The Significance of One

Today we share with you a powerful message from “The Hole in Our Gospel”, a book written by World Vision President Richard Stearns.

This message challenges us to avoid the temptation to look at overwhelming statistics in our world – such as 163 million orphans – and forget that each of us – through the love and truth of Jesus Christ – can make a difference:

“There is an oft-told parable I have always liked that will help you wrap your mind around the daunting statistic of poverty. It is about just one man – and a million starfish.

‘One early morning, after a fierce storm had hit the coast, I strolled to the beach for my morning walk. Horrified, I saw that tens of thousands of starfish had been washed up on the beach by the winds and waves. I was saddened by the realization that all of them would die, stranded on the shore, away from the life-giving water. Despairing that there was nothing I could do, I sat down on the sand and put my head in my hands.

But then I heard a sound, and I lifted my eyes. There, in the distance, I saw a man bending down and then standing up, bending down and standing up. Curious, I rose and walked toward him. I saw that he was picking up the starfish, one at a time, and throwing them back into the sea.

“What are you doing?” I yelled.

“Saving the starfish,” he replied.

“But don’t you see, man, that there are tens of thousands of them?” I asked, incredulous. “Nothing you can do will make a difference.”

He did not answer me but instead bent down, picked up another starfish, and cast it back into the water. Then he smiled, looked me in the eye, and said, “It made a difference to that one!”’

…The truth in this familiar story is important: we must never see poverty or justice as ‘issues’ that need solutions; rather we must see the human beings at the heart of those issues as people who need and deserve our love and respect. I believe that we really can alter the world, but we can only do it one person at a time. And when enough people choose to do this, even a crisis on a global scale can change.

It is possible to change the world’s realities, and that is exactly what God has challenged us to do. This is what it means to be ‘salt and light’ in a dark and bleak world (see Matthew 5:13-14). It’s what the Great Commission was all about. With some two billion Christians in the world, almost one-third of the population, changing the world by addressing poverty and injustice does not seem by any means beyond our grasp.”

(Excerpt from “The Hole in Our Gospel: The Answer That Changed My Life and Might Just Change the World,” By Richard Stearns. Pages 162-164)