A year or two ago someone who knew we were helping serve at the Sunday night suppers for folks in need asked me, “Yeah, so all those folks y’all are feeding–they are all either drug addicts or alcoholics, right?”
Ummm, no. No more than all of us with houses are NOT addicts or alcoholics. Not everyone. Not all.
I didn’t say it exactly like that, but I did tell him that if I were on the streets day in and day out, I’d have to be on drugs or drinking just to cope. I don’t think I could get through the fear and uncertainty and hard things that happen without some kind of mind altering substance. I just don’t.
Today at our Sister Circle we had a new sisterfriend join us. I remember her from the Sunday night suppers, but this is the first time I’ve seen her since then. She said she’s been around there a lot, so I guess we’ve just been passing each other. I invited her to join our group, and she did.
Once again our sisterfriends who have been coming for a while were gracious and patient listeners. Once again we heard stories about how often it is one’s own family who can be the most hurtful. Once again, the tears and the unknowns and the sense of being overwhelmed. And once again, I got mad.
This young woman is on the streets. She was kicked out of the last place she was staying. The reasons don’t matter and I’m not sure how true they were anyway. Suffice to say, it’s going down to at least 30 tonight and one more soul is on the streets. One of my sisters.
Breaks my heart.
She’s tried the local shelter. There are no spaces available. She told the story of a night they put her out at 11 p.m. because her urine test showed drug use. She had admitted it upon admission earlier that evening. Said she’d been clean for a day or two, but it was still showing up in her system. I asked her if Rehab was a possibility. She said she’d tried to go last night. She wants to be clean. She wants to be off the streets. She’s scared and it showed. Her only family said no, you can’t come here–maybe because of her prior drug use. She shrugged and said she didn’t know for sure. She was tearful. As we continued our conversation in the group, she put her head down on the table and fell asleep. Bless her. It was warm and it was safe. Two things I take for granted just about every single night. But not this one.
It doesn’t make sense. The shelter is full, but even if it’s not, you have to be sober to be there? To get sober, most of the people I know need help–they need rehab. But rehab’s full. So there’s no way to get off the streets? A young woman who is at risk for so much to happen? And there are church buildings, God’s houses, sitting empty all over town.
Oh me. I can hardly believe what we are doing to each other.
And today there was more that didn’t make sense.
Yesterday World Vision made an announcement. They are changing their employment policy. Because they employ folks from all different Christian backgrounds and because some denominations have begun sanctioning same-sex marriages in the past few years, they decided to defer to the authority of the churches and allow Christians in a legal same-sex marriage to be employed at World Vision. No other changes to their otherwise fairly rigid code of morality for their employees. That’s it.
I’m not opening up a discussion about same-sex marriages here. My Daddy raised me that you don’t discuss religion or politics with folks, and I’m already really close to stepping over the line, so we’re going to leave that subject for another day.
Here’s where I am headed with this.
Do you know about World Vision? I knew in general, but not the particulars.
Here’s just a small bit from their website.
Poverty is complex, and so are our solutions.
With 44,000 staff members worldwide, we bring sponsors and donors alongside children and communities in nearly 100 countries. The map below shows our work across issues — from health to disaster response — integrating lasting solutions to the root causes of poverty and sharing God’s hope for a brighter future. And we stretched donations with grants and corporate gifts-in-kind to make every dollar donated achieve $1.15 in impact.
Here’s another number to throw at y’all.
4.3 million–the number of children World Vision has who are benefitting from the sponsorship program. These children come from all over the world in 1,650 communities.
That’s some serious impact right there. 4.3 million children whose lives are affected by this program. This program which states:
Our vision for every child, life in all its fullness.
Our prayer for every heart, the will to make it so.
So now because of their new policy change, folks are, to quote my oldest, “losing their minds” and calling them out, threatening to and actually cancelling their sponsorships. Of these sweet children. Who have NOTHING do to with this at all.
Are you kidding me?
When all of this hit the fan yesterday, my oldest stepped up and let the world know that she thought this was ridiculous. She wrote:
“It is so sad to me to watch people quit sponsoring children through World Vision because of their stance on same-sex marriage. You’re going to end a relationship with a child in need because you disagree with a company? Get your priorities straight. Jesus said to love. Through ending your sponsorship you are letting your prejudices overwhelm your calling to love.”
Yes. Yes ma’am. One of my prouder moments as a Mama. I’m so thankful. She gets it. Priorities–choose relationship above all else. Her Maemae would be so proud. Mama didn’t play when it came to children and taking care of them. Daddy either.
My girl wrote me later today, very upset, and I wound up using the “I” word. “Someone just commented that the kids sponsored through World Vision are going to hell because they hire gay employees.” Her hurt and frustration was obvious. Wanna get me upset? Do something that I can’t make sense of for my children. I told her I was sorry that there are idiots in the world.
And apparently Dr. Bill Cosby agrees.
Well enough of that attitude. That just pours fuel on their fire, doesn’t it?
Still, I agree with the author of Rage Against the Minivan when she says:
“If we want to serve people, we should not make distinctions about who we serve, and we should not deny those we serve out of disunity or division. It’s astounding to me that Christians would take food from starving children because a gay person might have helped in getting it there.”
This evening I was sitting in a little storefront near the railroad tracks. I heard the train before I saw it. It was LOUD. Blowing its whistle for all it was worth. It was working it. And then I saw it. I was expecting a long train with all that racket. And instead? Just an engine. One. All by itself.
But you know what? The tracks didn’t pull up and go, “Nope, you’re not enough for us to stay here for.” The rails still lowered. Traffic still stopped. And we all sure heard it.
The fact that it was only one really did not affect very much at all.
I’m mad. I’m mad that a sisterfriend is on the streets tonight, scared and worried, because she’s caught between a rock and a hard place. She must be clean to get a spot in one place, and to get clean she must go to Rehab, which is also full. And so she will probably continue to use. I am pretty sure I would as well. There’s only so much you can close your eyes to and still be okay.
I’m mad that people are choosing to tell the world their indignation over another’s sexuality is more important than helping a child–a child they were already helping. The child is suffering through no fault of his or her own–which is what the sponsorship was all about ending–the needless suffering. Right back to square one.
But what my oldest is teaching me, and what that little train showed me this evening, is that even if I am the only one who feels this way, I have a voice. I can speak up. And I should. Someone will hear. I can start the ball rolling. I can stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. How can I choose to do otherwise?
And in the midst of all the controversy and bashing and fussing and pointing fingers, I can do what we were first called to do, what we were created to do. I can love. Love others, love those who are like me and those who are different. Love those who agree with me and those who frustrate me to no end. Love.
Tonight, as I remember not to take for granted a place to lay my head in out of the cold, I also want to hold in my heart the words of World Vision–“the will to make it so.”
Changes are needed. Love and understanding are needed more. May we all be set afire with the “will to make it so.” Even one little train car can stop traffic for a moment. All by itself.
Amen. Love to ALL.