Yesterday I spoke about our responsibility to help people who have been affected by the disaster in Haiti. Today I am able to share with you an interview I recorded with the USA head of World Vision, a major Christian aid agency with a strong presence of 800 people on the ground in Haiti even before the earthquake.
Richard Stearns spoke with me today. Based in Seattle, WA, he is the president of World Vision U.S. and the author of a challenging book on the need for churches to get more involved in social justice.
We discussed the joined-up relief efforts that are happening now in Haiti. He explained what the long-term rebuilding efforts will likely entail. He also talked about the generosity of people who have been giving, but stressed the need for a long-term commitment. Towards the end of the interview we spoke about potential church adoptions that might be helpful in the future.
After the interview, I looked up the website for his book, The Hole In Our Gospel, and found this description of how God had convicted him through an encounter with the poor of Africa:
My sadness that day was replaced by repentance. Despite what the Bible had told me so clearly, I had turned a blind eye to the poor. Now my heart was filled with anger, first at myself, and then toward the world. Why wasn’t Richard’s story being told? The media overflowed with celebrity dramas, stock market updates, and Bill Clinton’s impending impeachment hearings. But where were the headlines and magazine covers about Africa? Twelve million orphans, and no one noticed? But what sickened me most was this question: where was the Church? Indeed, where were the followers of Jesus Christ in the midst of perhaps the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time? Surely the Church should have been caring for these “orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27). Shouldn’t the pulpits across America have flamed with exhortations to rush to the front lines of compassion? Shouldn’t they be flaming today? Shouldn’t churches be reaching out to care for children in such desperate need? How could the great tragedy of these orphans get drowned out by choruses of praise music in hundreds of thousands of churches across our country? Sitting in a hut in Rakai, I remember thinking, How have we missed it so tragically, when even rock stars and Hollywood actors seem to understand?
High resolution versions of photos from Haiti (all copyright World Vision; used with permission and cleared for use in church services, etc.)