Friday, July 3, 2009

Book Review- The Hole in Our Gospel

As you may remember, I am a Thomas Nelson Publisher book reviewer. Its a great program and I enjoy doing it. The book I recently finished reading was The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns. He is the current president of World Vision- an amazing organization that is commited to serving and helping the impoverished around the world.

The Hole in Our Gospel has many angles that I can't really summarize its purpose into one sentence. In masterful seamlessness, Stearns incorporates his own spirtual journey, his personal and career journey (from poor teenager to corporate CEO of Lennox to President of World Vision), his quest to discover God's plan for him at World Vision, and his amazing stories and adventures from the various fields that World Vision supports. Intertwined with these personal stories and testimonies are Biblical truths (stewardship, giving, serving, helping the widows and orphans, verses, teachings of Christ) to challenge the reader in what it means to be a Christian.

The hole that Stearns gets his title from is twofold. There are two camps that dominate the Christian sector of beliefs. Those that believe that are 'works based' (believing our actions are what set us free in eternity) or those that are 'faith based' (believing that only faith is required to enter heaven). The problem that Stearns presents is that both of these belief systems are incomplete- they have a whole.

For it says right in scripture (Ephesians 2:8-10) "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

If we leave faith out- it takes away the gift of Grace, and we cannot earn our salvation. However, if we leave out good works, we are taking away one of the primary reasons we were created. We were created to be the hands and feet of God. We were created by God for His purpose to serve His people.

Stearn is an amazing storyteller and has amazing experiences to show the reader what serving God's people could really look like. Stories of impoverished nations. Stories of incredible courage and miracles. Stories that could make your stomach churn. (Did you know that 257,000 children die EVERY DAY due to poverty related issues?). The statistics are stagering- but the faces and individuals that Stearn presents tugs at the heart.

What I loved about Stearn's book is that it wasn't simply a book about all the bad things that are going on in the world- but that there are solutions! (It only takes $1 a year to give a person clean water! If every church gave their true 10% tithe- we could bring the world out of such poverty! Stearns challenges the reader to discover the true definition and meaning of stewardship. We are all stewards- everything we have is God's. Even if we have very little- we are still called to be good managers of it. This book is challenging, thought provoking, and while it had its moments of despair- I felt encouraged that the world's problems are not to big to get a hold of.

As a person with a deep passion for world missions and impoverished nations and orphans (I have done ministry work in Bangladesh, Guatemala, Jamaica, and Grenada), and as someone who is passionate about stewardship and giving, I felt as though this book could have challenged me more. I am already giving, praying, doing- what can I be doing to help save our world? Stearns main focus was to get the church and its members to give their tithes- to get involved with the global community as opposed to the bubble of our own. A step beyond this challenge would have been helpful for me as the reader.

Overall, this was an excellent book and I would quickly recommend to any Christian.

Going with the theme of the book, "Lord, break my heart to what breaks yours."

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