This article is from Issue 54: Nov/Dec 2011

When Revolutionaries Grow Up

Can you be both radical and responsible?

You swore you’d always swing a battle ax at the status quo. You would work tirelessly for justice as a radically faithful peacemaker inspiring revolutionary change. You would volunteer every vacation day, bike to work in snowstorms and heat waves to prevent greenhouse emissions, and stay awake until 2 a.m. dreaming up world- changing plans with your friends. You would regularly sleep on the streets with the homeless or sit in mud huts with those living in abject poverty. You would never spend more than $100 on a couch or $10 on a shirt, never work a lame job just to get a paycheck, never treat church as just a place to show up and feel good. You would never spend your life keeping up with the Joneses.

So what do you do when one day you wake up and discover you have become the Joneses?


We feel your pain. We live in that tension.

As undergrads a decade ago, we were on the leading edge of the justice-minded evangelical wave. We were misfits and proud of it. We fasted at a ministry-hosted banquet in protest of what we deemed a misuse of funds. We were voted “Most Likely to Give Away Their Last Dollar.” We started a group called The Revolution (and this was pre-Claiborne). We led a book club on Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. We sponsored children overseas. We offended a friend by questioning how much he spent on hair gel.

We graduated and put our scant money where our mouth was. We moved to Nicaragua, in search of what Jesus meant in Luke when He said, “Blessed are the poor.” We lived in poverty with no power, no safe drinking water, no transport, no cell phones, no health insurance and no hospitals within five hours. After a year back in the United States as live-in caregivers for an elderly man, we moved to China for two years. We had two children. We refused to buy fancy strollers and changing tables, and instead carried the kids with us on our next move, to South Africa.

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