The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns was one of the many books I had to choose from awhile back. Since it was under the Christian category I wanted to see if there were already reviews on Amazon. Sure enough there were some and they were all learning towards how wonderful the book was.
A short synopsis from me, it basically starts off explaining where the authors' life has been and how he got to the position of president of World Vision, a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty. I of course enjoyed hearing about his upbringing and living a life of president of companies such as Parker Brothers. It's humbling to see someone in his position step down to take on a job more fulfilling for God.
He basically says the three major laws to follow are to love God, love your neighbor, and to help those in need. While Jesus taught, he spent the majority of his time healing the sick, feeding the poor, and teaching. So, why don't we as modern day Christians do the same? He basically points out that most of our modern day churches just focus on the body of the church rather than those in real need. For exampled children in Africa that have lost both parents to AIDS and are taking care of themselves; or families that have no clean water except for a stream several miles away and have to spend the entire day going back and forth with several gallons of water each time; or families dying of preventable diseases like malaria. He basically says America is the richest country (if you make $50,000 or more a year you are richer than 99% of the rest of the world) yet we as Christians do too little to help those that need it most. We need to share our abundance with those that have nothing because in God's eyes everyone is precious. Even those that aren't Christians would be inspired from this (I wonder if hostilities from other countries would reduce if there was more foreign aid?). He talks about several non-Christians that have stepped up to help International Aid because it's ethical. How can we turn a blind eye to those dying when all it would cost is $1 a month to supply one person with clean water for a month?
I can't remember if the book mentions Matthew 7:15-20, but it makes me realize I'm doing too little. If you are unfamiliar with the verse, here it is:
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. ...
As Christians we need to bear good fruit and The Hole in Our Gospel made me realize I need and want to bear good fruit. We as Americans see poverty in Africa, South America, and most parts of Asia but either feel the problem is too big for us to make a difference or that it's too remote to us that we don't think about it. I know God can take my efforts and make it even bigger. For example, if I provide a family with clean water, the children can start going to school because they have the time to go. Also, it can reduce the risk of them getting illnesses from tainted water. Parents can then work more. If kids go to school and parents work, they in turn produce more for their community. What if I provide a family with insecticide treated mosquito nets? The risk of them getting malaria decreases. It's amazing how much we can help with just a fraction of what a date night would cost, or for the cost of one dinner out you can provide food, water, clothing, health care, and school supplies to one child each month. It really makes me think differently and how I can do God's work outside my own home. To raise your children and teach them about God is just a fraction of what God really wants me to do in life and I think this was my wake up call .
Since reading The Hole in Our Gospel, we have purchased a water pump for a community in TIMOR-LESTE through Christian's Children Fund. Eric has a desire to donate to kiva. org who gives small loans to people in need for business opportunities. Soon, I want to buy insect nets to prevent malaria. I hope you pick up this book and read it, it's truly inspiring. One person can make a difference. How would you feel just preventing the death of one person or even more? What could this book inspire you to do?
If any of you from Shizuoka want to borrow this book, I'd be glad to loan it to anyone that wants to read it.