I first read The Hole in our Gospel, by Richard E Stearns in the spring of 2011. It was highly recommended to me with the amazing promise of how it would change my perception of the scriptures and my place in the world. But it also came with the warning that it would make me angry and frustrated. Both of her predictions turned out to be more than accurate. So it is with the same exuberant adoration I recommend this book, it will change the way you see the world, it will inspire you, but parts of it will also make you want to crawl under your covers and scream.
Richard Stearns is the president of World Vision one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the United States. The book begins with his personal story about how he came to work for World Vision. He very reluctantly left a successful business career after numerous attempts to persuade him, but it was after he felt that God had indeed called him to take the position and so he took a leap of faith. It is fascinating to hear him recount his story of how he was inspired, pushed, pulled, and sometimes felt forced into serving the international community. It recounting of the prolonged internal struggle that Mr. Stearns finds himself and the shocking realizations he discovers to in his work with World Vision that make his story so compelling, easy to relate to, and internalize.
The story progresses as Mr. Stearns begins his international work. With his trips around the world, especially to Africa it is evident that his heart is changed. There is a quote I really like “if we are trying to be follow Jesus, what Breaks God’s Heart begins to break our heart.” And this is where you will want to pull out your scriptures and begin marking in earnest. Mr. Stearns expounds the words of Christ that are contained in the New Testament in ways that as a life long follower of Jesus I have never heard. In the beginning I would question if he was getting the scriptures correct since I had never heard them referenced and linked before, but every time there they were in my scriptures. How many times have I read those verses? This time their message pierced and then reshaped my heart.
This book is not written for an LDS audience, it is written for a general Christian audience, really for all of us who proclaim a desire to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. This book is not just about the discussion of scripture it is a call to action. It challenges the reader to do things to become something new and to act on it. This is a call to see where we have failed as individuals, as churches, and as members of societies in taking care of our poor. It is painful to find the gaping hole in how we live our gospel. But Mr. Stearns does not just point out problems he gives real practical solutions born out of his professional experience and religious conviction. Reading this book is empowering beyond description. To understand that we as human beings have such amazing potential to shape the world and that we have been called to aid in the work is life altering. The Hole in Our Gospel truly is a book written for our time, and one that should be read and shared again and again because it has the power to transform us as individuals, our churches, and the world.