That is the phrase the recruiter used to convince Richard Stearns to consider the possibility of talking to the people at World Vision about the idea of becoming their organizations president. Did you notice how many variables were in that sentence? No one asked him for a commitment, only a consideration. And he ran from it. He ran from the possibility of considering the idea of giving up a cushy, high paying executive job at Lenox Tableware. From the possibility of considering giving up his nice house, the large salary, the company perks, Everything that went along with a “life well lived”. His reasons were sound:
- I don’t know anything about fundraising
- I don’t know anything about the poor-let alone the poor in other countries
- I just don’t want to
- I can’t do it, I’m simply not qualified
And a myriad of other seemingly sound, logical reasons. The World Vision board had just one reason to counter his arguments: They believed God was calling him – specifically, to their organization.
In the end it was the recruiter’s one phrase that cracked the shell. Through that crack God poured a series of confirmations to the call. Confirmations that Stearns promptly ignored or disregarded. Confirmations that ultimately led to the final question in the interview:
”You will be exposed to horrendous, heartbreaking things. Children in garbage dumps, women losing their children to disease, people on their deathbeds dying of AIDS. Would you be comfortable with that.”
And his answer “No, I am most certainly NOT comfortable with that! I am terrified of it! If you are looking for Mother Theresa, you’ve got the wrong guy.”
Stearns thought his answer had gotten him off the hook. He had followed God’s prompting, he had passed the test. He put his life on a symbolic Mt. Moriah and God would provide another person to take the role….only to find out that was EXACTLY the answer the board was looking for!
What follows this opening story is NOT your typical “the poor are starving, you have a nice house” guilt trip. On the contrary, what follows is a narrative of how one man deals with those feelings. The feelings that it is never enough. The questions of “am I the rich young ruler?” or “should I just be grateful for the blessings God has given me and steward them wisely?”
The title “The Hole in Our Gospel” comes from the idea that there is something missing in our message. That there is this great disparity between the hope we have within us and the actions it should promote. And that what this book does so well. It combines the facts of our Gospel message with the disparity in resources throughout the world without adding guilt.
The book also takes an interesting tack in that it simultaneously comes at the reader from three different angles.
- The facts and figures about what the growing gap between the world’s richest and poorest
- Stories of actual people who represent those facts and figures
- The author’s own personal journey through this process as he grapples with the enormity of the situation and his own life and personal resources
As one who has been on short term mission trips and seen “the other part of the world” I can attest to the feelings you have when you come back. The feelings of “I spend how much on WHAT?!?! while these people are starving?” And the confusion that brings. This book deals with those things and prompts you to act. Act in a way that is “our reasonable service”.
What about you? Would you be open to God’s call for your life?