If you’re looking for a book to read on poverty, justice and our calling as followers of Christ to preach the gospel to all nations, you won’t have to look very hard or very far. In recent years there has been an explosion of titles discussing these very topics with a modern spin on the groundbreaking book “Rich Christians In An Age of Hunger.”
What makes “The Hole In Our Gospel” particularly interesting and what had me engaged from the first few pages wasn’t so much his spin on the message that God has called his people to, as the song we like to sing in my church goes, “live to feed the hungry” and “stand beside the broken” but the story of a man who has done just that.
The book’s author is Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision U.S. How he became the World Vision president after a successful career in the corporate world that included the titles of CEO of a board game company and CEO of a luxury china company makes for an intriguing storyline. With humility and honesty, Richard recounts this journey that brought him to a heart-wrenching story of an AIDS orphan named Richard in a hut in Uganda when the book opens. It was, Stearns admits, not where he was “supposed to be.”
“I much preferred living in my bubble,” Richard writes. “the one that, until that moment had safely contained my life, family, and career. It kept difficult things like this out, insulating me from anything too raw or upsetting. When such things intruded, as they rarely did, a channel could be changed, a newspaper page turned, or a check written to keep the poor at a safe distance. But not in Rakai. There, ‘such things’ had names and faces – even my name, Richard.”
Quotes like the one above are common throughout the book as Richard honestly shares his heart and his story of how his discovery of the hole in his own gospel has changed his life. Still, the book’s strength doesn’t lie on memoir alone. As he weaves his own storyline, he also shares a healthy dose of scripture and a plethora of quotes that paint him clearly in the camp of promoting the full gospel – not just the salvation of souls and not just social justice. He also shares several stories and anecdotes from his time with World Vision that give real-world examples of how straight-forward and even simple it can be to follow this whole gospel approach.
He does all of this without slipping into playing partisan politics, taking sides or tooting his own horn. This might not sit well with hardened doctrinal liberals or conservatives but it’s a book church leadership and followers of Christ of all stripes would benefit greatly from reading.
NOTE: A complimentary copy of this book was provided by its publisher, Thomas Nelson.