Regarding the Children I Starve

A couple days ago a Christian sent the link to an article about an organization called World Vision. Apparently, the Christian organization sponsors children in Africa, and had decided to change their hiring policies to allow the hiring of gay married couples.  Sounds great right?

Buckle up.

Well the thesis of the article I read, was that Christians should be grieving the decision of World Vision.  Grieve because now Christian money will be leaving World Vision, which will in turn bring hardship upon the children and families who had been receiving aid.  Homosexuals, with proud indifference, had insisted that validation of our own relationships trumped the physical need of the poor.  Sex is the god we worship. The upcoming immediate pain that will bear responsibility for in Africa, is merely the beginning of a suffering of children that will sweep the globe as the institution of real marriage is tainted and destroyed. 

Or to put it another way, here is a simple info-graphic:

Starving Child

Child Starver

Predictably, the progressive portions of the Evangelical world were encouraged by World Vision's decision, and queer Christians were positively ecstatic.  This seemed like just another inevitable change in an increasingly frequent series of victories that LGBTQ people have been seeing in the US.  Rage and jubilation swirled across the internet, and due in part to articles like the one I read, Evangelicals en masse began to pull their funding.  Predictably, World Vision then reversed their decision.  Progressive Christians seemed to be completely befuddled and deeply conflicted.  Queer Christians were devastated, and struggled through anger and questions about forgiveness; this was a faith shaking moment.  Liberally leaning people of all stripes were enraged, and it was a troubling issue to try to contextualize. God only knows what the next part of the story will be.

If you want to read the article I was sent in full, here is the link:

I can’t frame this blog with a verse or quote, but the following part is a direct response to one person in particular. The part of the blog for the article’s author will be blue, the rest is black. If you're looking for a well thought out treatise on the issue, devoid of bias or raw emotion, this will not be that blog.

I am responding to Trevin Wax of The Gospel Coalition. Trevin, I hope you read this, and I would appreciate a response.

Dear Trevin,

To be honest, as soon as I was linked to The Gospel Coalition's page, I raised my mental shields.  I tend to do that whenever I'm around more conservative Christians circles, and it helps me to stay present and not be as hurt by things that are said about me.  I've been equated to a pedophile before, had people compare my love to bestiality,  been described as an ungrateful troublemaker, been called a pervert, and all other manner of odious things.  Truthfully, I am used to this. 

I have been called a lot of things, but being called responsible for starving children in Africa was a new one.

You hit me in a way that I did not anticipate, and I want you to know it really hurt me.  

Now, if your response to that is "Well that wasn't even close to my intention!" then I will share with you what a wise Friend once shared with me; impact matters more than intention.

Usually I'm accustomed to receiving crumbs from the communion table, but after this incident I felt like I was offered nothing. I was turned away from the communion table by people saying, "You aren't welcome here faggot." 

Even the tiny parts of your article....the Jesus I know wouldn't write “marriage” in quotes to try to subtly demean His creations. Why do you find it necessary to do so? What have I done to you to deserve the venom?

I do have to wonder…if I took away part of the feel good?  Everyone feels good when they are helping, nothing wrong with that, but something in your reaction made me think that a primary motivating reason for donating was to earn the feel good.  This would be problematic. There was a perfectly compartmentalized mechanism for many Evangelicals to get a bit of feel good.  Send some money.  Picture of a poor child sent to me.  Assurance that gospel is spread.  Feel good.  I am not at all saying that all the donors to World Vision have that mindset, but from the rancor of the comments that were left on your article, I think its safe to infer that is true for some.  Then the queers had to come in and ruin everything your club was doing.

Would it taint the feel good of donating to know that the child you were sponsoring was queer? Not every child receiving World Vision sponsorship is straight or cisgender, that fact is as true after this incident as it was before.

I have another question about why you pulled a Pontius Pilate when asked about World Vision loosing Evangelical donors after your article? I know you aren't stupid, you are a good writer, and I really don't think you could truthfully be that naive. You seemed completely aghast though, when Rachel Held Evans commented on your article and pointed this out. To paraphrase, you responded, "I'm only saying Christians need to grieve!" 

Your refusal to say plainly that you didn't support people halting donations, along with your disowning any of the actions of your readership (or even bothering to dispute a non-famous comment or two), struck me as hypocritical. What am I missing here? 

You closed the comments because you were tired of moderating? I'm sorry to hear that. I'm sure the child who lost their funding due to you is pretty tired of not having enough to get by.

So I indulged you by reading about the children I starve, so if you'll indulge me, I'd like to tell you about some other starving children.

Many queer children in the US (which is all I can speak to from experience, but assume even more so globally) grow up starved of love. A human body can live up to three weeks without food, how long can a body live without love? I've been at times suicidal because of this, and so have many of my peers.

Have you ever held someone close who wanted so badly just to die to end the pain of living? Living in systems dominated by and set up by a conservative Church?! Well I have. I have more times than I wish I would remember. Do you know how completely helpless I feel to comfort them? How at best I feel like I'm putting on a bandage while knowing damn good and well that the next day they will be sent back to the front lines.  Do you have ANY idea what that is like?

Then there is the ones who actually do end their lives...have you looked at those numbers recently? Each one is a soul. Something that was only once, will never appear again, and was completely defiled and destroyed by hate. 
Do you grieve for those children? 

I pray that God brings more of the surviving children, or grown versions of them, into your life soon.

Impact matters more than intention, especially when there is a huge power and privilege differential. 

There was a bright spot during the day your article went live though, and that was the fact that it was sent by a Christian who is an ally. Not only that! The person who sent me the article is a Christian ally who no more than two years ago used to be very homophobic.  You may dismiss this as a small minority opinion, but I've seen the transformation happen with increasing frequency within the Church.  I'll tell you what I believe: Jesus can do with 1 ally what he did to 5 loaves and 2 fishes.

The love filled actions of 1 ally are more powerful than a hundred hate filled people.  And their blessed work will be the nourishment that those love starved children I mentioned earlier need.  

I am more, and my struggle for the rights of my kin is more than a symptom of moral degradation.  We are human beings, and I would like my questions answered.  You succeeded in reversing the policy decision, and have succeeded in driving an innumerable amount of people away from God's love.

If the reversal makes you feel better, so be it, you will not see me advocating in any way to dissuade donors to World Vision.

A.J. Mendoza

Now here’s the part of the blog where I’m going to be a little raw and honest about my feelings regarding the online fallout.

I spent a grand total of 15 minutes glancing over comment sections. At the end of that short length of time, I felt like a piece of shit.

It quickly got to where I would see the block quotes for Scripture start, and I'd I skip past them.

Let me repeat that, I’m so disgusted that I am skipping over the Scripture, and I’m a frickin Evangelical Quaker!

We all say that the hard hearted will understand once it becomes a human issue, regarding people they can know and learn from.  The dehumanizing element of homophobic people is all wrapped up in a horrifically inhumane theory, peoples actual lives are kept in the realm of ridiculous hypothetical games.

I expect this from them.

What I saw yesterday were some allies forgetting the human issue.

Allies weaponized the Bible during intense argument, fought tit for tat in a public forum.

You don't try to out dark darkness!!! Do you wonder why this felt so unsatisfying afterwards?

Am I saying that untruths should never be engaged? No absolutely not, and anyone who knows me knows I engage frequently.  What I am saying is that the HOW we engage matters, and a nonviolent philosophy needs to extend into online dealings.

Furthermore, I got really tired of seeing how many straight people were quick to chime in on comments, and share their favorite written responses... I felt pretty forgotten in their anger.  I would rather have had some compassion sent directly to me than righteous indignation on my behalf.

I spend...lets just say I spend a lot of time talking with young LGBTQ Christians or those who were abandoned by their faith communities. And ya is really. Really. hard during these times to keep saying that I believe God cares about them, and harder still to encourage others to stay involved in the church.  On days like that, part of me rather not be involved at all either.

Want to know why I didn’t end up at a really dark place at the end of the day? Well its related to the answer to my next question.

How many people individually reached out to me that day and recognized I might be sensitive to what was going on?


One. Single. Damn. Person.

He asked how I was feeling, gave me space to vent, and affirmed that I was good person.  Real simple shit, but it meant the entire world to me that day.

So, if you are feeling like you want to keep posting and going into comment threads, I have a couple suggestions that I think could be some productive uses of the anger.

Send a message to a couple of your LGBTQ friends, and I'm not saying bring up the World Vision mess, but just see how they are.  Better yet, maybe visit them? Grab a beer together or go to lunch? Just make their day somehow.

Another thing you could do is read an LGBTQ history book or watch a really good queer documentary.  The allies who go the extra mile and try to understand the history of queer people in my life have been so appreciated...which is an understatement.

Better still! Go sign up now to volunteer at some sort of LGBTQ event or organization.  Look up youth resource centers, or shelters for young ones who were kicked out, or PFLAG, or something else creative! Opportunities to help and know the human beings involved in all of this abound, and all the organizations need volunteer help.  If you have time to fight online, you have time to volunteer.

Guaranteed, you won't feel the hollowness after trying those things that you will after a online battle, because you out lighted the darkness.

There will be people who will be continuing to write at length about this in the following days, and I don’t look forward to it.  I’m asking that each of you, my dear readers, think twice before picking up your sword and charging into a comment battlefield.  Think twice about if the energy and time you spent posting about your moral outrage and stewing behind a monitor is really the best way to help your queer friends.

That 1 person reminded me that I was human, and am not a piece of shit.

Go in the peace and Light of God


  1. Grace-filled honesty. This is Powerful, AJ.

    1. Thanks for all the support Josh : ) I'm glad we are friends.

  2. "How long can a child live without love?" Brilliant in this context! I'm sorry that your oft-mended heart has suffered another gash. I'm sorry to be reaching out so late. Maybe your eloquent words planted a seed in Trevin. We can pray his mind is fertile enough to grow something better. In a year, or a decade, there may be a harvest. Rght now, I'm concerned for your aching heart. How might I pray for you? You are not only human, you are so valuable to me. You give me hope for the future. I want to give a little hope back to you. Shalom.

    1. Thanks so much Claire : ) I'm not sure what to pray for myself specifically, but just be holding the LGBTQ community in the Light.

    2. I am holding them in the Light. I can't help it; I just love too many LGBTQ people not to.

  3. Thanks for this post. Really appreciate it.

  4. I really appreciate this, AJ. Your perseverance in love and grace astounds me. The Light shines brightly from you, friend.
    And constructive ideas in the midst of criticism is really helpful. I need it.

    1. I'm glad that some of the ideas resonated with you Beau : ) and I was so grateful for your ministry at GFU.

  5. The whole Christian message as first introduced by Jesus is that there is a beautiful continuing revelation available for all of humankind that "God is love". In light of this truth Jesus did not hesitate to throw out whole portions of the Bible in favor of expanding that experience of love. Why modern day Christians can not follow his example, simply astounds me. What does it say that the non-religious seem more willing to embrace Jesus' example than the religious? If we could help our conservative Christian F(f)riends grasp that the purpose and spirit of Jesus' message was just to bring God's love into the world and NOT to doctrinalize and idolize the Bible, the Christian world would have a true awakening.

    1. Rather than thinking about Jesus throwing out Scripture, I like to think that Jesus was saying that all of the law is encapsulated within loving one another. As a faithful Jewish rabbi he would have known the Torah as well as anyone, but he knew the spirit of the law was being lost within all the letters. If I try to think about a change in conservative Christianity on a macro level I feel overwhelmed, but I can picture the change happening in individuals on the micro level. So I'm hopeful we will get there someday : ) thanks for reading Howard!

  6. Thanks for sharing this. I am so sorry for how you have been treated. Trevin, and The Gospel Coalition, does not, as I am sure you know, represent God/Gospel/Truth. Don't let them coopt the message and shame you. Keep it up and thanks for the honesty

    1. Thanks for reading and for the encouragement! I don't think that God is the cause of that shame, its totally their creation. I'll definitely keep writing : )

  7. Trevin Wax is as exemplary a Christian as you will find. And your judgement is wrong that Christians were no longer going to support children. Here is the best response to that false charge that I have read:

    Miguel wrote:
    First of all, I’m willing to wager that most [I would wager "all"] of the people who pulled their support are not trying to cause children to suffer. Most of them have been loyal supporters of the poor, and to throw them under the bus as if they didn’t give a damn is disingenuous. Many would have continued to leverage their resources to help those in need through other organizations. These are giving people who care, not hypocrites bent on inflicting pain. These “Evangelicals” are objectively known to be disproportionately generous with their donations to charitable causes. They have put their money where their mouths are, and do not deserve to be thrown under the bus merely because they believe an organization bearing the name of Christ has crossed the line....

    But anyways, once you have this system, where World Vision has to filter it’s potential employees for unbelievers, anybody who has gone through similar employment process knows the drill. You have to sign to a certain statement of faith that assures you’re not a Jehovah’s Wittness, Arian, or Buddhist. Then you have to agree to abide the teachings of Christianity, and live above reproach in terms of morality, especially sexual morality.

    Organizations that pursue this method will often dismiss employees who are sexually promiscuous. Such behavior is incompatible with Christian faith, ...

    Throughout the New Testament, issues of sexuality are treated with specific harshness in terms of church fellowship. A Christian church is not permitted to treat someone living in open sexual immorality as a bona fide disciple of Christ. You cannot claim the name of Christ and reject His teaching and that of the Apostles and church he founded. If you want to argue a new interpretation of Christ’s teaching, recognize that your spin is in fact new, comes from an ulterior motive, and will not be adopted by Christ’s church. We believe that the unrepentant sinner has no part of Christ, and it is our duty, as those who hold to Christ, to be clear about this. The hiring of homosexuals in committed relationships/marriages, in an organization which claims exclusively Christian employees, is a contradiction of this.

    There is no way in hell the response actually surprised the leadership of World Vision. You know it, I know it, and the American people know it: Any dolt off the street could have predicted this was going to happen. So I ask you, where does the blame truly lie? The supporters of World Vision who stick to their guns, or the leadership who flips to please a vocal minority and then flips back to protect the bottom line? I will not say for sure, but I do know this: If World Vision continues wants to deliberately alienate their support base for a cause they believe in, they shouldn’t complain about the cost they agreed to pay. Starving children is not a fair price for the progressive agenda, but Christians honoring 2000 years of consistent tradition and teaching know they don’t have to choose between them. Perhaps the solution is that World Vision ought not only hire Christians. Perhaps the solution is that it should stick to feeding the hungry and let the Churches bring the Gospel. Perhaps the reality is that an institution claiming the name of Christ should not be so surprised when it is held accountable by His church.

    Note, this entire argument is premised on the idea that IF World Vision hires exclusively Christian employees, then the hiring of married/committed gays implies that such practices are compatible with Christianity. The Church disagrees and calls this false teaching. We are not against married homosexuals having jobs, nice jobs, good paying jobs, or even doing charity work, and to paint us that way is neither honest nor fair.

    1. "Many would have continued to leverage their resources to help those in need through other organizations."

      This is the fatal flaw with this argument. Charitable giving isn't a supermarket. One absolutely cannot be motivated by convenience. Real live children depended on regular support from their WV sponsors. Choosing another organization to give to, may help qualm someones guilt, but it directly hurts the children that needed their sponsorship!

      As for Christ's teachings... I think you maybe leaving a few things out... I would like to think that Jesus and the Christian Tradition have a deeper commitment to poverty than being 'against Gay marriage'. I know arguments of 'quantity' are relatively weak, but I think there is validity in the fact that Jesus frequently addresses wealth and poverty and not once mentions 'homosexuality'.

      I know you didn't write this response, but the fact that you posted it makes me wonder... Did you even read AJ's post? Or did you just look at the title and respond?

      I'm assuming the latter is true. I would highly recommend you read AJ's post in it's entirety.

    2. Mike,
      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, though I'd prefer it if you could mostly just use your own thoughts next time rather than copy and pasting. Josh has made the points that I would have in response to Miguel specifically. To you I would say that I can find far more exemplary followers of Christ than Trevin demonstrated himself to be, and that I think the Church has a larger variety of beliefs around this issue than you think it might.

  8. The folks at World Vision prayed and prayed for weeks and weeks and months and months, read and reread their Scriptures, and came to a conclusion that was contrary to their current practice. So they changed it.

    Then in three days, the Evangelicals came calling. Switched out their Scriptures. Told them that months and months of prayer were no longer necessary, and that they could do it for them.

    Sounded good when followed by a big check.

    1. Hey David : ) thanks for reading and commenting!

      It sure looks that way...I could not imagine personally reversing on a matter of conscience that I'd carefully discerned just like that. That helped when working within a conservative Christian college, because it felt like I was being asked to recant every other day!



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