Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Hole in Our Gospel - Book Review

Warning: Only read this book if you are prepared to consider drastic changes in your thinking and in your life. Richard Stearns, who heads World Vision, presents both an interesting story and a compelling challenge in this well-crafted work, The Hole in Our Gospel. It was a book I could not put down.

Parts 1 and 2, "the Hole in My Gospel--and Maybe Yours" and "The Hole Gets Deeper" interweaves the biblical injunctions for God's people to make a difference in their world by working for His kingdom with Stearns' own story of coming to faith in Christ in his young adult years, his subsequent career success at Parker Bros. and Lenox, and the moving story of his transition, almost kicking and screaming, to World Vision, a change founded exclusively on obedience to God.

Part 3, "A Hole in the World," addresses the crippling needs of much of the world's people, resulting in the deaths of more than 26,000 children a day because of preventable disease. The stark contrast between the haves and have nots of the world is carefully documented.

Part 4, "A Hole in the Church," draws a picture of the difference between the church in developed and undeveloped countries, with an emphasis on 2 Cor. 8, which encourages equality between churches. The application to today's church would be that churches with enough, and more than enough, bring tangible help to the needs of the world. Stearns emphasizes the fact that until the last 100 years, the gospel had theological AND social implications, but with the division of denominations, Christians tend to fall into "social gospel" and "evangelical" camps. These are not biblical distinctions, and Stearns calls for a reconciliation of the two mindsets.

Stearns issues a call to the American church, comprised of the wealthiest people who have ever lived, to meet its responsibility to minister to "the least of these."

Part 5, "Repairing the Hole," challenges each person to bring his time, treasure and talents to bear on the world's pressing problems. "No one can do everything, but everyone can do something," is the message here. Stearns gives moving and inspiring examples of folks who have found a personal way to minister.

At my house, we are making drastic changes to answer the call, determined to live simply so others may simply live. Rarely have I read a book with so much impact, and undoubtedly I will revisit it regularly to evaluate my priorities.

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