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The Hole in Our Gospel: What Does God Expect of Us? the Answer That Changed My Life and Might Just Change the World [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

Richard Stearns , Thomas Nelson Publishers
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  • Gebundene Ausgabe: 320 Seiten
  • Verlag: Nelson/Word Pub Group (10. März 2009)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0785229183
  • ISBN-13: 978-0785229186
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 3,8 x 15 x 22,5 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 5.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (1 Kundenrezension)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 456.014 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Must read 20. Juli 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
This book is exremely good and challenging in the light of a world in which daily sufffering of the poor, needy, oppressed are so easely forgotten.
Have enjoyed reading the personal journey of the author.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen "Do not fail to do something because you cannot do everything." 28. Mai 2009
Von Courtney Joseph - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
As I cracked open this nearly 300 page book I found a biography of a man that compelled me. Richard was a godly husband and father to 5 children and was the President of Lenox China before giving up his Jaguar, large home, and large salary to become the President of World Vision. He went from living the country club lifestyle to sitting in grass huts in Uganda feeding children who are starving. Why? Why did he give up the American dream?

Richard told the story of a pastor friend who went through the Bible literally cutting out with scissors, all the verses on poverty and then when he preached on poverty, he held his ragged, tattered Bible in the air and said "Brothers and sisters, this is our American Bible; it is full of are all the Biblical texts we ignore."

Richard goes into full detail about the epidemic of poverty in our world that American Christians just simply ignore. 26,500 children will die today due to causes related to poverty - whether it's starvation, dirty water, ravages of war, disease or AIDS. That's the equivalent of 100 jet liners crashing just today! He knows how Americans value our airplanes and hate to see one crash - so he compares the statistic to a plane wreck.

If we hear the story of a child dying in a car accident - we are sad for the family. But if we learn that it is our next door neighbor's child who died we are deeply grieved for the family. And if our own child dies - well - our world is turned upside down. For some reason we place less value on the children dying half way around the world than we do our own children - but GOD DOES NOT!

Oh, this book was so convicting as it told stories of children eating dirt patties with butter to ease their starving bellies. As I imagined the orphans of the AIDS epidemic spending most of their day looking for food and retrieving dirty water - I felt convicted about my own children and how they turn their noses up at their peanut butter and jelly sandwich that doesn't have the crust cut off!

What does God expect us to do about all this poverty? Richard reminds us of Matthew 25 where Jesus speaks of judgement day. Jesus says that the criteria for dividing the sheep from the goats will be:

"When I was hungry you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."

The righteous ask "when did we see you hungry Lord?" And Jesus replied "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine , you did for me. Then he will say to those on his left, Depart from me, you who are cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink..." And the righteous went to eternal life.

Wow - did you catch that? - the people who did not feed the hungry or give drink - went to eternal fire! God has a pretty STRONG opinion on what he expects us to do - wouldn't you say??? If you are like me - you spend much of your Christian days trying to do what is right as a mom, wife and servant in the church - avoiding the really bad sins. But this "squeaky clean" approach is not what God is looking at on judgement day. God is not just looking at our faith - but our evidence of our faith - and specifically - how we helped the poor.

I have to admit and be open here - this book completely humbled me - at one point in the book - I literally stopped reading and said out loud "shut up!" and began to cry. I am deeply grieved by my failure in this area.

I have shared much of my reading with my husband and children and I hope to make some strides forward in this area as a family - the task is so overwhelming but this one quote motivates me to try - "Don't fail to do something because you can not do everything."

I recommend this book and also want to encourage you to go to World Vision's website - [...] - to see if there is anything that you can do to help those in need.

67 von 74 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen The Hole In My Gospel 25. April 2009
Von Brandon Vogt - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Recently, I was sent a copy of "The Hole In Our Gospel" to read and review. Written by the U.S. President of World Vision, Richard Stearns, the book journeys into the great problems of the world and analyzes how Christians, specifically in America, relate to them.

Seeing that the book was penned by the head of an international aid organization, I must admit that I began with feelings of skepticism and reluctance. Before beginning the book, I expected a simple, shallow, and guilt-ridden message that would end with a plea for World Vision support. However, this book steers far from that path. Surprisingly, Stearns never directly advocates for the support of a World Vision child. Instead, his chosen path is one in which he walks alongside the reader through many challenging issues, pointing out what he sees along the way. I can imagine no better tour guide than the man who not only leads one of the largest humanitarian organizations in the history of the world, but also one who has set foot in nearly 100 of the poorest countries in the world. Stearns doesn't just lightly suggest the pursuit of justice and care for the poor--he is battling on the frontlines himself.

From the outset of the book, I was comforted with the relative normalcy of Richard's early life. In addition to feelings of apathy and ignorance towards suffering in our American churches, he also shares that for most of his life he was consumed with materialism and the addiction of corporate success. Proclaiming that he is no `Mother Teresa', he sincerely aims to show that he should not be lifted up as an other-worldly wonder-worker. He makes a point that he is an every-man, and it shows through his experiences. This encouragement yields a hope that anyone, no matter where they are in life, can experience a true conversion of the heart.

The book opens by detailing his early life as an incredibly successful young business man, jumping from role to role as a leader of multiple companies. The early parts of the book chronicle his personal journey of enlightenment, one that led him to realize this great `hole' that we American Christians have in our version of the Gospel and our call to fill it. Using many sources and proof texts from the Bible, he walks the reader through the blatant evidence in Scripture that point to this `hole', namely that God is determinedly on the side of the poor.

Stearns sprinkles the book with quotes from many throughout history--from the great thinkers of the past such as St. Teresa of Avila and St. Augustine, to modern world-changers like Mother Teresa, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr., and even from great modern thinkers like Robert Frost, C.S. Lewis, Dallas Willard, Albert Einstein, and Bono. The one thing that becomes clear through this journey is that Stearns sees one uniting string that stretches throughout all of history, one that also weaves throughout our modern life. This string interlaces brilliance and charity, contemplation and action, enlightenment and love, and in fact began with God. He displays a deep harmony between those who understood life at its core and those who cared most for the greatest injustices of their day. As an example Stearns, like me, considers Bono to be one of today's greatest prophets, despite being a pariah amongst many of today's churches. Religious inconsistencies arise when those who care most for the pain in the world don't `fit' in our churches.

Stearns sees one common message that has been proclaimed through different words by different people at different times: God cares for the poor and the downtrodden immensely, and a person claiming to love God should be living a life that reciprocates that care. And he suggests that we in American are coming up way short.

The seriousness of poverty in this world quickly becomes evident, and the lack of response from the American church becomes clear just as fast. Stearns notes that despite the Old Testament mandate to tithe, or give 10%, of one's salary to the church and the poor, American Christians on average give away only 2% of their income to churches or charities. And only 2% of this 2% goes to fund international work--0.04% of American Christian's total income. Understanding that, these statistics become terribly convicting:

* The total annual income of American churchgoers: $5.2 trillion
* Amount available if each of them gave 10% of their salary: $520 billion
* Estimated annual cost to eliminate extreme poverty in the world: $65 billion
* Annual cost for universal primary education for ALL children in the world: $6 billion
* Annual cost to bring clean water to most of the world: $9 billion
* Annual cost to bring basic health and nutrition for the world: $13 billion
* Total to eradicate the world's greatest problems: $93 billion (1.8% of American Christian's income)

We just agreed to push through an $800 billion financial bailout in our country. Stearns opens our eyes to the fact that American's have the potential and the resources to bring billions and billions of people out of extreme poverty at a relatively small cost. American Christians by themselves--even excluding the rest of America and the world!--have enough available resources themselves to end the great problems of this world. So why isn't this happening? That question is left to stir in the minds of readers throughout the book.

Towards the end of the book, Stearns finished by igniting a passionate vision in the minds of readers. He asks the reader to imagine, "how stunning it would be to the watching world for American Christians to give so generously that they:
* Brought an end to world hunger
* Solved the clean water crisis
* Provided universal access to drugs and care for the millions suffering from AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis
* Virtually eliminated the more than 26,000 daily child deaths (20,000 of which are estimated to stem from hunger issues)
* Guaranteed education for all the world's children
* Provided a safety net for the world's tens of millions of orphans"

If this happened, "the global social revolution brought forth by the body of Christ would be on the lips of every citizen in the world and in the pages of every newspaper--in a good way". How would the world see Christians--and especially the One they follow--if we in America put our money where are prayers and Bible claim they lie? What adjectives would the world then use to describe Christians instead of judgmental, hypocritical, and selfish?

This book is not one that leaves the reader filled with guilt and inadequacy but hope and the feeling that one can make a difference. It ends with practical steps one can take to begin joining the fight for the oppressed, but as a whole the book's foremost goal is to transform the reader's heart into one that breaks for the broken.

I really can't recommend this book enough to those who sincerely want to follow Jesus. Richard Stearns delicately, yet directly, calls the church in American to action against all injustice in the world. He recognizes that as people who claim to follow Jesus, "our heart must break for the things that break God's heart."

Be very careful if you decide to read this stellar book; like any encounter with needed truth, you will feel increasingly uncomfortable as you flip through the pages. However, once you catch the vision Stearns paints, you will be invigorated to slam the book shut and begin to change what your small pieces of the world. We all have the opportunity to make an impact, in this country and even in others. As many throughout history have echoed, now is the time to stand up and break the chains of injustice in our world. Let's go."
222 von 268 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen Concerns from a Christian Development Worker 21. März 2011
Von Christian Development Worker - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Audio CD
I know Richard Stearn's intentions are good but the book leaves me with a hole in my stomach:)

My journey in India has taken me through the paradigm of World Vision-like organizations (e.g. Habitat for Humanity, Samaritan's Purse, Gospel for Asia, The Leprosy Mission, etc) and I have seen their problems on the ground. Consequently, I am disappointed Richard Stearns gives a stinging critique of the American church but doesn't adequately address the legitimate criticisms--well known to insiders--of the Christian, multi-national aid industry. Does one really think groups like World Vision are immune to the empire building and wasteful spending (and in many cases, outright corruption) that the American church is susceptible to?

But forget all the issues of corruption and gross inefficiencies suffered by most international Christian organizations. Those are just symptoms of some fundamental problems with many Christian foreign-aid organizations.
1. They have followed secular humanist priorities which view injustice and physical need as man's primary problem when, as Christians, we are to understand these as symptoms of a much deeper spiritual crisis that exists in communities unable/unwilling to care for their own people. With so much emphasis in the secular media on the issues of poverty & injustice it is certainly easier and more lucrative to follow their lead rather than stand as a prophetic voice and point to the spiritual crisis that is the deeper issue and offer the solution of Jesus.
2. At least in the Indian context, their commitments to donors and the consequent program implementation deadlines require the quick application of funds with little regard for taking the time to build synergy with the local church and work with them to address the spiritual problems in the community that have created the symptoms of poverty and injustice in the first place.
3. In some instances, as is the case with World Vision India, their secular and governments partnerships prevent them from addressing the spiritual issues altogether!
4. As a result of points 2 & 3, they have often ignored the role of local church in enabling/empowering them to set the agenda and priorities in their region such that the deeper spiritual issues can be addressed while simultaneously dealing with the community's symptoms in a manner that is sustainable and does not undermine the long-term, spiritual initiatives.

Finally, there seems to be a mutually symbiotic relationship between the Christian aid organization and the American Christian donor that is not good. The donor get's to sacrifice a bit of their wealth and lifestyle (Stearn's bit was to sacrifice his multi-million dollar income for a MEAGER $400,000/year salary at World Vision) in order to
(a) avoid the sacrifice Jesus and the disciples had to make, i.e. the sacrifice of their lives for transforming the world with the gospel;
(b) avoid the guilt associated with living a lifestyle that cannot be reconciled with Jesus' teachings and the poverty they see on TV;
(c) stay in line with the secular humanist's powerfully influential, yet biblically uninformed conviction that poverty and injustice are mankind's worst enemies and can be solved without the God of the Trinity.

In turn, the Christian aid organization gets to receive the donor's dollars with few questions asked...and even take pot shots at the Church and claim it's being prophetic in doing so!

Neither seem interested in each other's transformation. Neither seem interested in transforming communities with the gospel of Jesus Christ and thereby truly helping the community solve their own problems for the long term. Transforming communities through the Gospel takes time and involves face-to-face, relationship based on human interaction that results in discipling people. There is too much human sacrifice involved in that. Governments (such as the Indian government) and the powerful forces that under-gird poverty and injustice will persecute you for it. Furthermore, the secular humanists find that approach abhorrent in the age of pluralism and have a much faster turn-around time in their short-term approach. Consequently their approach seems to set the bar for today's Christian aid organizations.

Bottom line: It's a lot easier all around for rich Christians in America to simply throw money at the world's immediate problems rather than be prophetic and involve sacrificially in addressing the spiritual roots. And, by the way, World Vision is happy to handle that money for you!

Stearn's book was basically an extended argument for supporting World Vision hidden behind a veneer that wreaks of poor ecclesiology. Certainly World Vision will benefit financially from his polemic (and what better book-release timing than in the middle of the US recession). But World Vision's short term gains will not be long term gains for the gospel of Jesus...nor for the communities being reached with this gospel of secular humanist ideology that under-girds many "Christian" foreign-aid programs which bypass the local Church's discipleship mission.
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3.0 von 5 Sternen There are Still Some Holes in There 8. März 2010
Von Hagios - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
The most important message in this book comes towards the end. In the book of Revelation there is a warning to the city of Laodicea. It was neighbored by a city with icy cold water and another city with hot water. By contrast, Laodicea's water was just lukewarm. Just like its waters, the people of Laodicea were lukewarm in their faith and God "will spit them out of his mouth." (Rev. 3:16). In this book Richard Stearns points out that the United States is a modern version of Laodicea. Comfortable, Christian, and thoroughly lukewarm. I think that is correct and found this point convicting.

Richard challenges Christians to stop being lukewarm. He was the head of World Vision and one of the great modern evangelicals leading a shift towards "global Christianity." Our brothers and sisters are not just the widow across the street and our friend from prayer group who lost his job. Our neighbors are everyone. And they are suffering. There are a billion people, mostly in Africa, who live on a dollar a day or less. 90% of the world lives on less than $9,000. Richard Stearns has a heart for the poor and a heart for his neighbors no matter how far away they live. His heart comes through in this book

One story that drives that home both the tragedy and the triumph in Africa is the story of a woman named Margaret who was attacked by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). It is not a Christian organization, but a military group that abducts boys from their parents at gunpoint in order to turn them into child soldiers. They force the boys to commit murder and rape at gunpoint, and then tell them that they are bad and that no one will ever love them. The only family they will have is in the LRA. A woman named Margaret was attacked by the child soldiers of the LRA. They hacked her friends apart with machetes right before her eyes, but she was pregnant and they believed it would be bad luck to kill a pregnant women. Instead they cut off her ears, nose, and left her to bleed to death. That way her death would not be on their hands. But Margaret was rescued and taken to a hospital and then onto World Vision's Children of War Center.

The Center doesn't just take in the victims attacked by the LRA. The boys who fight in the army are victims too, and World Vision teaches the child soldiers who fight that God loves them and that God can change their lives. It turns out that the leader of the group who attacked Margaret was among those brought to the center. Eventually they both found Jesus. The man asked Margaret to forgive her and she did. Richard keeps a photograph of the two of them standing next to each other. Margaret is smiling without lips.

I was also inspired by the story of Richard's own recruitment to be head of World Vision. He is a modern day Jonah. He did everything possible short to get out of the job, and God did everything short of sending a big fish to make him to take it.

Objections from Abortion

Nevertheless, I believe there are a few holes in the gospel that Rich teaches. The goal of his book is for Christians to love all their neighbors, but Rich seems to betray this problem himself. We see that towards the end of the book when Rich criticizes the perception of Christians for being "antichoice" and "antihomosexual." He does not come right out and say it, but reading between the lines, Rich is saying that evangelicals need to stop worrying about abortion and start worrying about global poverty. Rich clearly has a heart for the 26,000 children who die of preventable diseases every day in Africa, but what about the 3,000 who are killed by their own mother every day in the United States? Do those lives count too? And what about the widespread practice of abortion and infanticide outside of Africa? Are those lives unimportant and less worthy of love? Of course not. So why doesn't Rich encourage Christians to fight both abortion and poverty?

What about homosexuality? We should hate the sin but love the sinner, and many Christians do not do this. Many Christians hate homosexuals rather than love them. But the Bible is clear on the issue (attempts to render the Bible's passages on homosexuality as referring *only* to temple prostitution and coercive acts of sodomy are weak). So why can't Rich applaud the Christian view of sexual morality? Here I will fall back on a sermon on Biblical literalism by Tim Keller. He watched the remake of the movie The Stepford Wives with his own wife and at the end of the movie she joked that they should make a movie called 'The Stepford Husbands.' If she put a microchip into him, then he would do whatever she wanted. He would be the perfect husband. Of course she was joking and Keller pointed out that you cannot have a real relationship with a Stepford Husband. You can't have a relationship with a robot that you program. You can only have a relationship with an independent other person.

Keller points out that if you go through the Bible and pick and choose what passages you like then you've done the same thing to God. You've put a microchip in God. You've created a Stepford God. You may think you have a relationship with God but you've been corrupted by the world. "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men." (Isaiah 29:13) But if you have a genuine relationship with God then you will love and trust Him even if you don't understand His teachings. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5). It is disappointing that the author of a book called 'The Hole in the Gospel' constructs a Stepford God.

(And as a tangent, I would point out that the relationship to God is two ways. It is not simply that God gives orders and we obey. Although He didn't have to, He sent His son to take the punishment we deserve on the cross. So far from being a controlling God, we have a personal and gracious God who calls us His children, His bride)

Another problem with the book is that Rich seems to think that if Christians can yield to God, stop being so lukewarm, and develop a true heart for the poor, then non-Christians will begin to respect Christians. I think that yielding more of ourselves to God would help win more followers to Christ, but I do not think that non-believers will ever respect Christians. Recall Jesus' advise to his disciples: "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you" (John 15:18-19) But man is fallen and in a state of rebellion against God and against the things of God. That includes the people of God - God's elect. That is something that will never change no matter what Christians do. The approval of the world is simply the wrong benchmark for people in their Christian walk. We will never get it.

Objections from Economic Development

My next major objection to the book is that it seems to buy into a theory of economic development that is almost certainly false: the poverty trap theory championed by people like Jeffrey Sachs. On this view people in the third world are trapped by their own poverty and cannot build a better world - except with the charity of rich Westerners. This view is factually wrong (see The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good by William Easterly for a good review of the literature on economic development. All things being equal, poor countries should be able to grow). This is more than just a factual debate. Rich presents the poor in Africa as empty and powerless vessels - they are fairy tale princesses waiting for their knight in shining army. Who is that knight in shining army? Rich white people in the West. (Hence Easterly's ironic reference to "The White Man's Burden"). This view reduces the poor in Africa and elsewhere into mere objects in our own misguided quest for self-development. In reality people are active champions of their own nations and their own cultures and their own selves wherever they live. That doesn't mean we shouldn't help - of course we should! But we should reorient our thinking in a way that does a better job of respecting the inner humanity of brothers and sisters in the third world.

It is ultimately up to Christians in the third world to shine their light on their neighbors. Christianity does things like break down tribal divisions, reduce the power of patriarchal and controlling extended families, and empowers women in a way that feminists like bell hooks can only dream. We have a role to play in that, but it is an outsiders role. Philip Jenkins does a wonderful and inspiring job describing how leaders in Africa and Latin America are doing an awe-inspiring job of spreading Christianity in the global south. See The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity

One final recommendation. Games in Economic Development by Bruce Wydick is a great review of the literature on economic development. Moreover, Wydick is a Christian and an economist who talks about the importance of social capital and even spiritual capital. It does have a little algebra but it is easy, and besides, you can easily skip it. If you do want to learn about the nuts and bolts of economic development this is the book I would recommend.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Do not pass "Go", do not wait to get your $200 - read this book! 13. März 2009
Von Sylvia Lange - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
As a person who sponsors several children in the 3rd World and who has a tremendous interest in the world's poor, I expected to read the usual stuff. How bad the problem is... what we need to do about it... and then feel good that my husband and I are doing "so much" to help. But what I didn't expect was to be turned on my ear about how little I'm doing in proportion to the problem AND in proportion to my ability to do SO much more.

Rich Stearns does an excellent job of "getting in our face" about the enormity of the world's poor's brutal plight and what we have to do about it without putting us on a guilt trip. Yet we all need to take a new journey, down the road of really and truly doing something to make a difference. This book lets us know that the contribution of EACH of us is tantamount to truly making a dent in the ravages of poverty and the illnesses that go along with it. And we must.

This is a credible piece, endorsed by some amazing people... not just "known" Christians, but by people who also care about the world's poor, like U2's Bono. No matter what your religion or creed, we should all read this.

Bravo, Mr. Stearns and World Vision. And the glory go to God.
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