Hannah's Reviews > The Hole in Our Gospel: What does God expect of Us? The Answer that Changed my Life and Might Just Change the World

The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns
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May 17, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: reviewed

Richard Stearns is CEO of World Vision, an organization that feeds, clothes, and shelters children all over the globe. In his book, Stearns, passionately declares that most Americans have a hole in their lives as a result of ignoring the world's poor. It is not only American lives that have this hole, he says, but also the Christian gospel. By not feeding, clothing, and sheltering the poor in our world, Stearns argues that Christians fail to fulfill Christ's commands. He uses, statistics, personal experiences, and the words of Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King Jr, and Bono to impress upon his readers the great disparity that exists between the rich and the poor.
From its causes to possible solutions, Hole in our Gospel presents an easily understood picture of poverty without over simplifying or demeaning those it affects. Unlike many books on poverty, Stearns does not attempt to make his audience feel guilty for their wealth. Instead, he arms his readers with statistics, discusses common stereotypes of the poor, and lists many of the reasons that Americans (as well as Christians) do not give. One of the most important topics he covers is compassion fatigue. The idea that most Americans are inundated with images, videos, and facts about poverty. It is much easier to empathize with Rokia, a starving seven-year-old in Africa than the 26,500 children that die everyday from preventable causes related to poverty. Large numbers have less impact than smaller ones even though they represent much more suffering.
I could probably write a month's worth of blog posts just on topics I read about in Hole in Our Gospel. While I enjoyed the book overall, too many pages used detailed explanations of Bible passages to show that caring for the poor is one of God's priorities. Once I passed all that detailed exegesis, the book improved by leaps and bounds. I felt that his upfront honesty about stereotypes of impoverished people as well as his examination of the excuses Americans have for not giving were much more eye-opening and action-inducing.
Most importantly however, I loved the way Stearns talked about the people themselves.
"Perhaps the greatest mistake commonly made by those who strive to help the poor is the failure to see the assets and strengths that are always present in people and their communities no matter how poor they are. Seeing their classes as half full rather than half empty can change our approach to helping.”
Stearns speaks about the dignity that exists among the wealthy and the poor. He calls us to help and empower.
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