This is a passionate text. And very human. I am still laughing over the observation that social events and fundraisers are the 'fat' on the corporate body of Christ! But mostly I am moved by the directness of the Gospel message in this short book. The narratives of Rev. Lavender's faith and pastoral experience enliven his message. I pray that the readers of this work - beginning with myself - will live out the biblical call to accompany and uplift orphans and all God's suffering children.
Timothy Matovina, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Theology
University of Notre Dame
From time to time a person emerges who is able to re-frame our religious values in reaction to a crisis in modern culture; Dr. Wayne Lavender is that person for our time. In Pure Religion, Lavender focuses our attention on the core ethical principle of Christianity and many other spiritual traditions: care for “the least, the last and the lost.” Over 150 million orphans around the world constitute a clear representation of those we should be helping. By issuing a call to action against this calamity, Lavender – like Schweitzer - exhorts us to imagine how rewarding it can be to live a life of principled commitment; the Church – and society - can be revitalized through a reclamation of humanist credentials through action.
Dr. Seán P. Duffy
Executive Director, Albert Schweitzer Institute
In his book, Pure Religion, Wayne (I have known him for over 40 years as colleague and friend) presents the church with a challenge and opportunity: to address a preventable crisis affecting 150 million children world-wide, in meaningful and impactful ways; he also provides a framework toward greater church unity and revitalization around the biblical theme of widows and orphans. For Wayne, this is not a mission, but a calling; it is who he is. This is a must-read not only for faith-minded persons, but for all people who care.
Rev. Dr. Tom Vencuss
Director of Mission and Disaster Response
New York Annual Conference of Methodist Churches
In these uncertain times, there is no higher cause than helping the most vulnerable among us. Pure Religion is a passionate call to action by a pastor and scholar who has devoted so much of his life to helping orphans around the world. Dr. Lavender has an important message to members of all faith communities who share a common bond in putting their faith into action to help the world's orphans.
Mark J. Rozell, Ph.D.
Dean, Schar School of Policy and Government
George Mason University
In reading Pure Religion,one is confronted with an urgency by looking back to the first century Christianity and seeing those who were living and acting as true followers of the vision of Christ Jesus: they strove to look after the least, the marginalized and voiceless. With great intensity and based on his life experience and ministry with orphans, Dr. Lavender shows how relevant the mission of the Church could be once again were we to join hands and save the six million children dying annually around the planet. I strongly recommend reading this book to regain the vision our Master had for the world.
—Reverend Fernando Simone Munguno Matsimbe
Church Planting and Discipleship Training
Ilemera, Mwanza, Tanzania
As a trained theologian and pastor, Dr. Lavender understands that “pure religion” is more than assent to intellectual beliefs, it is a lens through which to view the world and a way of living in a complex world of competing religions and ideologies. He is also educated as a political scientist who understands governments, institutions, and agencies as forces for both good and ill. Most of all, Dr. Lavender is a prophet and peacemaker with a passion for the healing of all that plagues the human family.
—Rev. Dr. Kenneth Carder
United Methodist Church Bishop, Retired
From the Foreword
This is a book that speaks hope to the hopeless—not just to the needy, but to those who doubt their ability to resist and overcome disembodied social and economic forces on behalf of those who suffer. In this plain and passionate narrative, Dr. Lavender shows us how much we have already accomplished and what we may yet do together for the sake of orphans worldwide. We are able, if we are willing.
Rev. Stephen Wall-Smith, Ph.D.
United Methodist Pastor
St. Louis, Missouri
No matter our life's call, we have all experienced the same stunning reality. Our vocations become jobs that stifle our original response to God's tender plea. Then there comes a new voice speaking an ancient but contemporary tone. We call it prophetic, this voice of reason, of renewal, of opportunity—and I hear it in Dr. Lavenders heartfelt words. Wayne longs for a Purity of Religion that creates a purity of life in service to the least and the lost, a purity found in heartfelt enthusiasm to serve others. Pure Religion offers us all the chance to renew our call and return to what nourishes our soul while attending to today’s children in need.
Rev. Peter Nelson
This book will be an invaluable resource to move your church's mission forward. Ten years ago, God gave my wife and I a passion for orphaned children when we adopted our first daughter from China. Now my church has caught the vision for what it means to care for orphans and vulnerable children and why it's so important to God. Pure Religion describes in a direct, profound and accessible manner, how you and your church can take a giant leap forward into this work. Dr. Lavender’s book should be required reading for every Christian!
—Rev. David Juliano
Lead Pastor, First Sebring Church
The author brings to the fore a timeless challenge for all people of faith, what to do about those in our midst who has lost their familial care network, or orphans. Orphans need additional care and consideration, and all major faith traditions claim this as their responsibility. Dr. Lavender’s book addresses orphans in practical, emotional, diverse, rewarding and restoring perspective for all of us. Enjoy reading exactly how and why orphan care can be accomplished.
Mark Manary, MD
Helene Roberson Professor of Pediatrics
Washington University School of Medicine
St. Louis, MO.
It is overwhelming to survey all of the suffering in the world and wonder where to begin. Dr. Lavender's focus should be the unifying cause to bring all people of faith together, the cause of serving orphans and vulnerable children. This book challenges Christians, Jews, and Muslims to embrace the opportunity in front of us to come together and serve the most vulnerable population on the planet. Please read it now.
Rev. Joe Varner
Thalia United Methodist Church
Virginia Beach, VA.
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