Hungry for Life

We feel helpless to affect the kind of macro change that could quickly bring about justice and equity around the globe.

I don’t know about you, but these words describe well my typical reaction to poverty and suffering around the world. Faced with statistics and stories of extreme brokenness, I feel handcuffed to offer any real help. Most often I do nothing.

In his book Hungry for Life: A Vision of the Church that Would Transform the World, Dave Blundell does well to identify this frustrating experience many of us in North America feel. But in no way does he condone it. Doing nothing - doing nothing as Christians in particular - is not an option. Hungry for Life explores why.

The book is borne out of Blendell’s work with an organization he founded, Hungry for Life International, an agency committed to the “eradication of needless suffering” through the work of a transformed Christian community. The book is clearly organized in three sections. In section one, Blundell lays out the problem: “global imbalance.” This section is by far the most frustrating to read, not for anything the author does or doesn’t say, but because of the helplessness it invokes as I mention above. Thankfully, inducing guilt is not the author’s point.

The Bible is a far better authority for considering change. So for us theology-types, section two provides a solid presentation of a biblical theology for a “compassionate church.” I wrote in the margins things like “cause to pause” and “sobering” as Blundell presents a convincing imperative for the church to adopt a “biblical vision of compassion and justice.” The discourse focuses on compassion and justice in the whole biblical narrative, refusing to simply proof-text support for the argument. Blundell has clearly done his homework.

Section three provides an ambitious proposal: “nothing short of a historical, comprehensive, and prevailing transformation is required to wake the Western Church from her catatonic state in a way that would tip the scales of global resources...The road we are on today as a North American Church mirrors the same religious road traveled by God’s people in the Old and New Testaments and the same total repentance is necessary.” Working from the premise that holistic change in the Chrisitan church is necessary - not merely a few behavioral tweaks - Blundell discusses the implications of such change for areas of leadership, spirituality, and service. While at times Blundell’s idealism can be hard to concretely imagine - more stories would be helpful - the force of his message is consistent throughout: “true repentance will only happen when we are living different lives with different consequences.

Blundell’s desire for a complete shift in Christian values cannot be under-emphasized. His focus on identity and not just changing behavior is probably the strongest part of his message. Following Jesus is about our whole lives, not just what we do. Yet this is also the most difficult part of the book. I still felt overwhelmed in considering a response, both personally and for the church in North America. I guess I’m left wondering, is there a way we can have a discussion on compassion and transformation productively without completely overwhelming North American Christians? Or perhaps my angst just serves to further their argument: I should be uncomfortable with the current state of the N.A. church in the face of global poverty and biblical teaching. I’m just not sure if my feelings of helplessness will lead to the change Blundell seeks. Unfortunately, this is where I’m stuck.

Nevertheless, I recommend this book for anyone wrestling with the economic divide in our world. If you’re looking for an up-to-date discussion on global poverty accompanied by a convincing biblical theology for global compassion, Hungry for Life is for you. But be warned: there’s no easy reading when it comes global poverty and Christian faithfulness.


Book has been provided courtesy of the author and Graf-Martin Communications Inc. Available now at your favourite bookseller.

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