Alice is a 6 year old girl who lives in Rwanda. She has big brown eyes, her favorite thing to play is ball games, and she likes to sing.
Jordan is 4. He lives in Ecuador, has a sweet smile, and loves to play soccer.
Dominic is an 8 year old from Ghana. His pictures show a gentle soul. His favorite pastime is rolling tires, and his favorite thing to learn about is science.
All of the above are real children, waiting to be sponsored through World Vision. I share this with you not to make you feel guilty. The truth is, I don’t sponsor a child. In fact, I’ve never personally sponsored a child through World Vision or any other organization. We’ve mostly chosen to give our money locally, and/or to causes or people that we know personally. Also, the decision to sponsor a child is a commitment, one that needs to be honored, month after month. Making such a commitment wasn’t always the best choice for our family, especially during the months and years that we ourselves struggled to make ends meet and put food on the table.
Now though, I’m seriously considering it. Not just in response to the recent fallout, but also because I think we have a responsibility…. not just as Christians, but as living, breathing, caring human beings who share this planet… to step in and help those who are less fortunate, especially when they’ve been turned away by others. Of this, I am sure. And I’d certainly like to think that the vast majority of people reading these words would agree. We’re here to help each other.
So where on earth did we go wrong?
Here’s a bit of timeline, for those who are unclear on the details:
On March 24th, World Vision (an organization started and run by evangelical Christians) announced that – after much deliberation over the years – their new hiring policy would allow them to hire those in same-sex marriages.
Over the next 48 hours, they were inundated with messages, phone calls, and Facebook posts from angry Christians who disagreed with their decision, and who promptly pulled their sponsorships and support of World Vision.
On March 26th, faced with dropping sponsorships in the thousands, the people of World Vision felt they had no choice but to officially reverse their decision.
All told, 10,000 children were abandoned by their sponsors.
I truly don’t think I’ve ever been as heartbroken or disappointed by my fellow Christians’ behavior as I am over this. And make no mistake. This is not about homosexuality. This is about people hurting hungry kids to make a point. This is about taking food from the mouth of a child to take a theological stand. It’s about people who are clinging so tightly to a belief…. so desperately… so stubbornly… that they’ve completely lost sight of what it is they are holding. How sound is your theology if it causes you, in any way, to take food from a hungry child? How is it showing God’s love if your stance against a group of people – any people – is so great that you’re literally willing to use an impoverished child to make your point?
What difference does it make if Rachel in payroll is married to a woman??
10,000 kids. I’ve already heard people saying, “Oh that number must be exaggerated.” I do tend to trust the number, especially since it was given by the president of World Vision himself, but for the sake of argument let’s say it’s exaggerated. What if it was “only” 1,000? Would that be okay? What if it was 100? 10? What’s an acceptable number of hungry kids left without a sponsor?
The Bible tells a parable of a lost sheep, and a shepherd who so loves and cares for every individual sheep that he will leave 99 sheep behind to go find the one that is lost. (Matthew 15) Every person is important. Every life is important.
But the more I think about this, the more I realize that the “lost sheep” in this scenario are the ones who honestly believed that the Christ-like thing to do was to take their money away from these children. I have no other way to reconcile this in my mind. Those people are lost, and I don’t know how to reach them.
I hear a lot of comments to the effect of, “What’s the big deal? So they’ll just take their money to another organization whose morals line up with their own.” Well, first of all, you won’t find one. These organizations are made up of people… imperfect people, every one of which is going to do something in his or her own personal life that you deem inappropriate. Second, and most importantly, it’s not just a hypothetical, abstract organization that you’re pulling away from. It’s a child, with a name, and a face, and a real need that you were filling.
It’s Alice from Rwanda.
It’s Jordan from Ecuador.
It’s Dominic from Ghana.
I’m tired. I’m tired of these difficult conversations. I’m tired of trying to explain something that’s unexplainable to my kids. I’m tired of people using a God that I love to defend some pretty horrible things. There are so very many shades of grey in this world, but this isn’t one of them. God does not approve of turning your back on a hungry kid. Jesus does not approve of turning your back on a hungry kid. In fact, it is the absolute opposite message of that very same Bible that you’re using to justify this.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
I am devastated right now. I am angry. And to be totally honest, my first reaction when I heard about all of this was truly, “I. Give. Up.” But I know that’s not the answer. Now more than ever is the time to stand together… Christians and non-Christians alike. Gay, straight, conservative, liberal…. everyone who can see this situation for what it is, and to recognize that there was a clear right and wrong here. Stand together, speak boldly, and say,