Book Review, Part One

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I love to read. I especially love to read books that challenge my thinking and my safe, comfortable life. As of late I have plowed through three books, all of which have done just that. I have been CHALLENGED me with a capital 'C'. The first one was moderately so but each subsequent book has rocked my world even more than the previous.

These recently unstable economic times have forced us to examine our spending like never before. As we've cut back dramatically in most every area I've seen how we've adjusted our expectations. We have really, truly accepted the difference between a want and a need. I've always thought of myself as financially wise but in reality I've made very few sacrifices. And quite frankly, I've been ashamed at my attitude of wanting to "have my cake and eat it too." I hesitate to admit that I have whined more than I've been grateful. During this season I find myself pondering the quote we always hear about how in America we live better than 85% of the world. We see the commercials imploring us to sponsor a child in Africa. We absentmindedly send our monthly check to a missionary in India because "we're doing our part." Yet do I ever really think beyond these simple acts that don't inconvenience me in the least? I honestly don't give much thought to actually doing anything about it. I would rather just pretend it doesn't exist.

A couple months ago, my friend Sasha, dropped off a book that she described only as "it will rock your world." She was right. And then some. When I heard the title, Revolution in World Missions, it didn't sound like a compelling read. I've never felt called to mission work or shared a passion with those who do. I admire and support those whose life work is fufilling the great commission in this way. But I personally have never felt a burden in this way. Until now. While the focus of the book is the author's personal journey into mission work, it's more about challenging the reader to "revolutionize your life" and let go of self-centeredness. He just uses examples from the lifestyle of third world countries to drive home his point.

As I turned the pages I kept thinking "no way." This was a sobering statistic from page 83: "One fourth of the world's people lives on an income of less than $1 a day--most of them in Asia. The gross national income per person in South Asia is only $460 a year. Americans earn an average of 77 times more........ while much of the world is concerned mainly about where its next meal is coming from, affluent North Americans spend most of their wages and waking moments planning unnecessary purchases." OUCH!! Guilty.

I love his challenge that follows: "You have been born among the privileged elite of this world. You have so much while others have so little. Why do you think God has allowed you to be born in North America or Europe rather than among the poor of Africa and Asia to be blessed with such material and spiritual abundance? In light of the superabundance you enjoy here, what do you think is your minimal responsibility to the untold millions of lost and suffering in the Two-Thirds World?"

I could go on and on with anecdotes from how this author's words have begun a little revolution in my heart. I looked up the definition. rev-o-lu-tion: a sudden, complete or marked change in something. A change has definitely begun. It's not necessarily sudden and it's certainly not complete. Next week I hope to share how the second book that made its way to my nightstand is taking the challenge to an even greater level. Stay tuned for part two.


2 Responses to “Book Review, Part One”

Lemonade Makin' Mama said...

Oh man... this book has made me rethink things like even my grocery shopping. It's crazy how many little luxuries I buy.

I didn't understand how he could question buying ice cream cones, and having a hard time enjoying it, (I mean it's ICE CREAM!) but I could see feeling that way if I really understood my own luxury in comparison to the poverty in the rest of the world.

I can't wait to hear your next book.

Changes things a bit doesn't it?

Darnelle said...

Hi Dana,
Just wanted to thank you for visiting Sunday at the Internet Cafe'. I've emailed you my email address so that you can contact me, but I have been having computer issues so I wasn't sure you'd get it. Thought I'd catch you here and give it to you, just in case :)

Have a wonderful day!