The prologue and introduction of this book began to teach me and make me think before I'd even started reading the book itself. The study guide questions and other resources in the back, including the interview with the author's wife, were all intriguing and made me want to dive into the book, as well. Once in the book, I could barely put it down. Thought-provoking, to say the least. Written in a style that's easy to grasp. Reading during my lunch breaks at work, it gave me snatches of things to think about and process the rest of the day. Amazing book. Can't recommend highly enough. My only slight concern is that I hope my copy holds up. I anticipate it being well worn, dog-eared, and marked up in the margins over time.
The gist of the book is all about the full gospel of Jesus, focusing on serving and loving the poor of the earth. Richard Stearns is the president of World Vision U.S and takes the reader on an in depth look at what the Bible says about ministering to the poor and the topic of justice.
I enjoyed this book. I liked the way Richard began the book with his own personal testimony in the first few chapters. It was very easy to feel his passion for the poor through his writing and I found my heart drawn and reminded about my own experiences in missions. I really enjoyed the stories of his travels and the incredible people he has met along the way.
Though I enjoyed the book, was provoked and challenged, I still felt something was missing. The basis of our service coming from a place of a living, intimate relationship with Jesus seemed to be missing, as well as a perspective of the time in history that we are living in in regards to the return of Jesus. There were parts that seemed to be borderline with a very strong focus on works and service, without the connection to the Man whom we love as the point of our actions. It had a real social justice feel that didn't always seem to point to the true Answer. Because I tend to be turned off from materials that have a strong social justice feel, I sure didn't like the quotes from Bono. I would have liked to see more connection at a heart-level to Jesus being the true Answer to poverty and injustice and more focus on the power of prayer. Chapter 12 and 13 were fairly depressing as they described in details the challenges surrounding the poor. I was hoping that Richard would bring the readers some hope in the midst of all the grim reality of Part 3 and 4. He brought some positive perspective, even if it wasn't the turn around that I had hoped for. I enjoyed Part 5 the most and really appreciated the challenge to the reader about what are we going to do to live out the Gospel.
On the whole, I really enjoyed this book and it was special for me to read it after returning from the mission field abroad. I would recommend this book as it is challenging and provoking about living out the whole Gospel. (I received this book complimentary from Booksneeze).
Awesome book to read. It really opens your eyes to what you can do in your daily life to serve God. It also opens your eyes to things in your life you should do differently to serve the Lord. The author has a great testimony to share!
The Hole in our Gospel (2009, Thomas Nelson) won a 2010 Christianity Today Book Award of Merit in the category of Missions/Global Affairs, and with good reason. I am a bit skeptical of most books that encourage us to feed the hungry, dig wells, and other such charity. Not because those things are bad, but because those books are usually pretty unbalanced. They rely on feelings of guilt and pity to cause us to change our behavior. This one is different. Richard Stearns is president of World Vision U.S. In this role, he has seen the problems he writes about. And he is personally involved in meeting those needs.
Stearns starts out strong by saying, "The idea behind The Hole in our Gospel is quite simple. It's basically the belief that being a Christian, or follower of Jesus Christ, requires much more than just having a personal and transforming relationship with God. It also entails a public and transforming relationship with the world. If your personal faith in Christ has no positive outward expression, then your faith - and mine - has a hole in it." (pg 2)
As I read the book, two overlapping themes struck me. The first is his call to individual Christians and churches to address the crises of poverty, hunger, lack of medical care and education, and clean water. What divides him from most who write books on these themes is that he does not propose evangelism has to fall by the wayside in this pursuit and he reinforces his pleas with Scripture. Many more liberal writers at least imply that many of these issues exist because the western church is wealthy. Stearns appropriately absolves us of that: "Here I want to make a key point: it is not our fault that people are poor, but it is our responsibility to do something about it. God says that we are guilty if we allow people to remain deprived when we have the means to help them." (pg 123)
The second is Stearns' personal story. He tells of his upbringing, his education, business success, conversion, family life, and call to head World Vision. That story alone would make interesting and compelling reading.
In addition to many Biblical quotes, he draws upon inspirational and convicting quotes from other Christian leaders and other dignitaries. Coupled with his own compelling writing, The Hole in our Gospel is a convicting book.
This book is neither easy nor comfortable to read, but it is important. I recommend it for most any believer and every church leader. Become part of the solution.
The author is very transparent as he writes and makes one really think about what we are doing to help the poor of this world. It is an easy read and brings God's word into play as we see the plight of many people around the world today and the vast difference between the haves and the have nots.