It was with a great amount of anticipation that I finally was able to sit down and read through "The Hole In Our Gospel" by Richard Stearns. After reading the introduction and first two chapters of this book, I turned to my wife and said "I think that this book is pretty much going to mess me up as I read it over the next few weeks." It was at that point that I realized I couldn't simply just sit down and read it for long stretches. I found it to be too thought provoking and challenging and I didn't want to gloss over or miss anything.
I realized prior to reading the book that, due to the author being the President of World Vision, there would inevitably be a focus on international issues such as poverty, famine and unhealthy living conditions. My expectations were duly met, but I found myself noticing the effort the author took to focus on the situations and circumstances and to promote possible effective solutions without continuously plugging his humanitarian organization. It was a pleasant surprise.
The focus of this book is to challenge Western thinking when it comes to possessions, finances and helping those less fortunate and in desperate need. While there is an unashamed Biblically-based aspect of this book, the author does a great job of presenting the arguments against ignorance, apathy and inaction in such a way as to make this book a worthwhile read for even the most staunch atheist. While there is Scripture throughout the book and the author does not hesitate to proclaim his faith in God as the core basis for his book, the book provides enough statistical and anecdotal evidence to warrant scrutiny by those who hold different religious views.
After finishing the 279 pages of this book, I can tell you that my statement to my wife stands correct and I find myself still pondering portions of the book. More importantly, I find myself attempting to figure out how I can take part in bringing about significant and lasting change to those who are in desperate need. I'm pretty sure that is what Mr. Stearns was writing to encourage and I know that this book will succeed in accomplishing that goal for many people.
Here are my previous posts that contain certain portions of the book that I found quite compelling:
It Needs To Become Personal
To Whom Much Is Given
The Poor You Will Have With You Always
More At Risk Than The Lives of People
Change Agents For God
Defacing God's Image
Faithfully Moving Mountains