He’s the lead singer of an Irish rock group that’s been popular for 20 years. His name is Paul David Hewson. The group is U-2. And he is better known as Bono.

It may surprise many to hear that he’s a Christian—as his public persona is known to have a rough edge. But he’s using this rough edge to bring attention to the needs of the people of Africa.

According to Christianity Today magazine—Bono prays regularly and prays before meals. He has been married to his high school sweetheart for 20 years. He likes to read the Bible paraphrase called The Message. But he does not attend church regularly.

Bono made news in 2003 for his use of indelicate language on live American television when he won a Golden Globe award—a mistake he acknowledged when he addressed the 2004 graduating class of the University of Pennsylvania.

Don’t get too excited because I use four-letter words when I get excited.  I’d just like to say to the parents—your children are safe. Your country is safe. The FCC has taught me a lesson

Bono does not pretend to be a role model for Christianity. But he would prefer to be remembered for something noble rather than for a bad decision.

However, he is talking about his faith more as he recruits churches to help fight against AIDS and poverty in Africa. He’s a friend of contemporary Christian artist Michael W. Smith. The two of them combined forces recently in Philadelphia to start the One Campaign to eliminate extreme poverty and disease in Africa.  The lyrics of U-2’s music often have Christian themes. The song Pride refers to people who’ve given their lives for a higher purpose. It includes a reference to Jesus Christ.

One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resist
One man washed up on an empty beach
One man betrayed with a kiss.

In the name of love
What more in the name of love.
In the name of love
What more in the name of love.

Bono told Christianity Today. "I just go where the life is, you know? Where I feel the Holy Spirit,"

"If it's in the back of a Roman Catholic cathedral, in the quietness and the incense, which suggest the mystery of God, of God's presence, or in the bright lights of the revival tent, I just go where I find life. I don't see denomination. I generally think religion gets in the way of God. The song “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” tells of the frustration of finding meaning in life, of Bono’s experiences with both good and evil.

I have spoke with the tongue of angels
I have held the hand of a devil
It was warm in the night
I was cold as a stone.

But I still haven't found
What I'm looking for.
But I still haven't found
What I'm looking for.

What Bono is looking for is support and participation for his efforts to aid Africa. In his commencement address to University of Pennsylvania graduates, he said the plight of Africa is a modern moral blind spot.

And for me, proving ground has been Africa. Africa makes a mockery of what we say—at least what I say about equality. It questions our pieties and our commitments, because there’s no way to look at what’s happening over there and its effect on all of us and conclude that we actually consider Africans as our equal before God.

Bono and his wife Allie worked for a month with a relief crew in Ethiopia in 1985. One family was so hungry that the father begged Bono to take his son. This after the family walked all night to get to the food station.

At that moment, I became the worst scourge on God’s green Earth—a rock star with a cause. Seven thousand Africans dying every day from a preventable, treatable disease like AIDS. That’s not a cause. That’s an emergency.”

Bono says he has moved from seeking charity for Africa to seeking justice. And his passion includes bringing about political changes such as freer trade and debt relief for Africa.

We can’t fix every problem. Corruption, natural calamities are part of the picture here. But the ones we can, we must.  Here in Philadelphia, at the Liberty Bell, I met a lot of Americans who do have the will—from arch-religious conservatives to young secular radicals, I just got an incredible overpowering sense that this was possible.

The Irish rock star says America represents an idea that anything is possible—whether putting a man on the moon, or eliminating extreme poverty and disease in Africa. He says every era has its defining struggle and the fate of Africa is the one for the current generation. He says modern rock music has more to with irony than idealism, but he hopes idealism is not dead.

I’m Rob Scobey. Write to me at KNLS, Anchor Point, Alaska, USA.

I leave you with the song U-2 performed at the 2002 Super Bowl to honor victims of the September 11th tragedy, but which also contains images of poverty-stricken Ethiopia.  Its title: “Where the Streets Have No Name.”

I wanna run, I want to hide
I wanna tear down the walls
That hold me inside.
I wanna reach out
And touch the flame
Where the streets have no name.

I wanna feel sunlight on my face.
I see the dust-cloud
Disappear without a trace.
I wanna take shelter
From the poison rain
Where the streets have no name
Where the streets have no name
Where the streets have no name.

We're still building and burning down love
Burning down love.
And when I go there
I go there with you
(It's all I can do).

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