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I’ll never forget returning to the country where I was born but barely knew. It was 1982, and I was 18. Arriving alone, I stepped off the plane in New York with everything I owned stuffed into my dad’s green army duffle — $50 in one pocket and my U.S. passport in the other.

My life in Venezuela — my home for 14 years — had fallen apart under the strain of my father’s unemployment and my parents’ divorce. I had just graduated high school, but there was no money for college. We couldn’t even afford rent and food.

I returned to the U.S. in hopes of studying here. I didn’t speak English. I felt lost, lonely, and poor. Compared with others who come to America, I had advantages — starting with my U.S. citizenship. And my older sister was already here. But we had to scrimp and save and live on $13 a week for groceries. I worked low-paying jobs and learned the language. I felt like an immigrant in my own country.

I learned something true of all people: Nobody wants to leave home and the people they love. It’s tough to start over in an unfamiliar and often unwelcoming place, where you’re not treated the same as others and you have to work twice as hard for everything. But my situation was a far cry from the way some people leave their homes today.

More than 30 years since I left, 3 million people are leaving Venezuela due to economic catastrophe, political turmoil, hyperinflation, and widespread hunger. Venezuela has gone from the once-prosperous and stable country I knew to a place where parents can’t feed their children. My heart is with them.

Our Lord Jesus knew how it felt to be a refugee — a stranger.—Edgar Sandoval Sr., World Vision U.S. president

For others, leaving home is a terrifying life-or-death choice, as it was for 1 million Rohingya people now taking refuge in Bangladesh. They escaped extreme violence, only to end up living in flimsy shelters in overcrowded camps, vulnerable to monsoons and cyclones. My heart breaks for them.

I thank God that I’m in a position to help people in such dire need. World Vision is caring for Venezuelan migrants in four neighboring countries — Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru — providing food vouchers, cash transfers, child protection, education, and other programs. In Bangladesh, World Vision is working to improve living conditions for the Rohingya people by supplying clean water, mother and child healthcare, cash for work, child protection, and more.

This is among the most difficult work World Vision does. For us, it is an act of faith.

Our Lord Jesus knew how it felt to be a refugee — a stranger. As a child, he fled with his parents to Egypt to escape the wrath of King Herod. The Son of God willingly took on the painful experience of living in exile. He did it because he loves us.

It’s this powerful and transforming love that propels all of us at World Vision to serve others, especially those the world neglects, like refugees. We care for them in the ways Jesus specified in Matthew 25:35: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you invited me in …”

Maybe the Holy Spirit is prompting you to do more for strangers — globally or locally. Inspired by Jesus’ love, how might you reach out to people in need?


Edgar Sandoval Sr. became president of World Vision U.S. on Oct. 1, 2018. Follow him at twitter.com/EdgarSandovalSr.

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Throughout my career, one subject has been near and dear to my heart: return on investment (ROI).

As a Wharton MBA holder, and later in my 20 years at Procter & Gamble, I obsessed over this measure. I demanded a high ROI from the projects pro­posed to me, and I drove my teams for even higher returns. Every year, every quarter, every day, I was consumed by the relentless pursuit of greater produc­tivity for every dollar.

When I made the switch from the corporate world to World Vision — from for-profit to for-impact — I discovered that return on investment is even more important. Here, the ROI is saving people’s lives for kingdom impact.

If you’re aiming for a dramatic and lasting change in a community, clean water is the key. Water-related diseases like diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, and typhoid can take down the toughest gladiator, so imagine what they do to a young child. Every day, nearly 1,000 children under 5 die from problems asso­ciated with contaminated water and poor sanitation. Clean water can change that number to zero.

Through World Vision’s water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs, we reach one new person every 10 seconds and three more schools every day with clean water. We have deep experience, tried and tested solutions, and a bold plan to reach everyone, everywhere we work with clean water by 2030.

With our presence in nearly 100 countries, the trust we develop within communities, and God’s continued help, we will get it done.

Dorcas’ community desperately needed an investment, and it came from World Vision sponsors.—Edgar Sandoval Sr., World Vision U.S. president

This work came alive for me when I visited Zambia in 2015 and met 9-year-old Dorcas. This tough little girl was taking care of her grandmother — mak­ing sure she took her HIV medicine — as well as cooking, cleaning, and getting water every day. With all of these responsibilities, Dorcas didn’t have much time for school.

I saw the pond where Dorcas used to get water. It was shared by animals, which often fell in — and sometimes couldn’t get out. A dog once drowned and decomposed in that pond, but the villagers had no choice but to continue to draw water there.

Dorcas’ community desperately needed an investment, and it came from World Vision sponsors.

After engineers installed borehole wells, Dorcas had fresh water to drink practically next to her house.

And everything changed: Her grandmother’s health improved, Dorcas returned to school, and she shot to number five in her class. “I want to be first!” she told me. I know she’ll get there.

I have no hesitation telling investors large and small that WASH is a great investment. But here’s the catch: The high return is not for you. It’s for a childlike Dorcas and her entire commu­nity, freeing them from the risks and restraints of contaminated water.

Along with that life-changing return, there can be an eternal benefit. At World Vision, Christ is at the center of all we do, and our water programs provide an opportunity, at the right time and in the right way, to share about Jesus, the Source of “living water.”

We are honored to invest in solutions to the global water crisis. Beyond this, is there any better return than the poten­tial of new life in Jesus, who promises that we will never be thirsty again?


Edgar Sandoval Sr. became president of World Vision U.S. on Oct. 1, 2018. Follow him at twitter.com/EdgarSandovalSr.

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I love the story of Louis Zamperini, told in the best-selling book Unbroken and two movies. Louis was an Olympic athlete and soldier in World War II who endured unimaginable torture in a Japanese war camp. He survived, only to have personal demons threaten to destroy his life.

One day, he found himself sitting under a big tent, listening to the stirring words of Billy Graham, which were calling him to a new life in Jesus. Louis fought the invitation. He wanted to get out of there. But after an intense internal struggle, he started to yield. He surrendered to Christ. And then, everything changed. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Louis turned his life around and forgave his former oppressors.

That day in the tent, Louis experienced a “Damascus road” moment. Like the dramatic conversion of the Apostle Paul, it was a turning point. As Christ followers, we all have some version of this moment. Mine was at a Promise Keepers conference in 2002. I had the same reaction as Louis — I wanted to get out of there! But then I started to yield, and I never stopped.

What about you? Even if you have been blessed to know the Lord intimately your whole life, there was surely a point when Jesus became real to you, and you made him the Lord of your life. I don’t believe you need to be like Paul — struck by the audible voice of Jesus while persecuting Christians and blinded for three days — for your experience to count. Christ will meet you where you are.

God has a clear purpose for these turning points. It’s not changing our direction without reason. It’s turning us toward something — toward a mission he has prepared for us.

… when we yield to the Spirit, the Miracle Worker takes over!—Edgar Sandoval Sr., World Vision U.S. president

For Paul, it was to spread the message of salvation through Christ to the gentiles. For Louis Zamperini, it was to embody the forgiveness we can only achieve through faith. For me, it was transformation: of myself, my family, and now, with World Vision, joining a global movement to transform the world in the name of Christ. As a World Vision supporter, you are part of this mission too.

The challenges affecting vulnerable children around the world are numerous and immense. The work of removing obstacles is unending and intense. I could spend all my time executing strategies and examining reports. I would be busy, but would I be effective? Not if I rely on my own strength.

Friends, we can never get too far away from our “Damascus road” moment. We can never forget that we are surrendered people. And we can never stop allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us, more and more, into the image of Christ. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” Paul says in Romans 12:2. As the Holy Spirit transforms us, all we need to do is yield willingly and expectantly.

And what can we expect? Nothing short of miracles. You see, when we yield to the Spirit, the Miracle Worker takes over!

When enemies become friends and cultural barriers come down in the Middle East, we know why — the Miracle Worker has taken over.

As you read, think about your own “Damascus road” moment and journey of transformation. Ask yourself, “Are my eyes open to what the Miracle Worker is doing in and through my life?”

Edgar Sandoval Sr. became president of World Vision U.S. on Oct. 1, 2018. Follow him at twitter.com/EdgarSandovalSr.

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For as long as I can remember, the birth of Jesus has always been central to Christmas. My family had a nativity set, and each year we arranged Mary, Joseph, and the animals in the stable. But we would not add baby Jesus until Christmas day. Everybody in my family wanted to be the special one to place baby Jesus at the center of the nativity.

It wasn’t just at Christmas that I waited to put Jesus at the center. Unfortunately, that became a theme in my life.

For many years, there were people around me who told me about the saving love of Jesus Christ. Some were friends, and once it was a pastor sitting next to me on a flight who invited me to accept Jesus right then and there at 30,000 feet in the air! I wasn’t ready. I was doing all right on my own. My career was going great; I was an executive at Procter & Gamble. I had a wonderful family.

But deep inside, I knew it wasn’t enough. A good friend at P&G became my spiritual mentor, and he was the one who invited me to a Promise Keepers conference in Dallas in 2002. When I walked into the stadium filled with 14,000 men, all singing and worshipping God, it was completely unfamiliar — and very uncomfortable. What am I doing here? I wondered.

Then the band played a song I had never heard before. The lyrics said, “Here I am to worship / here I am to bow down / here I am to say that you’re my God.” Tears started rolling down my face. I realized I had never bowed down to anyone. It had always been all about me.

In that powerful moment, I bowed down and began the journey of recommitting my life to Christ. And that changed everything. Since then, my journey has been one of pressing into Jesus more and more.

It transformed how I led my family and lived my daily life. And it caused me to seek opportunities to serve the Lord. That’s what brought me and my wife, Leiza, to World Vision in 2015, leaving a for-profit company to go to a “for-impact” ministry that cares for the poor in the name of Christ.

Now I realize what a miracle it is that someone like me — who, as a kid in Latin America, once experienced hardship — could become the president of this world-changing organization. God was always at work in my life, preparing me.

World Vision’s founder and all the World Vision presidents before me prayed: “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.”

That is the prayer of someone pressing into Jesus. We know Jesus loves all people, no matter who we are, and that he has compassion for children and the poor. When we love him, we care about those he loves too.

This Christmas, as you celebrate how much God loved this world — so much that he placed Jesus at the center of human history — it’s the perfect time to ask yourself, “Is Jesus at the center of my life?”

Edgar Sandoval Sr. became president of World Vision U.S. on Oct. 1, 2018. Follow him at twitter.com/EdgarSandovalSr.

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