[UPDATES] While they share a name, there is a difference between World Vision U.S. and World Vision Canada. This post is referring to World Vision U.S. Also, further comments have been made to the “moving forward” section at the conclusion of this post.
There has been a lot of attention brought towards World Vision’s decisions regarding hiring or not hiring Christians who are practicing homosexuality. On March 24th, 2014 the organization posted through Christianity Today stating they would now hire Christians practicing homosexuality.[i] After much controversy[ii], however, World Vision reversed their decision on March 26th, 2014 due to “confusion” and “protest”.[iii]
While there are numerous strong opinions on this matter, I turn my attention towards World Vision’s mission statement. Every organization has a mission statement which they attempt to champion. In order to be successful, the organization must hire people who will help “carry the vision” and bring the organization forward in their mission.
So, what is World Vision’s mission statement?
World Vision has posted their mission statement on their website[iv]:
WHO WE ARE: World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.
WHO WE SERVE: We work in nearly 100 countries, serving all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender.
WHAT WE DO: We provide emergency assistance to children and families affected by natural disasters and civil conflict, work with communities to develop long-term solutions to alleviate poverty, and advocate for justice on behalf of the poor.
WHY WE SERVE: Motivated by our faith in Jesus Christ, we serve alongside the poor and oppressed as a demonstration of God’s unconditional love for all people.
So, how can we fairly discuss their recent decision & reversal of hiring Christians practicing homosexuality? There are few things I’d like to point out that should help us understand who World Vision should engage in the recruiting process.
1. The Mission is a “We” Statement
The mission of an organization includes those connected with that organization. The “we” does not only refer to the board of directors, CEO, or otherwise management team. The “we” includes ALL employees, donors, supporters, or otherwise connected people.
As a definition, the organization calls themselves a “Christian Humanitarian Organization.” As a “we” statement, those connected to it, support and promote this title and thus share in this mission. As a result, all employees should represent and promote the mission statement and shouldn’t remain employees if they cannot do so
2. The Mission is to “serve all people”
I applaud their statement here. They provide no discrimination towards who they help. This is an interesting concept, however, as their recruiting process actually limits who can help. While I see no proof of the organization limiting donations from homosexuals, the reversal of their short lived recruiting policy does limit employees to Christian heterosexuals. That said, this does not necessarily go against their mission to “serve all people;” however, it may make it more confusing.
3. The Mission is to provide assistance to those in need
No matter what our faith background or belief system may be, social justice is one of the best common grounds we ALL share. For World Vision to be successful in this area, their supporters, donors and employees must have a desire to sacrificially give and better the world as they meet the needs around them. On face value, success here does not require a particular lifestyle or faith.
4. The Mission is to be motivated by Christian faith
While providing assistance to those in need does not require a Christian faith, World Vision has a mission of being motivated by their Christian faith. The full understanding of this can be seen in their core values.[v] Anyone can do good giving the organization and themselves credit; however, a Christian does good pointing to Jesus and giving God the credit.
I’m left thinking this through, and have come up with some comments…
It would be very difficult for anybody but a Christian to be a part of the “we” in World Vision’s mission statement. While anybody can engage in aspects of their mission, their mission as a whole, is highly Christian-centric.
From a Christian practice perspective, World Vision’s definition of “faith in Jesus Christ” is fairly vague. While I personally disagree, their website defines “Christian” in terms of orthodox doctrinal beliefs such as the Trinity and Christian practices such as serving the marginalized with very little mention of biblical authority. As a result, for World Vision, a God believing, grace receiving, compassionate and committed individual in a same-sex marriage, meets the definition of “Christian”.
Pressure from Christian organizations with more detailed definitions of what it means to be “Christian”, caused World Vision to retract their new recruiting policy. By supporting World Vision, there is a partnership of mission. Their new policy didn’t change the mission, it simply helped bring their mission forward.
To be clear – I personally feel as though World Vision is missing something in their mission statement. However, their new policy did not go against their mission and pressures from organizations and supporters who did not approve, probably should not have started supporting in the first place given their mission differences. I would encourage World Vision to ensure they make decisions based on their mission statement and not their supporters who have seemed to have misunderstood their mission. Not to mention, who they hire is trivial compared to their overall mission to provide global help to those in need.
It’s important to know who you support and work through. Make sure to read about the companies you sign up with, ask questions and know their mission. In addition, hold them accountable when they fall out of line with that mission. If things fall apart, don’t stop helping those in need; however, your resources may be better used by another organization.
If you are looking for a Bible-believing, Christian organization who is clear about what they believe and their focus on spiritual and physical development of those in need, please check out either Compassion International or Compassion Canada.[vi] My wife and I sponsor a child with them and they are very focused and centered on providing exactly what they set out to do by directly working through the local church.
[i] Celeste Gracey and Jeremy Weber, “World Vision: Why We’re Hiring Gay Christians in Same-Sex Marriages,” ChristianityToday.com, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/march-web-only/world-vision-why-hiring-gay-christians-same-sex-marriage.html (accessed March 27, 2014).
[ii] Ben Johnson, “Boycott: Evangelicals react to World Vision decision to hire people in gay ‘marriages,'” LifeSiteNews.com, http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/boycott-evangelicals-react-to-world-vision-decision-to-hire-gay-married-cou (accessed March 27, 2014).
[iii] Celeste Gracey and Jeremy Weber, “World Vision Reverses Decision To Hire Christians in Same-Sex Marriages,” ChristianityToday.com, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/march-web-only/world-vision-reverses-decision-gay-same-sex-marriage.html (accessed March 27, 2014).
Rachel Zoll, “Prominent Christian charity World Vision reverses decision to hire Christians in gay marriages,” globalnews.ca, http://globalnews.ca/news/1233649/prominent-christian-charity-world-vision-reverses-decision-to-hire-christians-in-gay-marriages/ (accessed March 27, 2014).
[iv] World Vision Inc, “Who We Are,” worldvision.org, http://www.worldvision.org/about-us/who-we-are (accessed March 27, 2014).
[vi] Compassion International, “Mission Statement,” compassion.com, http://www.compassion.com/mission-statement.htm (accessed March 27th, 2014).
Compassion International, “Statement of Faith,” compassion.com, http://www.compassion.com/statement-of-faith.htm (accessed March 27th, 2014).
Compassion Canada, “About Compassion,” compassion.ca, https://www.compassion.ca/about-compassion/ (accessed March 27th, 2014).
Compassion Canada, “Statement of Faith,” compassion.ca, https://www.compassion.ca/statement-of-faith/ (accessed March 27th, 2014).