Thanks for joining us today for our discussion of Chapter 2 of Rich Stearns’ The Hole in Our Gospel. Jason (my co-facilitator and friend) and I welcome you to stick around and chat, whether you’ve read the book or not. We welcome your thoughts on the matter! When you get done reading and commenting here, please head over to Jason’s site and read his thoughts. Also, at the end of the post, you’ll find a widget. If you’ve written your own response to this chapter at your own site, make sure to link up below. If you haven’t got a link to share, please go read the other links that you find there. They are always amazing! We’ve got quite a wonderful group here!
So, let’s get on with it, shall we?
Chapter 2 – A Coward for God
Several years ago, while I was in college and before I started working in ministry or hanging out in the mission field, I heard my friend, Ken Helser, tell a story. Anyone that knows Ken knows that he’s a story teller. But this was a true story. And of all the stories he’s told, this one particularly captivated me.
There’s an epidemic happening all around us. And it’s one that polite society doesn’t like to talk about. It’s one that when it is discussed, we squirm in our chairs and when the pictures come on TV or we see them in magazines or our computer screens, we avert our eyes and move quickly on so that we don’t have to be faced with it or reminded of it. And that epidemic is human trafficking.
It happens all over the world—including America. But when Ken told the story, he talked specifically about Southeast Asia—which is arguably the area with the largest amount of trafficking in the world. In that part of the world, there’s desperate poverty. Families tend to be large and the more children they have, the harder it is to feed them all. And in some of these places, parents will sell one child in order to have money to feed the others. Girls especially—five years old, six years old, seven years old—are sold to men who use them as sex slaves. There is no escape and likely, they will die and die young in this captivity.
I have never heard of anything more heartbreaking, infuriating, and nauseating. What horrific depravity and darkness!
But into this darkness, God is sending a light.
Through a friend of his, Ken got to speak to a group of young people—kids in their late teens and twenties—that go into these places and buy the girls out of slavery. It’s a risky business. And these kids know that if they get caught, they will probably die.
But they go anyway. And lives are being saved.
I have a hard time hearing this story for more reasons than one. I mean, there’s the obvious reason that it’s painful to hear about these kinds of atrocities. But another reason is that it reminds me that in a world where this is happening, these kids are willing to lay down their lives while I sit in my comfy house, watching satellite television with a full belly.
I am safe, while others are dying to save lives.
Philippians 1:21 says that to live is Christ and to die is to gain. This goes right along with what Richard Stearns talks about in Chapter 2 of The Hole in Our Gospel.
We’ve spent all of these weeks discussing other books and one thing that’s been abundantly clear through all of the discussion is that the key to everything is relationship with Christ. Stearns takes us back to that foundation that we’ve been building and seals it for us.
When I was in college, I had an English professor that taught us this very same catechism lesson that Stearns discusses here. That five minute lesson in my World Lit class has stuck with me all of this time and so it especially resounded when I read it here.
Why did God make me?
To love, serve, and obey Him…
That’s my calling. Those are my marching orders. They should be my agenda.
In this chapter, Stearns tells his story. He tells of coming to Christ and committing to be a Christ follower in deed and not just in name only. But he also tells the reality of life that drew him into “the box.” And we have all been there. It’s really easy to serve Jesus when you’re comfortable and safe, but God called Rich Stearns out of the box and He’s calling us out of the box, too.
How do I know?
Because I’m writing this and you’re reading it. We’re here in this place together and this is the message that God has for us today.
He’s calling us to come out…
Maybe not to Southeast Asia, but out nonetheless.
Just across the street…
Or across the aisle at church…
Or across the railroad tracks…
It all comes down to one question: Are you willing to be open to God’s will for your life?