I wept on the phone today with Rich Stearns, President of World Vision USA. I just couldn't contain my grief any longer. As soon as Rich told us that 10,000+ children had lost their sponsorships in the course of a week--that in ONE DAY! they'd lost as many as 2,200 sponsorships--well, I broke down crying and told him through ragged breaths how heartbroken I was. After the phone call, I literally had to go to bed because I was shaking so terribly. I just couldn't get my brain around the fact that so many of my fellow Christians had reacted with such hasty anger and punished CHILDREN as a way of showing their strong disagreement with World Vision's change in hiring policy.
As a brief recap, last week World Vision announced it would allow the hiring of legally married, same-sex couples (World Vision is based in Washington state where same-sex marriage is legal). There was a huge outcry from prominent evangelical leaders and immediately, Christians all over the United States flooded World Vision's call center lines and yanked their sponsorships, abandoning commitments to 10,000 children.
Rich told us that on one day, the call center received 7,000 calls. Many of these calls were angry and those who answered the phones were subjected to a torrent of verbal abuse: name-calling and being told they were "agents of Satan."
This is horrifying.
It has rocked me to my very core. I can remember very few times in my life when the behavior of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ has so devastated me.
I am a Catholic Christian and regardless of whether I agree or disagree with World Vision's initial policy change, I have made commitments to three very precious and very REAL children. It is my DUTY to fulfill those commitments and not JUST because I've seen firsthand the incredible work World Vision has done in impoverished communities. It is my duty because I am a CHRISTIAN.
Christians do NOT abandon children. Period. No matter what.
It is morally reprehensible to sacrifice children on the altar of differing beliefs--even on a belief as sincerely held as traditional, Christian marriage.
Christians ought always disagree in the spirit of St. Matthew 18 and ESPECIALLY when the LIVES of CHILDREN are at stake. We ought to gently and wisely confront leadership--NOT encourage our fellow Christians to forsake promises to innocent and NEEDY children.
In 2011, I traveled to Bolivia with World Vision and saw firsthand the precious and LIFE-SAVING work they are doing in impoverished villages. Through their child sponsorship program, World Vision has been able to help entire COMMUNITIES. Families suffering from hunger and unstable food supplies have been taught how to raise guinea pigs! Turns out, guinea pigs are a wonderful source of low-fat, high-protein. Other families were taught how to raise pigs and sell them for profit.
Thanks to World Vision's outreach in a rural, barely accessible area, Bolivian children with special needs were provided with life-saving surgeries.
We met one mother who had slaved for hours as a crop-picker (with her baby on her back) before World Vision hired her to work indoors and taught her how to sew. There were free medical checkups, birthday parties and family education sessions on child-welfare, child-rights and basic nutrition.
The work World Vision is doing is true, Kingdom work (see more of my Bolivia trip here). Does World Vision operate perfectly? No. Do they sometimes make mistakes? Yes. Even big ones? YES.
But this does not negate the purest form of religion they practice: caring for the orphans and widows, feeding the hungry, saving the lives of millions of children.
Please help me stand in the breach. Please sponsor a child today.