There are times where I feel as though I have isolated myself so well living in the Christian community that I sit so comfortably in the pew, oblivious to what is happening in the world around me—the world I’m supposedly living to “reach.” Completely out of touch with the events in Africa, I was introduced about a year ago to DATA.org, an organization dedicated to issues of poverty, AIDS and trade in Africa. My interest was initially peaked because it was something close to the heart of U2’s Bono, a DATA spokesman. However, as I began to learn more and more about what was going on in Africa, as the ONE campaign began to bloom and the plans for Live 8 were created, my heart became ignited … something needed to be done, and for once, I would not sit by and do nothing.
Every three seconds, another person dies. As millions of people gathered across the country for the Live 8 concerts on July 2, 2005, more and more people died. In Philadelphia, one of the eight locations for the Live 8 concerts, Will Smith led the audience in demonstrating this atrocious statistic. With fists in the air, millions of people snapped in three-second intervals to mimic just how rapidly people are perishing. While such a short and somewhat soft sound, the impact was deafening.
Across the globe, people united as one in order to have their voice heard at the G8 summit. The list of the world’s well-known in attendance seemed to be unending. Bands such as U2, Black Eye Peas, Green Day, Linkin Park, The Who, Pink Floyd, Coldplay and Dave Matthews Band, artists such as Paul McCartney, Madonna, Elton John and Alicia Keys, as well as celebrities Brad Pitt, Don Cheadle, Natalie Portman and others all joined together in an effort to let the world’s voice ring in the ears of the G8 leaders. “We’re not asking for your money, we’re asking for your voice.” This one statement was heard on millions of televisions, with millions of eyes watching and millions of people hoping to seize the attention of eight men.
I watched from my little home in Wisconsin. I watched as people in London, Berlin and Philadelphia joined together for this one great purpose—to bring an end to poverty. I watched in wonder. Will this work? Will we be heard? As I watched the day’s events unfold, a few thoughts remained with me. How much faith do I have, and is my faith in the ONE campaign, or in God’s ability to use the ONE campaign? Why is my concept of love so narrow, when I have a personal relationship with the true source of love? Here before me were a group people, some of them absent of that true source, showing more love for humanity than the majority of my local churches. I watched as these people, moved by a love for humanity, united together to challenge the most powerful leaders in the world.
This week, “The Great 8” will make decisions that could potentially change the course of history. With Africa’s future and climate control being at the top of the agenda, Live 8’s frontman Bob Geldof found it necessary to confront the G8 leaders regarding the issues facing Africa and used Saturday’s event for that exact purpose. He states, "This is not Live Aid 2. These concerts are the start point for The Long Walk To Justice, the one way we can all make our voices heard in unison. This is without doubt a moment in history where ordinary people can grasp the chance to achieve something truly monumental and demand from the eight world leaders at G8 an end to poverty. The G8 leaders have it within their power to alter history. They will only have the will to do so if tens of thousands of people show them that enough is enough. By doubling aid, fully canceling debt and delivering trade justice for Africa, the G8 could change the future for millions of men, women and children."
And tens of thousands of people did just that. Millions have already signed the list to be hand delivered to the G8 leaders. France, Latvia, Israel, Egypt, Kenya, Sweden, South Africa … country upon country united together as one. It is no longer just one or two voices calling out to the G8 leaders, but a world of voices that hopefully will no longer be ignored.
History may not be changed this week. The results of the G8 summit may not be satisfying. But over the past few months and especially this past weekend, it is obvious that there is a movement among humanity, a movement whether recognized or not, that has been ignited by God. It is God who generates that kind of compassion. I don’t know what the next few days, months or years will hold. I do not know if Africa will be given the opportunity to pull themselves out of debt. What I do know is that this journey, a journey far from being over, lies in the hands of an Almighty God, capable of doing anything … even awakening an oblivious Wisconsin girl to the world around her.