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Posted September 18, 2011

Book: Fast Living: How the Church will End Extreme Poverty
Author: Sciott C. Todd
Compassion International, Colorado Spring, CO. 2011. Pp. 242

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Jesus is decidedly optimistic that his people can end extreme poverty. That’s why Fast Living is unapologetically hopeful. Thoroughly practical. And firmly rooted in God’s words — all the way from Isaiah’s tradition-busting definition of fasting, to the words Jesus spoke to Judas three days before the cross — “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.”

For a generation that is tired of cliches and messages of guilt, Fast Living lifts expectations, celebrates the world-changing saltiness of Jesus’ apprentices and envisions the Church living out her noble calling. Creating a new normal. And honoring her legacy through a history-making demonstration of the God News ---- ending abject poverty on a global scale.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Tom’s Truck

A few years ago I was invited to speak at the Center for Strategic International Studies in Washington, D.C. on the “Role of faith-based organizations in international relief and development.” I was sitting in a coffee shop putting some thoughts together for the speech when my phone rang.

At that time my wife and I were doing some work on our house and the painter, a guy named Tom, had an accident and broke the axle on his truck. Tom was grandfatherly with twinkly eyes. His truck was a beater.

My wife happened to be reading Acts chapter four that morning when she heard about Tom’s truck. She immediately called me at the coffee shop and told me the story. Then she read me the passage from Acts.

“With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.”

I thought, “That would go great in my speech!”

I had an old jeep. A 1981 blue CJ-5 with a rebuilt straight-six. It was super cool, even after I painted over the flames, and Tom had always admired it. (And why wouldn’t he?)

After my wife read that passage, she didn’t need to say anything else. I started to feel it. I’m not an emotional guy, but my eyes got watery right there in the coffee shop as I experienced with my wife this . . .awareness. God’s Word is living and still speaks. “Anyone as he had need.” Really? Anyone? Even painters you hardly know?

Then I wondered self-consciously whether others in the coffee shop had noticed my tears. I had a fleeting impression that they thought my girlfriend was breaking up with me or something. They probably wouldn’t believe it if I had claimed I heard the voice of God in that moment.

We gave the jeep to Tom. I hope that doesn’t sound self-glorifying. It wasn’t worth much. I gave it away because I believe God wanted me to. It was a very small expression of world-changing power.

World-changing power.

It’s actually not that uncommon for Christ-followers to do things like that. Acts 4:35 is still visible among His people. Two thousand years and we’re still at it. Simple generosity. Real and felt. Simple generosity can, and probably will, end extreme global poverty if we channel it effectively.

My world-changing generosity changed Tom’s life, right? Well, a week after I gave him my jeep, he sold it and took a trip to Hawaii. I kid you not.

Does that mean my wife and I misunderstood God? I don’t think so. I don’t know what it means. But our faithfulness to do what we think God calls us to do sometimes takes mysterious turns that seem entirely out of whack. This kind of thing has happened a lot to us Christians over the pass 2000 years. We should probably be disillusioned and jaded by now. We really must be fools. But it doesn’t matter. I doubt I’ll show up in heaven and regret “being a fool for God.” I plan to keep “listening” and doing my best to be a faithful servant.

Table of Contents:

1. The death and resurrection of expectations

2. Poverty is not an unconquerable mystery

3. What kind of people will end extreme poverty?

4. The primary colors of social change

5. Catalysts and strategy