A brief review of “The Hole in our Gospel”
Author’s note: I know I’m breaking a bit with my Wednesday tradition on the blog, but after reading this book, I’m considering devoting an extended series on the Apostles’ Fast in the Orthodox Church. We’ll see, but I think the Apostles’ Fast relates strongly to the Church responding and relating to a world in need.
Richard Stearms takes an unflinching look at the status of global social involvement within Protestant Churches in “The Hole in Our Gospel” to challenge American Christians to extend their work among the global least of these. Through five sections, Rich offers his story of becoming the president of World Vision, insights into his personal faith journey with Jesus Christ, the challenges associated with global poverty, the failures within the American Church, and an invitation to action. The constant awareness of the personal remains an absolutely essential theme throughout the book.
I offer general endorsement of the book, with some important caveats. Rich offers meaningful insights to the nature of poverty owing to his insistence to look poverty straight in the eye, recognizing the humanity of the other in the process. He also provides a very helpful “Spider’s Web” metaphor to understand the interconnected lives of people in poverty. The book maintains a realistic but positive outlook that we can make a difference in the experience of the least of these, one person at a time.
Where I must offer strong disagreement with Rich is that he asserts that visiting the sick or elderly and helping local food banks are “totally unrelated to global poverty” while also defining that meaningful service to the poor can only happen overseas. Poverty can and does occur everywhere on the globe, even in American communities. The Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota is among one of the most poverty-stricken communities in the world. Less people exist to raise awareness of poverty in the United States, but we have a lot of distressing statistics in our own country. The question of “Where is the Church?” often applies just as much to these situations we find on our own soil.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”