The Hole in Our Gospel: What does God expect of Us? The Answer that Changed my Life and Might Just Change the World
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"Preach the Gospel always.? Use words if necessary." - St. Francis of Assisi
It's 1998 and Richard Stearns' heart is breaking as he sits in a mud hut and listens to the story of an orphaned child in Rakai, Uganda.? His journey to this place took more than a long flight from the United States to Africa.? It took answering God's call on his life, a call that hurtled him out of his presidential corner office at Lenox-America's finest tableware company-to this humble corner of Uganda.?
This is a story of how a corporate CEO faced his own struggle to obey God whatever the cost, and his passionate call for Christians to change the world by actively living out their faith.? Using his own journey as an example, Stearns explores the hole that exists in our understanding of the Gospel.?
Two thousand years ago, twelve people changed the world.? Stearns believes it can happen again.
"Read this compelling story and urgent call for change-Richard Stearns is a contemporary Amos crying 'let justice roll down like waters….'? Justice is a serious gospel-prophetic mandate.? Far too many American Christians for too long a time have left the cause to 'others.'? Read it as an altar call."
--Eugene H. Peterson, translator of The Message, Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology, Regent College, Vancouver, BC
"Rich Stearns calls us to exhilarating obedience to God's life-altering, world-changing command to reflect his love to our neighbors at home and globally. The Hole in Our Gospel is imbued with the hope of what is possible when God's people are transformed to live radically in light of his great love."
--Gary Haugen, President & CEO, International Justice Mission?
"Richard Stearns is quite simply one of the finest leaders I have ever known.... When he became president of World Vision I had a front row seat to witness the way God used his mind and heart to inspire thousands.... His new book, The Hole In Our Gospel will call you to a higher level of discipleship.... Now is the time...Richard Stearns has the strategy...your move!"
--Bill Hybels, Founding and Senior Pastor, Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, IL
"Rich Stearns has given us a book that makes absolutely clear what God hopes for and expects from each of us.... He reminded me of my personal responsibilities and the priority I must give them and also where life's true rewards and fulfillment are to be found."
--Jim Morris, former executive director, United Nations World Food Program
"World Vision plays a strategic role on our globe. As the largest relief organization in the history of the world, they initiate care and respond to crisis. Rich Stearns navigates this mercy mission with great skill. His book urges us to think again about the opportunity to love our neighbor and comfort the afflicted. His message is timely and needed. May God bless him, the mission of World Vision and all who embrace it."
--Max Lucado, author of 3:16-The Numbers of Hope, Minister of Writing and Preaching, Oak Hills Church, San Antonio, TX
"Rich Stearns has penned a passionate and persuasive book aimed at Christians who find themselves absorbed with their own existence, pursuing the American dream of health, wealth and happiness.? Rich traces his own spiritual journey from having it all, to sacrificial living on behalf of those who have nothing.? Not only is Rich eloquent, he's right."
--Kay Warren, Executive Director HIV/AIDS Initiative at Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA
"An urgent, powerful summons to live like Jesus. Stearns weaves solid theology, moving stories, and his own journey of faith into a compelling call to live the whole Gospel. Highly recommended!"
--Ronald J. Sider, President, Evangelicals for Social Action, Author of Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger
"With passionate urging and earnestness, Rich Stearns challenges Christians to embrace the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ by embracing the neediest and most vulnerable among us.? After reading the moving stories, the compelling facts and figures, and Stearns' excellent application of scripture and his own experiences at World Vision, you will no doubt be asking yourself: What should I do?"
--Chuck Colson, Founder, Prison Fellowship
"This book is a clarion call for the church to arise and answer the question, "Who is my neighbor?"... If you read this book, you will be inspired, but if you do what this book is asking, you will be forever changed. Rich Stearns' book is like a safari for hurting souls that cannot be written in the safety of an office suite.... If you have been feeling something missing or an aching emptiness inside, read The Hole in our Gospel.? It will show you how to fill that void!"
--T.D. Jakes Sr., The Potter's House of Dallas, Inc.
"Rich Stearns' book is showing us through stories and examples how it is better to see a sermon rather than hear one.? This is an important book for all of us!"
--Tony Hall, US Ambassador and former US Congressman
"This is much more than "just another book" from a Christian leader.? It's a message to Christendom that we all need."
--Dr. Tony Campolo, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Eastern University, author of Red Letter Christians?
"This book represents a powerful personal story; face to face experiences with the poor which changed the author's life, plus, an insightful scriptural commentary.? As happened with Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision; Richard Stearns' heart has been broken with the things that break the heart of God.?? Now, Stearns is using his considerable CEO skills to serve the poor and oppressed.? I highly recommend this book."
--John M. Perkins, President, John M. Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation & Development, Inc.
We Can Make A Difference! Richard Stearns ,a Christian, was a very successful CEO living the American Dream, but God had other plans for him. He called him to leave his life of comfort and become the president of World Vision.
Stearns challenges us to read the gospel and determine if we are living the gospel that Jesus called us to. Jesus told us we must help the poor, and yet here in America we live as rich people, while in other parts of the world many die of disease and starvation every day. I love the title, "A Hole in Our Gospel", reminding us that each and everyone of us is responsible for our neighbor. We are merely stewards of the time, talents and treasures that God has given us. All these gifts were not meant for us, but to share with the needy
Think about the African saying: "If you think you are too small to make a difference, try spending the night in a closed room with a mosquito." Read this book, and then pass it along to a friend.
The Hole in Our Gospel This book is great. It is one I would recommend to all Christians out there. Makes you take a long look at what you mean to the gospel and how God expects us to do and help out. ...more info
the second great commandment "The Hole in the Gospel" is about one man's journey in coming to understand what it means to love our neighbors as ourselves. The author's central message is the importance of a sense of global community, awareness of our interconnectedness as human beings, and compassion for our neighbors across the tracks and around the world.
For those who already live lives of service, this book may be enjoyed as a work by a kindred spirit. For those who live more insulated or materialistic lives, this book may be an inspiration....more info
The Hole in our Gospel by Richard Stearns In The Hole in our Gospel by Richard Stearns, the author and president of World Vision describes the void that has been created by a Christianity that has altered and weakened the Gospel. He shares his story, and those of so many others, whose lives have not only been transformed by the Gospel, but by those who seek to live that Gospel out.
I had a difficult time staying involved with the book at the onset, but as soon as I reached Part 3, I couldn't put the book down. It's easy to be detached in sections describing the definition of the Gospel, after all, I'm a pastor, this is something I talk about constantly. But when confronted with the statistics and stories of the state of things beyond our church properties, I became sick to my stomach.
And that is my hole. It's become so easy, so natural to focus on and worry about me and my needs, and in the process failing to remember that the primary distinction between myself and them is simply my place of birth.
This book should come with a warning. Definitely worth a read, but don't read it unless you're ready to be challenged.
I was given the opportunity to review this book as part of the Book Review Blogging Program for Thomas Nelson Publishing. [...]...more info
A powerful writer with a vision from God that is compelling and direct Thanks, first, to Thomas Nelson for this review copy of The Hole In Our Gospel.
Richard Stearns is President of World Vision. In this book he proves to not only be a capable businessman and leader, but a powerful writer with a vision from God that is compelling and direct. From page one, Stearns sets out to address the missing link in the gospel found in many churches in America - a gospel often missing compassion for the hurting, sick, dejected and downtrodden. It is filled with scripture, quotes, personal stories, and facts that will inspire you to give, serve and call on others to do the same.
As a comparison, I recently read Crazy Love, by Francis Chan. Chan's goal is to help believers get out of the rut of complacent Christian life, devoid of passion and the guidance of the Spirit. While Chan provides a general kick in the backside, Stearns is much more precise. One leaves Chan thinking, "I should do something, and I could do something." After Stearns, you will say, "This had better be what I am doing in one way or another."
Stearns is self-abasing and transparent to a level that is startling, but refreshing. He shares his call to serve with World Vision, a call that is full of jumps and spurts, as he attempts to avoid all that God has done in his life to position him for this role. Chapter 3 especially provides a glimpse into how God worked in his life. It is clear that Stearns does not want to give the impression that he is the perfectly motivated and compassionate person who demands us to be like him. Rather, he calls on us to pray a prayer with him, that our hearts would break for the things that break God's heart.
Stearns is not suggesting everyone leave for Uganda. Rather, he wants them to get personally involved in the full gospel. He presents this as "planting seeds" and "watering" (p.19), rather than just waiting for the harvest. This means caring for kids with serious needs like hunger, poverty and disenfranchisement. This means helping families and societies move in the right direction by providing them skills, training and hope, rather than just handing out food and cash recklessly. He is careful to balance and articulate faith and works that prove our faith.
WWJD - What Would Jesus Do - is presented as more than just cliche. Stearns wants believers to really think about Jesus' actions with every decision they make so that they will act accordingly. Jesus is shown in scripture to be someone who was moved to help the blind, sick and rejected. And this is not just for the "spiritual" - those called to "full-time" Christian service.
Chapter 18 "Putting the American Dream To Death" is required reading for every American believer, in my opinion. It provides a necessary critique of our common acceptance of a system that runs contrary to God's way of thinking. Not that equality or the ability to pursue our hopes is wrong. But when we do so at the expense of others, and with the full knowledge that our material comfort is out of reach to billions (p. 204), we need to seriously question our motives and way of living.
Stearns' voice is clear and direct. His use of scripture shows a real love for God and for the things that God is concerned with. I have found few other authors who write in this fashion, and with such passion. Chapters 19 and 20, which deal with giving within the Church, present a minor glitch in an otherwise flawless example of precise and accurate writing. They are not as clear or direct, seeming pulled or half-hearted in comparison to the rest of the book. But following this brief section, the clarity and directness revive to the end of the book.
This is a read that will compel every reader to follow Jesus into a life of compassion and service, whether overseas or at home. I have already recommended it to many of my friends as it has repeatedly come up in conversation....more info
interesting book but flies in the face of Jesus' own words The author's premise is that there is something missing in most Christians' gospel message. The missing hole is a lack in taking care of the poor and other misfortunate ones. Though in Acts the apostles came up with an exhortation to take care of the poor which Paul acknowledge he was eager to do, the center and circumference of the Christian gospel is Christ Himself not good works. As such the theological basis of this book is very deficient....more info
"The Hole In Our Gospel" Richard Stearns' transformation from corporate giant to President of World Vision forms the basis of this incredibly gripping portrayal of God working through one individual to make a difference in the world. The point of the book, is that God is working in each of us, and the "Hole" in our Gospel is more based upon our individual resistance of what our role might be within the Kingdom work that God calls all who believe to engage upon.
Stearns has a great handle on the progression of Scripture which portrays the heart, desire, and the will of the Almighty for the people of God to collectively use the power that lies at their fingertips. We hear how Stearns transitioned out of the corporate world into a situation he simply could not avoid. It is fascinating to read how the struggle to address the "what if I took this job" thoughts were pressing Stearns into a new reality all together.
The Hole In Our Gospel" is a dangerous book. It is not meant to be an easy read. I think it begs to read by all those who claim to walk in the Gospel, because you will quickly learn what you might have comfortably been avoiding. Walking with the Gospel of Jesus is not a "pick and choose" reality-It is a dynamic faith relationship that is meant to be embraced.
The "hole" in our Gospel is when we fail to see the "whole" Gospel. What if, we all finally got it? What possible transformation might happen if we all got it collectively? Imagine the people of God coming together-and then acting as a "whole". Stearns paints some rather enlightening pictures with up-to-date data from the best research possible to make the point.
Finally, one would think a ex-corporate CEO would not miss the opportunity to turn a dollar in the book business-but in true form, all proceeds from the book go to help benefit World Vision's great work with the children of the world. If you are searching for solutions to the questions of how God can use you in the world of today, buy this book, read it, and ACT!
The Hole in Our Gospel: What does God expect of Us? The Answer that Changed my Life and Might Just Change the World...more info
Just What I Needed On occasion you will find a book that inspires or challenges. Even more rarely, you will find a book that spurs you to action. The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns does all of this. The book tells the story of CEO Richard Stearns' call to service while at the same time painting a clear picture of the social issues facing our world today.
The Hole in Our Gospel inspires all of us who have been lulled to complacency by our blessings. In addition it challenges the readers to evaluate their worldview in light of the words of Christ. One need not be a Christian to be challenged by the book, but those who are will find the challenge all the more compelling.
The book is not content to merely describe the justice issues facing our world. Nor is it content to merely describe people and organizations who are working to address those issues. The book challenges everyone to make a difference. It requires a choice: to take action or to ignore the plight of millions around the world. I found it to be just the fillip I needed.
This book was reviewed as a part of Thomas Nelson's Book Review Blogger program - http://brb.thomasnelson.com/
Recommended for all those who have been Blessed The first thing I thought when I read the title of this book, was that it was a new attack by some critic of the Bible. It is just the opposite. It is an attempt to uncover the true gospel, that we have somewhat buried by trying to live up to our image of what a Christian should be instead of actually living the gospel. I won't tell you what the "hole" is, but I can say that if you thank God for how many blessings He has bestowed upon you, then you really need to read this book. You will be blessed....more info
"Do not fail to do something because you cannot do everything." As I cracked open this nearly 300 page book I found a biography of a man that compelled me. Richard was a godly husband and father to 5 children and was the President of Lenox China before giving up his Jaguar, large home, and large salary to become the President of World Vision. He went from living the country club lifestyle to sitting in grass huts in Uganda feeding children who are starving. Why? Why did he give up the American dream?
Richard told the story of a pastor friend who went through the Bible literally cutting out with scissors, all the verses on poverty and then when he preached on poverty, he held his ragged, tattered Bible in the air and said "Brothers and sisters, this is our American Bible; it is full of holes...here are all the Biblical texts we ignore."
Richard goes into full detail about the epidemic of poverty in our world that American Christians just simply ignore. 26,500 children will die today due to causes related to poverty - whether it's starvation, dirty water, ravages of war, disease or AIDS. That's the equivalent of 100 jet liners crashing just today! He knows how Americans value our airplanes and hate to see one crash - so he compares the statistic to a plane wreck.
If we hear the story of a child dying in a car accident - we are sad for the family. But if we learn that it is our next door neighbor's child who died we are deeply grieved for the family. And if our own child dies - well - our world is turned upside down. For some reason we place less value on the children dying half way around the world than we do our own children - but GOD DOES NOT!
Oh, this book was so convicting as it told stories of children eating dirt patties with butter to ease their starving bellies. As I imagined the orphans of the AIDS epidemic spending most of their day looking for food and retrieving dirty water - I felt convicted about my own children and how they turn their noses up at their peanut butter and jelly sandwich that doesn't have the crust cut off!
What does God expect us to do about all this poverty? Richard reminds us of Matthew 25 where Jesus speaks of judgement day. Jesus says that the criteria for dividing the sheep from the goats will be:
"When I was hungry you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."
The righteous ask "when did we see you hungry Lord?" And Jesus replied "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine , you did for me. Then he will say to those on his left, Depart from me, you who are cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink..." And the righteous went to eternal life.
Wow - did you catch that? - the people who did not feed the hungry or give drink - went to eternal fire! God has a pretty STRONG opinion on what he expects us to do - wouldn't you say??? If you are like me - you spend much of your Christian days trying to do what is right as a mom, wife and servant in the church - avoiding the really bad sins. But this "squeaky clean" approach is not what God is looking at on judgement day. God is not just looking at our faith - but our evidence of our faith - and specifically - how we helped the poor.
I have to admit and be open here - this book completely humbled me - at one point in the book - I literally stopped reading and said out loud "shut up!" and began to cry. I am deeply grieved by my failure in this area.
I have shared much of my reading with my husband and children and I hope to make some strides forward in this area as a family - the task is so overwhelming but this one quote motivates me to try - "Don't fail to do something because you can not do everything."
I recommend this book and also want to encourage you to go to World Vision's website - http://www.worldvision.org - to see if there is anything that you can do to help those in need.
A Call to Action Have you ever had the feeling there was more that you could do to make a difference in the world? In THE HOLE IN OUR GOSPEL, Richard Stearns offers practical wisdom about how to do just that. He says God wants us to love Him, to love our neighbors, and to make disciples of others who will do the same.
Who is our neighbor? Since we live in a technological society, Stearns says, the world is really our neighbor. Thus there is no excuse for our ignoring the poor in Africa or other developing nations. Once we might not have known about them, but that is no longer the case. And how do we help them? We move mountains, one shovel at a time if necessary. We go and we do. If you have a hard time getting started, there's a website in the back of the book to help.
Richard Stearns believes that Christians today can change the world just like the disciples did two thousand years ago. Once you read his book, you just might believe that, too....more info
Challenging and Interesting This is actually a book that I will keep on my bookshelf & plan on reading again....it offered a nice balance of facts versus personal experiences versus other people's life stories. The author is very up front from the beginning about his own struggles not only in becoming the leader of World Vision, but in his continuing struggles to not just let the problem become 'words on a page' and too far from home, something I found refreshing. I would highly recommend the book to anyone, especially Americans. He doesn't place blame, but instead shows how easy it is to forget about others, even those with great needs, while inspiring us to do whatever we can - remember the starfish story, about helping just one? There are a few neat, true, stories spread throughout about the impact just one person's life can have, whether it be a person in poverty or a person living here in the US with plenty. I highly recommend this book....more info
Embodying the Revolution of Good Tidings Richard Stearns is not known for abusing his platform position in verbose publications. Yet, having steered the globally revered World Vision organization for years in its multi-faceted assault on world hunger, death, depravity and darkness with a mantra of active faith, living hope and radiant love - he certainly has earned the right. The Hole In Our Gospel represents a powerful charge to followers of Christ world-wide.
Following a long line of saints who have blown the horn for a faith-style that is far more than intellectual assents and regulated living (Willard, Wright, McDowell, Compolo, Hybels, Warren) - Stearns astutely provides a stirring flashback to the vivid and cutting reality of the Gospel we are recipients and stewards of. With lines like "we are called to proclaim and embody the Gospel" and "it is to be demonstrated not dictated...spread, not via coercion" he lays a theological foundation for repositioning the need for active faith in the context of the original revolution launched by Jesus. Certainly, his charge is well warranted since a vast majority of Christendom is a far cry from an incarnational revolution of good tidings to the world!
This book is moving. This book is well-framed, well-stated and clearly bubbling up from the heart of a man who has been moved to a life of surrendered and emboldened by years of seeing an unpleasant reality of global proportions. This is a necessary book for the Church to read. It's a battle cry that needs to be resounded regularly throughout communities of Christ-followers perpetually. I applaud Stearns for reviving a message of remembrance in the line of Jesus with poignance, grace and gusto....more info
Life Changing book My family and I support World Vision by sponsoring 2 kids from Zimbabwe which is how I heard of this book by WV President. Does God have a job for you to do here on Earth? If you want to know read this book.......more info
Highly convicting - A must-read Some books are fluff. Some are thought-provoking. And some should come with a Surgeon General's warning:
WARNING: Reading this book may be dangerous to your spiritual status quo and cause squirming and conviction.
The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns is one such book.
Richard Stearns wastes no time getting serious, as the Introduction opens with "What does God expect of us?" He then has the "audacity" to suggest that God wants more from us than church attendance, belief, prayer, or avoidance of serious sins. He wants our lives to make a difference in a world around us.
He paints a frighteningly realistic picture of the "bingo card" gospel, explaining that we have long viewed evangelism and the Great Commission as being
. . .about saving as many people from hell as possible--for the next life. It minimized any concern for those same people in this life. It wasn't as important that they were poor or hungry or persecuted, or perhaps rich, greedy, and arrogant; we just had to get them to pray the "sinner's prayer" and then move on to the next potential convert. [To make it] simple to understand, we seem to have boiled it down to a kind of "fire insurance" that one can buy. Then, once the policy is in effect, the sinner can go bak to whatever life he was living--of wealth and success, or of poverty and suffering. As long as the policy is in the drawer, the other things don't matter as much. (p. 17)
Ouch. He continues this message throughout the book as he asserts we cannot keep the Great Commission until we take care of our Great Omission: ignoring the needs of others while we huddle in our churches, which have "become spiritual spas in which we retreat form the world."
I appreciated Richard Stearns's candor as he admits he was Exhibit A. He enjoyed a highly successful career, most recently as the president of Lenox, and he relied faithfully on God, beginning "each day asking, how can I love, serve and obey God today,in this place with these people?" It was with much protesting and reluctance that he moved his family across the country to become World Vision's U.S. president. And his life hasn't been the same since. Nor have the lives of those whom he has touched.
This is not a comfortable book to read. But it is a necessary one with a message we can't afford to ignore. Read it and be moved. . .to action.
Crafting a Whole Gospel Oh, wow. Talk about a book that will make you determine if you are really living out the "second greatest commandment." Richard Stearns, once the president and CEO of the luxury good manufacturer Lenox and now president of World Vision U.S., relates his journey from unbeliever, to sold-out believer, to comfortable believer, to afflicted believer who must evaluate his practice of caring for the "least of these."
Stearns makes the fantastic point that, unlike previous generations, we have removed the three major impediments to loving and caring for our distant neighbors: awareness, access, and ability. In older times, it was possibly acceptable for the populations of the Western world to stay their hands from caring for those in disease in poverty in the Third World, but this is no longer the case.
Where earlier generations did not possess timely news sources that reported on need, we can watch live video or listen to first hand accounts within minutes over the phone and internet. Where our parents and grandparents could not simply buy plane tickets and fly into depressed areas of the world, we can now do so for relatively low cost. Where making ends meet for most Americans used to actually mean putting food on the table seven days in a row, it now means making the payments on our three bedroom house, our two cars, and paying off our flatscreen TV.
The author points out this gaping hole in our implementation of the Gospel. If you were to go through the Bible and read it with an eye for what breaks God's heart, after sin and rejection of God we would find injustice and poverty. If we were to ask God, "Why do you allow this injustice and poverty to continue?" God would likely answer, "I commanded the Church to take care of it."
I'm reminded of the words of Brooke Fraser's Albertine. "Now that I have seen, I am responsible. Faith without deeds is dead."
The real rub behind all this is that, where individual action is important, what is really needed is mass action on a global, big "C" Church scale. Individually we have the ability to change a life, together we could change the world....more info
Is there a hole in your gospel? How does an Ivy league graduate running a major corporation end up leaving his life of jaguars and corporate jets behind to minister to people dying of AIDS in Africa? All I can say is read The Hole In Our Gospel by Richard Stearns and perhaps you will be challenged to reevaluate your own place in this world. This isn't a long review because it doesn't need to be. Read the book, consider your own life and ask yourself, "is there a hole in my gospel?"...more info
The book that we were missing A reading that no self-proclaimed Christian should ignore. While focusing on the moral obligation that needs to be fulfilled should we be serious in following the Gospel, the book is written in a fresh, never self-righteous manner, with a first-person style, providing insight into how the author turned first from an atheist into a Christian and then from a rich CEO of a luxury tableware company into the committed president of WorldVision. It reads like a novel and hits you right in the middle of the heart. If you think you're a good Christian doing all that is right, please read this book and you'll know better. Very moving, very true. A must read....more info
Wonderful book This is a wonderful book than anyone who professes to be a Christian should read. It was written very well and delved into deep issues about what is required of us all as Christians. I would definitely recommend it....more info
What Does God Require Of Us? A lot of good things get holes in them. I have discovered holes in my pockets, my socks, my shoes, and just this morning I found a hole in the bottom of the basket in my pool strainer. These are all valuable things--but none as valuable as the gospel.
Richard Stearns says we have a hole in our gospel. In his powerful book, The Hole In Our Gospel he asks, "What does God expect of us?" and then he gives the answer that changed his life and might just change the world.
Having traveled more than a million miles to dozens of countries around the globe as president of world Vision, Stearns shares compelling stories of the revolutionary power of the gospel--the gospel without a hole--that is truly good news for a world broken by poverty, disease, and injustice. And he urges readers to join him in making this vision a reality. As CEO for a large company he lived in a two-hundred-year-old stone farmhouse with ten bedrooms on five acres, drove a royal blue Jaguar XK-8 and had children who loved their school and their friends. He had worked more than twenty years to get to the top of the corporate ladder. He gave it all up. He committed career suicide. He did it for God.
This fresh look at the gospel will take you to a deeper understanding of your own faith and inspire you to do your part to demonstrate God's love for a hurting world. This book broke my heart. I realized that as a minister for forty-seven years that I preached a gospel with a big hole in it. I preached as forcefully and lovingly as I knew how. And yet I never drove home the heart of the gospel. You could have listened to me preach for many years and you could have come to the conclusion that going to church, studying the Bible and avoiding the most serious sins was about all God expected from you as a Christian.
In its simplest form, here is the answer to the question, what does God expect: *We are to love God. *We are to love our neighbors. *We are to go and make disciples of others who will do the same. Read this book and let the impact of Isaiah 58 and Matthew 25 change your life.
I agree with Luci Swindoll who said, "Brace yourself...this is one powerhouse book!"
It's About Time Stearns story of personal transformation and his call for the church to get about serving the poor is spot on. It is also WAY overdue for the evangelical church. I hope a revolution of our works, lifestyles, and giving is on the horizon. The American church has been blinded by the American Dream for way too long.
Stearns personal story is in so many ways a reflection of our own American stories. Read it and be ready to change....more info
It's not about the statistics, but the statistics are astonishing. 26,500 children died yesterday. 26,500 died today. 26,500 will die tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, all due to poverty-related causes (lack of food, lack of clean water, lack of medical care, etc.). And yet each one of these deaths is preventable, provided that those with means - you, for instance - each do a part to combat the poverty and hunger that is rampant in many parts of the world. This is the message that Richard Stearns is trying to bring to our attention, a wakeup call to Christians everywhere. Something's missing in our modern vision of the Gospel, the "Good News" that we (the church) are supposed to spread to a lost and dying (in more ways than one) world. Somewhere over the last 2000 years we've lost sight of true religion, God's religion: "to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world," (James 1:27b, NKJV*) and "to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin." (James 4:17, NKJV*)
"The Hole in Our Gospel" is not a book about statistics, it's about people, individuals; but the statistics in the book are quite astonishing and eye-opening. However, the numbers presented are justly used to show the quantity of suffering, while the supporting text shows the effectiveness that a single individual's contributions have. Through his own personal experiences, Stearns shows how the Gospel, in its entirety, can truly change the world. That "whole Gospel" includes not just the telling of the good news, but the providing and caring for those in need.
Having just finished "The Hole in Our Gospel," I can confidently say that this is a book that should not be read by the average Christian. That is, it should not be read by the average Christian who wants to remain average.
It is very difficult to write a review of this book without going in-depth into its content; suffice it to say that it is very engaging and very personally challenging at the same time. This book serves as a call to action and a reminder that we were saved for good works (see Ephesians 2:8-10), not just for our own personal gain. Richard Stearns does a phenomenal job of portraying our modern world and our modern church. Time after time I was personally convicted by the words in this book. From tears to anger, shame to sorrow, emotions are stirred by the portrait of those suffering in parts of the world that are not necessarily next door to my house, but are reachable through a variety of methods easily at my disposal.
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Review is part of Thomas Nelson's Book Review Blogger program: [...]...more info
This Book With Change Your Life Two thousand years ago, twelve people changed the world. Stearns believes it can happen again.
"Preach the gospel always; when necessary use words."
"God is responsible for the harvest--but we must plant, water, and cultivate the seeds."
"We have shrunk Jesus to the size where He can save our soul but now don't believe He can change the world." - Anonymous
"..the lesson I learned was that God expects us to serve Him on His terms--not ours."
These are all sentences I have highlighted in "The Hole in Our Gospel." Author Richard Stearns is the CEO of World Vision. He explains throughout this book his belief there is a large hole within our Christian community.
"If there is a hole in our gospel, in our understanding of the nature of God's call upon us, His followers, it is not because Scripture is unclear about these issues. Rather it is because we have chosen...to pay little attention to God's unmistakable message to bring the whole gospel to the whole world."
Stearns goes on to explain, "...our problem is that the plight of suffering children in a far-off land simply hasn't gotten personal for us."
Whoa wait a minute, many of us Christians say in response. I give to missions; our church has a mission's lunch, or a mission's month. A survey of pastors was conducted and they were asked what they considered real priorities for churches. From greatest to least: worship, evangelism, children's ministry, discipleship programs, and a low 18% listed helping the poor and disadvantaged people over seas. (pg185 Hole in the Gospel).
Why should we be concerned about the poor overseas, when we have so many in poverty right here? I believe that is valid question, Richard Stearns says, "poverty in America is just as real as poverty in Africa, and it is just as damaging to the human spirit." But realize poverty is not just hunger it is also the bad water, famine, and epidemics.
Stearns does a beautiful job in breaking down the numbers for readers, but realize the United States only consists of 4.5 percent of the world. 4.5% of the world's people live on $105 dollars a day, OVER 40% live on less than $2 dollars a day. (pg 122 The Hole in Our Gospel) The 40% who live on less than $2 a day also deal with bad water, famine, and various epidemics. I am not suggesting we stop helping the poor here in the United States, but I do believe the poverty over seas is larger and more life threatening.
I sponsor Mary through Compassion International. I would sponsor 10 more kids, 100 more kids, 1000 more kids if God allowed me to be able to afford it financially. We are not a wealthy family, live in a small house, and most of my friends have nicer stuff than we do....according to American standards.
Learning about poverty and hearing about it can be depressing and easy for us to become numb towards the numbers.
Often we think, what good will it do? The need is much to great.
What difference will it make if I only support one child?
Let me tell you to that one child, you are making a WORLD of difference. And if the Lord only blesses you financially to provide for only one child, then you have made a difference.
On the other hand, telling others about the children that remain...... is free.
The Hole In My Gospel Recently, I was sent a copy of "The Hole In Our Gospel" to read and review. Written by the U.S. President of World Vision, Richard Stearns, the book journeys into the great problems of the world and analyzes how Christians, specifically in America, relate to them.
Seeing that the book was penned by the head of an international aid organization, I must admit that I began with feelings of skepticism and reluctance. Before beginning the book, I expected a simple, shallow, and guilt-ridden message that would end with a plea for World Vision support. However, this book steers far from that path. Surprisingly, Stearns never directly advocates for the support of a World Vision child. Instead, his chosen path is one in which he walks alongside the reader through many challenging issues, pointing out what he sees along the way. I can imagine no better tour guide than the man who not only leads one of the largest humanitarian organizations in the history of the world, but also one who has set foot in nearly 100 of the poorest countries in the world. Stearns doesn't just lightly suggest the pursuit of justice and care for the poor--he is battling on the frontlines himself.
From the outset of the book, I was comforted with the relative normalcy of Richard's early life. In addition to feelings of apathy and ignorance towards suffering in our American churches, he also shares that for most of his life he was consumed with materialism and the addiction of corporate success. Proclaiming that he is no `Mother Teresa', he sincerely aims to show that he should not be lifted up as an other-worldly wonder-worker. He makes a point that he is an every-man, and it shows through his experiences. This encouragement yields a hope that anyone, no matter where they are in life, can experience a true conversion of the heart.
The book opens by detailing his early life as an incredibly successful young business man, jumping from role to role as a leader of multiple companies. The early parts of the book chronicle his personal journey of enlightenment, one that led him to realize this great `hole' that we American Christians have in our version of the Gospel and our call to fill it. Using many sources and proof texts from the Bible, he walks the reader through the blatant evidence in Scripture that point to this `hole', namely that God is determinedly on the side of the poor.
Stearns sprinkles the book with quotes from many throughout history--from the great thinkers of the past such as St. Teresa of Avila and St. Augustine, to modern world-changers like Mother Teresa, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr., and even from great modern thinkers like Robert Frost, C.S. Lewis, Dallas Willard, Albert Einstein, and Bono. The one thing that becomes clear through this journey is that Stearns sees one uniting string that stretches throughout all of history, one that also weaves throughout our modern life. This string interlaces brilliance and charity, contemplation and action, enlightenment and love, and in fact began with God. He displays a deep harmony between those who understood life at its core and those who cared most for the greatest injustices of their day. As an example Stearns, like me, considers Bono to be one of today's greatest prophets, despite being a pariah amongst many of today's churches. Religious inconsistencies arise when those who care most for the pain in the world don't `fit' in our churches.
Stearns sees one common message that has been proclaimed through different words by different people at different times: God cares for the poor and the downtrodden immensely, and a person claiming to love God should be living a life that reciprocates that care. And he suggests that we in American are coming up way short.
The seriousness of poverty in this world quickly becomes evident, and the lack of response from the American church becomes clear just as fast. Stearns notes that despite the Old Testament mandate to tithe, or give 10%, of one's salary to the church and the poor, American Christians on average give away only 2% of their income to churches or charities. And only 2% of this 2% goes to fund international work--0.04% of American Christian's total income. Understanding that, these statistics become terribly convicting:
* The total annual income of American churchgoers: $5.2 trillion
* Amount available if each of them gave 10% of their salary: $520 billion
* Estimated annual cost to eliminate extreme poverty in the world: $65 billion
* Annual cost for universal primary education for ALL children in the world: $6 billion
* Annual cost to bring clean water to most of the world: $9 billion
* Annual cost to bring basic health and nutrition for the world: $13 billion
* Total to eradicate the world's greatest problems: $93 billion (1.8% of American Christian's income)
We just agreed to push through an $800 billion financial bailout in our country. Stearns opens our eyes to the fact that American's have the potential and the resources to bring billions and billions of people out of extreme poverty at a relatively small cost. American Christians by themselves--even excluding the rest of America and the world!--have enough available resources themselves to end the great problems of this world. So why isn't this happening? That question is left to stir in the minds of readers throughout the book.
Towards the end of the book, Stearns finished by igniting a passionate vision in the minds of readers. He asks the reader to imagine, "how stunning it would be to the watching world for American Christians to give so generously that they:
* Brought an end to world hunger
* Solved the clean water crisis
* Provided universal access to drugs and care for the millions suffering from AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis
* Virtually eliminated the more than 26,000 daily child deaths (20,000 of which are estimated to stem from hunger issues)
* Guaranteed education for all the world's children
* Provided a safety net for the world's tens of millions of orphans"
If this happened, "the global social revolution brought forth by the body of Christ would be on the lips of every citizen in the world and in the pages of every newspaper--in a good way". How would the world see Christians--and especially the One they follow--if we in America put our money where are prayers and Bible claim they lie? What adjectives would the world then use to describe Christians instead of judgmental, hypocritical, and selfish?
This book is not one that leaves the reader filled with guilt and inadequacy but hope and the feeling that one can make a difference. It ends with practical steps one can take to begin joining the fight for the oppressed, but as a whole the book's foremost goal is to transform the reader's heart into one that breaks for the broken.
I really can't recommend this book enough to those who sincerely want to follow Jesus. Richard Stearns delicately, yet directly, calls the church in American to action against all injustice in the world. He recognizes that as people who claim to follow Jesus, "our heart must break for the things that break God's heart."
Be very careful if you decide to read this stellar book; like any encounter with needed truth, you will feel increasingly uncomfortable as you flip through the pages. However, once you catch the vision Stearns paints, you will be invigorated to slam the book shut and begin to change what your small pieces of the world. We all have the opportunity to make an impact, in this country and even in others. As many throughout history have echoed, now is the time to stand up and break the chains of injustice in our world. Let's go."
amazing book~ I bought this book for my husband, so I have actually not read it yet. But he reads excerpts to me and told me he'd give it 5 stars. It seems like a really amazing story about how God called Stearns to lead World Vision.
God is using this book to confirm a new direction and focus to which he is calling my husband and me....more info
Excellent questions for Christians "Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering, and and injustice when He could do something about it."
"Well, why didn't you ask him."
"Because I'm afraid He would ask me the same question."
This is a well-written book covering four main topics:
1. The author's path from big-buck CEO to head of a Christian based charity (and how he tried to avoid it).
2. Information on world poverty including statistics, personal examples, and facts that show how we in the United States are very, very wealthy people but we just don't realize it(or admit it).
3. What Christians should be doing about poverty around the world--and what they waste their time and efforts on instead (and the excuses we make to avoid the work we should be doing).
4. How the world could be transformed if Christians would only do what Jesus told them to do (and examples of world transformation started by individuals and groups already). And how the world view of Christians would be transformed in the process.
The title of the book, "The Hole in Our Gospel," concerns what our personal Bibles would look like if we cut out all the verses that we do not practice.
Even with all that religious sounding stuff, this is not a "preachy" book, just a matter-of-fact, well-written book that points out what Jesus wants us to do, shows us the work that needs to be done, leads us to ask ourselves if we are doing the job that Jesus left for us to do, and encourages us to find a way in our own lives to do that job.
The book is written in a easy-to-read, informative manner that has one wanting to get to the next page. It also should leave Christians uncomfortable in our lack of following the instructions in the Bible--the parts we skip over, or as the author says, the parts we may as well cut out because we don't pay attention to them anyway. It is these parts of the Bible we do not heed (REALLY help the poor, etc.) that we may as well cut out--leaving us with "Holes in Our Gospel."
Every Christian should read this book. Every person, Christian or not, would profit from it. I already pointed out the four main topics of the book, but the main question the author asks is this: How many holes are in MY Bible.
Changing the World The Bible is full of calls by God for the faithful to clothe the naked, tend to the sick, and feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and in general to show compassion. Yet despite the great wealth of many Christians in the West, there is a great disconnect regarding these teachings as it applies to those less fortunate in much of the world. This failing is the backdrop for Richard Stearns' plea for the Church to live up to its calling and repair what he considers the hole in our Gospel.
Indeed, with The Hole in Our Gospel, Stearns calls on his experience as President of World Vision U.S. to bring home the Church's failing in avoiding direct involvement in those parts of the Christian message less concerned with politics and more concerned with the everyday existence and even survival of a significant percentage of the world's population.
Stearns uses the recollection of his own conversion in the midst of personal difficulties, and his understanding of how the Lord wanted him to hold nothing back, to serve as a launching pad for the discussion. We cannot truly be doing the Lord's work when we treat the suffering of others with complete indifference while we live in suburban palaces.
Over the next few chapters, the author outlines just how bad things are once you leave the comfortable confines of the West. Much of the rest of the world lives in squalor with the most basic needs not met and diseases that were eradicated in the West long ago still a constant presence. Of course, the ravages of AIDS, a disease whose deadly path modern medicine has only managed to slow down, spreads through much of the world unabated leaving in its wake orphans who must then fend for themselves by whatever means possible. It is an ugly and brutal world - one we in the West naively think disappeared long ago - and hope is a rare commodity under these circumstances.
Stearns makes a passionate plea for the Church to wake up to the suffering around us and to be the Church. He finishes with stories of how those who have contributed have brought relief to the suffering of many. The Gospel changes hearts but it should also change the world. ...more info
But Will We Listen? This is an excellent textbook in social concern for the Christian. Richard Stearns, President of World Vision, makes a very thorough argument for the necessity of Christian concern for "the least of these" around the world. He begins personally, discussing his own calling from a lucrative position as CEO of Lenox to leadership of World Vision. This section of the book is, at one and the same time, both fascinating and terribly annoying. It is fascinating to hear the very honest struggle story of anyone dealing with a calling from God. But it is annoying to think that the "sacrifices" being discussed are a ten room mansion and a Jaguar company car. While Stearns is very open in his recognition of the superficiality of his sacrifice, it is still annoying to think we American Christians would struggle with such choices. It is further evidence of the struggle Stearns is discussing. I am very glad he included this in the book, even though it makes him look initially superficial. I believe it is important for people to understand God regularly makes demands like this.
Another fact I find troubling in this book is that Stearns feels the need to spend 230 of his 280 pages making a theological, moral and ethical case for basic Christian concern. Are we really so completely selfish as a culture that we now require 230 pages of argument for fundamentally Christian, obviously Good Samaritan behavior? I've been reading books exactly like this since the late 70's; is it really necessary to spend all this time still making a case like this? Isn't this stuff obvious to us by now? Sadly, as a pastor, I suspect it is necessary. Stearns handles this important, foundational material very well. His discussion is very readable and sadly, probably very necessary.
Yet the most important and powerful parts of the book are the stories. Whenever Stearns shares the simple stories of the struggle, I found myself instantly engaged and challenged. I've heard all the arguments many, many times before, but when I hear new stories, I am forced to once again take them seriously.
This is a good, well-written and very necessary book. It is worth the time and well worth sharing with a friend. Hopefully we will all read and listen!...more info
A right hook to the chin of American Christianity The Hole In Our Gospel: The Answer that Changed My Life and Might Just Change the World, by Richard Stearns: President of World Vision US
Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision US, has written a powerful testament to the strength of Christ in the world. He has also born deep witness to the great need for Christ in the world. As president of World Vision, Stearns has the truly amazing experience of traveling around the world to fulfill Christ's work from Luke 4, when he unrolls the scroll and tells the people of Nazareth why he has come: "The Spirit of the Lord...has appointed me to preach Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the downtrodden will be freed from their oppressors, and that the time of the Lord's favor (the great Jubilee year, permanently) has come" (Lk 4:18-19).
Stearns' book is full of tear-inducing stories of people overcoming great poverty and horror to become servants of God, and also inspiring stories of regular people like you and I who have stepped up and become channels of the mercy of God. Stearns' own story is very inspiring, moving from high-flying CEO for several large corporations to the public face and president of one of the great Christian aid organizations on the planet. He is an effective writer and very insightful, particularly to his own gradual perception of the "hole in our Gospel".
The "hole in our Gospel" of which Stearns speaks is the great tragedy of the American church as a whole. I have had the great advantage of being involved with a couple very mission-oriented churches and it is a moving thing to witness the whole congregation getting behind the desire to serve the world, whether locally or globally. I have also been in churches where the concern for missions is very limited. This is hard to overcome and Stearns goes far to pointing out the fact that the Gospel is incomplete and misunderstood if it stops at personal salvation. In fact, Stearns appears to take a view with which I agree: There is no salvation unless we are serving the world in Christ's name. In other words, salvation expresses itself most clearly in the good works that come as a result. As Stearns quotes from several Biblical sources, we are saved for good works. This can be a hard realization for those of us who want to just rest on the laurels of our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Stearns says that this attitude is the one Jesus is speaking of when we knock on the door and Jesus says, "I do not know you."
When I started The Hole In Our Gospel, it was like reading a left undercut to the chin of the American church. The timing couldn't be better for the release of this book - right at the height of one of the worst economic crisis we have faced as a nation and as a connected world. What better time to make excuses for not fulfilling the Biblical command to serve the widows and orphans of the world? Stearns front-loads the first 3 sections of his book with horrifying statistics regarding world poverty, illness and issues. He weaves these statistics with well-constructed theological insight and Biblical witness.
There is nothing I can say that detracts from this powerful piece of writing. I am seriously considering using this book as the foundation for a Bible study at my present church. It seems to me that Stearns' book crosses every denominational line, and as an evangelical he expresses the very best of what the Christian faith has to offer the world. God bless World Vision and its thoughtful, caring leader and all the kingdom workers who serve World Vision. But most of all, God bless those who World Vision serves.
Peace, Rev. Seth Jones
A call to action What would happen if we woke to this headline: "One Hundred Jetliners Crash, Killing 26,500"? Given that there's a public outcry (and rightly so) when just one jetliner crashes, I can't even imagine the media coverage, photos, government investigations, and economic impact of 100 crashing jetliners. And what if the same catastrophe happened the next day? And the next? Its almost inconceivable.
But it happens.
Every day more than 26,500 children die of mostly preventable causes related to their poverty. That equals 10 million children who die over the course of a year- all from preventable causes. And yet, as Christians, God tells us to take care of the poor and downtrodden. How do we reconcile 10 million dead children with Jesus' example? The Hole in our Gospel by Richard Stearns attempts to answer this question, but the answer isn't an easy one. He argues that Christians have reduced what is supposed to be a life-changing Gospel to a single transaction for "fire insurance". As the CEO of World Vision, Stearns is perhaps uniquely qualified to discuss what he calls "the horsemen of the apocalypse"- the factors that work against the poor. Along the way, he tells his own story- from a boy deciding to save himself, to the CEO of Lenox china, to his call to lead World Vision.
Stearns details some of what he has seen as the CEO of World Vision. Obviously, he's had the opportunity to see a great deal of poverty and hardship in the world, as well as meet with people on the front lines who are making a difference. He does a great job of balancing statistics with individual stories, and of spreading hope as much as conviction. I felt that the book was a bit light on concrete ways to help, but I did appreciate that the author didn't push World Vision's agenda too much. Instead, he tells the stories of ordinary people who follow God's leading and do extraordinary things. His point is that we can ALL do extraordinary things- all that is necessary is that we bring what we have to God and let Him use it.
This book was an inspiring call to action. I'm still pondering what it is that God would have me (and us) doing, but I think it would be impossible to read this book and walk away unconvinced. There is an accompanying website, which contains a blog, testimonies, and other suggestions for getting started with giving. Stearns also puts his money where his mouth is- there is a note on the book jacket stating that all royalties from the sale of this book will benefit World Vision's work with children. In the end, it comes to this: Jesus gave his all for us, how can we do anything less for others?...more info
Cuts to the Heart of the Gospel The narrative is at its strongest when it cuts to the heart of Jesus Christ's message, using biblical quotes and personal examples of the author's struggle to live a Christ-centered life, rather than a Christian lifestyle. I am grateful to Richard Stearns for sharing his personal struggles to live Christ's Good News, and for providing so many Biblical passages that call us to Christ-like behavior.
Some of his quotes are terrific: "it's not what you believe that counts but what you believe enough to do," (Gary Gulbranson) or "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car," (Billy Sunday). And the chart on page 230 comparing "Perceptions of Christians" (by outsiders) verses "Attributes of Christ" (that insiders ought to make a commitment to gaining) is terrific, too. For instance, "antihomosexual" (for Perception of...) and "loving to all" (for attribute of Christ) drives the point home that Mr. Stearns makes (and backs up with Scripture) that Christ called us not to judge (and by extension, to condemn) but to love.
Now for the cons. The book reads too often like a telethon with the author pulling on our heart strings; he falls back (heavily) on statistics, statistics and more statistics, and often waxes melodramatic, talking too often about children who have to "literally" care for parents on their death bed. And his writing style is a tad condescending. "You got that?" is one of his favorite catch phrases. To echo Richard Stearns, "Duh!", I mean, yes, we understand...
The book would have been better, I think, if it had been shorter: there is a feeling, as the pages mount, of a dead horse being beaten: People are in need, what are you going to do about it; people are in need, what are you going to do... And finally, underneath the repeated question, "What are you going to do?" I got the impression we are expected to answer, "Contribute to World Vision, specifically." In spite of my irritation at all the cons, this book is worth reading. We all know how to shoot past the repetitive, melodramatic or otherwise irritating to get to the central message, and here, it's a message worth repeating: becoming born again is a life-long process that takes making a day-to-day commitment to obeying Christ's commandment, through action: feed the hungry, visit the sick and imprisoned, care for the young and otherwise vulnerable among us. ...more info
A MUST READ THIS BOOK IS FOR EVERYONE CLAIMING TO BE CHRISTIAN, I HAVE ALWAYS CONSIDERED MYSELF CHRISTIAN.... PROBLEM WAS I WENT BY HOW I DEFINE CHRISTIANITY NOT HOW CHRIST DEFINES A CHRISTIAN...more info
Soul Gripping-Radically Life Transforming Before reading "The Hole In Our Gospel," I was convinced that there was only one book in the world that could radically change a person's life-the Bible...but I was wrong. After finishing this book, if you live the very next day of your life in the same way as you lived the last, you will have slammed the door in the face of God. (Note: I will try desperately not to be overly zealous about this book-but I know that I will fail miserably.)
When I was given the opportunity to review this book, I wasn't at all thrilled about spending my time reading what I thought would be a book about an incredibly wealthy former CEO who had so graciously decided to give back to God. As I read, page by page, I was humbled by God and reduced to a speck of dust. I absolutely could not put this book down. (note: you'll need a reading light for late night reading.) What you will find in this incredible book is that Rich Stearns openly, honestly, and brilliantly, shares his soul gripping testimony as a Christian and brings to light the powerful teaching of Charles Stanley, "Obey God and leave the consequences to Him." His story will make you fully aware of God's hand in the lives of His children and you will begin to examine your own faith. The compelling conclusion is that faith without works is dead; we cannot deny it in the presence of God. On the Day of Judgment we will have our lives placed before the throne of God and He will separate the "sheep" from the "goats."
I can assure you, you will never forget the chapter entitled, "One Hundred Crashing Jetliners." The statistics that Stearns presents are horrifying and deeply saddening. Yet the majority of us sit by and watch-numb to the truth that stares us in the face. Maybe you, just like me, have served God in many ways, but have resided to the idea that the issues of world hunger and disease are just too big to make a difference. Rich Stearns will forever change your viewpoint through the "Starfish Story."
As Christians, we believe in the risen Christ, but we tend to ignore the fact that He came back...for a moment...to say one last thing. He issued the Great Commission. And it's not about beating people over the head with a Bible. In the words of Sr. Francis Assisi, "Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words." World Vision provides the opportunity for ALL of us to make a difference...to preach the Gospel...the WHOLE Gospel. The amazing and heartbreaking stories that Rich Stearns shares are absolutely riveting and will bring you to the edge of your faith. I promise you, if you read this book, your life will never be the same and you will change the world. "The Hole In Our Gospel" will convince you that you MUST do SOMETHING.
In conclusion, I will again say that from beginning to end, this book will absolutely grip your soul. The message that is contained within this book...is the "one thing you lack." If I could give each person in the world two books, it would be the Bible and "The Hole in Our Gospel." (Trust me, I don't make that statement lightly) The begging question that you will walk away with is, "Are you willing to be open to God's will for your life?" It is a question that begs an answer.
Real Christianity Richard Stearns is the real thing--he calls to mind such Catholic pioneers as Dorothy Day, Daniel and Phillip Berrigan, and a host of other giants.
Having had a tremendous spiritual conversion to Christianity, Stearns did not choose to hide in an evangelical cloud of imaginary evils and condemnation. Rather, he quit his job as CEO of Lenox Inc, a huge corporation, and flew to Uganda to see if he could be of help.
The stories in this book are both heartbreaking and completely inspiring. Stearns is a rare breed these days--a Christian who backs up his mouth with his money and time--and if we do not learn from this man's story we will never learn. ...more info
A great bok about closing the gap between what we believe and who we reflect. Sometimes you have to let go of something good, to make room for something great. That's what author Richard Stearns had to learn when he was asked to give up his dream job as a corporate CEO to become the president of World Vision. I loved reading about the many ways God worked through people and circumstances to convince Stearns to accept the assignment and God's plan for his life. I also enjoyed the specific examples the author provided to show how World Vision is reaching out to the poorest of the poor to share God's love.
On page 167, for example, the author wrote about a widow who lived with her children in a community perched high up in the Andes Mountains. After meeting with this woman and hearing how she had prayed to God for help after her husband died, Stearns realized that people all across the world were crying out to God in desperation and each of us who claim to be His followers are to be His answer. (see page 167)
The Hole In Our Gospel is both an informational and inspirational read. One that challenges all of us to live out 1 John 3:18 as we love, not just with words, "but with actions and in truth." Stearns made a compelling call to action on page 107 when he revealed that "anyone earning fifty thousand a year has an income higher than 99 percent of the people in the world." Knowing that the average American is wealthy by comparison serves as a statistical reminder of our ability and our responsibility to reach out to the remaining 1 percent.
This book is very well written and I recommend it to all who are looking to close the gap between what they believe and who they reflect.
Life Changing This is one of the best books I have read. The perspective Richard Stearns brings is awesome. If you read this and are not compelled to change at all, the hole in you is way too large....more info
Read it and know the truth The Hole in Our Gospel nails the truth of the Gospel clearly, simply, and compellingly. You will know and believe the work of God in the life of Rich Stearns as he shares his journey and how it truly changed his life.
This is for us, in America today. ...more info
One of the best books I have read in years. I strongly encourage you to read the Hole in Our Gospel. Rich has a powerful message that the world and the church need to hear. The book will make you laugh, cry, and will challenge you to act to be a true ambassador of Christ. ...more info
A book to Challenge You The Hole in our Gospel, by Richard Stearns:
Richard Stearns, a wealthy CEO earning a seven-figure salary, received a call from God he did not want to receive. He was asked to head the charitable organization World Vision, but he would have to give up his salary, large home, and upscale car. His family would have to move and accept a new six-figure salary.
Mr. Stearns envisions a world where Christians band together and donate enough money to end poverty and injustice in the world. He believes that scripture indicates that salvation depends on not only Christ's death on the cross, but also good works to the impoverished, and without both we have a "Hole in Our Gospel".
The book clearly describes the problems around the world with poverty, aids, and injustice, but does not explain in enough detail how money alone can cure all of the ills of the world. While we may not agree with his views on the Gospel, we cannot deny that most American churches do not support the poor and sick in their own neighborhood, or around the world. Missions and missionaries are often underfunded and medical missions lack supplies. I disagree with many of his opinions, but I was challenged by his call for action.
You can't read this without being affected and convicted... There are few books that have made me examine my Christian faith more than this one... The Hole in Our Gospel: What does God expect of Us? The Answer that Changed my Life and Might Just Change the World by Richard Sterns. Sterns is the president of World Vision, and he tells his story of how he went from high-powered corporate CEO to the head of an aid agency that affects the lives of millions. It was not a path he traveled comfortably, but it's a journey that has changed his life forever. Moreover, he lays out how the average American Christian has neglected a core message of the Bible, and how we need to change to respond to the needs of our planet.
Part 1 - The Hole In My Gospel - And Maybe Yours: A Hole in the Whole; A Coward for God; You Lack One Thing
Part 2 - The Hole Gets Deeper: The Towering Pillars of Compassion and Justice; The Three Greatest Commandments; A Hole in Me; The Stick in Your Hand
Part 3 - A Hole In The World: The Greatest Challenge of the New Millennium; One Hundred Crashing Jetliners; What's Wrong with This Picture?; Caught in the Web; The Horsemen of the Apocalypse; Spiders, Spiders, and More Spiders; Finally, the Good News
Part 4 - A Hole In The Church: A Tale of Two Churches; The Great Commission; AWOL for the Greatest Humanitarian Crisis of All Time; Putting the American Dream to Death; Two Percent of Two Percent; A Letter to the Church in America; Why We're Not So Popular Anymore; A Tale of Two Real Churches
Part 5 - Repairing The Hole: What Are You Going To Do About It?; How Many Loaves Do You Have?; Time, Talent, and Treasure; A Mountain of Mustard Seeds
Richard Sterns was a successful corporate CEO, working at Lenox, when his life started to change. A good friend of his was convinced that Sterns would be the next leader of World Vision. Sterns was less than enthused with that "vision", however. While he was involved in his church, he had no feeling of a call to serve as a leader of a Christian relief agency. He barely knew where Africa was, much less understood what was going on there. He tried just about everything he could to avoid making the move, but God and circumstances had other plans. He finally came to the point where he surrendered to the leading, and was forever changed. He was brought face to face with the unthinkable needs and human suffering in places like Africa. And it's there that this book issues a call to action...
The American Church has been too inwardly focused on their own lives and needs, which in nearly all cases don't even begin to compare to the soul-crushing situations in third world countries. We've ignored the calls to feed the hungry and care for the homeless and orphans. We've latched on to salvation by faith, but we've completely minimized the role of works in our Christian life. Even if we're faithful in giving, it's often used in ways that don't address the necessity to be involved in the needs of our world. And don't even get me started about the whole "prosperity gospel" preaching that places our own riches as the highest calling of our Christian lives. In short, we've abdicated our responsibility as Christians, and we'll be called to account for it.
If you can read this book and not feel the need to make changes in your life, you're not paying attention. I have to make some serious changes in how I view my role globally and what I do about it. ...more info
Not Mother Teresa in a Business Suit This is not an easy book to read. You might want to skip it. But if you have the courage, read at least the first 50 pages of Rich Stearn's new book--then you're hooked and you'll finish it. Don't delegate your reading on this one. It's that important.
Few of us get up in the morning and encourage ourselves by reading a book about poverty in some far-off land. But if by chance we looked deep into the sad eyes of a hungry, malnourished child at our front door this morning, our well-toned spiritual gifts would spring into action. We'd likely be on Fox News by 9 a.m. and started yet one more non-profit organization to address the problem by noon.
And that's the problem says Rich Stearns. The corporate CEO who has stewarded World Vision U.S. since 1998 warned the World Vision's search committee that he was not quite "Mother Teresa in a business suit." Far from it. In this remarkable book, WV's president oozes with transparency (you'll be shocked) and tells you what he's learned along the way.
He asks, "What does God expect of us?" Stearns carefully balances Scripture, his own pilgrimage from CEO of Lenox (the fine tableware and gift company) and his corporate Jaguar...to the Ugandan thatch hut of another Richard (this one a 13-year-old, with two younger brothers, and no parents). Along this reading journey, your heart will break often, but you'll be blessed to hear what God is doing around the world.
Before you read the whole book, scan the chapter titles and the more than 50 wisdom quotes and moral jabs (my words) from some of the world's great thinkers, including Mohandas Gandhi who said, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." Stearns seems to agree. Caution! He challenges the church. He challenges you. He challenges me.
In the RESV rendering of Matthew 25 (the Richard E. Stearns Version), he nails it: "For I was hungry, while you had all you need. I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water. I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported. I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes. I was sick, and you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved."
Stearns says we have a hole in our gospel--our walk with Christ is missing the "public and transforming relationship with the world." Bono (not our pastors) is admonishing the world that "15,000 Africans are dying each day of preventable, treatable diseases--AIDS, malaria, TB--for lack of drugs that we take for granted." Apparently, we don't care. That's a big hole in our gospel.
Here are a couple of questions you might share with colleagues:
1) Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision, said "Don't fail to do something just because you can't do everything." What can you do?
2) Stearns quotes Frederick Buechner: "The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." Where is that place for you?...more info
A truly profound message for today's Christians I found it ironic that less than a week after talking to my pastor about how I was feeling somewhat unfulfilled in my Christian life, this book arrived at my door and helped open my heart and mind to what I was missing. I am one of those people that loves to join in and do things for their church. I do weekly announcement slideshows, photography at church events, perform music for services each week, and help with the church website. If someone needs something done, they can always ask me and I'm ready to help. But I still felt like I hadn't really found anything that truly fulfilled me and made me feel like I had changed the world for the better. I've always had a great compassion for the poor and more than most people, had read about and understood the issues of many of the poorer countries of the world, and particularly the problems with AIDs and malaria. I have friends that are researchers for malaria so understand particularly how difficult that disease is to treat and eradicate in endemic areas.
The Hole in Our Gospel really spoke to my heart about how little I really do to help the poor of the world. In some ways, I felt that *because* I understand and know about the issues more than most people, I have even less excuse for how little I do. In particular, I was struck by the problem in many areas of having clean water and how little it costs to provide it ($1 per person a year). Compared to so many complex and difficult issues...how easy this one is to solve, and what a shame that we have not been able to do it for more people!
I hope that everyone that has run across this page and seen all the reviews for this wonderful book will pick up a copy and let it touch them...and then share it with someone else you know. It has a wonderful study guide in the back as well, and I hope many churches might offer a group study to talk about it and the lessons and challenges it presents to us. This is a hard-hitting book that challenges all of us to think more about how much we have and how little we truly give to those who are most in need. ...more info
Plug up the hole in your Gospel. Richard Stearns wants to wreck you. He wants you to stop thinking about the problems of extreme poverty in the world, especially hunger and diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria, as something you can't do something about.
Not only can you, but you should. Not only are people getting involved, but we're making progress.
But more than that, the Gospel is not all about what I get from God, but what I can give back, and what I can give to the extreme poor. Jesus said that we'd always have the poor among us (it's a quote from Deuteronomy... check it out yourself), but that's not an excuse to do nothing. It's an opportunity to be Christ's hands and feet in the world.
Richard does a particularly good job of detailing his own amazing story, and that story serves as a springboard for his argument that we, especially those of us who claim to follow Jesus, can and must do something... now... to fill the hole in our Gospel, a hole that was left there when we in the West turned the story of salvation into something merely personal, and not the story of the whole Kingdom of Heaven.
The most important book I've read this year....more info
A Dangerous Book When I began reading "The Hole in Our Gospel" as part of the Book Review Bloggers initiative, I had this sense that I was about to read a dangerous book. My interest had begun from the provocative title, because I was hoping against hope that Richard Stearns would do a better job than many of speaking to the issues of justice and poverty without removing Jesus from the Gospel. However, my hesitancy to read was not based on the thought that the author would fall short, but rather that he might truly reinstate the work of justice into the Gospel, and if he did that it might cost me something.
Chapter by chapter, Stearns does a solid job of drawing together strands from the old and new testaments and reminds us that God's heart beats for the poor, neglected, widowed and maltreated. Part of our work as those who follow Jesus is to help those who are helpless and to truly recognize their humanity and value to God.
The writing is both informative and compelling, and the shear amount of data may overwhelm you, but Stearns seems to come alongside us as we read and be our guide through this heartbreaking terrain.
Read this book, be challenged, and then go out and do something for one of the least of these, because the news we carry is good indeed!...more info
What is asked of us by God? Sometimes it seems like everyone I know who reads the Gospels comes away with something different -- and a willingness to argue with one another about it. But the author has a very experiential reaction: He already has read the gospels, and then in direct contact with dreadful third world poverty, his heart responds, just as though he were St. Matthew and Jesus had called him. He leaves the "tax collector" (read CEO) table and joins Jesus.
What is asked of us? If we go to church every Sunday,read scripture, don't break any of the 10 commandments egregiously, is everything OK? Or does God actually expect us to take Him seriously when he says that what we do to the least of our brethren, we do to Him? Are we responsible? When we are judged, will we be lined up next to those horrifically starving children and asked what we did?
The author of this book has the answer to these and more questions. This is an excellently written book and is extremely persuasive. I imagine it may have a remarkable ripple effect through evangelical circles. I recommend it without reservation....more info
A Book Everyone Should Read! Every once in a great while I run across a book so relevant, inspiring and convicting that I want every one I know to read it. The Hole in our Gospel by Richard Stearns is one of those books.
This is a book I highlighted, pondered, and read out loud to whoever would listen. In it, Mr. Stearns, president of World Vision, shares his own story of being pulled from his "American dream" life to work among the world's poorest.
Reading Mr. Stearn's testimony is reason enough to pick up this book. He writes from a place I could completely relate to. He did not condemn me or the church, but he did issue the challenge to do more. He challenged Christians throughout the book to "embody the gospel so that others can see, hear, and feel God's love in tangible ways", and to present the whole gospel to the world instead of just "going to church, studying the Bible and avoiding the most serious sins."
Throughout the book Mr. Stearns discusses the issue of poverty and the American churches lack of response to it. He shares stories of people who were able to rise above poverty and ways we can help more people do the same. He encourages the reader to take the time, talents and treasure God has given, search out God's purpose for themselves and act to change the world.
The message in this book is an important one. I hope many people read it, and more importantly, I hope many people are moved to action as a result. ...more info
Don't Struggle, read this book! In a world where the richest countries in the world seem to think only of themselves, people are struggling to find their place, as God sees it. Richard Stearns tells a brutally honest, compelling account of how his own struggle and answer to that struggle have propelled him into the life God sees for him.
Read Stearns' book, especially if you are struggling with where you should be in God's plan and what he wants of you. No, not everyone will leave everything behind and go to live in Uganda, but you may gain a new perspective with regard to your own walk and what God wants you to pursue.
The Hole in the Gospel, may just open you eyes to what God is trying to say to you....more info
Looking for a challenge? Are you looking for a book that will challenge your perspective on the Christian faith? Are you content sitting in church on Sunday as the world spins around you? Do you need a little motivation to get out of that pew and do something? Have you ever felt called by Christ to do something that you just didn't want to do?
This book is for you!
Richard Stearns recounts the events, prayers, and conversations that lead a content CEO of a luxury silverware company to the huts of Africa. When Richard Stearns assumes the job as president of WorldVision, he reluctantly (that would be an understatement)gives into to God's calling for him to change the world through the lives of children. He would be the first one to tell you that he was unqualified and didn't even what the job, but God used him. God equips those who obey him to do even the things we are most fearful of doing.
Don't read this book unless you are ready to step out to follow Christ wholeheartedly and gain a new perspective on the world around you because it will change your heart! God doesn't call us to a christianity of comfortable padded pews on Sunday morning or Sunday School class potlucks but to the villages of Africa to the struggles of our neighbors and to a world desperately in need of Jesus Christ's work in this world!...more info
Speaks volumes for the need for committment in this world Yes -- this book "might just change the world"!!
You don't need to practice any religion to see the point of this book -- our compassion and empathy are so sorely needed in this world-- we CAN be the Change we seek, in a peaceful caring, way -- to so many in this country and overseas -- who have little or nothing compared to what we have.
Even in these cash-strapped times, anything we can do to make life easier for those who have lived with poverty and glaring need, WILL make a difference -- to them AND to us as well.
We all need to know that someone cares for us. That is a basic human need. We all need to know that there are millions of people all over the world (including our own country) who live in abject poverty, illness and misery -- none of which is necessary, given the advances in medicine and resources today. Richard Stearns even tells us about people who are eating buttered dirt to keep their stomachs from rumbling.
One person, doing something, multiplied by millions of other "one person"s also doing something -- will, as Stearns shows so clearly -- make a tremendous difference.
I commend Richard Stearns and his wife for all they are doing as this book more than amply tells us.
Now who will go out and do likewise???
(But Richard, if she still wants it..... will you please allow your wife the luxury of at least one fine china place setting???)
It's that important I just finished reading The Hole in Our Gospel by World Vision CEO Richard Stearns. Stearns tells a powerful and compelling story of the events that lead him from being the President and CEO of the Lennox China Company to his current role at World Vision. But it's about more than just his transition. Stearns spends the first third of the book skillfully interweaving his own story with the story of people in need from all over the world. The middle section gives one of the best summaries I have ever read about the scope of world need as well as some of the good news of what is currently happening to address that need. In the final section of the book he takes a hard look at the church of Jesus Christ, calling us to begin to focus on taking action to address the need in our world.
What do I think of the book? This is the point where I should put together some eloquent phrases to tantalize your literary taste buds - a time to create in you a hunger to read the book. But instead of doing that let me just say this. Everyone I know who calls themselves a follower of Jesus needs to read this book. Several times. And not read it as a way to feel more spiritual, but as truth and challenge to be integrated into life. Stearns is hard on the North American church...but with good reason. He believes that Jesus has called us to love the poor and needy, a claim that is hard to deny. He has added fuel to mental fires that have been burning in my head for the past several years. While I can't say I always liked what he writes, I can say that I think he is right.