The book laid in my "to do" pile for months on end. I was sure it was good, it had gotten all kinds of attention and book reviews. I just knew I wasn't ready to be convicted or shamed for not doing my part. And so it sat. On my bookshelf, unread...where it couldn't reach me.
Then I ran into a friend at church just before my trip to Haiti. He asked if I'd ever read The Hole in the Gospel - if not, I really needed to read it before I go. I smiled-nope, hadn't read it. Still sitting on my bookshelf at home...where it couldn't reach me.
My heart was sufficiently nudged. After all, I did want to be as prepared as I could be for my trip to Haiti. If this book was going to help, then I better read it. So I reached for the book, sat down, began reading, and couldn't stop!
Yes, it reached right into my heart.
Richard Stearns, the current President of World Vision (which I love) tells the wonderful story of how he became President. It certainly is not what you would expect, and it was entertaining, funny and poignant.
Even more so are the stories he tells of his many encounters with the recipients of World Vision's services. I was moved beyond words at what he has witnessed first hand in some of the poorest nations on earth. I was able to move beyond the common misconception that one person cannot make a difference.
"What if there are children who will suffer somehow because I failed to obey God? What if my cowardice costs even one child somewhere in the world his or her life?"
I began seeing God's command to care for the sick, the lame, the orphans, the homeless, the poor, and the widows in a completely differently light. What if we took the Bible literally? Wouldn't this be it's message?
"For I was hungry, while you had all you needed and more. 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."
God does not have different levels of compassion on his children based on their geographic location, their nationality, or their language. God loves EVERY one of his children, and we are to do the same. This is where Stearns proclaims that our gospel has a hole in it. We as Christians have accepted salvation, but stopped there. We have forgotten that faith requires work.
My eyes were opened when I read that if we were to poll the world's populations and gather them into 100 people, this is what the group would look like:
60 would be Asian
14 would be African
12 would be European
8 would be Latin American
5 would be American or Canadian
We are the MINORITY! The disparity is astounding! The gap between the wealthy and the poor continues to grow. What is the answer?
If the American church (not even the whole world) would tithe at the biblical 10% we could bring an end to world hunger AND the clean water crisis. Seriously-$168 billion. (Americans spend $31 billion each year on pets alone!)
So I read the book, and as you can see, it has had quite an impact on me. Fast forward two weeks when I landed in Haiti on a mission trip. Our host for the week was Pastor Manno, who heads up Haitian Christian Ministries. When he was a teenager an American missionary decided to pay for his college education and sent him to the United States. He earned his Seminary degree and returned to Haiti. He is now running a ministry that feeds 1000 kids every day! Children are receiving an education and a hot meal every day because ONE PERSON decided to do something. ONE PERSON made an investment. Stearns was right.
YOU may be that ONE person that makes a huge impact and begins a domino effect that could change thousands of lives every day.
I bet God has just the place He wants you to make a difference. Listen, just listen, and He will whisper it in your ear.
But before you go.....read this book! You'll be glad you did!