The “Vision” of World Vision

Reading Time: 5 minutes

[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.

Moving forward

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).

[v] Ibid.

[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).

5 Reasons Why Many Christians Don’t Know The Christmas Story

Reading Time: 4 minutes

For many, the true meaning of Christmas is no secret.  If asked to articulate the true meaning, most would say something like, “Jesus coming to earth,” or some rendition of that.  If you’re a Christian, you might even add, “God with us” or “the birth of our Saviour.”

As a pastor, I wonder how many people could actually share an accurate version of the Christmas story with someone.  The more I talk with others about it, the more I realize, many Christians are unable to go beyond, “Jesus in a manger…and shepherds and wise men visited them.”

So why do people know the meaning of Christmas, but not the story? There are really no excuses for this, especially for Christians; however, I think there are several reasons. Here are 5 reasons that I’ve thought of:

1.      A lack of a Christian culture…

It’s time to face the music ? we don’t live in a Christian culture.  In fact, we may have never lived in a Christian culture, rather, in a culture that generally accepts what most people believe or care for.  In the name of human rights and freedom, Christianity (and religion in general) has been removed from many schools, malls, restaurants, town halls and many other public locations.  Christians go astray, however, when we forget or ignore where our culture is, and do nothing to spread the gospel and Christmas story.  When we ignore the lack of a Christian culture, we push away the Christmas Story with it.

2.      Tradition fills-in unknowns…

If you’ve ever read the Christmas story, as written in the gospels of Matthew and Luke[i], one of the first things you’ll notice is that there’s a lot left out.  For example, scripture doesn’t say how many Magi followed the star to Bethlehem; however, tradition says there were three of them because there were three gifts mentioned.  Likewise, scripture implies the Magi met Jesus as a child and not as a baby; however, tradition says the Magi are a part of the manger scene.[ii]  Sometimes we go astray when we let tradition impact the story.  It’s nice to imagine the story; however, we can’t lose focus on the important things that are actually included in scripture.

3.      It has been 2000 years…

It’s no secret, Jesus was born over 2000 years ago.  It doesn’t make the story’s impact less relevant; however, if we don’t study the text, the story will lose its flavour.  For example, if we let the modern day manger scene depict our idea of how Jesus came into the world, we’ll lose the impact of just how humble a stable was 2000 years ago. Whether it was inside or outside, it was where the animals slept, not humans!  The real humility of the story begins to come to life.  The story is still relevant today, if you’re willing to read it with relative eyes.

4.      Social justice has become the focus…

Giving gifts, helping good causes, or lending a hand are all great things, especially during Christmas!  There are so many ways we can all help each other, family, friends, and those less fortunate.  The story, however, isn’t gift giving; the story is the gift of Christ. Being in the spirit of Christmas is about shining a light towards the gift of Christ, by participating in acts of social justice.  We can’t let social justice take the lead over Christ.  If we do, many Christians will forget the Christmas story and write a new social justice story.

5.      “Santa” is more important…

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” the song proclaims!  I totally agree!  The question is, what’s “wonderful”?  We tend to lose focus on the true Christmas Story because we’re so caught up in Santa, Elf on the Shelf, presents, parties… and the list goes on.  While all of these things can be a lot of fun, if our time, money and lives are geared towards them, we’ll forget the Christmas story before we know it.  At the very least, focusing on the Christmas story will help us slow down during the season so we can focus on what God has in store for us and through us.  Unless God is at the centre, Santa will continue to move us away from knowing the Christmas story.

So where do we go from here?

Can we make sure the Christmas story is heard and known? Can Christians be known for knowing the Christmas story well?  I’m offering a few suggestions for this Christmas:

1.      Read the Story…

Take time to read the Christmas story.  You may want to read it personally, with family, friends, or maybe a study group.  If you’re not sure where to start, check out Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2.

2.      Study the Story…

Learn about the story and challenge yourself.  Take a few minutes to do a simple Google search, ask your local pastor, study it in your Bible Study group, or maybe even read a commentary.  Whatever it takes, learn something new this Christmas!  If you’re not sure where to start, answer this question: what’s different in each gospel story, and why are they different?

3.      Share the Story…

The story doesn’t have the same effect if you keep it to yourself.  The Christmas story is full of HOPE, LOVE, JOY, and PEACE and many around us could use all four!  Maybe you could send out Christmas cards with the story of Christ on them, share something you’ve learned with family and friends, or shine a light towards Christ by helping someone less fortunate.

 

There are so many reasons why Christians don’t know the Christmas story.  Most of those reasons are completely within our control; and, at the end of the day, it all comes down to actually living out what we believe.  We say, “Jesus is the reason for the season,” but do our lives and knowledge of the Christmas story prove it to be true?

 


[i] Matt 1-2; Luke 1-2.

[ii] Matt 2:1-12.