Tag Archives: world vision

Letter to a World Vision Child

Sri Lanka-Province du Centre-Groupe d'enfants

Dear Juniu,

Hello from America! We’ve had a very busy week taking the kids to the beach on spring break so I’m just now getting around to writing this letter to you. Once your school is done being built and your parents have enough money to take you somewhere I’m sure you’ll understand exactly how busy all these trips can keep you!

Unfortunately, the real reason for this letter is that I have some bad news. You see, some people you don’t even know decided to make a change in who they allow to work for them and then a couple days later they changed it back to the way it was before. I’m still unhappy about it, though, and so is my wife and so are our twins who are your age (which is why we picked you in the first place) so in order to punish those people you’ve never met for their bad decision we’re going to have to stop being your sponsors.

I don’t want you to worry about the effect this decision is having on our kids because we’re going to start sponsoring another little boy in Uganda where all the companies have really good hiring policies and they’ll have a new friend to write letters to. You don’t have to feel bad that we’re dropping you but if you do remember that a lot of other kids are going to be losing their sponsors too (you may even know some of them!) so know that this isn’t personal and it’s really just the right thing to do. I mean 10,000 other American Christians are dropping support for their kids too so we can’t all be wrong, right?

We’ve definitely enjoyed sending you letters and care packages — the pictures of you smiling at your birthday have been some of our favorites. Along with this letter you’ll find one last gift, a book by a man named Mark Driscoll on how to have a great biblical and traditional Christian marriage even though you’re a Buddhist. You may want to wait until you’re a little older to read it because it’s got some grown up stuff in it and it’s unfortunately not available in your language but I’m sure that you’ll learn English once that school gets built by whomever is still giving money to your area.

I truly hope you find a place to stay and have plenty to eat — you’ll just need to get them from somebody else now. You may be sad but it’s making Jesus happy that really counts.

Love in Christ,

Your Sponsor

I know I’m probably going to be accused of turning SFL completely off-topic and making it a platform for my own loudmouthed crusade but I’ve walked around for the last few days with such a heavy heart about this situation that I couldn’t help but say something more. Hopefully I’ll be able to move past it now. Lord knows, there’s a lot of healing that needs to be done in so many different places.

World Vision: God, Gays, and Giving

World Vision US HeadquartersChristianity Today broke the story that World Vision has changed their hiring policy to permit the hiring of gay people who are in same-sex marriages. Multiple sources have confirmed to me that this change was never intended to be some kind of grand statement on the issue of same-sex marriage but was rather being quietly rolled out on a department-by-department basis. However, when a disgruntled employee contacted Christianity Today with the news that same-sex marriage was now going to be embraced by one of the biggest Christian charity organizations in the world, World Vision had no choice but to make a public statement.

In a nutshell, the statement can be paraphrased like this: World Vision has both supporters and employees from all across the Christian spectrum. Some of these churches represented affirm gay couples and others do not so rather than take sides we’re going to accept that there are good people on both sides of the issue and hire people from both sides of the issue equally. Because really, it’s all about the poor not church politics.

The reaction from the Christian Right to this news was as predictable as it was pointed. Everybody on the spectrum from Franklin Graham to Matt Anderson and even David Cloud expressed outrage or began calling for Christians to drop World Vision support. Apparently unable to withstand the threat of a massive loss of support, World Vision was forced to reverse its policy change and reaffirm traditional marriages as the only ones they would recognize for their employees.

As I read these sweeping condemnations my heart sank because I’ve been on the other side of the world and I’ve seen the joy on the faces of children who found out they are being sponsored. I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to be one of those kids who suddenly stops hearing from their sponsor and is eventually told they’ll never read a letter or receive a care package from that person again. All this because that sponsor thinks Jesus would rather that child’s spirits be dashed than a married gay person get a job in a charity office.

But I’ll admit that I was equally upset when I heard that people like Rachel Held Evans had been encouraging people to take on child sponsorship BECAUSE of the World Vision policy change. Predictably, the narrative that the pro-marriage-equality crowd took up was (in so many words): the conservatives care more about their politics than they do about the poor so let’s go sponsor kids as a statement of support for World Vision’s new policy! This is no less a terrible motivation for establishing a relationship with a child. Now that World Vision has reversed its position how long will these sponsorships-as-statement withstand?

Rachel at least asked the right question: “who’s this child sponsorship about anyway?”

The answer is that for a whole lot of American Christians our charity is more about us than it is about the needy. If the fact that gay hands wearing a wedding ring might touch your money on its way to heal the sick or feed the hungry is enough to make you stick your cash back in your jeans then shame on you. But by the same token, if a person has the resources and is perfectly aware of the needs in the world, why does it take the opportunity to support a political agenda to make them want to take up the challenge? That kind of charity is hardly charitable.

I suspected that most people from both sides of the aisle never take the time to look at the specifics of where their giving goes and — given the amazing level of sensitivity that has been highlighted this week — perhaps that’s just as well. When you give a dollar to World Vision that money is funneled into a community where the World Vision staff probably don’t look like or believe exactly like the people in your church. They could be anything from the most conservative Catholic to the most effervescent Episcopal. They might drink alcohol. They might be pro-choice. They might even be Socialists. Egads.

What’s more, from those World Vision field offices the projects that are funded are managed via Community Based Organizations where the people involved may not even be Christians. That’s right, folks: Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist hands may touch your money before it cleans one drop of water, plants one seed, or teaches one child to read.

And that’s ok.

Because giving isn’t about you and your agendas. And it’s not about me and mine. And it’s not about the hundred thousand virtual words spilled on the Internet this week as Christians who should know better engage in the perpetual Game of Stones hurled back and forth. Its not even about Franklin, or David, or Rachel. It’s about the call to meet the physical needs of people who are struggling on the edge of despair.

Feeding the hungry. Clothing the naked. Healing the Sick. Sound familiar?

So here’s the deal: if you have it in your heart to make a difference in a life, then sponsor a child through whichever organization you think has the best chance of making a difference in that child’s life. I’m still recommending that you do it through World Vision because I know they get results. Real lives are saved. Real children get hope. I’ve been there and I’ve seen it.

If, on the other hand, your charity is about pride, or politics, or some kind of personal agenda then take that money on your next trip to the mall and save some child the future heartache of being abandoned so that you can make a statement or when the statement you were trying to make is no longer valid. Maybe somebody else will help that kid. Maybe.

I don’t remember Jesus treating the poor like pawns in his religious game. It’s a pity so many of his followers have different priorities.


Kurunegala Sri Lanka

One year ago I took a trip to Sri Lanka with World Vision on a mission to find sponsorship for children in desperate poverty. But while I expected to learn about the challenges and triumphs of programs in a foreign country, what I didn’t expect were the things that I learned about myself in the process. I went there as a stranger to a strange land but I returned as no less of a stranger to the place that I now call “home.”

You see, I grew up in a place not that unlike Sri Lanka, a beautiful tropical place full of people who live simple lives with few possessions. These are people who work hard and laugh hard and love big. In Sri Lanka I was again reminded of the lessons I had somehow forgotten of the value of community and the pure joys of sharing meals and stories with others. Being there awakened an old homesickness for an island paradise that I haven’t seen in over a decade and uncovered an unhealed grief for the loss of the friends and neighbors that were my world.

But when I returned and began to process all these things, I realized something else: this sense of loss is also shared by so many people that I know. This disquiet and grief also follow the souls of many people who have left the tribe of their church, their school, or their family in search of spiritual freedom. We who have left our homes and kinfolk sometimes have to grieve them. So many friends are now are wandering from place to place like spiritual and cultural nomads, trying to find a place that they can call home and a family that will put its arms around them and tell them that they are safe and loved — if such a thing can even dare to be imagined. So few seem to be finding it.

I don’t know if I’ll ever make it back to my island and movement of time can be so unkind to those of us who treasure our past. As places and people have changed “home” has now perhaps become just another word for an empty place in my heart. But through that pain I seem to also hear a voice calling gently, reminding me of a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Perhaps there will be home at last some other day.

Giving Thanks

Today across the United States we’ll sit down to feasts of plenty with people that we love. Having plenty is cause indeed for celebration and we should be thankful that we live in a country where for most of us food is more akin to entertainment than the deadly serious business of sustaining life. We should celebrate. We should give thanks. Others wish they could.

If you’ve been thinking about adding charity giving to your Holiday budget, here is a golden opportunity to share the spirit of Thanksgiving with a child on the other side of the world through child sponsorship with World Vision.

Just click on any of the pictures to learn more.

Rujithson – Age 9

Jeneeza – Age 4

Mohommad – Age 9

Ahda – Age 3

Sri Lanka: Closing The Gap

It’s hard to believe that it has been almost a month since I arrived home from Sri Lanka. In some ways it seems like just yesterday I was rolling out of bed and eating curry for breakfast. In other ways, being on that beautiful island nation seems like a distant dream. Our lives go on but the needs continue.

The good news is that in the project area that we visited, many kids have been sponsored over the last month thanks to both our writing and the combined efforts of other promotional programs. At SFL I’ve been given an opportunity to show you a few specific Sri Lankan kids who are not being featured on any other blog. These children all live in the recently started project area that I wrote about.

If you’ve been thinking about sponsoring a child but just aren’t sure exactly who to sponsor or when to start here is yet another golden opportunity to consider it. Just click on any of the pictures to learn more.

Rujithson – Age 9

Jeneeza – Age 4

Mohommad – Age 9

Ahda – Age 3