Why I Stopped Giving To World Vision

Today I received  a phone call from a World Vision representative asking if I’d want to renew my sponsorship of the child I’ve sponsored since 2009. With sadness, I had to tell her that no, I would not be renewing my support.

The controversy surrounding World Vision’s decision to hire practicing homosexuals (as long as they were legally married), and their almost immediate retraction of that decision has mostly blown over by this point. But I still have a picture of a 9-year-old boy from Albania on my fridge, and I haven’t yet forgotten what the decision of the President and board have cost him.

World Vision’s initial decision had a lot of people wondering whether or not they should remove support from the organization. Was it right to sacrifice the “well-being” of children and families in need over the peripheral issue of homosexuality? I struggled with this question hour by hour for the days leading up to World Vision’s reversal, and removed my support just the night before their retraction.

After prayer, thought, and discussion, my husband and I did choose to remove support, and therefore left my sweet little boy without a sponsor. There were a few factors that went into the decision at the time.

1) World Vision’s sponsorships work on a pool system. My understanding is that the money I sent in for my sponsored child wasn’t just going to him. The money was going into a larger pool of money that provided for the entire group of sponsored children. The retraction of my funds wasn’t going to mean that they would kick him out of school, or that his family would starve. It just meant that his support funds were going to have to come from other places within World Vision. That was important to me.

2) John Piper has said, “Christians should care about suffering — especially eternal suffering.” That quote (or paraphrase) has been very helpful to me as I think about the sort of issues that seem to pit the social gospel against biblical morality. Care for physical suffering should not come with the cost of eternal suffering. It is not one way or the other. In this situation, World Vision’s decision made it very clear to me that my sponsored child’s eternal needs were not going to be met in a good and true way.

3)The compromise of homosexuality in the church is a big compromise, and signifies what I think is a bigger problem of bad hermeneutics, disrespect for the Word of God, and an immoderate care for the whims of the world. An organization with those sorts of problems, in my opinion, ought not be trusted with the hearts of children we care about. Though my heart and prayers are with that little boy in Albania, I am a better steward of his heart and my money if I give elsewhere.

And then the next day, World Vision changed their mind. So what then? They apologetically reversed their decision, so that means it’s okay to give them support as they minister to children again, right? Well, I thought about it. On one hand, yes. They were reprimanded and seemed to come to good conclusion. The woman I spoke to on the phone was extremely apologetic, and said several times that she hoped that I could forgive them. I didn’t know what to say to that. I don’t think that they need forgiveness from me. Can you even forgive an organization?

And there’s still the other hand. Yes, they reversed their decision, and fast! But how long did it take them to reach the first decision? I don’t think that they came to the decision to hire married gays overnight. My guess is that they wrestled with the issues, sought counsel, etc. and came to the conclusion that it was the right thing to do. But then — when they saw the negative response — they reversed their decision overnight. This makes me ask questions, like:

  • Who were they (the board) listening to, that told them this was a good idea? Obviously not someone to whom I would entrust souls that I care about.
  • What kind of people are on this board? Obviously people who are a) easily swayed by deceptive, persuasive arguments, or b) progressive “Christians” who really thing this would be a good idea. Again, not people to whom I would entrust souls that I care about.
  • What led to the quick reversal? Financial pain. Although framed in a theologically repentant tone, I can only assume that when they started to lose money and saw the impact their decision would have on their mission, they buckled and apologized to the people who could save them from bankruptcy.

All three of those thoughts lead me to believe one thing about World Vision. They are not to be trusted with the Word of God or with souls that I care about because of their complete lack of steadfastness. They did not stay true to a biblical worldview with their initial decision, and the immediate reversal leads me to believe that even their firmly-felt convictions will be sacrificed to their immediate needs. I don’t think they are trustworthy enough to disciple children, and not trustworthy enough to give money to, especially if I care that it goes primarily toward the relief of eternal suffering.

I pray that God will work truth and real repentance into the hearts of the president and board members of World Vision where it doesn’t already exist. But today, although the woman I spoke to was kind, gentle, apologetic, and probably had nothing to do with the initial decision, I let the my little 9-year-old go for good. May the Lord bless him and keep him. And may he forever treasure his creator, trusting him with all of his heart, soul, and mind.


Freedom Has Consequences

When you tell someone “no,” you limit their freedom, and exercise your own.

But when you lose the right to say “no” your freedom is utterly, and without exception, destroyed. It’s true that saying “no” has its consequences for you — the man whose proposal you’ve just refused will marry someone else and you’ve lost your chance as a result of your response. Your “no” to a job opportunity that you thought would leave you bankrupt means that when that start-up company is on the Fortune 500 list, you’ve lost out on a great opportunity. And it has consequences for others — the man cannot marry you. The company cannot hire you. Your response has limited their freedom.

Imagine a world, though, where your right to say “no” is taken away. If someone wants something of you, you cannot say no. You must marry that jerk. You must work for that company that will bury you in a sinkhole of debt in five years.

Removing the right to say “no” absolutely and unquestionably removes your freedom. 

Freedom necessarily includes the right to say both “yes” and “no.” The right to say “yes, I will be a part of this,” and “no, I will not be a part of that.” Freedom is not freedom without the ability to make choices.

Which is why this article bothered me so much. Full of false dichotomies and outright lies about what limited freedom means, as if true religious freedom is only achieved by saying “yes” to everything. Let me tell you — religious freedom is made up equally of the right to say “no” as it is of the right to say “yes” to certain religious activities.

Religious freedom means that I can practice whatever religion I want to the exclusion of other religions. I can practice Hinduism to the exclusion of Islam. I can practice atheism to the exclusion of deism. I can say “yes” to one religion and “no” to another. I can say “yes” to ham, or I can say “no” to ham, and although I may be limiting the freedom of guests in my house to a ham sandwich, it’s my freedom and my right to do so.

And today there’s a battle raging in Arizona about the freedom for business owners to say “no” to certain clientele based on their religion. The Huffington Post article linked above is doing the dirty work of trying to convince people that we can maintain our freedom while being stripped of our ability to say “no,” and it makes me sick. We cannot have freedom without the right to say “no”! We should not be force to eat ham, or forced to not eat ham.

Here is an article about what the legislation in Arizona is actually for. No it’s not bullying, no it’s not a Jim Crow law. It’s just protecting freedom — the freedom to say “no.

The damage will be incalculable if we lose the freedom to say “no.”

Sharia Law in Minnesota?

Today I saw something disturbing. Someone I know posted about how Somalian immigrants are taking over America, and are moving toward instituting Sharia law. Her reaction was, “This needs to stop”.

If I believed that Sharia law was actually being enforced in Minnesota, I’d agree wholeheartedly. But after watching the video, I was struck by the attitude, which lands somewhere on the scale of cultural insensitivity and racism, that, in this report, revealed an awful double standard. Here is the Fox News clip that was posted:

Based on the incidents listed in this video, according to the commentator from Fox News, these Somalian immigrants are clearly bringing Sharia law to the United States. Here are the snapshots of sharia law he mentions:

  1. Taxi drivers refusing customers who are carrying alcohol, traveling with dogs, or who are otherwise unclean based on Sharia law or customs.
  2. Target check-out employees who refuse to handle pork products.
  3. Somalian couple found with Khat, a mildly hallucinogenic drug (that seems to have the same effects as strong coffee).

People who are offended by being refused by a taxi seem to have forgotten another recent story that had many of them up in arms: Hobby Lobby’s refusal to add contraceptives to their benefit plans. There has been a groundswell of support for Hobby Lobby based on the belief that the consciences of owners and workers should not be required to compromise in order to stay in business. And herein lies the double standard. Let me demonstrate by creating my own MadLib sentence.

  • The owners of Hobby Lobby should be able to refuse to accommodate those who do not share their religious beliefs regarding birth control.
  • The owners of a bakery should be able to refuse to accommodate those who do not share their religious beliefs regarding homosexuality.
  • The owners of a few taxi cabs should be refuse to accommodate those who do not share their religious beliefs about alcohol or dogs.

See that? Same sentence, same issue, totally different reactions from the same, conservative, religious, Fox-News-Watching crowd. Now can you see that double-standard?

Next up, the issue of the conscientious cashier. To my knowledge, the cashier did not tell the customer that he or she was not allowed to buy bacon. The cashier merely refused to handle the product him/herself. To me that means that he or she was not forcing his or her religion on anyone else, but was doing what all Americans should appreciate – maintaining his or her religion without forcing others to conform.

The real question is whether or not this cashier should have taken the job without letting the manager know his or her restrictions. Maybe the cashier should have said something first, or the employer should have made the requirement to not refuse service of this kind to any customer part of the job description.

As far as khat goes, I really don’t understand what this has to do with Sharia law. Is khat really mentioned in Sharia law?And does it matter? There are plenty of Americans smoking marijuana every day. East African immigrants do not have a monopoly on mildly hallucinogenic drugs, and until they do, I don’t see khat as any more of a problem than anyone else taking too many vicodin or growing pot in their basements.

It is true that Somali immigrants don’t always assimilate, and that they’re often not the best winter drivers. But I think we need to remember that our ancestors were immigrants too. My family still makes German Mennonite food, even though I’m a fourth-generation American, and there are undoubtedly other cultural behaviors that have been passed down even this far! We cannot expect new immigrants to become fourth-generation Americans with remnants of a European culture. Ever. But we can expect them, over time, to become fourth-generation Americans with remnants of an African culture….just not for a few more generations.

Let’s give them time. They’re not changing our laws, they’re just living out their culture in the midst of ours – just like our ancestors did years ago.