The Boy On Our Refrigerator Door


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, moneyeven for some Christian organizationsoften 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!     

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  1. Kathy Davelaar March 31, 2014 at 11:11 am #

    Makes me weep too, Daniel.

  2. RHolton March 31, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    Everything that is here on this earth was naturally created. Could there be a possiblility that mistakes have been made? Did the God of love create individuals to hate, humiliate and bully?

    Then, again, we are talking about bidness …. just bidness.


  3. Chris Caughey March 31, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

    It makes me wonder how hate continues to win in our societies…and then I cry.

  4. Michael Holton March 31, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

    I love the use of sarcasm and yet we all feel frustrated that we have people of faith who are not inclusive. I shall pray for them.

  5. Jim March 31, 2014 at 7:45 pm #

    Before my partner and I give to any organization that seeks economic justice in the developing world, we always ask the question, “What are your written policies toward your GLBTQ employees?” Rather than get frustrated with the dogma which captivates most faith-based organizations, we give to organizations like Mercy Corps, and then hope a message from the hearts of the giver penetrate the hearts of the receiver. And truthfully, we are the receivers.

  6. Marvin April 2, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

    I must admit that I went through a whole range of emotions, when I first heard WV’s news, I thought “Good for them.” Good to see an evangelical Christian organization take such a stand. Then the firestorm of the right wing backlash, and the WV backpedaling. Ouch. My understanding is that in the past, WV has made what some might consider “contoversial” decisions, like starting programs for AIDS patients, distributing condoms in Africa and they have survived the backlash. Sad that they did not have the courage to stand up to their beliefs this time