Sunday, December 27, 2009

Concert turned mom into a poverty fighter

By Jennifer Grant
Special to the Chicago Tribune
December 25, 2009

Activist and author Shayne Moore credits a rock star with waking her up to the AIDS pandemic. A married, stay-at-home mother of three, Moore said her life in Wheaton was organized around raising her children -- filling sippy cups, changing diapers, and stocking the fridge with groceries -- until Bono came to town.

On World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, 2002, U2 frontman Bono began his weeklong Heart of America Tour. The Irish rock star -- along with a motley crew of fellow travelers including celebrities Lance Armstrong and Ashley Judd, medical experts, and a children's singing group from Ghana -- visited seven Midwestern states and spoke at churches and on college campuses to raise awareness about AIDS.

During their stop at Wheaton College, Moore's alma mater, Moore said Bono's message "knocked the suburban wind right out of me."

"Living in an affluent suburb of Chicago, these issues weren't right in front of me," Moore said. "I was spending my time with other moms like me, going to play groups, going to Old Navy, going to Target. My world was really small."

Moore had been a fan of U2 since high school and when she heard Bono was coming, she was determined to see him.

"To be honest, I didn't care what Bono had to say. I didn't know what it was all about, but I scalped tickets from these little innocent freshmen at Wheaton so I could get in," Moore said. She paid $80 for tickets to attend the program; Wheaton students had received them for free.

That December day, as Moore entered Wheaton College's Edman Chapel with her 1-year-old son on her hip and holding the hand of her 4-year-old daughter, she was unaware that her life was about to change course dramatically. But a few hours later, shaken by what she'd learned about the tragic relationship between AIDS and poverty, Moore was incited to action.

In the seven years since Bono's visit to Wheaton, Moore has become a full-fledged activist. She has attended G8 summits in Edinburgh and St. Petersburg and has made public service announcements urging world leaders to keep their promises to the world's poorest people. She has traveled to Honduras, Zambia, and other resource-poor countries to observe and support the work of humanitarian organizations such as World Vision. Her first book, "All Our Ones Add Up: A Soccer Mom's Journey for Global Change," will be published by Zondervan in August.

"Shayne struck me as representing the prefect target audience for what the Heart of America Tour was trying to accomplish: to take caring, energetic Americans and to educate them on the issue and then to mobilize them to do their part in addressing the HIV/AIDS pandemic," said Ashley Woodiwiss, who was on Wheaton College's faculty when Bono visited and now teaches at Erskine College in South Carolina. "She struck me as well-placed to turn her desire to make a difference into a flourishing and full-time effort."

Moore started by attending meetings of a fledgling group called DuPage Glocal AIDS Action Network(, which was formed just days after Bono's visit by Woodiwiss; Sister Sheila Kinsey, a Franciscan nun; and Sandra Joireman, of the Wheaton College department of politics and international relations.

"Glocal" is a combination of "global" and "local," describing the group's goal of thinking globally and acting locally. Soon, Moore was an active member of the group, which meets regularly.

Because of her involvement in the group, Moore became one of the original members of the ONE Campaign, a nonpartisan effort created by a number of humanitarian organizations -- including Bread for the World, Oxfam, and World Vision -- to mobilize ordinary citizens to fight extreme poverty and preventable disease.

In November, Moore traveled to Zambia to see some of the work that organizations including World Vision are doing to prevent HIV transmission and gender-based violence in the southern African country.

"I connect deeply with the faith-based element of World Vision. My Christian faith motivates me to fight AIDS and poverty. With World Vision, I get my hands wet, my mind active, and my heart engaged," Moore said.

And she is grateful for the opportunity to get involved.

"I was very disturbed after I saw Bono," she said. "It's cliche to say it, but I woke up. I'd been living in this very insular world and it took a rock star coming to my hometown to wake me up to this huge thing happening in the world.",0,1663944.story

Copyright © 2009, Chicago Tribune

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Menorah

“I am looking forward to getting out my Christmas decorations,” I announce to my friend Kathy thinking about all the bins in my basement. “I especially love the menorah my mother gave me.”

“You have a menorah?” Kathy looks puzzled.

“Yes, when I was growing up my family celebrated Hanukkah each year. When I got married my mother gave me one.”

“Why?” she presses me on it more. Kathy knows I am a person of faith in Jesus and I come from a Christian family.

I have never been asked why my family of origin celebrated Hanukkah, or why this tradition was passed down to my family. It was just something we always did. My mother even wrote a devotional book to go along with the lighting of the menorah. Each day of our Hanukkah celebration this devotional includes both Old Testament and New Testament responsive Scriptural readings, a hymn, a prayer and a memory verse.

Tomorrow at sundown marks the beginning of Hanukkah. As we approach I find myself reflecting on this interaction with my friend and the why of celebrating Hanukkah—at least for my little Christian family here in the Midwest.

Beyond my faith in Jesus, I appreciate the richness and significance of Old Testament Jewish culture and how the Israelites interacted with God and worshipped Him. Hanukkah is the same thing as The Festival of Lights and the book of John (10:22) records Jesus attending this festival in Jerusalem. Even then it was an eight day festival and it commemorated the recapture and rededication of the Temple following the victories of Judas Maccabeus in 165 B.C. According to the Book of Maccabae, once the Temple had been reclaimed a lamp was lit. This lamp according to Jewish law had to be kept lit and never extinguished. The only problem was there was only enough oil to keep the lamp lit for one day. This is where the miracle of Hanukkah comes in--the oil in the lamp lasted eight days, just enough time until more oil arrived.

In the time of Christ the Festival of Lights was a time of celebrating and yearning for freedom, both political and religious, and it was very controversial as the Jewish people were living under Roman rule. Rome was not thrilled to have a city full of riled up activists for Jewish liberation. Then Jesus goes and makes it even more controversial when he claims he has come to bring much more than political and religious freedom.

It was during the celebration of Hanukkah when Jesus says these memorable words, “The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.”

In my family our Hanukkah readings start with a poem. This poem sums up the overarching Biblical story of Christ. I have considered this absconding of a tradition might be offensive or confusing to my Jewish friends. However, to me it speaks to why I celebrate Hanukkah with my children, to the things we have in common, and to a continuity in a shared faith that God sometimes breaks into our world and does miracles.

Eight Little Candles by Jessie E. Sampter

I thought of Christ, the Promised One
And all that He has done,
I lit one little candle
To extol God’s only Son.

I thought about a man and wife,
And two who share one life,
I lit candles for Jesus and
The Church, the Bride of Christ.

I thought about the Trinity:
The Father, Spirit, Son,
I lit another candle
To praise the Three in One.

I thought about four marks of grace
Of faith, hope, peace and love,
I lit the candles and I prayed
O, fill me from above.

I thought how David used five stones
To face a foe alone,
And as I lit the candles
His obedience I owned.

I thought how God created
Six days of work and play,
I lit another candle
For the Sabbath to rest and play.

I thought how seven Churches
Prepare for Jesus’ reign,
The candles burn to promise
That Christ will come again.

I thought of how we celebrate
The Festival of Lights,
And lit the final candle
For Christ—the Light of Lights.