Richard Sterns, former CEO for Parker Bros. Games and Lenox, Inc., recent award-winning book, The Hole In Our Gospel, challenges Christians to expand their personal and transforming faith into a public and transforming relationship with the poor. "The gospel, or good news, proclaimed by Jesus was so much more than a private transaction between God and us," Stearns writes. "It was a vision of a changed people challenging and changing the prevailing values and practices of our world." Stearns hopes the stories, scripture and statistics recounted in "The Hole in Our Gospel" will inspire readers to see God's heart for the poor and respond with wholehearted obedience to a complete gospel. He offers numerous examples of Christians who creatively use their influence, skills and money to make a difference and encourages readers to consider how they can do the same. Stearns believes the combined efforts of 2 billion Christians worldwide, each doing his or her small part, can change the world.
Quotes from The Hole In Our Gospel:
Stearns contrasts this with the message Jesus lays out in the Beatitudes: The kingdom of which Christ spoke was one in which the poor, the sick, the grieving, cripples, slaves, women, children, widows, orphans, lepers, and aliens -- the 'least of these' (Matt. 25:40) -- were to be lifted up and embraced by. It was a world order in which justice was to become a reality, first in the hearts and minds of Jesus' followers, and then to the wider society through their influence.
-Richard Stearns, p. 16
A paraphrase from Matthew 25 by Richard Stearns: For I was hungry, while you had all you needed. 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 pointe out the behaviors that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved.
-Richard Stearns, p. 59
Why did God make me? To love, serve, and obey Him. Very simple, yet extremely profound. If we all woke up every morning asking, “How can I love, serve, and obey God today?” it might change everything-it might even change the world.
-Richard Stearns, p. 94
What I have discovered in my travels to more than forty countries with World Vision is that almost all poverty is fundamentally the result of a lack of options. It is not that the poor are lazier, less intelligent, or unwilling to make efforts to change their condition. Rather, it is that they are trapped by circumstances beyond their power to change.
-Richard Stearns, p. 118
Here I want to make a key point: it is not our fault that people are poor, but it is our responsibility to do something about it. God says that we are guilty if we allow people to remain deprived when we have the means to help them.
-Richard Stearns, p. 123
Almost one in seven worldwide, 854 million people, do not have enough food to sustain them. This makes hunger/malnutrition the number one risk to health globally, greater than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. About 25,000 people die each day of hunger or related causes—9 million people per year.
-Richard Stearns, p.135
Every day, more than 6,800 people are newly infected with HIV and more than 5,700 die from the disease; that equals 2.5 million new infections per year and 2 million deaths. Perhaps the most disturbing fact of all is that AIDS has now left 15 million children behind as orphans.
-Richard Stearns, p. 148
Bob Pierce once said, “Don’t fail to do something just because you can’t do everything.” These are wise words to anyone overwhelmed with the magnitude of human suffering in our world. We are not asked to help all of them at once, just one at a time.
-Richard Stearns, p. 152
If we in the Church are truly dedicated to the Great Commission, then we will first have to do something about the “Great Omission.” We will never effectively demonstrate Christ’s love to the world, if we cannot first demonstrate it to the Church-the whole Church, and that includes those struggling just to survive.
-Richard Stearns, p. 187
The total income of American churchgoers is $5.2 trillion. (That’s more than five thousand billion dollars.) It would take just a little over 1 percent of the income of American Christians to lift the poorest one billion people in the world out of extreme poverty. Said another way, American Christians, who make up about 5 percent of the Church worldwide, control about half of global Christian wealth; a lack of money is not our problem.
-Richard Stearns, p. 216
The bottom line is that the commitment that American Christians, the wealthiest Christians in all history, are making to the world just about 2 percent of 2 percent – actually about five ten-thousandths of our income.
-Richard Stearns, p. 217
God has created each of us with a unique contribution to make to our world and to our times. No other person has our same abilities, motivations, network of friends and relationships, perspectives, ideas, or experiences. When we, like misplaced puzzle pieces, fail to show up, the overall picture is diminished.
-Richard Stearns, p. 251