I am ashamed. Those of you who know me by now, might remember how about a year ago, when I took my first of many trips to Swaziland – I came home and it took me a few months, but soon the stories and the emotions settled in. I always knew I am a slow processor.

Recently it has dawned on me how much of a coward I have been regarding working in Africa. I heard a story about a boy who as he spoke to a social justice gathering, he point to a scare on his face. “I got this scar when my master lashed me for not working hard enough. When it began to bleed, he did not want me to stop working or to ruin the cloth in front of me so he took a lighter and burned it shut. I got this making stuff for you.”

While I was out in Swaziland, I heard of a man’s encounter where he was in a homestead and picked up a little 9 year old who had constant bladder problems – she had been raped so many times, she had bladder control problems. Even worse, her 4 year old sister could not walk – from too much rape. When poverty and injustice get personal, that freaking messes you up!!! That is why we avoid it – that is why I avoided it.

Some of you know I love Rage Against the Machine – so good. De La Rocha sings “I got no patience now, so sick of complacence now… the time has come to rage.” That is something I want so desperately. The ability to rage. The ability to rage when justice lies prostrate on the streets and when children die of hunger and our tables sap with food. To seek changing human history and this untold misery of our world we live in. I am not usually a fearful person, but I cant tell you how scared I am to die. Not whether I go to heaven or hell, but rather what God tells me and how he judges me not for what I did, but for what I didn’t do. I believe there is so much more I could have done with what He gave me. I struggle with guilt over this.

What I have learned though is it is not enough to be a “social justice” member in some sort. I think more importantly are we lovers. Many might think I am a social justice guy – my interests, passions and what I do with my life – but it is useless. Unless you are a lover, what good is it. I think I fully missed this while in Africa. I wish I could go back and live there again. If it was the lesson I learned though and this was the cost – it was worth it. To be a lover we must engage with the personal side of poverty. To sit in clubs and behind our desk and read the books is not enough. I am as guilty as anyone. There are ways and we need to engage on a personal level the marginalized.

I was a coward and stayed away from these things out in Africa. I stopped holding the kids, quite playing and getting close to them – for fear of their stories. I didn’t want to know. I was scared it might wreck me. How ridiculous is that. And if it didn’t wreck them. Well, sure kept me in my nice protected bubble. God have mercy.

What this looks like I don’t know – but something has to change in me.