Video, Book Take AIDS Message to US Youth

6 Sep 2002
Bono has shot a video message and contributed to a new book about AIDS in Africa, to be published this autumn.
The book, 'The aWAKE Project: Uniting Against the African AIDS Crisis', is the latest contribution in a campaign to alert young people in American churches that the crisis in Africa is one they must persuade their government to tackle.
Earlier in the summer, responding to a request made by executives in the Christian music business, Bono sent a video-taped message to be aired at a clutch of music festivals.
"Today, this very day, 5,500 Africans will die of AIDS," he said on the tape. "If this isn't an emergency, what is? We're supposed to love our neighbor. The Bible tells us to love our neighbor. ... Well, we're not. We really are not. God is not looking for alms. God is looking for action."
Jay Swartzendruber, publicity manager for Gotee Records in Nashville, Tenn., was among five Christian music executives who drafted a proposal to work with Bono and suggested the video . 'We as a label feel strongly that the evangelical church and the charismatic church and the Western church in general ... really needs to wake up to the Bible's clear principles for Christian service. It is important to meet physical needs.'
He said 24 Christian artists are now endorsing DATA, the recently launched campaigning group in which Bono is a key player. Supporters including dc Talk, Jars of Clay, Newsboys, Out of Eden, Sixpence None the Richer and Third Day.
Bono's video was featured at nine festivals and various concert settings this summer and, understanding the target audience, Bono was keen to cite the Bible. 'There are two thousand, three hundred verses of Scripture pertaining to the poor. History will judge us on how we deal with this crisis. God will judge us harder on how we deal with this crisis.'
In urging people to get in touch with political leaders and sign up with DATA to express their desire to make AIDS and poverty in Africa a priority, church leaders say Bono, who met with key religious figures in Washington in March, is having some influence. Some church groups are now developing strategies to address AIDS and building coalitions with relief agencies who are already been providing assistance. Michael W. Smith, another supporter of DATA, has recorded a song for an upcoming album from Interscope Records whose proceeds will help AIDS relief efforts in Africa.
The book will be published by the W. Publishing Group and features contributions from an eclectic mix of people including Nelson Mandela, Bono, and other artists.


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