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Archive for Richard Stearns

Jan
17

The Hole in the Gospel

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Last Christmas my daughter Lauren gave me The Hole in the Gospel as a gift, but I think it would be more appropriate to call it a blessing. Written by Richard Stearns, President of World Vision, U.S., this book serves the reader in two special ways.

The first section of the book is autobiographical. Stearns shares his story of growing up in poverty and putting himself through an Ivy League school, earning a degree in neurobiology then later a MBA. He was an avowed atheist who turned to Christ through the witness of his girlfriend who eventually became his wife. Stearns was successful in his business career and was named President of Parker Brothers at the age of 33. He later became President and CEO of Lenox, Inc., America’s fine tableware and gift company.

During his years in business, the Stearns family lived a committed Christian life. They were active participants in local churches and were especially supportive of missions and mission work around the world. Stearns replays with transparency the struggle he underwent hearing and acknowledging God’s calling to leave the business arena to become the head of World Vision.

Stearns then shared his work with World Vision and provided the reader with a powerful challenge to become engaged in helping to solve real problems among the suffering around the world. There are many talking heads today that are able to share some of the same statistical data that Stearns provides in the book. Some of those statistics are well known while others are obscure and unfamiliar. Statistical data works in this book simply because Stearns has been to the places he writes about. He tells stories from his travels of the people he’s met and the suffering that he’s witnessed first hand. For me, those statistics became more striking because I knew that he knew something that went beyond the numbers. He had walked and lived among the suffering and was able to attach a name and a face to the suffering. Statistics alone can never do that.

I also appreciate Stearns ability to appropriately use Scripture in context to call the community of faith to action. His writing wasn’t filled with peppered assaults on the reader from the Bible. He faithfully interacted with Scripture and called the reader to be open to the Holy Spirit’s call to involvement. This was powerful in the most tasteful way.

The Hole in the Gospel is a wonderful book for those who have a heart for missions and to alleviate suffering in the world. I commend it to those who are passionate about the world, and recommend it to those who realize that there’s more to life than making silverware.

“For I was hungry, while you had all you needed. 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.” (Matthew 25:34-36, Richard Stearns Version)

So what is The Hole in the Gospel? The Hole in the Gospel is the dispairity between what we say we believe and what we actually do. Until we fill that hole, our religion is an empty religion that God despises.