World Vision Needs New Leadership
World Vision has reversed its reversal.
Since its founding by evangelical preacher Bob Pierce in 1950, the Christian charity had embraced the Bible’s definition of marriage—one man, one woman. Then, last week, WV, one of the world’s largest relief and development organizations, did a complete about-face.
This reversal, which included a public announcement that the child advocacy non-profit was just fine with hiring couples who were in same-sex “marriages,” brought a swift and heated reaction from many in the evangelical community. Pro-family organizations condemned WV’s deviation from Scripture. They stood firmly, directly and unanimously against this apostasy. In what may signal the awakening of a sleeping giant, the Church, World Vision’s decision was opposed by thousands upon thousands of donors who called World Vision to complain.
WV’s heretical decision was also publicly criticized and opposed by Franklin Graham of the Billy Graham Evangelist Association and Samaritan’s Purse, the American Family Association, the Family Research Council, the Assemblies of God and the Southern Baptist Convention. This colossal stand for truth and against sexual depravity got World Vision’s attention.
Following the firestorm, less than 48 hours later, the organization did ANOTHER about-face. The president of World Vision and its board chairman issued a statement saying, “We…humbly ask your forgiveness.” They admitted they and WV’s board had failed “to be consistent with World Vision U.S.’s commitment to the traditional understanding of Biblical marriage.”
Forgiveness was granted by many evangelicals, including me. That’s what Jesus has instructed us to do. However, there is a pronounced difference between forgiveness and trust. Trust, once shattered, cannot be automatically restored with a simple letter of apology. Rebuilding trust and confidence in an organization calls for change and action.
First, it must be determined what kind of repentance this World Vision mea culpa represents. In 2 Corinthians, chapter 7, Paul says there are two kinds of repentance. One kind he calls “worldly grief” and the other he calls “godly grief.” The sorrow that the world offers is a sorrow that says, “I’m sorry I got caught and that my twisted plans blew up in my face.” On the other hand, godly sorrow is deep-seated and produces “…eagerness to clear yourselves, …indignation, …fear, …longing, …zeal, …punishment” ( 2 Corinthians 7:1)!
During the ministry of John the Baptist (Luke 3:1-14), certain individuals along with tax collectors and soldiers, came to the evangelist to receive baptism at his hands, a baptism of “repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” When they came, there was one very important question on everyone’s lips. This question is at the core of genuine, Biblical repentance.
The people said, “What then shall we do?” The tax collectors said, “Teacher, what shall we do?” The soldiers, down to the very last man, said, “And then, what shall we do?” John’s answer was simple and direct: “Bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance.”
So, what does this mean for World Vision if its leaders ask the question, “What then shall we do?” It means there needs to be a sweeping change in WV’s boardroom. There needs to be a house cleaning.
That there was an environment present in the upper echelons of World Vision that made it possible for these leaders to even entertain the idea of embracing same-sex “marriage” suggests it is unlikely the president and the board were fully committed to God’s design for marriage in the first place. There is a “disease” in WV’s boardroom and it is called “wordliness.” These “leaders” chose to FOLLOW the world rather than LEAD it.
If this organization is to once again fulfill its evangelical mission, President Richard Stearns must step down immediately. He is the lead dog and he led WV straight into a ditch. He must be replaced. If his sorrow about this is “godly,” he will voluntarily step away. If his sorrow is “worldly,” he will force the organization to fire him.
Still, that is not enough. Every board member who voted to abandon Scriptural principles in the first place must also resign. The first vote was not unanimous, meaning there were some on the board who stuck to their guns and resisted the temptation to cave. They should stay, but those who voted to embrace what God calls an “abomination” must go ASAP. And again, if those board members who voted to reject Scripture’s clear teaching concerning marriage are full of “godly” sorrow, they will resign. If they are still hanging on to “worldly” sorrow, they will force World Vision to give them a pink slip.
This has been a huge challenge for World Vision, but it is unlikely the testing is over. WV’s income is said to be about $1 billion annually, with roughly 30 percent of it coming from the federal government. The Obama administration may choose to punish World Vision for being a hatemongering, homophobic charity by pulling some or all of the $330 million the government dumps into WV’s coffers.
In a pre-emptive strike, World Vision should abandon its dependence on the Nanny State. Not one penny should come to World Vision from the government. God will meet the needs of WV because the Heavenly Father knows the feds will almost always call in their markers when you cross them. It’s easier to reject their message when you don’t accept their money.
Also, it is possible the state of Washington will sue World Vision for violating its discrimination laws. If Washington’s attorney general will sue an Evergreen State florist for not embracing same-sex “marriage,” you can figure it might not be long before he sets his sights on one of the biggest Christian organizations in the world.
Bottom line, World Vision’s trials and testing have probably only just begun. With that in mind, the organization better make sure it has leaders who can navigate through the stormy seas. Right now, World Vision is a ship without a rudder.
Ed Baswell pastors The Clarion Church and is the host of Crossfire Radio, weekdays from 7-9 am, on The Promise, 90.7 FM. The show is streamed live worldwide at promisetalkradio.org and at ktbs.com. It can be seen each day on the KTBS 24-hour, digital news channel.