Today should be Day 38 of the My First Lent series I was doing. But I feel strongly about something and needed to write about it today.
It might be controversial to some of my more conservative readers, and I really didn’t want to be controversial during Lent, but I hope and pray you’ll see my heart here and give consideration to my words.
A year ago today, World Vision International made a pretty bold personnel policy change, allowing for employment of married gay Christians. Their decision was based on the fact that they are an ecumenical organization with employees from all types of denominations, and thus, they should leave the marriage issue up to the employee’s denomination.
This of course was not taken well in the Conservative evangelical world. The proverbial crap hit the fan and the uproar led to the decision being reversed just days later. (You can Google it all if you need more information.)
Now, where ever you fall on the side of LGBT equality, marriage, and all the other baggage that issue brings into the church, I want to let you know of the fallout of that incident.
At first during that time, it was reported 10,000 children around the world lost their sponsors during those few tumultuous days.
Frankly, at the time, that shook me to my core and really kickstarted my journey I’ve been on this past year. These children all around the world had absolutely nothing to do with that decision. These children were counting on the commitments from their sponsors. It provided food, it provided clothes, it provided shelter, it provided education (which helps break the cycle of poverty)…
You know, Matthew 25 stuff – 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’ 44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’ 45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
But now, a year later, World Vision (who remember, reversed their decision) has better numbers of just how many children actually lost sponsorship.
“World Vision USA has a clearer picture of the financial impact, which has resulted in roughly 15,000 canceled sponsorships with possibly up to 4,000 additional cancellations that might be attributable to last year’s events.”
Wow… just wow.
Christian blogger and author Benjamin Corey on his blog did some math:
But let’s break that down even further: a source confirmed with me that the average sponsor stays with their child for 10 years. So when we really want to dissect the impact of the gay marriage fiasco, the ultimate number over time would look like this: 19,000 sponsorships lost at $35 per month, over 10 years each, equals $6,650,000.00 in total losses. Even if we write off the 4,000 children where there’s question as to why they were dropped, that still leaves us at a verifiable, known loss of $5,250,000.00 that is a direct response to the decision to employ gay Christians. It’s simply unfathomable.
I can hear the answer from many of you… World Vision brought this on themselves, they should have known, they are completely responsible, etc.
And honestly, that breaks my heart. In Matthew 25, Jesus didn’t say to abandon the poor, oppressed, etc because you can’t sign off 100% on a hiring policy. Commitments weren’t made to World Vision, but commitments were made to children, the very children Matthew 25 describes.
In his blog, Benjamin Corey goes on to relate to us a story from his recent World Vision trip to Armenia where he met several children the organization helps. And here’s where I can’t help but think of how this doesn’t just affect a bottom line on an accounting spreadsheet. It affects living, breathing human beings. Sponsors don’t just provide monetary support, they also provide emotional support through regular letters. Sponsors build relationships. Here’s what Corey had to say:
We sat in their tiny makeshift home and listened to their story of heartache, loss, and poverty- a story of such sorrow that the mother couldn’t tell it without choking up, and we couldn’t listen without doing the same. However, their story did have one beautiful part: their sponsors, Rick and Becky, from World Vision. They told me about how much their letters are a source of encouragement in a discouraging life, and how they feel like Rick and Becky are part of their family. After hearing their story, I was given the honor of leading the World Vision team in prayer. As I prayed I thought about the 15,000-19,000 kids who relied on these letters as a source of encouragement, but who just stopped getting them abruptly because their sponsors had a problem with World Vision employing a gay person. I wondered how this boy and his mom would have felt had Rick and Becky just abruptly exited their lives (which they didn’t), or how all the children who did experience that loss must have felt.
I don’t know how to express the emotions I felt when I realized the crushing loss that being abandoned by a sponsor must have been, other than it was combination of feeling broken hearted and royally pissed all at the same time.
Here’s reality: there have been between 15,000 – 19,000 children like the one you see here– children who viewed their sponsors as part of the family and a lifeline– who abruptly stopped receiving letters. The relationships were broken and dismissed. No more encouraging notes. No more special gifts on birthdays or holidays. No more funds for emergency clothing or food rations. It just stopped.
For up to 19,000 children. Let that sink in.
Having seen first hand how much these relationships are cherished, I am unable to fathom the relational devastation that was caused by Christians who wanted to stand against gay marriage more than they wanted to help the children they sponsored
Wow… just wow.
One more quote from Benjamin Corey’s blog because he says it so much better than I could… (despite all the encouragement from my husband that I’m a good writer)
This is a tragedy. There are plenty of days where it feels like the battle over gay marriage has gotten completely out of control, and this is one of them. One side may have won the three day war with World Vision, but it left upwards of 19,000 hungry children alone on the real battlefield.
Up to 19,000 children without sponsorship because of a battle in this country that is tearing apart families, lives, and now having ramifications worldwide.
The good news is this… there is always hope. Our faith is one of everlasting faith, hope, and love. And I hope to see all of us put this ugly political/religious battle aside for right now. World Vision needs sponsors. There are kids out there that need us. Americans are some of the richest people in the world. And for $35 a month you can sponsor a child.
$35 a month. Think of how much you probably waste. That’s one less dinner out. That’s one less latte a week. That’s one less trip to the movies.
Think about Matthew 25, I Corinthians 13, Luke 6… Think of the life and work of Jesus. We’ve been focusing on his life and sacrifice so much during this Lenten season. He hung out with sinners because there was honestly no one else for him to hang out with. Would he have pulled his sponsorship?
We sing to our children regularly, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red, brown, yellow, black, and white, all are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
Be Jesus today… be his hands, his feet. Sponsor a child. Show them that Jesus, and his followers, love the children of the world.
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