To my fellow bloggers, social media writers, and friends who have weighed in on the heated debate over World Vision’s decisions over the past weeks, The following letter is for you, and has nothing to do with the decision. It has everything to do with our character, and our thinking about such issues. We all know that World Vision USA made a decision, and then a reversed decision, that pushed a cultural and subcultural hot button (gay marriage and employment).
Opinions fluttered into the social media air like pigeons roused in the park by George Costanza. My opinion about the decision doesn’t matter in this post. It’s not what I write about here. I’m just asking for a little respect for an organization like World Vision from people who should know better. Some of you put the gay marriage issue above what World Vision does to care for the poor, and diminished their credibility as a faith-based organization doing what you and I would only dream of doing to care for the little ones.
Some of you made an organization that cares for the world’s poor look like their entire character hinged on how they voted on a socio-cultural issue of the day related to employment practices. Quick question. Have you ever:
- Started, sustained, campaigned for, and administrated a compassionate faith-based relief and development agency that has cared for nearly 4.3 million children in poverty (1.2 in the US) in over 100 countries with a donor/grant/funding budget of roughly $2.6 billion? (See here for details.)
- Carried that vision through to the point where hundreds of thousands of armchair quarterback North Americans are engaged in issues of poverty – and rescuing children?
- Wrestled to connect the faith basis of your organization with ever-changing public opinion and government mandates, let alone changing faith perspectives among an already diverse Christian community?
- Struggled to be faithful to a founder’s vision for your organization, and the vision of faith that enabled it to grow to its current reach? Struggled to maintain an increasingly diverse populace of donors as you reached out beyond the Christian community to save more kids?
- Carried the weight of the reality that your organization needs to stay alive, and staying alive (which may or may not be better than shutting your doors) often means making hard business calls that end up catering to the largest body of supporters in your organization?
- Had to own the fact that said hard decision may actually have the goal of retaining the most amount of supporters for the most amount of children (and that if angry people pull their support of your organization because they don’t like your decision, they’re actually making a child’s life less important than their own socio-cultural opinion)?
I have done few of these things. I’ve run a small business, and it’s hard, hard work. Growing one to that size? Well done. Doing it for the poor? My goodness. I’m silent. God loves the poor. God loves the poor. (Oh, and thank you. Thank you, World Vision. For building that non-profit enterprise to care for the world’s needy children.
And sorry, you won’t see us blogging about the ethics of any of our sports organizations, or major box-store corporations today that forget the poor in deference to feeding the consumeristic fixations of modern society. Everybody knows their values. They don’t know better. Besides, no one would listen if we ranted about them. No one would share our Facebook posts. We’d, apparently, rather rant about you – and apparently do so because we care so much about children. Really. It’s about the children.)
Where World Vision stands on issues like gay marriage is peripheral to me (for this post). Where World Vision puts every dollar is also peripheral to me (for this post) as someone who’s run a small business. I know it’s not easy, balancing philosophy with budgets.
(Again I must pause. Thank you, World Vision. Thank you for caring for the children for over half a century while we were growing up, while we were thinking less about the child that would die that day instead of us, and more about what clothes we would wear to school. Thank you for making it easy for others to save children’s lives around the world for over 63 years. Thank you.)
I’d add that I’ve also done faith-based work most of my life, and opinions about hiring practices are endless. Pressures abound from every side. Catering to any one of them, and maintaining your vision of faith and cultural trajectories, is simply hard work meant for stalwart souls. I simply have great respect for any organization that is compelled to make hard decisions that will be popular and unpopular, and will do so in order to continue caring for the world’s poor.
So back to my blogger and social media friends. Honestly, today, I don’t care about any of our opinions about the gay marriage issue. I do, but I don’t care about them here, right now. I care about this. I would simply ask that you consider if you have the wisdom, authority, and beyond-virtual-skin-in-the-game to speak into these matters deeply – and with humble reflection – before you voice your opinions because you can, and a crowd is following you ready to listen. World Vision cares for the poor in a profound way.
You start another organization that tilts the scale toward the poor like they have, and build it over decades with a diverse donor base, and then rant about their hiring policies. And let’s sponsor kids while we’re at it, and write about that (I know, stats say that no one will share those posts). World Vision is a great choice. Our family does it through Compassion, but would happily do so through any organization with a track record for greatness in caring for the poor. World Vision is one of those.
And if I agree with 90% of any organizations values, I’m in and can bear the tension. Especially if it has to do with the poor. Thanks for reading, Dan P.S. If you are a person who is really up-in-arms with World Vision on either side, I understand. You have values-based decisions to make. I’d just encourage you to find another organization to work with that has similar cred to what is said about World Vision below.
And I’d simply ask you to be respectful in your tone.
Thanks for listening.
WORLD VISION AND CHILD SPONSORSHIP From Wikipedia: “Helping create lasting positive change in the lives of children, families and communities living in poverty, World Vision serves everyone irrespective of religion, caste, race, ethnicity or gender. The humanitarian organisation has a sponsorship program that helps needy children, their families and communities. Focused primarily on Child Sponsorship, World Vision’s child sponsorship programs help needy children get access to clean drinking water, sanitation, education, skills for future livelihood, nutrition, health care and participate in an age-appropriate in development processes.
By changing the lives of children, the child sponsorship programs also facilitate overall growth and development in the community, as it helps communities to build a better future through empowerment, education, income generation, and self-sufficiency. Child Sponsorship programs seek equitable, just, peaceful, productive and inclusive relationships within households and communities, responsible relationship with the environment, a culture of participation with families and whole communities empowered to influence and shape their situation through coalitions and networks addressing systemic issues towards ensuring access to basic needs in a sustainable manner.”
This blog covers topics that help people engage with faith, spirituality, the arts, worship, and culture. If you are not yet a subscriber and would like to be, you can subscribe here. Your confirmation e-mail will include a link to download my free eBook, 30 Stories Of Hope. Note: Blog posts represent my personal perspectives. The opinions expressed are my own, and not those of the organizations for whom I work or have worked. My goal is encouragement, and my hope is that you find that here – with every post.
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