Richard Stearns is the president of World Vision and has been since 1999. Stearns left a job in which he was the CEO of Lennox tableware to be the president of a global missions foundation across the country. In the book, he speaks briefly of the struggle within and how hard it truly was to walk away from all the money, promises of more money, power, and even fame to go and fly to the worst slums and deepest accounts of poverty ever seen on the planet. Having done so, Stearns writes from the perspective that unless we will open our eyes to the epidemic of social destruction both in our backyard and beyond, our message of a Savior who loves everyone, who wants to save everyone, and who wants to minister to everyone comes up lacking. In short, there is a hole in our message. We're saying one thing but doing another. We're saying God loves everyone, but we're not telling everyone God loves them. We're saying God wants to do great things today, but we're unwilling to sacrifice and be obedient to see them come to pass. We say our hearts are broken by the lost and the hurting and the poor, but our selfishness shows a different idea.
Truly, wherever you are and whatever your financial situation is, you are rich compared to more than 3/4 of the world's population. Of the 6.7 billion people on earth, almost 3 billion live off $2 a day. Of the 6.7 billion people in the world, a little more than 1 billion live of $1 a day. America? Well America as of the end of 2008 comprised only 4.5% of the global population. The average American (every citizen's income averaged together with the unemployed and homelss equaling $0) makes $105 a day. And somehow we spend more time praying for financial breakthroughs, send more "seed" money to ministries for deliverance, and are the most credit strapped country in the world.
Back to the 4.5% stat. If wsummed up, that percentage in a global village of 100 people based on the amount of ethnic groups / races in the world it would look something like this:
- Out of 100 people:
60 would be Asian
14 would be African
12 would be European
8 would be Latin American
5 would be American or Canadian
1 would be from the South Pacific
51 would be male; 49 would be female
82 would be non-white; 18 would be white
I don't know about you, but it looks like we're in the minority as far as world population is concerned. Yet the minority seems to have the most power. God has blessed the "minority" with the most resources and thousands upon thousands of churches to infect the majority with the Gospel message of Christ. And the reality is, we're failing. Based on these statistics, churches who only want white people in their congregations are claiming to follow the Great Commission by only trying to win 18% of the world's total population. Somehow, I don't think that's what Christ meant when He gave the Commission or in the Pentecostal realm, endued the 120 with the baptism of the Holy Ghost to be His witnesses to the "uttermost parts of the world."
The key is living outside of ourselves. We've bought hook, line, and sinker into the American Dream built upon plastic and as a result more than 30 of our 50 states are either in a million dollar or more defecit or are on their way to one. Our way of life has caught up with us. Our stingyness has come home to roost. Our selfish "Christianity" (if that exists) has told on us and we have been found wanting. We have been found like the Laodiceans of Revelation 3 . . . lukewarm, good for nothing, mistaken, blind, poor, and worst of all, on the outs with God.
This book has been one of just many that God is challenging me with in my walk and especially in my church. Who are existing for? Is it Christ or ourselves? Not everyone can be a missionary. Not everyone can go overseas. But everyone can do something. Based on the total number of people in America who claim to be Christians, Barna Research Group discovered that approximately only 2% give on a regular basis to their church. Of all the money accounted for through churches in America, the ratio of giving to member is about 2%. Did Christ die and save us so we could give Him 2% of what He's blessed us with? It's time to do more. It's time to be more. If you want a challenge, read this book. It's about 300 pages, but well worth it.