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Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Hole In Our Gospel, by Richard Stearns

Hole In Our Gospel Cover

When I recently read The Hole In Our Gospel, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. A realistic and informative picture of the Third World? Another guilt trip? A couple of friends had warned me that it wasn’t exactly a warm and fuzzy read. They were right.

I was riveted by the story of Richard Stearns, a CEO who turned his life upside down when he resigned from corporate life to become the President of World Vision -- literally trading the corporate board room for third-world orphanages and AIDS victims.

What struck me most about his story is the plight of the world’s poorest children. AIDS has left behind some 15 million children as orphans -- children who will never experience the love of a parent or the security of a home. And the plight for young girls is even worse. According to Stearns,

Compared to her male counterpart, a girl growing up in the developing world is more likely to die before her fifth birthday and less likely to go to school, since girls are often forced to work rather than attend school …. She is also less apt to receive adequate food, health care, and economic opportunities, but more apt to be forced to marry before age sixteen and to be the victim of sexual and domestic abuse. Some two million children, mostly girls as young as five years old, are part of the growing commercial sex trade around the world.

(Citing Ban Ki-Moon, Children and the Millennium Development Goals, United Nations Children’s Fund (New York: UNICEF, 2007), 58)

As a mother of young daughters, I’ll admit I’d rather not even hear these statistics.  Isn’t it safer to put our heads in the sand and just worry about our own families?

I was putting Anna to bed and she started to pray for the children with no parents -- that they would find food and water and “get some new parents.” I hadn’t told her about the book, so I asked her, where did you hear about these children?

She almost started to cry. Then she told me about some children she saw on TV. They had no parents and no food or water. They had no where to live. She said it was the most terrible thing she had ever seen. 

Of course, with all the media coverage on Haiti, Anna had seen the lost children – and she couldn’t let go of the images.  The same images I conveniently try to avoid. 

When I look at Anna, I realize that but for the grace of God and the privilege of her birth, she could be one of those girls destined for despair, famine, and disease. Instead, she has two parents who love and care for her. She has hope and a future.

Anna continues to pray that the hurting kids in our world will find food, water, and “new parents.”  I pray with her, but The Hole In Our Gospel reminds me that I need to do more.

It's well worth the read.  Check out Stearn’s website for a glimpse.

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