December 2018

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A powerful undersea earthquake that struck off the coast of Sumatra island, Indonesia, set off the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, also known as the Christmas or Boxing Day tsunami, on Sunday morning, Dec. 26, 2004. The magnitude 9.1 quake ruptured a 900-mile stretch of fault line where the Indian and Australian tectonic plates meet. It was a powerful megathrust quake, occurring where a heavy ocean plate slips under a lighter continental plate.

The quake caused the ocean floor to suddenly rise by as much as 40 meters, triggering a massive tsunami. Within 20 minutes of the earthquake, the first of several 100-foot waves hit the shoreline of Banda Aceh, killing more than 100,000 people and pounding the city into rubble. Then, in succession, tsunami waves rolled over coastlines in Thailand, India, and Sri Lanka, killing tens of thousands more. Eight hours later and 5,000 miles from its Asian epicenter, the tsunami claimed its final casualties on the coast of South Africa. In all, nearly 230,000 people were killed, making it one of the deadliest disasters in modern history.

Since the 2004 tsunami, governments and aid groups have prioritized disaster risk reduction and preparedness. Only three weeks after the tsunami, representatives of 168 nations agreed to the Hyogo Framework for Action, which paved the way for global cooperation for disaster risk reduction. Since then, ocean floor earthquake sensors have been installed to trigger early warnings, and many local communities have been trained in evacuation and disaster response.

Major earthquakes and tsunamis in August and September 2018 have tested Indonesia’s ability to respond and recover. Then, in December 2018, Anak Krakatau volcano’s ongoing eruptions in the Sunda Strait caused undersea landslides that triggered a tsunami that struck beaches in both Sumatra and Java. With no warning triggered from the volcanic activity, more than 400 people died. Now, the Indonesian government is working to add volcano sensors to its warning systems.

When disaster strikes, World Vision is there. Help us respond to disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis.

2004 Indian Ocean tsunami timeline

December 26, 2004

  • 7:58 a.m.: A magnitude 9.1 earthquake occurs off the northwest coast of Sumatra.
  • +15 minutes: The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii registers the quake.
  • +20 to 30 minutes: Tsunami waves more than 100 feet high pound the Banda Aceh coast, killing about 170,000 people and destroying buildings and infrastructure.
  • +1.5 hours: Beaches in southern Thailand are hit by the tsunami. Among the 5,400 who died were 2,000 foreign tourists.
  • +2 hours: The tsunami strikes the Sri Lankan coastline from the northeast and all around the southern tip; more than 30,000 people are dead or missing. The east coast of India is hard hit from Chennai south; more than 16,000 people are killed.
  • +8 hours: The tsunami reaches the east coast of Africa, killing more than 300 people in Somalia, Tanzania, and Kenya.
The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed nearly 230,000 people was one of the deadliest disasters in modern history. It was caused by a magnitude-9.1 earthquake where the Indian and Australian tectonic plates meet.
(©2005 image courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey)

FAQs: What you need to know about the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami

Explore frequently asked questions about the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and learn how you can help survivors of disasters.

Fast Facts: 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami

  • The Sumatra-Andaman earthquake, which caused the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, is estimated to have released energy equivalent to 23,000 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs.
  • In Banda Aceh, the landmass closest to the quake’s epicenter, tsunami waves topped 100 feet.
  • The tsunami’s waves traveled across the Indian Ocean at 500 mph, the speed of a jet plane.
  • The 2004 Indonesia earthquake caused a shift in the Earth’s mass that changed the planet’s rotation.
  • Total material losses from the tsunami were estimated at $10 million.
  • Nearly 230,000 people were killed, making it one of the deadliest disasters in modern history.


Where did the earthquake hit?

The Sumatra-Andaman earthquake struck 150 miles from the coast of Sumatra island, on the northwest of the Indonesian island group, and 31 miles below the ocean floor. The quake occurred along a fault line between the Indian tectonic plate and the Burma microplate, part of the Australian plate. The Indian plate is a heavy ocean plate, and it slipped under the lighter coastal plate, rupturing a 900-mile length of the fault.

Indonesia lies between the Pacific Ring of Fire, where 90 percent of earthquakes occur, and the second-most active seismic zone, the Alpide belt.


How big was the earthquake that caused the Indian Ocean tsunami?

The earthquake’s magnitude was measured between 9.1 and 9.3, making it the third-most powerful quake since 1900. Magnitude is a measure of the release of energy at the earthquake’s source.

In the worst-affected areas, the quake’s intensity rated IX on the Mercalli scale, the second highest rating possible. So the quake caused violent shaking and extensive damage to even well-built buildings. Earthquake intensity is based on observation and varies in different places.


Why was the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami so destructive and deadly?

The first giant waves from the Indian Ocean tsunami reached Banda Aceh, a city of about 300,000 people within 15 or 20 minutes after the earthquake. Few residents of the densely populated area realized that the earthquake they had felt could cause a tsunami, and there was little time to flee to higher ground.

Traveling as fast as 500 mph, the waves spread out to distant countries including Thailand, Sri Lanka, and India. With no warning, coastal populations were caught by the pounding waves. Many families that made their living fishing lost everything; whole communities were wiped out by the tsunami.


How can I help people affected by earthquakes and tsunamis?

  • Give: Donate to World Vision’s disaster relief fund to bring help when another disaster strikes.
  • Pray: Join us in praying for families as they recover and rebuild after earthquakes and other disasters:  Almighty Father, we ask for Your caring mercy on people hard hit by natural disasters, including earthquakes and tsunamis. In the midst of their struggle to recover, give them patience, peace, and hope that their lives will continue to improve.


How did World Vision help people recover from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami?

In response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, World Vision mounted its largest-ever relief response across five countries simultaneously — Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, India, and Myanmar — and raised more than $350 million.

World Vision focused on the needs of children, families, and their communities, with programs to provide protection, healthcare, education, and livelihoods. We provided training and employment opportunities to 40,000 people, child-rights awareness sessions for more than 27,000 people, educational support for more than 2,000 teachers and 137,000 children, and implemented community-level disaster risk reduction programs.

World Vision built 12,000 homes, 200 Child-Friendly Spaces, 84 schools, 60 playgrounds, and 27 health clinics. We built roads, bridges, farms, factories, marketplaces, boat-building centers, and restored a fishing harbor. Our coastal restoration programs included planting 56,000 mangroves to serve as a natural barrier to rising ocean levels.

Most tsunami-related rehabilitation work was completed by 2007. Today, World Vision’s expansive child sponsorship, health, education, water, food, agriculture, and income-generating activities are found across each of the tsunami-affected countries.


How does World Vision help people prepare for disasters?

World Vision pre-positions relief supplies and trains staff for emergency work in areas like child protection, relief supply chain management, clean water provision, and more. In disaster-prone communities where we work, we organize programs to reduce risks from disasters and train local first responders.

In nearly 100 countries around the world, World Vision works to improve the lives of children and families and to help them prepare for and recover from disasters.


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At this time of year, most of our thoughts can turn to winter wonderlands. It might be time for ice skating, skiing, snowshoeing, or building a snowman — if we’re so inclined. We also have the right gear to make these outings fun.

That’s not the case for many children who face bitter cold around the world.

For children who lack the essentials like warm clothes, boots, and coats, winter is no wonderland. It’s a time when they can’t go outside. They’re confined to their homes due to the deadly cold.

In Armenia’s northwestern Shirak region, low temperatures have historically hovered around zero during December and January. The landscape resembles a white desert because of its sparse vegetation and the snow-blanketed ground that shimmers like white glitter. Winters can last between six and seven months of the year.

A brutal cold snap hit the region in February 2016. Temperatures dropped as low as -37 degrees Celsius (-34.6 F) and stayed below freezing for days.

The Petanyan family lives here. The two youngest children — Hovhannes, 11, and Stepan, 10 — only had jean jackets to fight off frigid temperatures.

“We wanted warm clothes more than food,” says their mother, Armenuhi.

Stepan Petanyan dashes across the field on his way to school with only his jean jacket to protect him from the Armenian winter.
Stepan Petanyan dashes across the field on his way to school with only his jean jacket to protect him from the Armenian winter. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Laura Reinhardt)

They crossed snowfields dotted with utility towers that carry electricity to their community. The brothers said they shivered and tried to run, but the snow was deep, and their feet and fingers got numb during the 25-minute walk to school.

When the weather got too cold, they were forced to stay home. The boys do well in school, but if they miss too many days, they could begin to fall behind in their studies.

Hovhannes Petanyan, age 11, likes the coat he just received from World Vision.
Hovhannes Petanyan, age 11, says he likes the coat he just received from World Vision. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Laura Reinhardt)

Thankfully, World Vision provided warm winter coats — a generous donation from one of World Vision’s corporate partners — to the boys. That leads to fewer missed school days because Hovhannes and Stepan can bundle up warmly against the elements 

Two other brothers living in Armenia, Andre and Artem Grigoryan, were also not initially excited by the snow and freezing conditions. Instead, it brought them shame because their family couldn’t afford warm coats, gloves, and boots. 

Their father, Garnik, is a maintenance worker at a hydroelectric plant. He considers himself fortunate to have employment since few men are able to find work in the rural regions of the country.  Men often migrate to Russia or Turkey to seek employment.

Still, Garnik doesn’t earn much, and sometimes he doesn’t receive his full wages or doesn’t get them on time. This makes it difficult for the family to afford necessities like winter clothing, which is especially important since they live in one of the coldest regions in Armenia — Amasia.

When Artem was 3 years old, he suffered from frostbite. His hands had turned red and were swollen after being outside in the cold. Artem’s mother, Anna, took him to the doctor, who diagnosed the boy. The doctor told Anna that her son’s hands would be sensitive to cold for the rest of his life, and he would need to wear warm gloves.

Like all growing children, the brothers had outgrown their clothes and boots. To make do with shoes too small, Anna had to cut off the tops of Andre’s boots so he could get his feet to fit, but that meant slushy snow and ice would get inside too.

When Andre and Artem in Armenia couldn’t go to school because they didn’t have warm coats, they felt ashamed; but a gift helped them stay in school!
Andre’s boots were too small. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Laura Reinhardt)

Eight-year-old Artem had holes in the soles of his boots, and the cloth tops soaked through quickly.

Understanding the boots’ worn condition, feeling how very cold it was outside, and especially with Artem’s history, Anna kept the boys home from school. A 10-minute walk in the bitter cold  was too much.

This devastated the boys.

Anna says, “It broke my heart when they asked me, ‘Mom, how come our neighbors have good shoes and coats and we don’t?’”

When friends came by to walk with the boys to school, they hid inside. They were ashamed to come to the door to tell their friends that they couldn’t go because they didn’t have the warm coats or boots they needed. 

When Andre and Artem in Armenia couldn’t go to school because they didn’t have warm coats, they felt ashamed; but a gift helped them stay in school!
Without warm coats and boots to keep them warm during the winter, brothers Andre and Artem couldn’t go to school. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Laura Reinhardt) 

Anna herself didn’t want to admit to the need, so she told their friends they weren’t going to school. Andre and Artem hid inside and watched through their window as their better-dressed classmates went on to school.

“I was very sad when we couldn’t go to school,” says Andre. “When I got back, I caught up with work as quick as I could.”

Then World Vision offered the brothers warm coats. Corporate donors provided them as a product donation, which enables World Vision to pass on these much-needed items.

When Andre and Artem in Armenia couldn’t go to school because they didn’t have warm coats, they felt ashamed; but a gift helped them stay in school!
Andre and Artem play outside in their new boots and warm coats! (©2017 World Vision/photo by Laura Reinhardt)

The donated coats are larger, and the boys will have plenty of room to grow. Equally important, they received shin-high yellow boots that will keep their feet warm and dry.

Both sets of brothers can now attend school without fearing the harsh winter weather on the way. They’re free from the shame of not having clothes and boots that allow them to get to school. They have what they need to keep them safe and warm when they’re out in their winter wonderland.

Kathryn Reid of World Vision’s staff in the U.S. contributed to this article. 

Help keep a child in need warm this winter! Give Now.

When you sponsor a child, you help keep him or her warm, fed, in school, and more for the long term. Choose your child in Armenia today!

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Looking through Instagram, courage isn’t the first word that comes to my mind. Rather, images that convey “look at me” and “see how amazing my life is” are pushed to the top of our feeds.

However, when I look back at World Vision’s Instagram posts of 2018, courage is the word God showed me. It was everywhere. Children, families, our staff, and you — our amazing supporters — were stepping out in faith, believing that God will provide even in times of trials and tribulations.

Today, join me in remembering the courageous people who inspire me. I hope they inspire you as well.

*     *     *

Post #1: Jan. 6, Honduras

These six Instagram posts of 2018 embody the theme of courage: children, families, World Vision staff, and our amazing supporters stepping out in faith and believing that God will provide even in the midst of trials and tribulations.

See the full post here.

In Africa, people say that water is life, and in Honduras, few know this better than 5-year-old David. He walked miles every day with his mother and little brother to retrieve dirty water from a river, nearly drowning as his mother washed the family’s clothes.

Hundreds of people submitted prayers to help him be strong. And thanks to your prayers, World Vision’s partnerships with generous donors, and hard work, David and his community will have lasting clean water for years to come. David’s strength lands my top spot.

Post #2: May 31, Zambia

These six Instagram posts of 2018 embody the theme of courage: children, families, World Vision staff, and our amazing supporters stepping out in faith and believing that God will provide even in the midst of trials and tribulations.

See the full post here.

Edgar Sandoval Sr.  stepped into the role of president of World Vision U.S. on Oct. 1. His courage to follow God’s call to serve inspires me. With more than 1,000 likes on this post and 34 prayer comments that followed, I’ve viewed and recognized your support behind his bold faith as well.

Post #3: June 12, Bangladesh

These six Instagram posts of 2018 embody the theme of courage: children, families, World Vision staff, and our amazing supporters stepping out in faith and believing that God will provide even in the midst of trials and tribulations.

See the full post here.

When I read 16-year-old Tania’s story, I walked away in awe of her courage. She was forced to set aside her needs to provide for her family — by herself! When her once hard-working father was blinded and unable to provide as a result of a brutal mugging, Tania dropped out of school and began working the overnight shift in a shrimp factory.

Fortunately, peeling shrimp didn’t diminish Tania’s dreams. With a sewing machine in hand — a gift from our donors — combined with grit and determination, Tania is on her way achieving her dreams.

Post #4: July 20, Rwanda

These six Instagram posts of 2018 embody the theme of courage: children, families, World Vision staff, and our amazing supporters stepping out in faith and believing that God will provide even in the midst of trials and tribulations.

See the full post here.

That smile. Little Oddeth is a ray of courageous light in her community of Nyamagabe, where the scars of the 1994 Rwanda genocide is still evident. Her innocence and unrelenting love are helping these scars fade, transforming once-hard hearts from hopelessness to happiness. With 21 comments of encouragement for that smile to continue, I know you were inspired by her bravery too.

Post #5: Sept. 7, Democratic Republic of the Congo

These six Instagram posts of 2018 embody the theme of courage: children, families, World Vision staff, and our amazing supporters stepping out in faith and believing that God will provide even in the midst of trials and tribulations.

See the full post here.

I love this one. The look of pure determination is evident on this girl’s face as she grabs a tin plate and begins the courageous and long walk to a World Vision nutrition center, where she fills up her belly with the food she needs to grow big and strong!

When I feel afraid, I only need to look at her face to be reminded that God’s got this: Whatever I am walking through, he will provide the courage to face it.

Post #6: Nov. 27, Zambia

These six Instagram posts of 2018 embody the theme of courage: children, families, World Vision staff, and our amazing supporters stepping out in faith and believing that God will provide even in the midst of trials and tribulations.

See the full post here.

My final choice is dedicated to our donors and advocates who stepped out in faith this past Giving Tuesday and helped make it our biggest giving day of the year. From people who had little to others who had plenty, I saw the bold and courageous hearts of our supporters who trusted that God would use their donations to make the biggest impact possible.

Because of you, children like Debby have a brighter future. From all of us at World Vision, thank you for giving us the means to carry out God’s work.

*     *     *

Courage. It’s inside of us all. But what motivated us to act on that courage? The answer? Faith. Fueled by our faith, God commands us to step out in boldness each and every day. When I am feeling scared, I turn to the fearless children, families, and donors highlighted in our daily Instagram posts that inspire me with their courageous faith.

I couldn’t be more honored to have walked with you on this journey of courage in 2018. Are you feeling inspired? Tell us in the comments below, and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @WorldVisionUSA.

Sarah Nizolek manages the World Vision USA Instagram channel. It is her honor and privilege to write these daily posts and stories. She hopes they encourage and inspire you as much as they do her.

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The Earth’s crust and the outer mantle layer beneath it are made up of seven massive plates and many smaller ones that fit together like puzzle pieces and are constantly moving above the molten core. When these tectonic plates slip over, under, or past each other at the fault lines where they meet, energy builds up and is released as an earthquake. Undersea earthquakes sometimes cause ocean waves called tsunamis.

As tectonic plates shift, the Earth’s landscape is reformed — creating mountains and volcanoes and redrawing coastlines.

As many as 500,000 earthquakes occur each year, and about 100,000 are large enough to be felt. Perhaps as many as 100 cause damage. Major earthquakes that measure magnitude 7 or greater happen somewhere on the earth about every month.

Timeline: History of earthquake and tsunami studies

132 — The first seismic measuring device is invented in China.

1566 — An earthquake in Shaanxi, China, kills 830,000 people.

1811 to 1812 — A series of three major earthquakes and numerous aftershocks near New Madrid, Missouri, were felt as far away as Boston and Denver.

1883 — In the Indonesian islands, the Krakatoa volcano explodes. Its lengthy effects include ash clouds that cover the globe and a massive tsunami.

1906 — About 700 people were killed in San Francisco, California, when an earthquake was followed by about 30 fires that raged for three days.

1933 — In Japan, the Sanriku earthquake and tsunami occur in a location that saw damaging quakes in 1896.

1935 — Charles Richter develops the Richter scale to measure earthquake size.

1960 — At magnitude 9.5, the 1960 Valdivia earthquake in Chile is the most powerful quake ever recorded.

1964 — The Alaska earthquake, at magnitude 9.2, is the second most powerful to date. The tsunami it generated caused damage as far away as Hawaii.

1965 — Plate tectonics is recognized as the theory that unifies current knowledge of earthquake science.

1977 — The National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program is established by the U.S. Congress to reduce future risks to life and property from earthquakes.

1986 — The Global Seismographic Network was established to measure quakes and combine data using modern technology.

1989 — The Northridge quake in California causes $64 billion in losses.

2004 — A magnitude 9.1 earthquake off the coast of Sumatra created a massive tsunami, now known as the Indian Ocean tsunami, that caused damage in 14 countries. A global effort accelerates the development of a tsunami early warning system.

2011 — A magnitude 9.0  earthquake hits off the northeast coast of Japan’s Honshu island, generating a massive tsunami.

2012  — The city of Sendai, Japan, is recognized as a model for urban resilience for its recovery from the earthquake of 2011.

FAQs: What you need to know about earthquakes and tsunamis

Explore frequently asked questions about earthquakes and tsunamis and find out how to help people affected by natural disasters.

Fast facts: Earthquakes and tsunamis

  • Shifts and collisions of tectonic plates cause earthquakes.
  • The epicenter of an earthquake is the surface location directly above the quake’s hypocenter, the below-surface location where the rupture of the fault begins.
  • The scientific study of earthquakes is called seismology.
  • A magnitude 9.5 earthquake in Chile on May 22, 1960, is the largest quake in recorded history.
  • The largest-known quake in the United States struck Prince William Sound, Alaska, on March 28, 1964, and measured magnitude 9.2.
  • Earthquakes below magnitude 7.5 seldom cause tsunamis.
  • The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which was created by a magnitude 9.1 earthquake near Sumatra, caused widespread damage in 14 countries.


A map shows the Pacific Ring of Fire, the world’s most active seismic zone. About 90 percent of earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire, located at the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Most of the world’s active volcanoes are also located on the Ring.
About 90 percent of earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire. Located at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, it is the world’s most active seismic zone. Most of the world’s active volcanoes are also located on the Ring. (Image courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey)

What is an earthquake, and why do earthquakes happen?

Earthquakes are disturbances at ground level and below caused by shifts and collisions of tectonic plates, the geologic structures that form the Earth’s outer layer. Friction between plates causes their edges to stick and build up energy even as the plates continue to move. That energy is released as an earthquake when the plates come unstuck and slip past each other. Earthquakes can happen anywhere at any time, but they most commonly occur on known fault lines such as the Pacific Ring of Fire.


How are earthquakes measured?

A worldwide network of seismic stations measure the movement of the ground, from which seismologists can calculate the magnitude of the quake at its source. When a major quake occurs, the first calculations of magnitude are based on only a few seismic readings. Within days or weeks, the magnitude may be adjusted based on more exact measurements.

Intensity is another indicator of an earthquake’s strength. Based on an agreed scale of damage, Roman numerals are assigned to indicate the amount of shaking and damage in different locations.


A magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Central Mexico in September 2017, killing more than 300 people. Search and rescue teams remove the bodies of children who died when Mexico City’s Rébsamen School collapsed during the earthquake. At least 21 children and four adults died in this location.
Search and rescue teams remove the bodies of children who died when Mexico City’s Rébsamen School collapsed during a magnitude 7.1 earthquake in Central Mexico on September 2017. At least 21 children and four adults died. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Eliud Leyva)

What hazards are caused by earthquakes?

Strong earthquakes can be extremely dangerous. The earth’s shaking may cause landslides or even rupture the surface of the ground. When saturated loose soils lose their stiffness and form, liquefaction occurs, and the ground collapses like a liquid. In a one-two punch, a tsunami may follow an undersea earthquake, bringing massive destruction to coastal zones.

Most earthquake deaths are due to structural failures of buildings. The 2010 Haiti earthquake, for example, struck hardest in the capital, Port-au-Prince, where poorly constructed buildings collapsed. An estimated 250,000 people died, and 1.5 million people were left homeless.

Secondary effects of earthquakes can include a collapse of infrastructure, fires, and disease outbreaks. After the Haiti quake, a cholera outbreak spread quickly through the camps where people lived for months or even years. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake triggered a secondary hazard: Damaging fires ignited by ruptured gas mains burned for three days and destroyed about 500 blocks of the city. In more recent disasters, fires are also caused by downed power lines.


How can I help people affected by earthquakes and tsunamis?

  • Give: Donate to World Vision’s disaster relief fund to bring healing to affected children, families, and communities.
  • Pray: Join us in praying for World Vision staff and responders as they help families recover and rebuild after earthquakes and other disasters: Almighty Father, we ask for Your caring mercy on people hard hit by natural disasters, including earthquakes and tsunamis. Amid their struggle to recover, give them patience, peace, and hope that their lives will continue to improve.


What is a tsunami, and what causes tsunamis?

A tsunami is a series of giant waves caused by an earthquake or underwater volcano that suddenly shifts the sea floor. Tsunamis can travel at 500 miles an hour — as fast as a jet plane — across the open ocean.

Tsunami waves slow down and pile up higher as they approach land. Both the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2011 Japan tsunami were more than 100 ft. tall when they reached shore.


Is a tsunami the same as a tidal wave?

Tsunamis and tidal waves are both sea waves, but they have different causes and characteristics. A tidal wave is a shallow water wave caused by the gravitational effects of the sun and moon on the earth. A tsunami is not influenced by the tides and may reach great heights as it comes thundering into shore.


How can I prepare for an earthquake?

The U.S. Geological Service cautions people to prepare their households to be self-sufficient for a week or more in case of an earthquake.

Items to stockpile include:

  • Fire extinguisher
  • Dried and packaged food for several days
  • A gallon of water a day for each family member; bleach or purification tablets to treat water
  • First-aid kit and medications
  • Tools to turn off gas and water lines
  • Camp stove or barbecue and fuel for cooking
  • Flashlight, along with extra bulbs and batteries
  • Heavy plastic bags for waste disposal

In case of an earthquake, drop, cover, and hold on!


How does World Vision help people affected by earthquakes and tsunamis?

World Vision pre-positions relief supplies and trains staff for emergency work in areas including child protection, relief supply chain management, and clean water provision. In disaster-prone communities, we organize programs to reduce risks from disasters and train local first responders.

In nearly 100 countries around the world, World Vision works to improve the lives of children and families and to help them prepare for and recover from disasters.

World Vision provided aid to survivors of these recent earthquakes and tsunamis:

  • 2001 Bhuj, Gujarat, India earthquake — magnitude 7.9, 20,000 people died
  • 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami — magnitude 9.1; 220,000 people died
  • 2005 Kashmir earthquake — magnitude 7.6, 73,000 people died
  • 2010 Haiti earthquake — magnitude 7.0, 220,000 people died
  • 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami — magnitude 9.0, 20,000 people died
  • 2014 Iquique earthquake and tsunami, Chile — magnitude 8.2; 5 people died, four from heart attacks
  • 2015 Nepal earthquake — magnitude 7.8, 9,000 people died
  • 2017 Ecuador earthquake — magnitude 7.8, 700 people died
  • 2017 Mexico earthquakes — magnitudes 8.1 and 7.1, 315 people died
  • 2018 Indonesia earthquakes and tsunami — magnitudes 6.9 and 7.5, more than 2,000 people died


The post Earthquakes and tsunamis: Facts, FAQs, and how to help appeared first on World Vision.

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The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the second largest country in Africa, has been mired in conflict for decades. A country of paradoxes, it is a land rich in natural resources, but its people are among the poorest in the world.

While the DRC has vast amounts of oil, diamonds, gold, and other natural resources, a majority of the population — about 64 percent — is considered extremely poor and lives on less than $1.90 a day, according to World Bank estimates.

The country is fraught with political instability, armed clashes, and human rights violations. The latest conflict erupted in 2016 in the Kasai region, which includes five provinces in the center of the country. It is yet another instance of fighting between the military and splintered ethnic militias. Nationally, 2.1 million people were newly displaced in 2017 and 2018, making the DRC the African country with the highest number of internally displaced people — 4.5 million. About 7.7 million people lack adequate food, including more than 2 million children under 5 affected by severe acute malnutrition.

Ebola alert — Dec. 15, 2018: Ebola briefly broke out in May in northwestern DRC. Then the deadly virus resurfaced in August in the northeast, killing 313 of 531 people infected as of Dec. 15. This is the tenth outbreak of the deadly viral disease in the DRC since it was identified in the 1970s. Earlier outbreaks were quickly contained and didn’t spread beyond isolated rural communities. Now that an Ebola case has been confirmed in an urban area — the town of Beni —the World Health Organization and local partners have organized an all-out effort to vaccinate healthcare workers and hundreds of other people who may have been in contact with the virus.

History of the DRC

The people of the DRC have endured more than two decades of civil war, and conflict has claimed as many as 6 million lives.

16th century to late 19th century — Precolonial era

  • Chiefdoms and many ethnic groups dominated the large sub-Saharan region that is now the DRC.

1885 to 1960 — European colonization

  • King Leopold II of Belgium laid claim to what he called Congo Free State, which he ruled cruelly in a bid to extract natural resources.
  • In response to an international outcry, the Belgian state took it over in 1908, renaming it the Belgian Congo.

1960 — Independence and Congo crisis

  • A Congolese uprising led to independence in 1960. The Congo crisis was characterized by years of chaos, multiple coups, and insurgencies.
  • Patrice Lumumba became the first legally elected prime minister; less than a year later, he was assassinated.

1965 — President Mobutu Sese Seko

  • Mobutu — formerly Patrice Lumumba’s secretary of state for national defense — seized power in a bloodless coup and assumed the presidency, forming a totalitarian regime.
  • President Mobutu renamed the country to Zaire in 1971.

1996 to 1997 — First Congo war

  • President Mobutu Sese Seko was replaced by Laurent Kabila, a rebel leader, after a foreign invasion by Rwanda. Under the new president, the country’s name was restored to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

1997 to 2003 — Civil war

2003 to 2016 — Continued conflict

  • Armed conflict persisted in the East among dozens of rebel groups.
  • In 2006, the DRC held its first free elections in 40 years, electing Joseph Kabila as its president. Kabila had been appointed to the position after his father, Laurent Kabila, was assassinated.

2016 to 2018 — Shaky political ground

  • Turmoil in the East has flared up sporadically amid political volatility, displacing millions of people.
  • Fighting broke out in Grand Kasai, in the central region, between supporters of a traditional leader was killed by security forces.
  • National elections have been postponed multiple times after accusations of fraud in the 2011 polls. New elections have been scheduled for December 2018.

FAQs: What you need to know about the DRC conflict

Explore facts and FAQs about conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and learn how you can help affected children, families, and communities.

Fast facts: What is happening in the DRC?

  • About 12.8 million of 77 million people in the DRC need humanitarian assistance and protection, including 7 million people who are food insecure, an increase of 30 percent over the year before.
  • The most concerning problems include child malnutrition and outbreaks of cholera, measles, and yellow fever. The country reported 55,000 cholera cases and 1,000 deaths in 2017, as well as more than 42,000 cases of preventable measles.
  • More than 500,000 people from the DRC live in neighboring countries as refugees. They fled during years of violence and conflict between warring militias and rebel factions dating back to the 1960s.
  • More than 2 million people were newly displaced in 2017 and 2018.


How can I help people in the DRC?

Sponsor a child: Help World Vision continue to provide life-saving assistance to children and communities in the DRC.

Pray: Pray for children and families caught up in violence in the DRC.


How are conditions in the DRC affecting children?

UNICEF reports that 7 million children have been affected by the DRC conflict. Children are the main victims of violence, at risk of injury or death in combat, as many children have been recruited into armed groups as porters, combatants, or sex slaves. Children recently released from armed groups have expressed fear of returning home, saying they will not be accepted back into their families and communities.

In addition to food, shelter, and psychosocial support, children need opportunities for play and learning. In Kasai-Central province, 400 schools have been attacked and at least 260 were destroyed, depriving some 150,000 primary-school-age children of access to education.

Because of poverty and displacement, many children throughout the country are forced to work rather than attend school. Working in mines is common among children in the DRC, and it’s one of the most dangerous forms of child labor.


What are the greatest needs of children and families in the DRC?

The greatest needs of children and families in the DRC are food aid and all aspects of child protection. Without reliable sources of food, families are cutting back consumption, and children are becoming malnourished. As many as 7.7 million people don’t have sufficient food. The U.N. children’s agency estimates that 2.2 million children will suffer from severe acute malnutrition, about 12 percent of the global caseload. This form of malnutrition means children are dying of hunger. With children vulnerable to violence and recruitment into armed groups, they need opportunities for education and strong support systems within their families and communities.


What is World Vision doing to help people in the DRC?

World Vision has provided relief and development programs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 1984. Today, we are operating in 14 of 26 provinces. Our child-focused programming in protection, health, nutrition, water and sanitation, food aid, food security, peacebuilding efforts, and emergency relief reached almost 2.5 million people in 2015. World Vision is the World Food Program’s largest partner in the DRC, distributing food to nearly 1 million people.

In impoverished areas, families are unable to access education or healthcare opportunities for their children. World Vision has improved schools, adding new classrooms and desks, and provided teachers with training. Our programs have helped improve school attendance, literacy rates, and girls’ education. Healthcare initiatives last year focused on prenatal care for pregnant women and reaching children in remote areas with physical exams and vaccinations to prevent life-threatening childhood diseases.

Since World Vision’s response to the conflict in Kasai began in August 2017, our staff have reached more than 535,000 people with life-saving humanitarian assistance. That includes nearly 460,000 people who received food and cash, more than 46,000 young children and vulnerable adults in 126 health centers who received treatment or prevention consults for malnutrition, more than 22,000 children who benefited from Child-Friendly Spaces, and almost 27,000 students who benefited from classroom repairs, back-to-school kits, teacher training, and school-fee scholarships. Our response to the complex situation in the DRC will continue in 2019.


Chris Huber and Kathryn Reid of World Vision’s staff in the U.S. contributed to this article.

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Hope is infectious, even healing. But in a world that’s often dark, what is there to be hopeful for? Here are 19 reasons to have hope in 2019 — and how to pray them into reality.

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’—Jeremiah 29:11

1. Extreme poverty is giving up ground.

In the last 20 years, the number of children dying around the world from things they shouldn’t — from hunger and poverty and disease — has dropped from more than 30,000 a day to less than 15,000. And the number of people living in extreme poverty, those living on less than $1.90 a day, dropped by more than 1 billion.

Now the world’s nations have set an ambitious goal of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030, and we are joining them in this important work. Every 60 seconds … a family gets water … a hungry child is fed … a family receives the tools to overcome poverty.

Merciful Provider, we thank You for all You have done to make fullness of life possible for people in need around the world. Support us in our critical endeavor of freeing more children from the effects of extreme poverty.

You + World Vision’s local staff = help, hope, and love to people in nearly 100 countries.

2. We are 99 percent of the way to eradicating polio globally.

Unlike most diseases, polio can be completely eradicated because it cannot survive for long periods outside of the human body. At its peak in the early 1900s, polio struck tens of thousands of Americans. The World Health Organization estimates that as many as 20 million people are living with polio paralysis.

But right now, this crippling and potentially fatal disease is nearing eradication. In 2018, there were only 29 cases globally. If eradication happens, polio will join smallpox as the only other human disease to become extinct.

Great Healer, we pray for children, families, and communities affected by polio — especially in Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean, where polio still persists. Bless the work of doctors and organizations who are working hard to eradicate this disease.

3. The end of the HIV and AIDS pandemic is in sight.

AIDS-related deaths have fallen by more than 51 percent since the peak in 2004 when 1.9 million people died from AIDS-related causes. Countries around the world are focusing on the 90-90-90 targets of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS. The U.N. is working toward three goals to reach 90 percent: that people living with HIV will be diagnosed, those diagnosed will be on treatment, and those treated will be virally suppressed by 2020.

Almighty Deliverer, You are our strong refuge. Reach out with Your unconditional love to be a refuge and source of hope for HIV-positive men, women, and children around the world.

Donors, two communities, and World Vision worked together like a beautiful symphony to bring clean water to thousands of Hondurans.
Donors, two communities, and World Vision worked together like a beautiful symphony to bring clean water to thousands of Hondurans. Completing a water project this massive took persistence, proficiency, and prayer. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

4. We can solve the global water crisis within our lifetimes.

World Vision is the largest nongovernmental provider of clean water in the developing world, reaching one new person with clean water every 10 seconds and three more schools every day with clean water. We are increasing our impact and scope to reach everyone, everywhere we work by 2030. The sixth of 17 Sustainable Development Goals created by the U.N. also includes achieving universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030.

This past year, a community in Honduras, with the help of World Vision, finished building a near-marathon-length pipeline to bring clean water to their community. World Vision U.S. President Emeritus Rich Stearns personally committed to help bring clean water to Rwanda, which will likely be the first country in the developing world to solve its water crisis.

Faithful God, help World Vision to bring clean water to those who desperately need it, and work in hearts to reveal the living water we can receive from You.

5. Cheru will walk minutes instead of miles for water that will no longer make her sick.

Hope shines a light in the darkness. It’s infectious, even healing. But what is there to be hopeful for? Let’s look at the year ahead with 19 reasons to have hope in 2019 — and how to pray them into reality.
Even at age 5, Cheru knows her mother worries about water and struggles to carry enough for their daily needs, despite making the round-trip trek twice a day. So every day, Cheru picks up her kettle and walks 6.88 kilometers (4.27 miles) to fill it. “I help my mother,” she says. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

Two years ago, we walked the Global 6K for Water with 5-year-old Cheru Lotuliapus, whose daily life in Kenya was consumed with finding water. The effects of this life meant Cheru and so many other girls and women in sub-Saharan Africa were not able to live up to their potential.

Today, World Vision is working in West Pokot County to bring access to clean water to Cheru’s community. So a standpipe will bring fresh water to Cheru and her family, only steps from where her mother cooks, washes clothes, and prepares tea.

Loving Father, we give thanks for water engineers who work tirelessly around the world to bring girls like Cheru clean water and a new lease on life. We ask for Your blessings on children, mothers, fathers, and communities who are thirsty. Purify, protect, and multiply their water sources. Strengthen their resolve so they may fully enjoy the benefits of clean water — essentials like education, gardens of fresh produce, and good health.

6. World Vision has partnered with the U.N. and UNICEF to launch the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children.

Together, we are supporting the efforts of those seeking to prevent violence, protect childhood, and help make societies safe for children. By 2030, we hope to end abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and all forms of violence and torture against children.

Loving God, reach out Your helping, healing, and loving hands to keep children safe from harm. Bless this work to protect Your children.

Men Care Groups in Agra, India, educate and equip men on the inherent value of women and girls
Mangay Lal, a member of the Men Care Group in Agra, India, treats his 11-year-old daughter, Marhima, to an ice cream cone. “We have been made to believe by society that a girl is someone else’s property and will marry, so why should we invest in educating her?” Mangay Lal says. “World Vision came. They saw the darkness we were living in. They asked us to come to the light. And that light is, with help of our understanding, creating a healthy environment where we care for our families and community and where our children — especially girls — can study to rise above and empower others.” (©2014 World Vision/photo by Annila Harris)

7. Men in India are taking a stand against a harmful tradition — child marriage — that has tarnished the worth of girls for centuries.

Instead of conforming to society’s skewed understanding of a girl’s worth — merely as a profit-and-loss commodity — Men Care Groups in Agra, India, educate and equip men on the inherent value of women and girls. Members of this World Vision program also support one another in leading their families with empathy and encouragement, convincing other community members not to marry off their teenage daughters.

Wonderful Counselor, show Your compassion to the multitudes of girls and women who endure the damaging physical and relational effects of child marriage. Reveal alternatives to parents or change the hearts of those who consider giving up their daughters for social status or financial gain.

8. We are working toward a more open, inclusive, and fair world for people with disabilities by 2030.

Individuals with disabilities can face a lot of barriers — in their living environment, in the form of outdated laws and policies, and in the attitudes and prejudices of people in their community. But now five of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals created by the United Nations address needs in sectors such as education, economic growth, employment, governance, and infrastructure. World Vision operates disability-specific programming as well as disability-inclusive programming around the world.

Infinite Comforter, equip community leaders, families, and Your followers as they support children with disabilities. May we continue to focus on meeting the needs of people who are vulnerable due to physical and mental limitations.

Rosemary doesn’t know the hunger and hardship her family did. She has hope and dreams of being a chef.
Rosemary, 9, loves to cook and dreams of becoming a chef. One of the dishes she often makes for her family in Zambia is nshima, a cornmeal porridge with Play Doh-like consistency. (©2016 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

9. Rosemary doesn’t know the hunger and hardship her family did.

This 9-year-old from Moyo, Zambia, knows of prosperity — about plenty, learning, sharing, and being free to follow her dream of being a chef. Five World Vision Gift Catalog goats, her family’s hard work, and child sponsorship helped to lift her and her family out of poverty.

Gracious Lord, we sing Your praise, giving thanks for Your blessings in the lives of people around the world like Rosemary and her family. May we carry Your hope within us.

10. Innovative technology is transforming remote communities around the world.

Mobile technology and other innovations allow humanitarian organizations to work better and smarter, improving efficiencies so more resources can help people in poverty and communities in crisis. World Vision is expanding its efforts to apply new methods and technologies for development work.

Over the first six months of 2018, World Vision tested pilot projects in 16 countries. These pilot projects provide a way to take innovative solutions developed at a grassroots level and test them for potential scale-up into vital programs like Last Mile Mobile Solutions — developed by World Vision and now being used by a dozen other organizations — which is revolutionizing how disaster survivors receive food, cash assistance, and relief supplies in their time of greatest need.

World Vision is also a member of the Global Alliance for Humanitarian Innovation, launched at the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016.

Alpha and Omega, we express our gratitude for new knowledge and technology. May we continue to learn more to further help Your children.

World Vision developed a reconciliation model after the Rwanda genocide that endures today.
Wherever Andrew Birasa is, Callixte Karemangingo is nearby. They work side by side in the coffee fields in Nyamagabe district, southern Rwanda. (©2013 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

11. Restored relationships and lives are possible — even in the worst of situations.

In April 1994, when Rwanda erupted into violence, neighbor turned on neighbor, family turned on family, and love turned to hate. The genocide turned friends, like Andrew and Callixte, into enemies.

After Callixte was part of a group that killed Andrew’s wife’s entire family, Andrew turned him in to the authorities. Callixte was imprisoned. Yet after going through training in peace and reconciliation, the two men are as close as brothers again.

Merciful Redeemer, we thank You that Andrew and Callixte are no longer prisoners of their pain. Each new day reminds us of Your grace and the hope found in You.

The Syrian refugee crisis is now the largest refugee and displacement crisis of our time. Because of the Syrian civil war, 5.6 million people have fled Syria as refugees, putting a strain on the region’s ability to cope. And another 6.1 million people are displaced within Syria.
Rama, 10, lives in a center for women and children in Gaziantep, Turkey. Along with her mother and her two little sisters, ages 7 and 3, she fled Syria after a bomb hit their neighbor’s house in an area outside of Aleppo. (©2016 World Vision/photo by Suzy Sainovski)

12. Since the Syrian refugee crisis began in 2011, World Vision has helped millions of people in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq.

Internationally recognized as the worst humanitarian crisis of our time, the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis will enter its ninth year in March. Yet amid the conflict and hardship, governments are allocating funds to meet this humanitarian emergency, churches are raising a cry of prayer and support for people in desperate circumstances, and people worldwide are finding a way to engage meaningfully for the sake of Syrian children and their families.

“This is what gives me hope — seeing people from all over the world caring enough to help,” says Eyad, a mechanical engineer turned World Vision aid worker in Syria. “There is still goodness in this world.”

Good Shepherd, You see Syrians’ needs with a tender heart. Awaken us to the needs of Syrian children and their mothers and fathers. Let us not grow weary in doing what is right and good in Your eyes. Remind us to engage on their behalf as we would if it were our own families who were suffering.

13. Communities in the U.S. are beginning to recover and rebuild after Hurricanes Florence and Michael.

Hurricane Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane the morning of Friday, Sept. 14, over Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, which is east of Wilmington and not far from the South Carolina border. It ashore with 90-mph winds and a punishing storm surge, killing at least 51 people. In the months since Florence, World Vision has assisted 35,400 people with relief supplies including food, water, temporary shelters such as tents and sleeping bags, hygiene items, coolers, blankets, diapers, clothing, and flood cleanup kits.

Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach on the Florida Panhandle as a Category 4 storm Wednesday, Oct. 10. The first Category 4 storm in recorded history to make landfall in the northeast Gulf Coast, its heavy rain, high winds, and extreme storm surges caused massive destruction, spawned numerous tornadoes, and killed at least 35 people. Since then, World Vision has assisted more than 14,900 people.

World Vision’s goal isn’t only to be the “first in” when responding to the most urgent humanitarian crises, but also be the last out — seeing families and communities through hardship to restoration.

Jesus, we thank You for offering hope to those suffering from disaster — the hurricane survivor, the refugee, the family facing famine.

Sovereign Lord, thank You for healing Jennifer and more than 50 other women of fistula in Uganda.
Jennifer Nyirmbe prays outside of her church in Uganda. (©2016 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

14. Jennifer Nyirmbe is back in church.

After her baby died during a home birth that resulted in complications from an obstetric fistula, 21-year-old Jennifer would only pray outside her church in Uganda. She felt she couldn’t step inside for fear of losing control of her bladder. World Vision brought surgeons specializing in fistula repair to Jennifer’s community. Her surgery was successful. The Sunday afterward, Jennifer was back at church — this time inside.

Sovereign Lord, thank You for healing Jennifer and more than 50 other women of fistulas in Uganda.

15. Children like Constance are experiencing God’s love.

World Vision is empowering local churches, schools, and parents to create engaging, faith-filled environments that help children and youth, like 11-year-old Constance from Kenya, explore their faith and experience Jesus’ love.

“It felt so nice when the preacher said that we had been forgiven our sins,” says Constance. The sermon she heard that day made her realize she wanted to commit her life to serve Christ. She’s an active member of her Bible club, and now after participating in leadership training from World Vision, she talks to her peers about God and their faith journeys. She has grown in her own faith, as well as in her self-esteem.

Jesus, Your love changes hearts. As children learn to follow You more closely, may they find their value in Your grace. Help them love people around them in ways that point them to You.

16. The standard for a basic education has changed from simply attending school to ensuring students can read, write, and do basic math.

World Vision’s education programs prioritize equitable access for all and measurable learning outcomes, so we can ensure children have the education they deserve — and a solid start to reach their God-given potential. And with 1 in 4 children living in a country grappling with humanitarian crises, we are providing education along the continuum from disaster relief to development.

Righteous King, You created every one of Your children with great potential. May we empower every child to achieve their best and walk into Your plan for them.

With help from World Vision, moms around the world are raising, harvesting, and preparing food to make their children healthy and their communities more prosperous.
Community members water their vegetable gardens early on a Saturday morning in Warrup, South Sudan. (©2015 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

17. Moms around the world are tapping into their vast potential.

With help from World Vision, moms around the world are raising, harvesting, and preparing food to make their children healthy and their communities more prosperous. We’re equipping them with the economic tools and training they need to build a brighter financial future.

Wise Father, thank You for inspiring people to invest in the futures of moms so children and communities can thrive.

18. As one of the largest Christian humanitarian organizations in the world, World Vision has the infrastructure, experience, and relationships needed to bring about lasting change.

Together we’ve impacted the lives of over 200 million vulnerable children by tackling the root causes of poverty. Our nearly 40,000 staff worldwide — 95 percent of them working in their home regions — apply 68 years of relief, development, and advocacy work to transform lives. We work in more than 1,600 program areas in nearly 100 countries, including the U.S. Our integrated model addresses the many causes of poverty, and our tailored approach is community-based and community-owned.

Savior, You have prepared this good work for us to do. Thank You for the people who share their resources so we can help empower the poor. Show them what amazing things their gifts are doing in the lives of children in need around the world. Bless them as they honor You by blessing the poor.

19. Because of our community-focused solutions, for every child you help, four more children benefit, too.

Seven-year-old Debby and her friends live in Moyo, Zambia, and although only Debby is sponsored, they are all benefiting from child sponsorship that began in Moyo in October 2009. Debby’s best friend, 12-year-old Brendah — like every child in the community, sponsored or not — has access to clean water. Five-year-old Adam benefits from the new health facility in Moyo, a necessity for a little boy battling stomach trouble. Debby’s neighbor, 11-year-old Lightwell, goes everywhere with a book in his hand and attends World Vision’s reading camp, held on weekends. Eleven-year-old Beatrice is as funny and feisty as her friend, Debby. She and her family benefit from World Vision’s agriculture work in Moyo.

Kind Father, help us show Your love to children like Debby and her friends. Thank You for multiplying the effect of child sponsorship to impact many more of Your children. Empower children, families, and their communities to stand tall, free from poverty.

Sponsoring a child is a personal way to show God’s love to a child in need.

Kari Costanza, Chris Huber, Denise C. Koenig, Kathryn Reid, and Laura Reinhardt of World Vision’s staff in the U.S. and Annila Harris of World Vision’s staff in India contributed to this article.

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I love this verse from Luke 5:16 because it shows that just like you and me, Jesus needed a break from the demands of his busy life to recharge his batteries and spend time with his Heavenly Father. The life of Christ is intended to give us examples we can follow and learn from. So, even though he was God incarnate, Jesus didn’t draw on his superpowers as the Son of God when it came to facing life’s challenges. Instead, when he was exhausted or burdened or in need of spiritual refreshment, he would “slip away” to pray — plugging into the power, perception, and purpose that can only be found in God’s presence.

But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.—Luke 5:16, AMP

Prayer is one of the most powerful weapons God has given us, and looking ahead at 2019, I believe it has never been more important for God’s people to be on our knees. But knowing how to pray is not always easy. Jesus’ disciples felt the same confusion. They were familiar with the oft-repeated prayers of the Torah. But Jesus prayed with a kind of authority and power they had never seen before — as though God was listening! So when they came to Jesus, as told in Matthew 6, they didn’t say, “Teach us another prayer.” They said, “Lord, teach us to pray.”

The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) is Christ’s response. It is a beautiful prayer and one that every Christian should hide in their heart — I just challenged my granddaughter to memorize it. But elegant as the words are, I do not believe Jesus intended it to become another ritualistic prayer. Rather, it was to be an example of how to pray.

This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’

Here are eight keys that have helped me develop a more powerful prayer life. I hope they will encourage you to make 2019 a year of prayer.

1. Know to whom you are speaking.

Prayer is a conversation with God, and every conversation begins by addressing the person to whom you are speaking by name. Jesus begins with “Our Father in heaven.” He focuses on a distinct person — the Heavenly Father with whom he has a personal relationship. We share the same right to call God “Father,” and there are times when we need to talk with our Abba Father, Daddy God. But God is three distinct persons in One: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

I find it helpful in my prayer times to focus on which of the Holy Trinity I need to talk to. Often I talk to Jesus, the friend who is closer than a brother and the Savior of my soul. Other times I cry out to the Holy Spirit, who fills and empowers me to do the tasks Father God has called me to do. Having a distinct sense of who I am speaking to helps me formulate what I want to say and how I want to say it.

2. Thank him.

A heartfelt thank you is always a great conversation starter. Like any parent, God loves to see that we have grateful hearts. But more importantly, as we take the time to praise God for all He has done in the past — the answered prayers, the impossible situations overcome, the healings and grace — our faith to believe for even greater answers to prayer grows stronger and more confident. Praise opens the gates of heaven and should always be part of our alone time with God.

3. Ask for God’s will.

The Lord’s Prayer is not the only place where Jesus role-modeled a heart of obedience and submission to the will of God over his own desires and needs. In the Garden of Gethsemane, only hours before Jesus’ crucifixion, he would once again pray, “not my will, but yours be done.” In a world where right and wrong are frequently confused and the future is so uncertain, it can be hard to know how to pray or what to ask for when difficult circumstances arise. But the one thing we can know with absolute certainty is that God’s plan for those who love him is good, and the safest place we can be is in the center of his divine will.

4. Say what you need.

In Jesus’ time, bread was a staple — one of the most basic needs of life — and he did not hesitate to ask God to provide it. But we often hesitate to bother God with the little things we need, thinking he shouldn’t be bothered. And when the big problems come, we try everything we can to solve the problem before we think to pray. The Bible says, “You do not have because you do not ask God.” So never hesitate to ask God for what you need in 2019. Your Father in heaven delights to give you good gifts.

5. Ask for forgiveness.

James 5:16 reminds us that if we want our prayers to be heard, our hearts need to be right with God and with one another. If you feel your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling, take some time to check your heart.

6. Pray with a friend.

There is power in agreement when we pray in Jesus’ name.  When I have an urgent need to take before the throne of God, I will often call a friend to pray with me.  If you don’t already have one, make finding a trusted prayer partner one of your goals in 2019.

7. Pray the Word.

My mother was a spiritual prayer warrior, and much that I know about prayer I learned from her. I loved to listen to her pray because for every need or situation, she would claim a scripture of promise. “The Word of God has power and is our great spiritual weapon,” Mama would say. “Pray the Word, Marilee. Pray the Word.”

Jesus did the same when he was tempted by Satan in the wilderness (see Luke 4:1-12). He was the Son of God, but he did not use his divine authority. Instead, he used the authority of the Scriptures.

8. Memorize Scripture.

The most important key to a vibrant prayer life is to understand our spiritual authority in Christ as explained in the Scriptures. The only way to do that is to become intimately familiar with the Bible. Even a few minutes a day in the Word of God will add strength and authority to your prayers in 2019.

Pray with us for World Vision’s work around the world.

One of Marilee Pierce Dunker’s greatest joys is watching people come to a child sponsorship table to search for the little face that touches their heart.
©2013 World Vision/photo by Adam Arkin

Marilee Pierce Dunker travels the world as an ambassador for World Vision, the organization her father, Bob Pierce, founded in 1950. Like he did, she shares stories, pictures, and personal reflections, bearing witness to the extraordinary ways God is using his people to share the gospel and care for the poor.

Visit World Vision’s Speakers Bureau site to request Marilee or another World Vision speaker to present at your upcoming event.

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Every year, as child sponsors, you bring the spirit of Christmas to children all around the world who might not otherwise experience the joys of the holiday. Through Christmas cards, sponsorship Christmas parties, and special gifts, children are blessed by your presence in their lives.

From us here at World Vision to you, we wish you a happy holiday season with your loved ones. And we thank you for partnering with us to bring joy to children like these around the world.


Street children bundle up in warm scarves and hats from World Vision donors.

Christmas is around the corner, but for street children and child laborers, merriment is often chased away by frigid cold. That’s why World Vision donors in Japan put their skills to good work making hats, scarves, and sweaters for children in need in Afghanistan. On Dec. 17, 2017, Christmas came early for these kids when World Vision staff delivered the cozy handmade gifts from afar. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Narges Ghafary)


An Armenian boy gets a soccer ball for Christmas

World Vision’s community social workers and sponsorship staff deliver Christmas presents to the most vulnerable children near Chambarak in northeastern Armenia. Davit, 9, dreams of becoming a soccer player, and he couldn’t be happier to receive a “professional ball from Santa.” 2017 World Vision)


Merry Christmas from a little girl in Malawi

Ndilimbira, 11, wishes World Vision donors a very merry Christmas this year. Through sponsorship, World Vision was able to construct a new building for her school. They used to conduct classes under a tree. Sponsorship also provided new school supplies to her and her classmates. “Top students will receive exercise books, pencils, and pens from World Vision,” explains Ndilimbira. (©2016 World Vision/photo by Charles Kabena)


Children hold up Christmas cards.

Sponsored children living in Dhaka, Bangladesh, raise their Christmas cards high. Each child received a special card from their sponsor. World Vision has been working in this community since 2013, focusing on improving health, education, and child protection. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Md. Golam Ehsanul Habib)


Children color during a Christmas party in Columbia.

In a small dining hall in Caracolí, Colombia, World Vision supports the feeding of more than 300 sponsored children daily, helping them to maintain optimal nutrition and health. But on this day, the children received more than just a meal. World Vision threw a Christmas party for the children. They drew pictures for their sponsors, sang carols, and each child received gifts — clothing, toys, and candy. “Thank you, World Vision and our sponsors, for inviting us to share in this celebration. I love you!” says 10-year-old Lorena. (©2014 World Vision/photo by Juan Sebastián Gutiérrez)


A victim of exploitation gives a Christmas present to her social worker.

Each year at World Vision’s trauma recovery center in Cambodia, World Vision staff put together a Christmas celebration for the young women and girls who stay there. The center is a safe haven for victims of human trafficking and exploitation. They exchange gifts and enjoy cake, plays and dance performances. Here, a World Vision social worker receives a Christmas gift from one of the girls. (©2014 World Vision/photo by Sopheak Kong)


A mother and two children read a Christmas card.

Seven-year-old Aye, a sponsored child from Amarpaura, Myanmar, is grateful for her sponsor, who sent her a Christmas card. She was so excited and happy to see it arrive. Receiving Christmas cards each year from her sponsor makes her feel very special. She says, “I am so happy to receive this Christmas card, and thank you very much!” (©2018 World Vision/photo by Khaing Min Htoo)


A row of boy students open red and green wrapped presents.

Each child eagerly anticipated what was to come — Christmas presents from World Vision and its partners during a very special celebration at school. Once given their packages, they tore into them with smiles and giggles, quickly comparing gifts among friends. After presents came games, treats, and other festivities. (©2015 World Vision/photo by Lanelyn Carillo)

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