Friday, May 2, 2014

Book Review: Hope Rising

Hope Rising: How Christians Can End Extreme Poverty in this Generation
By Scott C Todd
Thomas Nelson, 2014
English, 224 pgs

Extreme poverty does not have to exist. When Christians accept that fact and start living accordingly, we will find the solution is already within our reach.

Worldwide, 19,000 children die from preventable deaths every day. If that statistic leaves you feeling powerless, you are not alone-but you are wrong. If a false sense of powerlessness has lulled you into apathy, it's time to shake off the grogginess of low expectations and get to work. We can make this world a place where kids do not die from easily preventable diseases.

In Hope Rising, Scott Todd of Compassion International pens a galvanizing, comprehensive vision of the movement that will eradicate extreme global poverty through transformative Christian generosity-and do it within our lifetime. Todd provides riveting evidence to show that we are much closer to that goal than you might think.

According to Todd, we live in an historic moment, and chances are you are already part of it. The gospel is already reshaping lives from thoughtless consumption to informed concern. Twenty-first-century Christians are generating multi-continent grassroots movements through communications and travel. Public and private sectors are working together. It's a whole new era of philanthropy, compassion, and justice aimed at eradicating the pandemic of extreme global poverty.

This is a future we have the God-given power to create. This is the history we hope to write.
As Todd envisions, "The twenty-first-century Christians embraced the entirety of their gospel-the truths it proclaims and the muscles it demands-with a new integrity. They did not deteriorate into humanist liberalism, as some had feared. Nor did they pile works on top of Grace…They simply determined that their world did not need to have children dying of preventable causes such as dirty water."

I cannot say enough good about this book. I currently sponsor two children through Compassion so I fully support their work and their mission. I was happy to see this book, written by a Senior Vice President in the organization, is realistic. It's full of data, research and scripture to support the theory that extreme poverty (living on less than $1.25 per day) can be ended. In this lifetime.

The first section, The Death and Resurrection of Expectations, is about why the book was written and what we (all people, not just the Church) can do to change our thinking about ending poverty. When we have low expectations we don't have anything to expect and work towards. The states that "sentiment alone is insufficient", we have to be "wise stewards of the resources God has entrusted to [us]" and we need to see the difference between a "statement of faith and a demonstration of faith". He also calls for a "True Fast" in which we seek justice, share resources and pour ourselves out for the hungry.

The second section, Poverty is not an Unconquerable Mystery, he gives examples and statistics about how much has been done in recent years to work toward ending poverty. It also talks about what is going to be necessary in the immediate and ongoing future. "We tend to credit humans with inventions like rebar and vaccines, but they're acts of God too." The section discusses the culture of poverty and how it is entrenched in hopelessness, therefore very hard to climb out of for anyone. There is an amazing chapter that discusses Jesus's words that "the poor you will always have with you" and how that has been misinterpreted for centuries as an excuse not to work against poverty.

The third section, What Kind of People Will End Extreme Poverty?, explains that you don't have to be one of the super-rich to make a difference. Simple, hardworking, hard-loving people can make a difference. It talks about the Biblical legacy we have regarding providing for the poor and what a threat that is to the powers that struggle against God. There are several examples of ordinary people with extraordinary vision and impact, as well as a call to recognize who we are in Christ and what power that gives us.

The fourth section, The Primary Colors of Social Change, talks about the different aspects of society (government, business and church) can work together for change. I really like that the author states that it's a joint effort. We can raise and support leaders who want to make aid a bigger part of state and national budgets. We can support businesses that create products to give back or support jobs in impoverished societies. We can expect our churches to give a tithe as well as accepting our tithes. Expanding giving isn't hard, it just has to be consistent.

The final section, Catalysts and Strategy, is just what it sounds like. It's examples of what we can do and where we can start to make differences.

 I received a copy of the book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

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