As you finish off the last of your Christmas sweets and think about how to get rid of that holiday weight gain this book is a poignant reminder about our role in a world where many go to bed hungry.
From Jon Steury who serves as WGM’s Africa Regional Director along with his wife, Vera.
Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, Moving from Affluence to Generosity by Ron Sider (available on kindle for only $7.99)
I first read this book several years ago and even then it was not a new book. The copy I have is the fifth edition and in it, Ron speaks of writing the book “almost thirty years” ago. However, the Biblical concepts it presents are timeless, and kept relevant by the continued updating of the facts and figures and examples throughout the book.
The book is an examination of world poverty and hunger from a Christian perspective with consideration given to what can be done to address and alleviate the problem.
Because I’m a “detail guy” I was intrigued by the facts and figures throughout this book that time and time again “put things in perspective” for me. The first chapter, A Billion Hungry Neighbors, felt like an onslaught of uncomfortable realizations as the scale of world poverty and hunger was presented through data and interesting anecdotes. I was astounded to learn how great the gap is which exists between the world’s “haves” and “have-nots”. It felt overwhelming, hopeless and depressing. Fortunately, the book doesn’t leave you there.
The book is divided into four sections:
Part One – Poor Lazarus and Rich Christians (The presentation of the problem.)
Part Two – A Biblical Perspective on the Poor and Possessions (The analysis of the problem from a Biblical/Christian perspective.)
Part Three – What Causes Poverty? (A look at the causes of the problem.)
Part Four – Implementation (A look at what can be done about the problem.)
This was the first book I read that really delved into the roots and causes of poverty – and even a deeper understanding of poverty – that it’s not just “a lack of money”. This has helped me to try to look at “the poor” in a more wholistic manner – searching for the areas where even they are “rich” in some aspect of their lives.
I appreciated the thorough review of the different causes of poverty in part three, and the many practical suggestions in part four on how we (I) can fight against it.
I was so impressed by this book that I have shared it widely with many of our supporters. I learned, in the process, that the book is somewhat “political” as well, when I shared it with supporters who were in “big business” in the USA and did not agree with some of the author’s conclusion in Chapter 11 – Making the World More Fair. Fortunately, we were able to talk it out and accept each other’s understanding.
I also suggested to one of our supporting church’s missions chairman that for their next annual “Missions Banquet” that instead of serving an international meal, they put a copy of this book at each place at the table because the cover of the book shows a place-setting of fine china and silverware – and that bread and water be served as the evening meal in realization that a large percent of people in the world will not have any more than that for supper. I’m not sure if my suggestion was taken, but I felt it would give a far more accurate picture of the need for “world missions” than a big dinner with lots of international dishes.
As you can see, the book’s intent is not to make us feel better as western Christians, instead, it’s to challenge to us to “move from affluence to generosity” as the subtitle invites. Or, for us to find ways of identifying with, caring for and showing Christ’s love to the poor. Jesus said we would always have the poor with us – so the challenge remains. Read Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger to learn how you can face the challenge head on in a Christ-like manner.