the next great philanthropist/social activist?

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I just read an article by Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker about Pastor/Author Rick Warren. In this article Rick talks a little bit about the newfound fame and wealth that his book "Purpose Driven Life" has brought him. Here is a short excerpt from that article:

"In the wake of the extraordinary success of "The Purpose-Driven Life," Warren says, he underwent a period of soul-searching. He had suddenly been given enormous wealth and influence and he did not know what he was supposed to do with it. "God led me to Psalm 72, which is Solomon's prayer for more influence," Warren says. "It sounds pretty selfish. Solomon is already the wisest and wealthiest man in the world. He's the King of Israel at the apex of its glory. And in that psalm he says, 'God, I want you to make me more powerful and influential.' It looks selfish until he says, 'So that the King may support the widow and orphan, care for the poor, defend the defenseless, speak up for the immigrant, the foreigner, be a friend to those in prison.' Out of that psalm, God said to me that the purpose of influence is to speak up for those who have no influence. That changed my life. I had to repent. I said, I'm sorry, widows and orphans have not been on my radar. I live in Orange County. I live in the Saddleback Valley, which is all gated communities. There aren't any homeless people around. They are thirteen miles away, in Santa Ana, not here." He gestured toward the rolling green hills outside. "I started reading through Scripture. I said, How did I miss the two thousand verses on the poor in the Bible? So I said, I will use whatever affluence and influence that you give me to help those who are marginalized."

He and his wife, Kay, decided to reverse tithe, giving away ninety per cent (over $14 million in 2004) of the tens of millions of dollars they earned from "The Purpose-Driven Life." They sat down with gay community leaders to talk about fighting AIDS. Warren has made repeated trips to Africa. He has sent out volunteers to forty-seven countries around the world, test-piloting experiments in microfinance and H.I.V. prevention and medical education. He decided to take the same networks he had built to train pastors and spread the purpose-driven life and put them to work on social problems.

"There is only one thing big enough to handle the world's problems, and that is the millions and millions of churches spread out around the world," he says. "I can take you to thousands of villages where they don't have a school. They don't have a grocery store, don't have a fire department. But they have a church."

CLICK HERE to download the entire article (PDF)


joel said...

I have a friend whose father is a pastor there, nd he's repeated that the leadership is more friendly, active, and real, than anything he's experienced. And he's worked for Willow and a smaller mega-church, in Chino Hills.

I think that's awesome he's doing this. With much (enter item here), much is expected. However, i've read parts of this books and i still don't get anything other than mass produced christianity...but that's why i'm joel and God's God.

Jarred D said...

man. i am sol glad that he is getting this new perspective, man it'll be nice when people quietly, rather than announcing it to the world from the mountain top (in this case theres no mountains, just magazines) it also will be nice when the church leadership has this kind of passion for the less fortunate as a standard not as an exception. i know my comment comes sounds like it is from a bitter perspective. i am not bitter anymore by the grace of god, just still disappointed & not really impressed.

it reminds me of the chris rock stand up routine talking about how men try to get credit for doing something they are supposed to do.

"i take care of my kids..."

"your supposed to take care of your kids!"

"i have a vision for the less fortunate"

"your supposed to have a vision for the less fortunate"

Brian Andresen said...

I came across that article a couple weeks ago, and I was pleased to read how Mr. Warren has handled the situation, as you quoted. While I think his theology (at least as expressed in "The Purpose-driven Life") is right on target, I've generally been unimpressed by him as a person — which mostly comes down to "style" type issues, really. These anecdotes do much to show that his heart's desire is sincerely for God.

Zach said...

i have to admit that i've not been a fan of warren's efforts in the past, but his turning his attention to these kinds of things gives me hope and pumps me up. if there is gonna be a change in the greater christian culture regarding a pursuit of real social justice, having rick warren on the team is nothing but a great thing. props to the warrens for stepping into these tough issues. thanks for the heads up, jimmy.