I just finished Richard Stearns‘ book, The Hole In Our Gospel. Richard is the president of World Vision. His background is in business and to say he wasn’t thrilled with the possibility of leaving a well-paying job to go to work for World Vision would be an understatement. But he listened to the call of God and did just that. Even though he, like so many of us, argued a bit with God by arguing with His people first.
I have had the book for a few years and just felt the time was right for reading it. I think really it was just God‘s timing. I don’t normally keep books for 4 years before reading them. I tend to devour books as soon as they are in my hot, grubby little hands. I don’t yet know the reason I waited 4 years to read the book and it really doesn’t matter.
I can’t say I loved the book; I liked it but love might be a bit too strong. At times I found myself saying “YES! Exactly!” and other times I was wanting to throw it against a wall. I found myself at times agreeing and other times disagreeing. I found myself liking the book and hating the book.
Early on in my reading I told Mr. FullCup the hardest thing for me was I could not relate to the man at all. He was talking about driving a Jaguar to work, making a 6-figure salary and questioning becoming the president of a mission organization a position he did not seek out for himself. I can’t relate to that…from a financial viewpoint anyway. We have done some things for God that the world, and our fellow believers said was crazy. So I can relate that way.
Richard Stearns is very passionate about the poor of the world, especially those in developing
countries. His passion comes through loud and clear in the book.
I think though his focus might be a bit narrow. I got the impression from the book that if one is not working to eradicate hunger, poverty, disease from developing countries, one just isn’t using the whole gospel, instead one has a “hole in the gospel”.
I live in a small, rural area of America. And in my town of a little under 20,000 we have abject poverty. We have the poor living sometimes a block from the wealthy similar to how it is described in developing countries of the world. Right here in my town, that hasn’t been hit yet with the huge economic crisis of the rest of the nation, we have abject poverty, we have homeless, we have AIDS/HIV positive(or infected) people. We don’t have the diseases other places in the world do, but we have everything else.
We also have groups of believers reaching across denominational lines to meet these needs. On any day of the week, there are those who are sacrificially making food for the hungry. Every day. Every week. Every month. All year. One group hosts a “Diaper Depot” every month. The “poor” can come and get packages of diapers for free. A group of pastors have banded together and operate a mobile food pantry the last Friday of the month. People from their congregations donate non-perishable food and also help serve those in need. A group of knitters and crocheters have come together, both believers and non-believers, to knit for charity. They have made chemo caps for cancer victims, hats, scarves, mittens for those affected by wildfires in our area, Linus blankets for children in need. They are contemplating making sweaters for World Vision.
I think it is horrific that all the “state-run” aid places in my town make you prove your need before being helped. If you don’t qualify for their help, you don’t receive anything. Even if you do qualify you often have to wait weeks if not a month to receive anything. With the people/places I mentioned above, there is no “prove your need first”. There is just “you have a need, we have a way to meet it.” Isn’t that what the church should be doing?
While reading I had a thought I had to mull over a bit, really I mauled it over in my mind; if Americans reached out to end poverty in America, our reach would stretch around the world. I might work to stamp out poverty in my town, the person I help might work to stamp out poverty in the county, the person they help might work to stamp out poverty in our state, that person might work to stamp out poverty in our country, that person might work to stamp out poverty in our world. It’s the old “if each one, reach one” mentality. It’s making a difference for one person, who makes a difference for one more and on and on it goes.
If we only focus on meeting the needs of the poor living on the continent of Africa and ignore the poor in our own neighborhoods, we have a hole in our gospel. We cannot meet the needs of one group while ignoring the same needs in someone else. It shouldn’t matter your geographical location. I think it is very short-sighted and wrong to say if one is not working to eradicate poverty and hunger in developing countries, one isn’t doing anything.
This book left me inspired to do more. I am sure that was Richard’s desire, to move, to motive those who can do do more, to give more. To be Jesus hands and feet wherever they are geographically.
(This is a book review of sorts. I purchased the book however and did not receive a free copy from the publisher for this purpose.)