Hybels interview with Bono

This session, to me, was the highlight of this year’s Leadership Summit. The interview was recorded in Dublin and played at the Summit, mixed in with some great concert footage. Sorry for the messiness of my notes, but here they are:


What can I give back to God for the blessings you pour out on me?

Hybels asked Bono what has been most satisfying in this last year of awards and recognition. Bono says that music is still most satisfying; most thrilling. The other reason is the work he is doing on the ONE campaign. Bono said that the poor and most vulnerable are often not treated with the respect of other interest groups. “We want to represent the poor and most vulnerable without coming with our heads bowed and cowed; that the poor deserve an honorable place—the head place—at the table.”

In re: to family: summers are sacrosanct for the family. We go to France and spend that time together.

Re: spiritual activity. Hybels said he learned that it began in his youth group. I never had any problems with Christ; it was Christians . . . I found them to be disinterested politically, culturally. I found it difficult to relax around them. Christians can be very judgmental, judging people on the surface yet never mentioning corporate greed, etc. In the system we have, governed by karma, grace enters the picture. It is hard for humans to grasp grace. I grew up suspicious of Christians but determined to learn more about Christ.

Duality is the mark of great art. I did live in tension between Christian faith and my music. There is a fear of duality in Christianity. The key that great art has with Christianity is that you will know the truth and it will set you free. That’s how I start my day.

I relate more the the blues. They are like the psalms. Oh, God, where are you?

In re: to believing in Jesus as just as a good man doesn’t work. He was either a nutcase or who he said he was. This man went to the cross what he said he was prophesied about; God in human flesh. I am fascinated by a child born in straw poverty.

In 1985—going to Ethiopa with Live Aid with his family—this rang every bell inside my head; went over with my wife and worked in an orphanage, under the wire, just to see what was going on there. To see them trying to stay alive is something I will never forget. How could this be in a world of plenty? People growing up starving to death. If this is the way of the world, we need to overthrow this way.

Hybels: how did this finding take manifestation in your life?

Bono: If I am honest, I tried to put it out of my head. To carry this with you is too much. We were both clear that at some point we would be called upon to revisit these questions that were too big.

What happened to you in the last several years that made you shift gears even more to do even more lobbying? Bono: what else are you going to do with celebrity? It is ridiculous. But, hey, its currency and I’m going to spend it. I have a head for the world’s poor and I’m strategic. God has made me an opportunity. I have a voice.

An idea whose time has come and has a moral force is powerful. Now there is momentum behind it. People are waking up and realizing that the world doesn’t have to be this way.

Hybels: why is the church late to this?

Bono: The church has always been behind the curve, with civil rights, etc I think the church is afraid of politics. The church has been very judgmental, about the AIDS virus in particular. Christ won’t let the church walk away from the AIDS crisis. I was very angry when I read the stat. about 6% of Christians feeling the need to respond to the AIDS crisis. The church started to wake up and ruined it for me (not liking the church).

Love thy neighbor is not advice, it is a command. In the global community, can you say it is not really my concern if it is happing over there? No. If people are starving somewhere in the world, we must do something. The only place Jesus mentions judgment is in re: to taking care of the poor and vulnerable. Your service to the poor and needy defines you in the kingdom. This is what it means to live in the kingdom.

If the Christian church can eradicate malaria, defeat AIDS, . . .

I think the most moving moment is when a friend asked me to stop asking God to bless what you are doing. Find out what God is doing and do it. It is already blessed. That’s what I did with these issues. This generation can be remembered for doing away with poverty—the stupid kind of poverty.

“Thy Kingdom come on earth as in heaven” grabs me because our purpose is to bring heaven to earth not have a pie in the sky mentality. The world is not a happy place for most people living in it.

Hybels: You have the opportunity to preach to 70,000 pastors. What do you have to say to them?

Bono: Open the doors of your church and make them clinics. Make your congregation aware of the ONE campaign. Let’s walk together and stand up for the least of these. Give permission to your leaders to spend your money on the poorest of the poor.

Hybels shared about Hebrews 13:17, of how this is the scariest verse in the Bible in re: to how God will hold church leaders accountable, esp. about the greatest humanitarian crisis of our day—with the AIDS virus. The church cannot idly sit by. Every church should do something. Doing nothing is no longer an option.

What can a church do?

Educate itself (books, tapes, learning groups).

Engage in the alleviation of human suffering.

Sr. Pastors have to travel to continents being ravaged by this disease.

About John Henson

I am Pastor of Church for the Highlands in the Highland neighborhood of Shreveport, LA. I am also Chaplain of Volunteers of America of North Louisiana. I am husband to Jinny and father to a middle-schooler named Jack. Most of my time is taken up with starting a church, but I love running, a good cigar, and reading what mystics have lived and written. Member of Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
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