34 million Africans now on lifesaving drugs, thanks to U.S. efforts—the most important thing the Bush administration has done. Here is a woman who has lost her husband and two sons, yet she has become a powerful activist and bright beacon of hope—all of which she attributes to her faith. When George Bush visited her country, the leader of the free world gave Agnes a big hug. And she whispered in his ear, “What about the global fund?” (the international AIDS fund that still needs more investment). Agnes has an agenda and a faith and both are very substantial.



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N.M. Rod

posted October 5, 2007 at 11:06 am


It’s great when good is done and thanks can be given.



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Moderatelad

posted October 5, 2007 at 11:16 am


I also believe that Uganda is one of a few it not the only nation that is teaching abstinence as a method of preventing the spread of this awful disease.
It is nice that Wallis can see that even if people support ideologies that you might not agree with you can work with them on other issues of importance that you do agree on. Too bad that same understanding is not applied to others in the US that have ministries that work in simular areas.
Blessings –
.



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Aaron

posted October 5, 2007 at 11:44 am


I couldn’t think of a better way to start my work day. God bless this woman and a beautiful continent that makes me cry with joy and sadness. May we all continue to push for intervening on our African (meaning all nations) brother and sisters behalf.
Aaron
http://aaronstewart.blogspot.com/



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Mick Sheldon

posted October 5, 2007 at 1:14 pm


Here is a woman who has lost her husband and two sons, yet she has become a powerful activist and bright beacon of hope—all of which she attributes to her faith.
This is beautiful , such a brave women . Thank God .



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sixtyfeetunder

posted October 5, 2007 at 1:23 pm


“It is nice that Wallis can see that even if people support ideologies that you might not agree with you can work with them on other issues of importance that you do agree on. Too bad that same understanding is not applied to others in the US that have ministries that work in simular areas.”
I love that. How true, and what a good reminder for me. What’s the saying, if you want to change the world, start by changing yourself… I’m taking your words to heart today, moderatelad. Thanks.



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Anna

posted October 5, 2007 at 3:05 pm


When George Bush visited her country, the leader of the free world gave Agnes a big hug. And she whispered in his ear,”What about the global fund?” (the international AIDS fund that still needs more investment). Agnes has an agenda and a faith and both are very substantial.”
This woman inspires me. She has an agenda and she is moving forward. Her story not only inspired me, but reminded me as a woman that there ARE agendas to be made on many fronts – to be followed through with strength, determination, passion, mind and heart.
Reminds me of the power of a woman! The “powerful activist and beacon of hope” that is in all of us. Where-ever we may be placed at certain times in our lives….large scale or small. Both are equally important. My Father used to always tell me, “Do what you can, where you are at, with what you have.”
Thank you Agnes for your strength and faith.
P.S.
And to Bono – who I am a huge fan! Keep on Rockin’….and I love what you started with RED. At 47 you ARE rockin’! Your determination to Africa inspire me as well.
http://www.joinred.com/manifesto/
http://www.data.org/?gclid=CNfzjO62-I4CFReEhgodLS8KKQ
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/4650024.stm



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eileen fleming

posted October 5, 2007 at 7:09 pm


Message to Bono and Sojo:
Where are the Artists Against Apartheid who supported Bishop Tutu’s speaking out against Apartheid in South Africa and regarding his nomination of Mordechai Vanunu for this years Nobel Peace Prize?
Why is Sojo silent about the censorship of Bishop Tutu while Jewish voices are rising up as documented @
http://www.wearewideawake.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=669&Itemid=179
eileen fleming,
author, producer “30 Minutes with Vanunu” freely streaming @
http://www.wearewideawake.org/



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Matt

posted October 6, 2007 at 2:47 am


Neat post, Jim – thank you. May I ask for some more specifics on the date/location of the get-together? Something more than “the other night”? :-) Thanks.



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JamesMartin

posted October 6, 2007 at 7:32 pm


Too bad that same understanding is not applied to others in the US that have ministries that work in simular areas.Moderatelad
I see SOJO reaching out accross the the line to conservatives more than vice versa. Maybe you should list some of the ministries that SOJO should be reaching out to.



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N.M. Rod

posted October 6, 2007 at 9:40 pm


I am saddened that many of my conservative Christian brethren are so hostile to anyone with a different take on things that they not only won’t talk to them, but refuse to even acknowledge them.
I honestly believe this hardshell Christianity is the result of the failure to acknowledge the centrality of Jesus’ core teachings in Matthew 5, 6 and 7 which is repeated and amplified throughout the scriptures.
I know that since I realised this, that it has revolutionised my own thinking – though it’s been an intense experience to test and then hold fast to what’s true.



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wayne

posted October 7, 2007 at 10:51 am


moderatelad
I was fortunate to recently go to Ethiopia. One of the many things I did was visit medical facilities and just meet people in their homes. I met many women, young and old all of whom had children, all of whom were widows. Their spouses had all died either through war or disease. They also had no work and there was literally no work available.
The only way they had to earn any money to feed their children was through prostitution. These women were not the exception among the poor and poverty is everywhere. Literally 98% of the capital is comprised of slums, 6″ by 8′ mud huts that must be rented no less.
Unless you want to go there and create jobs for these women please don’t get on the high moral ground of “abstinence.” For all of the women I met “morality” equaled housing and feeding their children. Distributing condoms would make more sense.



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DA

posted October 7, 2007 at 11:10 am


I went to Ethiopia last year. Many women have no other option than prostitution. Many of them are widows with children to feed. Work is not just hard to find as there is none. They live on apprx. $100.00 US per year. We heard estimates of 5-6 million aids babies. Unless we want to go there and create jobs for these women I do not think teaching abstinence would make any sense at all. For these women morality equals feeding and housing their children in the only way available to them.
Ethiopia is a perfect example of a land where you need to do something before you can preach anything.



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sixtyfeetunder

posted October 7, 2007 at 1:03 pm


“I honestly believe this hardshell Christianity is the result of the failure to acknowledge the centrality of Jesus’ core teachings in Matthew 5, 6 and 7 which is repeated and amplified throughout the scriptures.
I know that since I realised this, that it has revolutionised my own thinking – though it’s been an intense experience to test and then hold fast to what’s true.”

I so agree. For growing up in the church, it sure took me a long time to find this truth myself. And it has challenged me so much. I now see the meaning of the “narrow road,” and it’s not at all the same narrow road of so-called good morals that I used to think it was. It’s harder. And definitely more exciting and fulfilling. Glad to be on the journey with you all.
Angie



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neuro_nurse

posted October 7, 2007 at 3:16 pm


“Ethiopia is a perfect example of a land where you need to do something before you can preach anything.”
I agree wholeheartedly.
Christianity was introduced to Ethiopia in the 4th century, and the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has a very strong influence on the culture(s) of Ethiopia.
I can’t find a reference, but the statistic I recall is that Ethiopians are about 45% Christian, 45% Muslim, and 10% ‘other,’ including ancient forms of Judeaism.
Incidentally, the health status of Muslim communities in Ethiopia is generally better than that of Christian communites.
Seek peace and pursue it.



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Robert Alu

posted October 8, 2007 at 3:22 am


Hi,
Agnes is a Roman Catholic who will understand abstinence. The article, however, is not about abstinence. In any event abstinence is no solution, as such, to those who already have HIV.
The article is about Agnes, who is already infected, and her efforts to fight the disease. And, if one were to read her story (which you can find by clicking the link provided by Jim Wallis above), part of her story is that since she met privately with G W Bush, in July, almost one thousand of her friends have died of AIDS – for lack of treatment.
I am sure that this will invite criticism, but I will say it: considering what America can actually do, America really does very very little.
America doesn’t owe Africa anything, of course.
But,
It does seem strange that God would put so much money in the hands of Americans, who pride themselves (excuse me) on being Christians (especially their leaders), when, from here in Africa, we read and hear of the mind boggling sums that are being spent in Iraq, for example, in comparison to Bush’s AIDS initiative.
And then, again, what is so critical about fighting AIDS when war kills so many?
I think loving your neighbour as yourself would be better expressed in endeavouring to reduce ignorance, disease and poverty in Africa, Mexico and elsewhere, everywhere. It may even reduce unwanted immigration to America! But, I am only an African, what can I tell you?
God bless you!
– Alu
Dar es Salaam



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Anonymous

posted October 8, 2007 at 8:48 am


Posted by: eileen fleming | October 5, 2007 7:09 PM
Why is Sojo silent about the censorship of…’
Maybe its the lack of a ‘photo-opt’?
Have a great day.
.



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Anonymous

posted October 8, 2007 at 8:55 am


Posted by: wayne | October 7, 2007 10:51 AM
‘…get on the high moral ground…’
No ‘high ground’ just an observation. I have friends that are missionaries that have worked with these same kind of women in other countries to secure them other employment to support their families.
Do you see the gov’t in Ethiopia ever starting programs that would help these women? Most likely not as they are too interested in maintaining their power and position than to support gov’t programs needed. Guess they don’t have the ability to vote people into office that really care about the people who live in their country.
Blessings –
.



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Paul Maurice Martin

posted October 8, 2007 at 8:58 am


Impressive sounding person. Whispering in his ear… knocking him upside the head… Either would be a great existential gesture in itself, but I guess waiting a year and half is likely to be the only effective approach to him.
Paul – originalfaith.com



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Anonymous

posted October 8, 2007 at 10:35 am


Mod
It is a matter of time and math. Their children need food, now, not after somebody figures a way to employ them. HIV/AIDs among women and children spreads faster than you can develop industry, train and employ. If you had started last year it would have been far too late. Employment once the mother is infected and her children are dying is not much of an answer.
If I was one of these women and you came to me with the advice of abstinence I think the best response I could manage would be to look at you like the dog in the RCA logo, and say “HUH?”
As for the Government’s lack of response I do not think it changes anything in how we should help. Ethiopia is unique in Africa but it does share with the rest of Africa a history of Western European and American greed, political machinations and outright screw ups. It is not right to just point at the current politics and say it is their fault. You might want to read Martin Meredith’s book, “The Fate of Africa”. It is large but very well written and objective.



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Moderatelad

posted October 8, 2007 at 11:00 am


Posted by: | October 8, 2007 10:35 AM
Whom ever you are –
I agree – it was just an observation not and indictment about Uganda. I am all for helping several countries in Africa but are you sure that the aid that we send there will get to the people that need it? I am not interested in giving money to send material over there under the ‘we care’ idea if we can not assure that those who we are told we are going to help will be helped. I am not interested in aiding a fail and opressive Gov’t take the supplies and sell them on the black market for their own personal gain. (this has happened too often in the last 20+ years)
Blessings –
.



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intuit

posted October 8, 2007 at 11:32 am


JIM NEEDS ATTENTION AGAIN:
Jim:
If Agnes Nyamayarwo were really the central point of your thesis, then there would have been no need to provide a photo with Bono, or even mention his name.
I agree about the lack of the “Photo-op”. It’s sad to think that Jim is as star-struck and spotlight hungry as others.
This kind of name-, event-, forum-, country-dropping is part and parcel of a kind of Christian orientation that hungers for camera and microphone attention.
It’s the disease of much of the false, mega-church ideology that increases the distance between the haves (the celebrity photo-opping types) and the have-nots (the folks that sojo asks to support the ‘ministry’).
Stop with the posturing.



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neuro_nurse

posted October 8, 2007 at 12:13 pm


“Do you see the gov’t in Ethiopia ever starting programs that would help these women?”
A couple of clicks of the mouse (I have the Ethiopian Ministry of Health webpage bookmarked on my browser) and I found this:
“The Department of Women’s Affairs in the Ministry of Health was established in Oct.1994 with the broad objective of monitoring, facilitating and designing ways for the smooth implementation of the National Women’s policy (1993) in accordance with the duties and responsibilities of the ministry” (www.)moh.gov.et
A little Googling, and I found this:
“Breaching convention, the Ethiopian government saw that economically empowered women would benefit national prosperity. In March 2001, it joined the World Bank, Italian Cooperation, and other donors to implement the Ethiopian Women’s Development Initiatives Project (WDIP) to provide economic and social opportunities for Ethiopian women.” (http://web.)worldbank.org
Regarding the government of Ethiopia; please remember that from the coup against Haile Selassie I in 1975 until 1991, Ethiopia was governed by the Dergue, a military socialist government. (I’ve been in the room where Haile Selassie is alleged to have been murdered).
The current government of Ethiopia, a federal parlimentary republic, has been in power since 1994 – it’s a very young government.
This is not to excuse the current government of its abuses – and there are many.



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Mick Sheldon

posted October 8, 2007 at 3:58 pm


- Alu
Dar es Salaam said
It does seem strange that God would put so much money in the hands of Americans, who pride themselves (excuse me) on being Christians (especially their leaders), when, from here in Africa, we read and hear of the mind boggling sums that are being spent in Iraq, for example, in comparison to Bush’s AIDS initiative.
One of things Bush has done is triple amount of US Aid to Africasince he has been in office . In a recent article explaining why so much attention was given for the large increase in support for Africa was this explanation .
The evangelical community raised the awareness of HIV and AIDS to the president,” said Rep. Donald M. Payne (N.J.), the top-ranking Democrat on the House International Relations subcommittee on Africa. “When the Bush administration came in, HIV and AIDS were not an overwhelming priority. Now we have seen a total metamorphosis.”



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Mick Sheldon

posted October 8, 2007 at 6:59 pm


Angie said
“And it has challenged me so much. I now see the meaning of the “narrow road,” and it’s not at all the same narrow road of so-called good morals that I used to think it was.”
I recall when I was 18 I read the Sermon on the mount and dedicated myself on doing what the Lord commanded us to do from the Sermon on the Mount . . I had gone to the Episcopal church as a boy , had stopped when I entered High School . I think many churches get into a routine rather then remember what the routine is for . Easy to do I guess , close realtionships can cause one to take one for granted . I think its why the so called manstream churches are loosing people , routines and traditions , and like you said morals have their place , but their nothing compared to the Holy Spirit and yourself having a communion together . The world looses its ability to disrupt you , and the Love of Christ is able to shine on to those around you .
When the world appears to be winning and taking us back into the concerns of the world , I have to give the Glory to God for his mercy Angie , we don’t deserve such happiness , but He is always there .
I don’t understand it , But I am humbled by It .
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.



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I and I

posted October 9, 2007 at 9:12 am


I agree with intuit. While I think the article was useful and interesting, I would have preferred to see a picture of Jim and his wife with Ms. Nyamayarwo. After all, she seemed to be the focus of this story, not the rock star.
Personally, I’m tired of Bono and his bourgeoise, ego-swollen act getting such disproportionate praise from social justice advocates. Granted, he does more in a year than most rock stars do in a lifetime, but let’s not overstate things. He’s still a show business personality and his music products and stage show promote consumerism. (And he evades his taxes.)



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wayne

posted October 9, 2007 at 12:00 pm


Do you think we should shoot the messenger some more?
I have never heard Bono do any self promoting when speaking on this topic and as far as Jim’s picture with him goes, do you think it might just be possible that sometimes a picture might just be a picture. If I had a chance to have a picture published of Bono joking around with me I think I would do it. Anyone who thought I was being self promoting by doing so, well I don’t think I would care actually.
Aide to Africa and the fact that an entire continent is being decimated by this disease demands any attention it can get. Bono has done more to bring this reality to the mind of all of us than any other person I can think of. Others are perhaps more heroic in their stories but I find it hard to find fault or see any reason to do so at this time.To snipe in this way probably says more about you than it does either Jim or Bono.



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neuro_nurse

posted October 9, 2007 at 12:19 pm


“Aide to Africa and the fact that an entire continent is being decimated by this disease demands any attention it can get.”
I’ll second that!
I can’t say I like Bono (I liked the first two or three U2 albums), or Bill Gates for that matter, but if they can draw attention to and help solve some of the problems, they have my blessing.



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Screwtape

posted October 9, 2007 at 2:43 pm


Hmmmm…I would like to see some more arguing, name-calling, and finger-pointing on this thread. It’s not mean-spirited enough. A good effort was made by intuit and I and I, and wayne certainly responded in a way that could elicit a nasty response – but there needs to be more…



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I and I

posted October 10, 2007 at 9:38 am


Wow, say something about a rock star and it really ruffles feathers. I remember having a fit as a 14-year-old back in the 70’s when my parents said my Jethro Tull records were silly. Don’t offend people’s cultural heroes.
Remember “Rainforest Crunch” and the whole idea that you could help save the rainforests by buying ice cream? Do good in the world by spending money on yourself with no sacrifice? And then the whole thing backfired due to economies of scale, and Rainforest Crunch had to use nuts gleaned by those forest-clearing companies because the small farmers just didn’t have the capacity to respond to the demand?
I appreciate Bono bringing attention to Africa, but it’s what he and other overpaid celebrities should be doing anyway. It’s their job. But this is what would make Bono a real hero: stand up to the idiocy and greed and consumerism of the “rock music industry.” Tell Crosby, Stills and Nash (for example) to take some time away from their sailboats and sportscars and make some real investment into making the world a better place. If he were a real hero he would challenge the anti-environmental, anti-human rights practicies of his own record company. He’s wealthy enough to be able to take the risk.
And by the way, U2 are one of my favorite groups. This has nothing to do with musical taste. But I’m under no illusion buying their CD’s is somehow “saving the world.”



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I and I

posted October 10, 2007 at 10:17 am


Just a mea culpa on second reading of my comments yesterday afternoon: my saying I agree with intuit only meant I would have rather seen the pic of the African woman, and was not meant as a criticism of Jim. Also my comments yesterday about Bono were a little intemperate (“ego-swollen” and all that) although I still stand by what I said this morning about Christians addressing consumerism particularly in the case of show business personalities. It is easy to say things on a blog like this with anonymity that we wouldn’t say with our true identities attached, but I think we should still try to be fair and speak in a “Christ-like” way with whom we disagree. As I’ve made this admission of my own carelessness with words, I hope that in general we can all adopt more of a loving tone when we disagree with each other. God bless you all.



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