Hole in our gospel

The hole in our gospel.
Richard Stearns. Thomas Nelson. 2010 ECPA Christian Book of the Year Award

CEO of World Vision says Christians have a huge hole in their lives.

The hole is an emptiness that comes from rich followers of Jesus ignoring the plight of the poor locally and globally.

Stearns details his own journey toward filling this hole by becoming aware of the world and the teachings of Jesus to serve the poor. The former head of Parker Bros. and Lenox Inc. left the for profit business world to run a not-for-profit that helps feed, clothe, and educate children worldwide.

Says Americans must highly engage lives, money, and talent in fighting the “horsemen of the apocalypse”: hunger, disease, exploitation, armed conflict. Unlike many Evangelicals, Stearns believes poverty is explained by something more complex than choices. He says systemic injustice, deficit of education and knowledge also lead to poverty, and lifting cultures from these injustices requires a multi-pronged approach, such as Millennium Development Goals, advocated by UNICEF, Bill Gates, Jeffery D. Sachs, and Bono.

I would inject here, however, that William Easterly's book, White Man's Burden, should be read and digested along with the discussion of Millennium Goals and Jeffery's Sachs's book, The End of Poverty. Easterly's work challenges he "planners" who think they can develop huge world goals and ignore the local "on the ground" element of culture and micro-economies within countries and regions.

Back to Stearns's book: It's an accessible book that will make it in the hands of Evangelical Christians who may not pick up one of the many ABA books on the world hunger, water, malaria, and AIDS crisis. This is a magnum opus for the leader of the most recognized aid organizations in the world.

The writing style is both passionate and motivating, and readers of Rick Warren, Jim Wallis, N.T. Wright will find Stearns synthesizing thought from these theologians as well as economists and missionaries. The book is biographical, motivational, journalistic, but in trying to be all those things, the impact can be less forceful than a single genre approach.

But for a leader of an international organization, the book is surprisingly no holds barred with an edge of prophetic voice in the wilderness, crying out to rich Americans, “Repent and help your world neighbors.”

At the Willow Creek Leadership Summit this year the book and small group guides were being passed out, so I asked for 8 of them, so we'll be ready to provide this resource to small groups at Garnett Church whenever a group is ready to work through the study. In fact, I'd like for one group to go for it and "pilot" the study and lead the other groups in doing the book and activities. Let me know if you'd like to do that in your group.