some thoughts on WorldVision and meeting folks where they are

Since we have had children, my wife and I have noted we tend to fight a lot more than when it was just the two of us. Most of our convict surrounds disagreements on how we should deal with discipline, who takes responsibility for what, and how we deal with each other when we are tired. From anecdotal evidence, I feel like these conflicts are pretty “par-for-the-course” as it goes for parents of kids.

During these arguments things can get pretty heated. We say things that are unfair, go upon assumptions that are not true, and throw past mistakes and shortcomings like live grenades. In the heat of the moment, it can get pretty tense.

However, there comes a point where the fight begins to turn into a conversation. When both parties are just really tired and one side (typically my wife) slows us both down and tries to see what is really going on. Like the peace in the eye of a hurricane, some space is created where both of us can speak clearly about what is really going on behind the conflict.

Sometimes we are hurt by a little comment. Sometimes, there was something missed that was important to the other. Sometimes, we are just tired.

And in this moment, we are given the opportunity to meet the other exactly where they are and understand the source of the conflict. In so many ways this is a difficult place to get to in the midst of the craziness of running a house, but when we do get there, we find a place of peace.

This week if you have been watching the news or paying attention to social media, you know about the firestorm created by WorldVision’s change in policy regarding hiring same-sex couples. According to the president and founder, Richard Stearns, they did so due to the ecumenical and geographically diverse nature of their workforce having employees from denominations and states who have either blessed or legalized same-sex marriages.

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If you don’t know, WorldVision is one of the largest Christian charities in the world aimed at serving the poor and disenfranchised all over the world. One of their most accessible giving veins is to sponsor a child in a poor country for $35 a month – providing food, water, shelter, and education.

The backlash in response to this decision was swift from the Evangelical community. Because of a change in hiring practices, many conservative evangelicals pulled their support from the charity, putting many children at risk who had enjoyed support.

Trevor, Allen, and I have some pretty strong feelings on this matter. And, I’m sure we will get the opportunity to write more about this as the days go forward. There are many implications to the fallout of this issue, and I can’t see many that will move the kingdom of God forward.

For me, what we have is a failure to meet folks where they are in the name of Jesus Christ. As our texts so plainly read this week, Jesus meets us in our worst moments and rescues us. In the reading from John 4, Jesus would have had to go out of his way to go through Samaria to get where he was going. Samaritans were the scourge of the Jews in that time. There would be no reason for Jesus to walk in that place as a rabbi.

But, he did. There were no boycotts. There were no lines in the sand. Jesus met the woman where she was, challenged her to follow him, and she did.

We find a lot of power in these kinds of actions. People want to be heard and known. We distrust decisions and policies passed down by faceless groups giving a mandate on behavior or choice.

Over the last 24 hours, WorldVision has had those conversations with evangelical leaders and changed their policy. They came to the table and met their supporters where they are and had a conversation. They felt like it was more prudent to provide resources and support for the poor than making a stand on this issue.

Here is what is the most concerning to me, however. Those who claim to be the gatekeepers to the most powerful churches and religious entities made demands an put the most vulnerable in even more vulnerable positions by not meeting WorldVision and the LBGT community where they are.

Whatever belief system you might hold on the gay and lesbian agenda in this country, I don’t see the church actively engaging in conversations like Jesus had with the Samaritan woman at the well. I don’t see the church taking social risks like Jesus did by speaking to an “unclean” woman in broad daylight in the most public place in town. What I see is the church expecting the world around them to meet them where THEY are, instead of going to where THEY are.

And at the end of all of this, nothing has changed. The evangelical church feels justified in their beliefs, the gay and lesbian community is further pushed away from the church, and the poor and vulnerable are pushed farther into the margins.

This is tough stuff, folks.

As for me, my family, my brothers on this blog and their families, and my community, we will follow Jesus into the places that challenge the powers of the day, radically loving on and serving the marginalized and hurting of our world. We will look foolish, scandalous, outside of the “status-quo” and will likely make folks uncomfortable. This is who we are, and we are a community who, like Jesus, wants to meet people where they are.

Because, that is what Jesus did first.

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