Thursday, June 4, 2009

insulated but not isolated

I lead an insulated life. I have worked at the same Christian book store for 21 years. Most of the people I come in contact with on a daily basis know the Lord and while I do encounter the occasional Christian behaving badly (sounds like a program on Tru TV), for the most part they are ordinary people doing ordinary things in ordinary places.

A little less than two years ago, I began blogging as an outlet for all the random things that are constantly circling around in my head. Since I blog about what I know (and maybe some things that I think I know but really don't...), most of people who read my blog know Jesus and have a relationship with Him. Which is a wonderful thing. But it also contributes to my insulated life.

You may have noticed that I now moderate my comments and I no longer allow anonymous bloggers. Recently I received some comments from someone who has a slightly different view of life than I do. My first reaction was to delete the comments (and I did) but when I received a third comment, I felt like I needed to address some of the things that she said. However, I did not feel completely equipped to respond to her ruminations. Fortunately, I was able to find someone who could.

The post in question was one I did in April entitled Finding Hope. Basically I talked about how our definition of hope in the United States compared with the hope that Compassion brings to children around the world. (Um...it doesn't compare.) Here are her comments:

"And what strings do "Compassion" attach to its aid? No, I'm seriously wondering. Because if strings, then aid DOES NOT EQUAL compassion; it equals MANIPULATION. And if indoctrination into the christian cult, then aid is the M.O. of "Compassion", then they're just doing a DISSERVICE to all of humanity. "

"the fact that you aren't able to answer my question shows what a sham the organization is, and what a sham your religion is. if Christianity is *really* the best way to live then you shouldn't have to trade food for religious info."

Here's the deal. While I know that these things are not true, I feel completely ill-equipped to answer them with any amount of authority. So, I emailed Shaun Groves (who knows all about Compassion) and this was his response:

Compassion serves children regardless of race, religion, politics, etc. Many children in our programs are Hindu, Muslim, Orthodox, etc. I've met them and their families - most of whom have not converted to Christianity and some who have. We do not ask for or require conversion in order to receive care. In part this is because Jesus never did such a thing. When he fed the five thousand, for instance, he did not require them to believe he was the Messiah first...or even afterward. This pattern is repeated throughout his ministry. However, every Compassion project is a local church so children and their parents do hear about Jesus and know that we are loving them because we believe Jesus first loved us.

When a Christian meets the physical needs of another human being it no more has to come with strings attached than when an atheist meets someones needs. An atheist doesn't require those he serves to renounce religion first does he? The same should be true of Christians and certainly is for Compassion. No one is trading their soul for a plate of rice, a mosquito net, HIV medication, education or a safe place to play. And it is strict Compassion policy that no one ever be asked to.

Lastly, Charity Navigators - a non-religious charity watchdog group - has given Compassion its highest rating for the last 7 years, which is every year Compassion has received a rating by this group. Compassion is the only non-profit in it's category (child aid, I believe it is) to receive this many consecutive four star ratings from Charity Navigators. The Wall Street Journal, though its magazine Smart Money, rated 600 U.S. based non-profits a few years back and ranked Compassion in the top ten of those, recommending them as one of the top ten organizations to contribute to. I could go on. In our fifty year history there has never even been an accusation of wrongdoing by any of the non-profits watchdogs or the media. Not one.

I wholeheartedly support Compassion and the work they do. I am grateful that they are able to go where I cannot and be the hands and feet of Jesus in ways that I can only dream about. I am so blessed to have the opportunity to support their ministry. And I love my sponsored girls as if they were my own.

I will be publishing Heather's comment on that particular post. I will also publish Shaun's response. Because I do want the truth to be known. And just so you know, the fact that a very busy complete stranger took the time to answer my questions only adds to Compassion's credibility. Thanks Shaun!