Posts Tagged ‘world vision’

Remember Who the Real Enemy Is–Processing World Vision with the Hunger Games

Spoiler Alert: Catching Fire spoilers

I love how deeply God knows me and I love the creative ways He speaks to me. I love how He knows just exactly how to point out my sin in a loving way. I love that He knows that in the past few weeks I’ve watched Catching Fire about a billion times and I love that He’s connected and involved enough in my life to use Catching Fire to speak to me, advice teach me, overweight convict me, and help me process every heartbreaking detail of the World Vision story.

The Hunger Games trilogy is a dystopian story in which the Capital, the center of power, greed, and corruption, orchestrates a yearly event called the Hunger Games. What they do is go around to the 12 districts of Panem (North America) and randomly select a girl and boy tribute from each district who will be forced to participate in the hunger games, which is a fight-to-the-death battle in which one boy or girl comes out as the winning victor. Basically it’s a way to keep all these people, many of whom live in horrible poverty, hopeless, depressed, and compliant.

In Catching Fire, we see Katniss Everdeen, one of the victors of last year’s hunger games, being forced to participate in the hunger games again. An incredibly important scene is one that takes place right as Katniss is about to be sent back in to the hunger games. Her mentor, Haymitch, gives her a last piece of advice with these words: “Katniss, when you’re in the arena, remember who the real enemy is.” 

Later, at the climax of the game, it seems as though everyone has turned against Katniss–the tributes who were her supposed allies have acted in ways that, to Katniss, make clear that they are her enemies. One of these tributes, Finnick, finds Katniss and Katniss raises her bow and arrow and is ready to shoot him. The movie then cuts to the President, named President Snow, who has orchestrated this game and represents the entire corrupt and evil society. He is watching Katniss getting ready to shoot Finnick and he says, “Let it fly, Miss Everdeen. Let. It. Fly.”

When Finnick finally sees Katniss, who is about to shoot him, he yells out these words: “Remember who the real enemy is.” 

And Katniss stops and doesn’t shoot him. Instead, she takes her arrow and shoots the arena, destroying the literal structure that has trapped them in the games and with that, symbolically destroying the structural systems of corruption and opening the way for revolution. And the look on President Snow’s face is one of utter bewilderment and fear.

Katniss believed, up until the moment Finnick said those words, that her enemies were the tributes that were with her in the arena. But the reality is that those tributes are victims of evil, just as she is. She was able to see this bigger picture and turn and fight against the real enemy.

Here is the scene if you want to watch it:

God reminded me that I am often like Katniss–people around me do things that I perceive as threatening and hurtful and wrong and my automatic reaction is to think that they are my enemies and that my fight is against them.

I believe that when I do this, Satan, my actual Enemy, is standing there watching me, just like President Snow, saying, “Yes. Let it fly.” Satan loves for us to believe that people are our enemies and that our fight is against them, that our fight is against flesh and blood.

Last week I wrote, with a really broken heart, about the entire World Vision situation.

Today I found out that the number of kids who were dropped by their sponsors last week was 10,000.

Ten THOUSAND children lost emotional support and connections with their sponsors, financial support for their families and communities, and the sense of security that they are going to have food and medical care and access to education when they wake up tomorrow, all so a group of people could make a point.

Y’all, I feel the us versus them.

The gays against the Christians.

Us against the Evangelicals.

The Evangelicals against them.

God against gays.

Jesus against conservative Christians.

When I read the news about the ten thousand children, I felt sick to my stomach. I wanted to cry. I wanted to run in to the temple and flip tables and make everyone leave. I wanted to yell to all the non-believers witnessing this horror, “This isn’t who Jesus is! Don’t believe THEM! They’re clearly don’t know Jesus!”

And Satan looks on saying, “That’s right, Amilia. Let. It. Fly.”

The reality is, that Jesus’ enemies were never the Pharisees. In fact, the Pharisees were His precious children, His creation, and He loves them with just as much love as He has for me. Jesus’ enemy is Satan and I need to be reminded daily that the Enemy, the Accuser, the god of this age, the prince of this world, the father of lies, is my enemy, too. In fact, he is my ONLY enemy. The Enemy. And my battle is, and forever will be, against him until his final defeat at the end of this age.

Remembering that Satan is our real Enemy gives us the ability to truly love everyone. It gives me the strength to start dragging myself down the road of dying to myself and loving those who have so hurt me. It gives me the power to stop regarding people from a worldly point of view and see people as new creations in Christ, to see people as God sees them, with eyes that have the ability to call out their authentic identities, their true holy and precious selves. I believe the most terrifying thing for Satan to experience is what happens when we stop fighting against our own brothers and sisters, against God’s precious and dearly loved children, and start fighting him. This is look I want to put on Satan’s face every single day:

I know so many of us are hurt and broken and crying and angry at everything that has happened with World Vision. I mean, let’s be real, this is what I wrote in my previous post about this whole mess:

Evangelicals, you sent the message loud and clear. Your hatred for gay people triumphs over the command of Christ to serve the least of these. You will stop at nothing to continue this culture war over an issue that Jesus did not say one word about. You will not hesitate to tell your gay brothers and sisters in Christ that the idea of working alongside them to bring God’s kingdom to earth is despicable. To you, the very existence of gay people is enough to stop providing for a sweet child of God.

So yeah…it’s how I feel, but I have been convicted by the Lord that while my feelings are valid, my fight is not. You guys, Satan has already been defeated. His defeat was sealed on the Cross. Why are we letting him reign here on earth? My prayer is that we would be able to pick ourselves up, by God’s grace, dust ourselves off, and take up the weapons that have the power to demolish strongholds, the weapons that help us fight against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm. We are supposed to hate the things that God hates, things like hatred, injustice, pain, suffering, starvation, disease, and death. We are supposed to long for justice and liberation for those who are oppressed and lonely and who feel unloved. But we are supposed to love people, and that includes the people that we don’t like. This is integral to what it means to follow Christ and it is such a hard and painful road. But it’s how we bring His Kingdom down, it’s how we bring His reign on earth, it’s how we become His hands and feet.

And so I sit here and say over and over again, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”

Dear Sponsored Child

Dear Sponsored Child- How do we respond to World Vision's announcements??

The past two days have been a bit of an emotional roller coaster.

Yesterday, health care World Vision, purchase a very well-known and well respected Christian organization that is “dedicated to working with children, epilepsy families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice,” announced that they would no longer discriminate against married same-sex couples during their hiring process.

The president of World Vision, Richard Stearns, said, “We’re not caving to some kind of pressure. We’re not on some slippery slope. There is no lawsuit threatening us. There is no employee group lobbying us. This is not us compromising. It is us deferring to the authority of churches and denominations on theological issues. We’re an operational arm of the global church, we’re not a theological arm of the church. This is simply a decision about whether or not you are eligible for employment at World Vision U.S. based on this single issue, and nothing more.”

Many of you probably know that I am a big supporter of gay marriage and believe that there is a strong Biblical argument in support of gay relationships and marriages (I will be blogging in the near future about this issue, including reviews of the books Torn by Justin Lee and God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines, which is coming out in April). So for me, this announcement was really exciting. I knew that this announcement would be really hard for many evangelical Christians to handle and that many would be disappointed and upset. What I did not expect was that these Christians would stop sponsoring their children as a result of this announcement. World Vision reportedly lost at least 2,000 sponsors in one day. That means that 2,000 children are now left without financial support, leaving them without adequate food, clean water, health care, and education, and also without the emotional and spiritual support that the children gain from the relationship with their sponsor.

Evangelicals, you sent the message loud and clear. Your hatred for gay people triumphs over the command of Christ to serve the least of these. You will stop at nothing to continue this culture war over an issue that Jesus did not say one word about. You will not hesitate to tell your gay brothers and sisters in Christ that the idea of working alongside them to bring God’s kingdom to earth is despicable. To you, the very existence of gay people is enough to stop providing for a sweet child of God.

Many Christian leaders, such as Justin Taylor of the Gospel Coalition and Denny Burk, professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, made public statements against World Vision, announcing that they were ending their sponsorships. (Burk wrote a blog post talking about “The Collapse of Christianity at World Vision.” Seriously? The collapse?). The Assemblies of God denomination urged its members to drop financial support from World Vision.

And I sit here listening to Same Love by Macklemore.

“If you preach hate at the service those words aren’t annointed. That Holy water that you soak in has been poisoned.”

Today, World Vision decided to reverse their decision. 

There are many amazing people who decided to sponsor children yesterday in support of World Vision’s announcement and to cover the children who were being dropped. Many of these people are gay. Many aren’t even believers.

I am so touched and encouraged to see that many of the people who sponsored kids yesterday will continue to sponsor them because they know that these kids are real people. They matter. They have hopes and dreams. They have the potential to live full and vibrant lives, they just need a little support to help them get there. And don’t we all?

I don’t sponsor a child through World Vision (although I regularly donate to various causes they support) but I do sponsor a child through Compassion International. Her name is Fresiah. She is 19, just like me. She lives in a rural village in Kenya, a country where much of the population is infected by HIV/AIDS and few girls finish high school. She loves basketball, her favorite book of the Bible is Ruth, she writes her letters to me in almost perfect English, she prays for my family and tells me about her day-to-day life. I am waiting to hear the results of her final exams, but I’m confident she did great. She wants to be a policewoman after she finishes high school. She is so beautiful and smart. I am so blessed to be a small part of her life and the idea of her sponsorship ending when she graduates breaks my heart. She is my friend. And no theological disagreement could stop me from sponsoring her.

When did it become Christ-like to use children as pawns in political, social, and cultural wars?

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. -John 13:34-35

I can’t really put into words the depth of my sadness around this whole situation.

I want to honor Matthew Vines and his reaction to World Vision’s reversal. He shows a profound understanding of the love of Christ and God’s grace.

So I sit here with tears in my eyes and my hand over my tattoo. And I remember God’s promise.

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Write these words down for they are trustworthy and true. -Revelation 21:5

Amen. They are trustworthy and true. God is making everything new. He will make everything new.

I pray for the release of His Kingdom on Earth.

I pray for the Holy Spirit to enter into the hearts of all followers of Christ.

I pray that the Church would be marked by love.

I repent of the anger and judgement in my heart and I pray, Holy Spirit, that you would help me love my brothers and sisters in Christ.

I pray for all the children around the world who are struggling to survive. I pray protection over them in the name of Jesus. I pray for provision for them, both emotionally and physically. Lord Jesus I pray they would known your unending love for them.

And Jesus, I pray that every single gay person who has been hurt by the Church, who has been hurt in the past few days, would know that You affirm them and love them.

Amen.

Many bloggers have written beautiful posts in the past few days. I encourage you to read them:

When Evangelicals Turn Against Children to Spite Me by Benjamin Moberg

I’ve been sitting in a swell of sad for a couple hours, because this is what I’m hearing: No, you aren’t even worthy to serve hungry children. You are so deeply unwanted that I will let a child die if it keeps you away from me. From us. From the body of Christ. I will spare no life if it keeps you far away.

These Are Real Kids, You Know by Nish Weiseth

I understand you may not agree with their employment standards as a Christian organization, but you know what? There’s a lot that we’re not all going to agree onBut, I think we can agree on one thing: Children should not have to suffer under the weight of poverty. And we can agree that World Vision is helping release kids from poverty through sponsorships. We can agree that your sponsorship dollars are doing an incredible amount of good in the life of a real, honest-to-goodness child. Someone’s baby is getting fed, educated and cared for because you have been generous in your sponsorship of that child. 
Please, I’m begging you, don’t make someone’s baby a pawn in the ongoing culture wars of American evangelicalism. Keep sponsoring. Keep praying for that kid. Keep giving.
Please, I’m begging you.
Choose love.

World Vision by Rachel Held Evans

When Christians declare that they would rather withhold aid from people who need it than serve alongside gay and lesbian people helping to provide that aid, something’s very, very wrong. It might not be hate, but it is a nefarious sort of stigmatizing, and it’s wrong.
Finally, all this overdramatic “farewelling” over non-essential issues is getting tiresome. It’s shutting the door of the Kingdom in people’s faces. It’s tying up heavy burdens and placing them on people’s backs. It’s straining gnats and swallowing camels. It’s playing the gatekeeper with smug, self-righteous pride when it is God who decides who comes to the table, God who makes the guest list, God who opens the doors the Kingdom.

World Vision Update by Rachel Held Evans

A comment on this post:
“I sponsored a child because of their original decision. His name is also Daniel and he lives in the Dem Rep of the Congo, which co-incidentally, I am planning on traveling to in November (though I have no plans to see him.)
As a gay man, I am once again disappointed by the actions of some evangelical Christians. I have learned not to expect much from conservative Christianity and tend to give conservative Christians a wide berth. I want to reconcile. I am a graduate of Azusa Pacific University and remain a committed, Episcopalian, Christian. But I often feel like Charlie Brown when he tries to kick Lucy’s football when engaging evangelical Christians and this is no exception.
However, none of this is the the fault of the child I sponsored. I’m not going to unsponsor because they reversed their decision. It’s ultimately about the child’s welfare.”