According to Wikipedia,
World Vision International is an Evangelical Christian relief, development, and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. Inspired by Christian values, they are dedicated to working with the world’s most vulnerable people. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.
Ever since I was a child, I have known about the work of World Vision. I remember, as a young adolescent growing up in the hills of southern West Virginia, poring over the pictures and the articles in the World Vision magazine as soon as it arrived every month. In those days, not long after World Vision came into existence in 1950 as the outgrowth of the vision of Bob Pierce, their work focused mainly on caring for the needs of children in South Korea who were orphaned as a result of World War II and the Korean Conflict.
Bob Pierce was well known for one particular quote, a prayer really. He made this his motto: “May my heart be broken by those things that break the heart of God.”
Richard Stearns is the current president of World Vision US. In the past few years, he has written two important books which all Christians should read: The Hole in Our Gospel (2009) and Unfinished (2013). Both of these books have changed my thinking in profound ways and have contributed greatly to my understanding of the true nature of the Kingdom of God and how the church should function as the agent of that Kingdom.
I had planned to write a series of blog posts based on the content of these two books. I will still probably do that. In the meantime, however, I came upon a 17-minute video of Richard Stearns speaking at a Q Conference earlier this year. This is a powerful presentation. In it, Stearns shows the unbelievable difference that could be made if the Christians of the United States, who give, on average, a paltry 2.4% of their income to the work of the church (most of which goes to running churches and paying staff) would increase their giving by one percentage point, to 3.4%.
If that additional giving were dedicated to meeting genuine needs around the world, it would provide clean drinking water for everybody, essentially eradicate poverty, wipe out diseases like malaria and AIDS, plant hundreds of new churches, build schools and hospitals, and on and on.
Here is the way Richard Stearns puts it near the end of his short talk.
Do you begin to see what would be possible if the church really took seriously the call of Christ to show the world a different way to live? The exciting thing is that we really could do this. We could and we should.
Now let me ask you, how do you think the non-Christians in our country and in our world would react to that kind of faith? Do you think the world might take notice? Do you think they might wonder what motivates people to be so generous, so compassionate, so sacrificial, so inspiring? Do you think our young people might start coming back to church? And maybe they’d bring their friends with them.
You see, this was the vision of the Kingdom, coming in power, that Christ gave to those first disciples. This was the mission that most of them gave their lives for. They died as martyrs. But before they died, they set the world on fire with their faith and with their courage and with the hope of the gospel on their lips. They ran the good race, and they fought the good fight, and then they passed the torch on to us.
It’s our turn to lead now, and it can start right here… in 2013. This is the world that Jesus died for. This is the world He sent us into to transform and to redeem. And yet this incredibly inspiring task—that which we call the Great Commission plus the Great Commandment—remains unfinished 2000 years after that first Easter.
We have everything we need to change the world. We’ve got the money and the influence. We’ve got the knowledge and the scale. We’ve got the mandate and the Holy Spirit. All we lack is the will.
What Richard Stearns talks about in this 17-minute address is the kind of Christianity I want to identify with and exemplify. It’s the kind of authentic faith toward which my relentless pursuit has been directed. It is the foundational character for the church which I yearn to be part of and to which I would gladly devote all my energy and resources for the rest of my life.
Please do yourself a favor, click on the link, and watch the video. I guarantee you will not be disappointed. There is no better way for you to spend the next seventeen minutes, I promise. To watch the video, click here.
Let me know what you think.
Soli Deo Gloria.