This new book by World Vision U.S. President Rich Stearns, published by Thomas Nelson Publishing, is an excellent survey regarding poverty, Christian responsibility, and the global church. The book is lengthy, nearly 300 pages, and ends with a call to action by President Stearns:
You, Me, Let’s Go! We have work to do and its urgent. Join me…
I think that sums up the book in short order. The entire read builds toward a call to action, specifically for Christians, specifically for Western Christians, to stop ignoring the more than 2000 Bible verses that tell us to do something about the poor, needy, widows and orphans; those verses that command us, under penalty of judgment, to intervene on behalf of those suffering at the hands of injustice and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.
For my regular readers, it is no secret that these issues have been near and dear to my heart ever since my first mission trip to the hill country of Guatemala in 2003. Many of you may also know that I worked at World Vision U.S. for a short time in 2007 between my time on Capitol Hill and my current position at McLean Bible Church. You’ve read of Brian and my mission trips to the poorest of the poor, most recently our time with the local church in Eburru, Kenya and how that experience continues to pierce my personal devotion times as I try to make sense of how God would use me to speak for those in Eburru and Kibera who cannot speak for themselves.
Well, you know how much I would love to go back in time and take every single one of you with me, so you could experience first hand all that God has allowed me to bare witness to in Central and South America, in the Middle East, in South East Asia and in Africa, but since we all know that is not possible, the next best alternative is for each of you to stop reading this blog, log on to Amazon.com and buy The Hole in Our Gospel.
In this book, Stearns shares his personal testimony of how God called him to step out of the lucrative corporate world and into the non profit world, how he almost missed his calling, and how God has transformed his thinking about what it means to live out the Gospel, the GOOD NEWS of Christ. He then goes on to share numerous first hand accounts of situations he has witnessed through his field work with World Vision U.S. That is all in part one of the book – The Hole in My Gospel (and maybe yours). Part 2 is titled The Hole Gets Deeper, where Stearns takes the Scriptures at their word and asks Christians to consider some hard questions about their responsibility to care for the poor. Part 3 is A Hole in The World. Here is where Stearns takes off the gloves. The commentary, statistics, and examples he provides concerning the state of the poor in our world today are textbook quality. If you do not have any frame of reference for the condition our world is in today please at least read Part 3 of this book. You will walk away with a foundational knowledge concerning the complexity of poverty and hard facts to stand on concerning the life threatening realities of more than 1/2 of the world’s population. Part 4 is titled The Hole in Our Church – 71 pages of truth that, if read and taken seriously by the Western Church, could be the beginnings of the end of poverty , once and for all. And finally Part 5 is Repairing the Hole, a variety of parting motivational facts, Scriptures and quotes to ensure this journey doesn’t end with the conclusion of the book.
Its really difficult for me to review this book because I feel that I have been grappling with the contents of this book long before Rich Stearns decided to write it. But for Christians who have yet to prayerfully consider their personal responsibility to care for the poor and the needy, I implore you to read this book. Its eye opening. Its convicting. Its heartbreaking. And its the TRUTH!
I give this book my whole-hearted two thumbs up recommendation for anyone who wants to understand more about the complexity of poverty. For my Christian friends who have not yet started to consider their role in ending poverty, I urge you to prayerfully consider this book as a starting point. For my friends who are already grappling with these issues, I believe this book could come across as “preaching to the choir”. You will find yourselves wanting to shout AMEN and PREACH IT! But you will not necessarily learn anything “new” about poverty if you have already been paying attention.
All in All, an Excellent read, no matter your faith persuasion. Poverty is real and this book speaks the truth.
Now, lets Go! We have work to do, and it is urgent!
For more info, visit the website associated with the book http://www.theholeinourgospel.com