This is Yangyeun Patisat, a 13-year-old boy from Thailand. Every month World Vision – the largest Christian relief organization in the world; an organization committed to alleviating global poverty; an organization committed to empowering women through micro-financing initiatives; an organization that responds to natural disasters better than other religious relief organizations – charges $26 to our credit card. We willingly pay for the privilege of sponsoring this young boy. When Yangyeun no longer needs our sponsorship, in all likelihood we will sponsor another child through World Vision.
A week ago, the World Vision board and its President, Richard Stearns, made a policy decision to end the practice of denying employment to gays and lesbians, provided same-sex relationships happened in the context of a legal marriage as allowed in the state of Washington (World Vision is headquartered in Federal Way, WA). By all appearances this was a matter of justice; gays and lesbians deserve the same non-discriminatory rights as all Americans.
Two days later, in response to the uproar of conservative and evangelical partners threatening to withhold their support and checkbooks, the board and Richard Stearns humbly apologized, admitted their error, re-affirmed their belief in the authority and infallibility of the Bible, and reversed their earlier decision. Gays and lesbians, even those in a committed marriage, will not knowingly be hired to join the 1000-plus World Vision staff. It may have been a justice issue on Monday, but by Wednesday not so much.
Though I’ve not met him and probably never will, here is what I want to say to young Yangyeun.
Dear Yangyeun, as we continue to sponsor you, we trust that your hard life will only improve. We hope that our financial support will make possible clean water, enhanced education, improved nutrition, and better hygiene for you and your community.
There are many things you worry about, many obstacles you must overcome, many air-born and water-born diseases with the power to debilitate you, but there are some things that should give you much comfort. Here are a few. When our monthly support arrives at World Vision’s headquarters in the United States, it will not be administered by the filthy hands of a gay or lesbian employee; only God-honoring heterosexuals will debit our credit card.
When we receive mailing brochures updating us on your progress, rest assured such printed materials have not been prepared or edited by a hell-bound homosexual; only God-fearing heterosexuals are capable of such work at World Vision.
When a World Vision photographer arrives again to take your photo, there is no need to worry that the person behind the camera might be gay or lesbian; World Vision is working diligently on your behalf to protect you (and its reputation) from such encounters.
If it hasn’t happened already, some day World Vision employees from the United States will travel to your village to assess the work being done and to offer their ongoing commitment to making your life better; don’t hesitate to shake their hands. They are not gay, therefore, they are not unclean.
As you, no doubt, have figured out, money — even for some Christian organizations — often is the bottom line.
I hope this information is helpful to you. World Vision does so many things well, probably because all 1000-plus employees are God-loving, Jesus-following, Spirit-filled heterosexual men and women, the kind you can aspire to be when you grow up.
Hope you are well!