The Hungry and World Vision

d052 0080 143 The Hungry and World Vision

World Vision has changed its mind. It hardly had a choice. Thousands of children were having their support taken away only one day after the Christian relief organization announced employing gay individuals with partners. The reaction was swift and angry. Many Christian celebrity leaders called for their followers to end all giving to World Vision.

Clearly, World Vision could have handled their announcement and the transition better. However the manner and level of anger Christians unloaded toward the ministry was, for me, a low point for the American church. Many of my spiritual heroes blew it, and it was hard for me to watch. Even as I say this I do so knowing that a large portion of my family and friends will disagree with me. But I have to say it. The one thing that was missing in this entire unfortunate situation was any resemblance of Jesus or Christ-likeness.

The overstatements and hyperbole were reactionary, dishonest, arrogant, and pharisaical. One individual, whom I have always respected, announced, apparently without asking anyone at World Vision, that the ministry no longer “believed in the Bible.” The person who said this is someone I take seriously, so I pulled up World Vision’s statement of faith to see if what he was saying was true. Guess what? World Vision believes “Jesus lived, died, and rose again.” They proclaim boldly that, “Jesus is Lord.” Elsewhere, they state that redemption is offered “only through faith in Jesus Christ.” I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty biblical to me.

Another “leader” announced that Christianity had “collapsed” at World Vision. According to this guy, the one organization which feeds more children and supports more families in Christ’s name than any other ministry in the world, are “apostates.” This writer went on to write that the announcement was a full frontal attack on “the gospel.” He did not say it was an attack on “the Bible’s teachings about sexuality”, he said on “the gospel.” Somehow in this fellow’s mind World Vision deciding to give gay people a job was an attack on the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. Christ’s blood can wash away all our sin but can’t somehow cover World Vision’s hiring practices? Huh? What? Really? Did he really think this through before he said it? I believe in a Savior and a Cross much more powerful than that.

Now, please understand me. I think all those reacting are good people seeking to live out the truth of God’s word. They believe Scripture is under attack, and, therefore, they need to defend it. But Scripture can carry its own weight quit well without our help. The Bible is, after all, the very “breath of God.” So, while I think many had sincere motivation, I also believe they were misguided. God does not ask us to defend Him. He does tell us to follow Him and His Word tells us the best way to follow Christ is by love.

So, as I was praying and trying to sort all this out in my mind, a question popped into my mind. If Christ were here how would He have responded? Would Jesus insist that sinners not be given jobs so they could support themselves and their loved ones? If the answer is not obvious, I will answer the question for you. No. He would not have. The man who spoke with the woman at the well told her to sin no more, but He did not insist she not be allowed to make a living. I think Jesus would likely even get angry if someone insisted that the law of God was being broken, and therefore these sinners needed to not be allowed to work for a living.

The biggest thing of which I am most sure is that Jesus would not have called for His church to take food from the mouth’s of hungry children. Thousands of children and families who were being fed through monthly support given to World Vision had their support dropped at the insistence of “Christian leaders.” Yes, Christians were instructed to find another relief organization, such as Compassion International, and adopt a child through them. But that still doesn’t do anything about the kid you made a commitment to at World Vision who now will feel the pangs of hunger once again.

This week I heard a lot of noise. Many clanging cymbals so to speak. A lot of tongues wagging and self proclaimed prophets declaring God’s truth. What I did not see was much love and that is how we have been called to show Christ to the world.

Comments

  1. Bill_Britton says

    There’s a lot more of this where this came from, and this issue is going to tear the N. American church apart. We’re completely unprepared with thoughtful, balanced or biblical responses. Groups like W. Vision, but not just them – churches everywhere need to give this complicated situation some serious prayerful consideration – and in my opinion, I think they’re in a no win situation. And like you said, no matter what, love needs to be very powerfully obvious no matter what positions are taken.

  2. Travis Hill says

    Great post, Darian. I agree wholeheartedly. The church has dropped the ball on this. One can still believe the Biblical stance on homosexuality, while at the same time treating people struggling with various tendancies with love and respect. I don’t see those same people demanding that World Vision scrutinize the lifestyles of obese people or divorced people remarried because of adulterous relationships in its employment practices. We are clanging cymbals indeed if we talk, “love” but show only contempt and disdain for those sins which we personally find unacceptable.

    • Darian G. Burns says

      Thank you Travis. I appreciate the encouragement. I am sure many will disagree but hopefully not. If you guys are ever in Colorado let us know. We have plenty of room and would love to see you.

  3. MaggieO85 says

    Thank you for this Darian. I too believe that love always has to be the answer and response at the center. And we’re called not to just any old world-defined love. We’re called to the radical love of Christ. I think many Christ-followers forget this. This love is radical, meaning it has to transcend the ordinary — it’s asking for us to forsake what seems the norm to embrace an alternative and yet definitively more powerful response through heart, action, word. This is challenging, yet we make it more challenging than need be when we forget that this is a command of God who will give us his power to overcome the barriers of our narrow heart and mind perspectives. When Christ-followers choose hate and dissension over this love in “the name of the Gospel,” I fear they need to reexamine the Gospel. To me it comes across as a lack of faith in God’s Almighty power to work in the hearts of all of his creation. As you point out, God does not need us to defend his Word, and indeed his Word is Christ himself. So do we trust in the power of God’s radical love (Jesus Christ) to overcome and transform and heal and redeem? Judging by Jesus’s example, the way we prove this deep faith is by living it, without question, surrendering our judgments, humbling our pride with the realization of our limitations, and acknowledging Our Father as power and ruler and provider and judge and, most importantly, redeeming love over all.

    Ps. I miss you and Edith! Will be home early May, hope to see you!

  4. says

    Thanks for checking out my blog. Yes. I agree with you thoughts here as well. You are also kind in your handling of those who spoke out against World Vision. Well-balanced and written post.

  5. Greg Ehlert says

    Darian, I couldn’t agree with you more. Christians had better start being known for what we’re FOR instead of what we’re “against.” Lord have mercy on us!

  6. Kris says

    Darian, I think you are assuming certain many things about peoples’ intentions as they wanted the support be withdrawn to World Vision. If homosexuality is considered sin, and a gay couple living together only means they do not realize it is sin. It is unlike the adulteress woman to whom Jesus asked not to sin again. The issue is clear here. It is not about a man/woman who is already working in world vision found involved in homosexuality, in which case they may be counselled by the word of God. We are talking about people who do think that the sin they are involved in is not a sin at all. I see every reason why right wing evangelicals respond that way. Gospel is not just about a written statement about Jesus but about how the life of an individual/organization is shaped through that gospel. The acceptance of gospel means that there is commitment in every way aligning to that gospel. If the right wing evangelical organizations withdrew support for the hungry children of homosexual couples, then, they are not right in doing that. But it is up to them if they want to keep out the homosexual couples out of the duty of service. Just because they don’t have have jobs, they don’t have to be allowed to work for a Christian organization. It was simply an unwise move by World Vision trying to change status quo though knowing the larger support from right wing evangelical Christians. Good that they realized the negative impact of such callous decisions.

    • Darian G. Burns says

      “Whatever you do for the least of these my brothers, you do it unto me.” No soul has ever been won for Christ by winning an argument. I appreciate your input to the discussion. Thank you.

  7. says

    I really appreciate your comments about how the Bible can carry its own weight. Sometimes we are so confident and prideful in our approach to Scripture that we forget how much it convicts us Christians as much as, and sometimes more than, sinners. None of us can cast the first stone.

    I also continue to believe that this whole argument is based upon a flawed discernment of Scripture that refuses to account for the truthful testimonies of Christians like myself, backed up by science, who note that our sexual orientation was not a choice. If I had been given the option, why on earth wouldn’t I choose the ability and opportunity to fall in love with a beautiful woman and build a biological family?

    So Christians like me are left with the reality of our bodies and choices about how to proceed. I have chosen to embrace my faith and the way God has made me, and I continue to seek that He increases while I decrease. But I have seen so many beautiful, loving LGBT couples and families in the Church and I must testify as truth that God has brought them together in His mercy and according to His glory, so that all might be reconciled as part of the family of Jesus.

    Thus, this debate continues to cause pain in my heart, as I am both degraded as a human being and told that there is no place for me unless I forever give up hope of having a husband and family. Very few evangelicals seem to have any sympathy for this situation.

  8. Michelle Henrichs says

    Thank you for your thoughtful observations. There will be many innocents bearing witness against the Church and what we hurl at each other in the name of biblical authority.

  9. says

    Thank you for your words Darian. As I wrote in a post of mine, the American church has virtually no imagination to consider what it looks like to follow Jesus in a post Christian context. Even other World Vision country offices have this more figured out than we do; World Vision Canada, New Zealand, and UK have all pointed out that sexual orientation or marriage status is not a factor in their hiring process. Instead, they clearly live out their core mission, and invite anybody who buys into that mission to join them. Beautiful.

    http://practicingtheway.com/2014/03/27/world-vision-usa-canada-american-church/

  10. Katie Mac says

    Well said! Thanks for your comment…I actually accidently posted on WordPress.com…but my site is “hosted” (is that the right word) now by WordPress.org over at http://www.godslittlefeminist.com I have since posted the same articl there :-). Would love your support and comments over there too! Thanks for sharing your words Darian….we need to remember that letting the world know when the church is getting it wrong, is not being “divisive” it’s protecting the gospel from poor representation.

  11. says

    Thank you so much for writing this. My heart has been heavy with grief over all of this. I have not been part of any church for a long time, and it is because of things like this. I cannot be part of something that so willingly, even gleefully, marginalizes one segment of our population to such a degree as to rejoice when they are denied equal rights, jobs, etc. When the church takes things to the next level and puts their moral superiority over the mandate to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and in all ways care for “the least of these,” I become more convinced than ever that living in exile from the American church is the best choice I could have made for myself. I am saddened to see what has happened over the last few days, and even more so to see how many are rejoicing because of it.

    • says

      Thanks Stephanie, I am so sorry for the hurt you have experienced at and pray that one day you will find a fellowship of God’s people who are gracious, humble and healing.

  12. Jerry Price says

    Darian, thank you for asking me to weigh in on your blog about this subject. Would you allow me to play the Devil’s advocate in my response to what you are saying? But before I do that, I want to say that I enjoyed your passion for the children who count on the support they get from World Vision. I also feel your irritation or maybe disillusionment at how you see others in Christian Culture leadership positions expressing themselves. I also saw your longing for being Christ like which I respect.

    Now, let me play the Devils advocate to present a different and an admittedly twisted take. By the way I am not saying I’m right or you are wrong. What I will say is there are different viewpoints out here in the global church and being open to consider them can bring understanding and wisdom on the most complex of issues facing it.

    So here it goes.

    The idea that World Vision hardly had a choice isn’t necessarily true Darian. Theirs and Stearns choice might have been to think the good they do might be enough to make up for dismissing their responsibility as a part of the global church by saying they are only an operational arm of the church. There’s no way that they didn’t know in advance how their announcement would rock the global church.

    Let me illustrate. In the game of basketball, there’s a move a defensive player can make on the blind side of a referee that creates a stir when that player will deliberately foul the offensive player without the
    ball. Then that offensive player may return the foul but the referee blows the whistle on them! Athletes may not talk about this but they know the second foul always seems to get the whistle. Then the defensive player acts like a victim, draws the attention of being hurt and goes to the foul line to shoot free throws. Yet he was the one deliberately instigating the issue.

    The reality seems to be that World Vision and Stearns were the ones who first put thousands of children at risk and not the other Christian leaders you say disappointed you. World Vision fouled first and then tried to define what they thought would be a problem of being fouled by the very global church they said they were a part of, when arrogantly suggesting and viewing themselves as leaders for Christian Unity. The hope? Others would get on board.

    What kind of thinking would it take to pull this off Darian? How about the same type of thinking an athlete uses in determining to foul first on the blind side of a referee and taking advantage of a cheap shot?

    So, I don’t buy that World Vision and Stearns are the victims here or hardly had a choice. The children were. The global church was.

    Be patient with me as I add another thought if I may Darian, and it’s a twisted thought, I know. I’m not saying this thinking was actually in the minds of the leadership at World Vision, but the impact of where they went with what they said and how they handled this might have sent a message as if it could have been in the minds of some – albeit silently.

    So, here’s the thought: “Let’s take this stance, throw it out there to see it land wherever it would, because we’re World Vision! No one would even think about taking support away from us because
    of the children and so, we get to define what Christian Unity looks like and should look like. That way we keep the money coming in on both sides of the isle on this issue. Let’s be a trendsetter by holding anyone hostage from the start who would disagree. How? By implying the very idea of children needing food would be at risk. Lets make sure we don’t say that but the pressure of that is inherent in what we say and do. Let’s use that to pull on the global church to come through for us. So, let’s be like an athlete who fouls first on the blind side of a referee in a basketball game and then get fouled so we can make points by acting like we’re the victims and not the Christian Culture leaders who we smacked first!”

    Isn’t that a disgusting line of thought Darian? I told you it was going to be twisted, right? But, if this
    thinking would’ve been the actual thoughts within the leadership of World Vision or Stearns himself, you’d be outraged. No question about it.

    But let’s say World Vision and Stearns didn’t mean for that to happen and didn’t plan on that happening. Yet, the impact of what they did struck the first blow and created the damage they are responsible for. Now they must own it. I am not talking about the issue of who they employ but how they got themselves into this bind by being a self appointed spokesperson for the global church on what World Vision knew in advance was a divisive issue.

    All this energy and before we know it, we’re not talking about reaching the unreached for Christ with the gospel. We’re talking about side issues – as important as they are – but missing the cost of people not believing in Jesus as being enough for us in eternity and now.

    So, you have some valid views Darian but would you be open to understanding the anger some have experienced and expressed because they had something forced on them, of which forcing is not Christ like.

    He gives us a choice to reject or accept him and is a gentleman and scholar in the way he does it. In fact, he died for us all – every sinner with every kind of sinning we can think of – and doesn’t crowbar the results.

    I’m sure there are other lines of thoughts on this, of which this take is only one. My purpose for going in this direction is to see how open we can all be as to who is really responsible for what has happened with World Vision and Stearns. To those you saw as inappropriate in the way they responded to them, I don’t not argue. One reason is I haven’t seen those articles.

    But it is interesting that if World Vision really believed in their core what they stated would be their policy for being an operational arm of the global church, that they caved on their own before the responses to them came in. Why? Because it doesn’t seem like they really had this as a core conviction of their own. There had to be pressure from somewhere before they came out with this and it wasn’t from the global church. Maybe in the end, it really was the children who counted on both sides of the issue.

    Again Darian, thank you for asking me to weigh in on your blog. And thank you for your response to mine on Mind The Gap.

    • Darian G. Burns says

      Thank yo so much Jerry for your response, kindness and gracious prodding are welcomed and appreciated. If I understand your first question correctly, I may not – it’s late & I’m recovering from a stroke, but if I do I think you misunderstood what I was trying to say. I was saying they had no choice but to reverse the decision. It is clear that they created a mess. Honestly, I think both sides had agendas that placed innocent children into victimhood. It was a bad week for the church. But I agree the WV instigated the mess but that does not excuse the sinful response. I also would agree that the global church was a victim. My only difference might be that it was a victim of the entire mess and a lot of gas was poured on the fire WV began.

      As for the potential arrogance of WV in their decision, your hypothetical is a reasonable conclusion. It could have been handled more gradually and gently for sure. I try, often unsuccessfully, to not guess motives, or presuppose other’s hearts. I think the statements my the leaders I quoted spoke for themselves. I also did not mention the men by name. I agree your scenario would be disgusting if true. I agree it very well could be true. But the fact is we do not know and I choose to hold judgement there.

      I also think I understand the anger, I just do not think much of it was just anger. In my opinion, It was more anger out of fear. Anger out of a sense of betrayal. The level of hyperbole and over the top statements told me that this was not righteous anger. This is an issue that has the potential to tear the church apart and I believe we need leadership on both sides who are much wiser, discerning and Christ-like if we are going to be able to see each other as brothers and sisters. Calling a staffing decision an assault on the gospel is insulting to the gospel in my opinion.

      Your last paragraph is entirely logical. From how things ended up, plus knowing where most Christians are on this issue, I would say the Board of WV was not unified in the decision.

      I guess I agree with much you pointed out but my agreement maybe in degrees. More than anything I believe Christ would not have handled any of this in the way it was handled and it is scary, so many think they were completely righteous.

      Ending on a positive. Your spirit was so refreshing. If we could discuss matters with kindness, grace and a sincere desire for truth as you have the church would be a lot healthier. If we could all be a little less sure, we are right. Thank you wise, dear brother. Let’s talk again.

  13. Comrade Dread says

    I’m very much reminded of the tales of the Pharisees in the gospels. How they would focus on their own interpretations of the law and tolerate human misery so they could ‘defend the scriptures’ or stay true to their religious faith, all the while not realizing that God cares far more for people and how we treat them than He does for our religious ideology.

    And it was Jesus who continually challenged their beliefs by breaking their interpretations of scripture in order to be merciful to people. He elevated human need above their religion. And I think He would be rather saddened that we who call ourselves by His name would rather make sure that World Vision adheres to the approved religious beliefs so much so that we’d deny the poor mercy to force them back into our official line.

  14. Robert Hamd says

    Wow, the first sensible, balanced, and Christ-informed response. It reminds me of one of Bono’s lyrics which he says “Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady.” Too many people over reaching.

  15. William T. Langill Jr. says

    I think there Is a great fear in more fundamentalist circles that they are lossing the conversion on Gays and Jesus in America, they would be correct.

    • Darian G. Burns says

      I think there is a lot of fear and distrust on both sides and that that, more often than not, is why reasonable and gracious conversations can not occur.

  16. Laura says

    I. Love. This.
    I love all of it.
    Thanks for posting this, and thanks for linking yourself up on mine so I could find this. I love the following things that you said:

    “The one thing that was missing in this entire unfortunate situation was any resemblance of Jesus or Christ-likeness.”

    and

    “Yes, Christians
    were instructed to find another relief organization, such as Compassion
    International, and adopt a child through them. But that still doesn’t
    do anything about the kid you made a commitment to at World Vision who now will feel the pangs of hunger once again.”

    Keep it up. This was great :)

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