God is with people suffering from disaster — the refugee, the earthquake survivor, the family facing famine. He calls us to follow Him in offering hope to the most vulnerable in their hour of greatest need. Following Jesus’ example, we seek out the lost, injured, and threatened, providing care and protection when it seems all is lost.
I was a stranger and you invited me in.—Matthew 25:35 (NIV)
Growing up in a small fishing village on Thailand’s western coast, Jane Sunari Udomsawat’s family made a living from the sea. But on Dec. 26, 2004, the sea that had provided for the family became an angry foe.
Early that morning, Jane and her father left the house to pick up a relative at a bus terminal about 7 miles inland. Her mother and sister remained home, unaware of the wall of water surging their direction.
Jane and her father were still on the road when they heard about the tsunami’s destruction. They quickly returned home.
“There was nothing left of my house,” Jane says. “Everything was gone with the water.”
Jane’s mother and sister were among the missing. Jane and her father searched for hours, finally collapsing from exhaustion in a temporary shelter. World Vision was there to help them and many others who had nowhere to turn.
But a place to sleep wasn’t all they found. “We saw my mother and sister there,” Jane recalls. “I was very happy.”
Soon, World Vision also provided Jane with a school uniform, shoes, and supplies so she could return to her studies. Jane became a sponsored child, which allows her to do two things that are important to her: grow her leadership skills and remain in school. Jane’s goal is to graduate from college and work for Thailand’s government. Praise God for this!
But not every disaster survivor’s story turns out as well. Join us in prayer for all who find themselves “strangers,” as Jesus calls them in Matthew 25:35.
Show God’s love to the most vulnerable in their hour of greatest need.
Pray for disaster survivors.
Since the middle of the 20th century, recorded disasters have increased fivefold, with the majority stemming from weather-related disasters. By providing rapid assistance to people devastated by natural and man-made disasters, World Vision serves the most vulnerable in their hour of greatest need. People desperately need emergency assistance: food and clean water for basic sustenance, emergency shelter and blankets to keep warm and dry, and emergency health services for people in need of care.
Merciful Counselor, we grieve with communities suffering from disasters and struggling to recover. Speed the restoration of community life so children can feel secure again. Give families the strength and perseverance while they try to rebuild their homes and livelihoods. Let them find refuge in You.
“Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.” —Psalm 57:1 (NIV)
Pray for international disaster readiness.
Many disasters strike with little or no warning, as the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami demonstrated. That morning, the tsunami traveled at up to 500 mph, radiating across the Indian Ocean before slamming into the coasts of 14 countries. Families had little time to react, much less prepare. So communities all around the Indian Ocean — even to Africa’s shores — experienced widespread destruction and homelessness.
In disasters, World Vision works across all humanitarian sectors to save lives, reduce suffering, and ensure families can begin to rebuild their lives and livelihoods. We also help communities prepare for future disasters, so people and property are safer in the years to come. And for every $1 spent in disaster preparedness, countries save $3 to $4 after disaster strikes.
Almighty God, You know that the hardest hit when disaster strikes are like Jane’s family — people who are poor and have few resources to recover and rebuild. Inspire leaders of the world’s wealthy nations to be ready to participate in disaster responses with compassion and generosity. Help governments invest in disaster risk reduction and preparedness training so their citizens are less vulnerable during emergencies.
“In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.” —Psalm 37:19 (NIV)
Pray for refugees.
The number of people displaced by war, conflict, or persecution is at a record high of 68.5 million, according to the U.N. refugee agency. Some are refugees; others are displaced within their countries’ borders. The refugee crises originating from Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Myanmar paint the poignant picture of people fleeing conflicts and extreme poverty.
Good Shepherd, no refugee is a stranger to You, and no one is ever far from Your loving care. Watch over children and families as they travel to refugee camps or relocate within their country. Shelter their souls and their bodies. Heal the hearts of refugees who have endured unimaginable tragedy and trauma.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” —Psalm 46:1 (NIV)
Pray for peace and stability in countries with ongoing violence.
Violence and insecurity in Syria, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Venezuela, and the Central African Republic have destabilized the lives of millions. Poverty and gang-related violence have created a wave of migration from Central America. Join us in praying for places around the world where peace is in desperately short supply.
Lord of the nations, You tell us in Psalm 34:14 to “Turn from evil, and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” We grieve to see the lives of so many people disrupted by war and violence. This evil kills and maims people, separates families, harms the most vulnerable, and makes poverty a constant companion. We ask You to “make wars to cease from the ends of the earth” (Psalm 46:9) so children and families can enjoy safety and prosperity again.
“He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.” —Psalm 46:9 (NIV)
Pray for children in difficult places.
Refugees and disaster survivors are caught in difficult circumstances, and the most vulnerable people among them are children. World Vision’s disaster relief programs give priority to children and empower them — together with their families and communities — to become active participants in improving their well-being. World Vision operates Child-Friendly Spaces: havens that allow children to play, draw, sing, and share their feelings; be safe from physical danger and the evil of trafficking; engage in nonformal education; learn resilience and life skills needed for adapting to their new environment; and return to or maintain a normal routine.
Loving Provider, we echo the psalmist’s confidence, “For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help” (Psalm 72:12). Hear and answer girls’ and boys’ cries for help. Let aid distributions reach children and families who need it most. In Your mercy, provide families with what they need to survive.
“For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.” —Psalm 72:12-14 (NIV)
Pray for children separated from parents and family or who have lost loved ones.
In the confusion of conflict, some children become separated from parents and family. Others are sent with friends or extended family in search of better conditions. Still, others witness or experience the death of parents or siblings and are left all alone. Losing family members — especially parents — leaves lifelong scars. These boys and girls are more vulnerable to abuse, labor, exploitation, and trafficking. Pray that God will continue to walk alongside each child and give them hope for the future.
Compassionate Father, we ask that You keep all separated children safe from any kind of abuse. Help children to reunite with their parents and family soon. Turn the hearts of people bent toward evil so they treat vulnerable boys and girls with dignity and respect. Be a Shepherd to children who are missing their parents and grieving a great loss. Heal them, provide for them, and let them know Your peace that surpasses understanding and Your love that surrounds them each day.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” —Matthew 5:4 (NIV)
Pray for children’s health.
In low-income nations, children younger than 5 are already at heightened risk for malnutrition, diarrheal diseases, and pneumonia brought on by contaminated water, reduced food supplies, and inadequate shelter. After a disaster, children not in organized settlements may miss important vaccinations, putting them further at risk for preventable diseases. All children in tents or makeshift shelter face winter and summer weather extremes. Many displaced children do not have access to medicines or clinics if they fall ill.
Great Physician, we ask that You protect girls and boys from illness and heal children who have fallen ill. Help their little bodies fight off sickness and disease. Allow medical help to reach children who need it most. Help parents and caretakers find appropriate shelter for all who need it.
“Disaster follows disaster; the whole land lies in ruins. In an instant my tents are destroyed, my shelter in a moment.” —Jeremiah 4:20 (NIV)
Pray for children’s education.
Children on the move or in temporary housing often miss out on their education. Children not in their home countries usually can’t afford school or don’t understand lessons taught in another language. Girls and boys displaced in their own countries may not have access to proper classes or enough teachers in temporary settlements. And the average displacement now lasts more than five years — about one-half of a child’s school years.
Heavenly Father, You placed in children a curiosity about their world. This spark is what ignites learning. We ask You to make a way for every displaced girl and boy to restart school and make up for the lessons they missed. Help them gain the knowledge they need to reach the goals they have for the future. And give teachers the training to help these students regain what they may have lost.
“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” —Proverbs 2:6 (NIV)
Pray for World Vision and its partners’ response.
In 2018 alone, World Vision assisted more than 16 million survivors of 143 emergencies in 44 countries, including the United States. World Vision has highly trained experts to respond to catastrophes. But this critical work is only possible because of the faithfulness of World Vision’s donors and partners, who provide the resources essential for this kind of response.
Dear Lord, thank You for donors and partners who faithfully support World Vision’s relief work around the world. Continue to equip World Vision and other organizations whose staffs work tirelessly during disasters, providing life’s essentials to meet urgent needs. Equip and inspire aid workers when they are exhausted so they can continue to help families recover and rebuild. Let support for refugees and disaster survivors never dwindle.
“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” —Isaiah 41:13 (NIV)
Denise C. Koenig of World Vision’s staff in the U.S. and Paiwan Benjakul of World Vision’s staff in Thailand contributed to this article.
What are the unforgettable moments in your life? It could have been when you drove a car for the first time or got your first paycheck. Or when your favorite sports team won a game or even a championship. What about marrying the love of your life or holding your baby in your arms for the first time? Or that moment when you realized how much the people in your life love you?
For 44-year-old Nicole Wetmore, meeting her sponsored child, 5-year-old Grace, in Uganda became one of her unforgettable moments.
“Just when you feel your heart is full and you can’t take in another thing because you’ve had so many great experiences, or you’ve learned so much, God has a way of breaking your heart again, but in the best possible way,” says Nicole, the local and global missions pastor at Green Valley Community Church in Placerville, California. “It’s a glimpse of allowing us to feel the love he has for people and the way his heart breaks when he sees his people hurting and in need.”
Her unforgettable moment wouldn’t have been possible without the Global 6K for Water. Back in May 2018, the second year Nicole served as Green Valley’s Global 6K host site leader, her race bib featured Grace.
“I walked on behalf of Grace because it’s a small way for me to contribute to a greater cause,” she says.
Every Global 6K participant provides clean water to one person in the developing world through the $50 registration fee, and their race bib has the picture, name, and age of a child who will benefit from World Vision’s clean water work.
“These are real people with real issues, and real hopes, and real dreams, and they are facing real challenges too,” Nicole says.
Six kilometers, a little more than 3.7 miles, is the average distance round trip that women and children in the developing world walk for water. Imagine carrying 44 pounds of water in a 20-liter jerrycan on the way home from the water source. If that’s not enough, 15 liters is considered a bare minimum water supply for one person, so you’ll need to make a few more trips.
The thought of her three sons walking for water — water often contaminated with life-threatening diseases — puts the Global 6K in perspective for Nicole.
“I don’t think about water at home. I walk to the faucet and turn it on,” she says. “And I’m often complaining if it’s not getting hot or cold fast enough. To think that if we didn’t have access to water, I’d have to send my kids off to go collect water for our family — it would be significant.”
That knowledge drives Nicole to tell everyone she knows about the global water crisis and how they can make a difference through the Global 6K.
“One of the most surprising things for me was hearing how excited everybody else was about rallying around clean water and participating in the Global 6K,” Nicole says. “When it doesn’t affect you directly, you think people are disinterested. But then when you’re able to explain what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, it’s pretty cool to have so many people come together for such a great cause.”
How many exactly? Nearly 170 people participated in Green Valley’s Global 6K in 2018 — everyone from families with strollers carrying both children and dogs to a marathon runner who helped measure the course so that it was exactly 6K.
“I’m not a runner,” Nicole says. “I’m barely a walker sometimes, but the Global 6K is something anyone can participate in. If you can move, you can be involved — even if you can’t walk it. We had volunteers that couldn’t participate but were involved in the process because they have a heart for people and a heart for kids and it was important to them. So just do it.”
Later that day and the next morning during weekend church services, Green Valley continued to educate their congregation on the global water crisis and how each of them can impact a child’s life in a powerful way.
“With Celebration Sunday, we get to not only celebrate what’s happened with the Global 6K, but also take a look at child sponsorship in a different way,” Nicole says. “We didn’t choose where we were born. Some of us ended up here in Placerville and some of us ended up in countries in Africa.”
Nicole says it’s significant that participants can continue the relationship with the child on their race bib by sponsoring them — an opportunity to develop a friendship with a child on the other side of the world and show them the love of God, which brings hope and lifelong transformation.
“When I heard about [Grace’s] story and the needs that her family has, I was really blown away and touched that I would be able to sponsor her,” Nicole says.
That choice to sponsor Grace led Nicole to travel more than 9,000 miles to Morungatuny, Uganda, in October 2018, where Grace greeted her with a beaming smile. Nicole’s smile was just as bright.
“Visiting this community and seeing it firsthand puts a whole other layer on making this relationship very personal,” Nicole says. “Even though I had some information about this little girl and her community on a card, meeting her really brings it home and makes you think about your own family and your own circumstances.”
Nicole couldn’t help but notice the stark contrast.
“I can’t imagine sending my 5-year-old, let alone my 5-year-old and my 3-year-old, off to go fetch water in such dangerous conditions,” Nicole says. “It’s heartbreaking to think about, and yet this is her responsibility in her family. And in spite of all that, she’s warm, she’s funny, she likes to play, and she likes to do all the same things my kids used to like to do.”
But despite Grace’s current circumstances, Nicole knows there is hope.
“The work World Vision is doing here is so significant in these communities,” she says. “Certainly, access to clean water is vital, but the dignity and value that they bring to life with issues like sanitation and child protection, it is amazing how the leadership here is investing in the community and empowering community leaders and people from this region to take ownership of their community. It’s incredible.”
Grace is one of 36 kids sponsored through the 2018 Global 6K for Water and Celebration Sunday at Green Valley, contributing to more than 2,000 children sponsored through the 2018 Global 6K. And for Nicole, as she remembers her unforgettable moment meeting Grace, there’s greater meaning behind Green Valley’s Global 6K for Water and Celebration Sunday this year.
“It’s something we’re all called to do — to help, serve, and love those in need,” Nicole says. “Whether it’s in our backyard or across the globe, this is something every church, every organization can participate in. We can all do something together to solve the global water crisis.”
How you can help end the global water crisis
- Learn more about clean water and how you can be part of the movement to end the global water crisis by 2030.
- Join us in praying that more and more communities, including Grace’s, would have access to clean water.
- Walk or run the Global 6K for Water on May 4, 2019, to provide life-changing clean water to one person in need. You’ll walk or run with the picture of the child receiving clean water through World Vision’s water projects.
- Give a monthly gift to provide clean water to communities lacking it. Your ongoing gift creates lasting change in a community.
The post Global 6K for Water creates an unforgettable moment for a California pastor appeared first on World Vision.
Next to air, water is our most essential necessity. Here in the United States, most of us are blessed to have abundant, clean water to drink and use for cooking, growing food, washing clothes, and flushing toilets. We seldom worry that the water we drink could make us sick — or even kill us.
Around the world, hundreds of millions of people do not share this blessing. Every year we recognize this reality with World Water Day on March 22. This is a day to champion the right of people everywhere to have access to affordable, safe, convenient drinking water.
… I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.—Matthew 25:35 (NIV)
In West Pokot County, Kenya, 5-year-old Kamama never liked going to the river to gather water.
“It was too far,” Kamama says. “I wanted to stop.”
Thankfully she has. Kamama, now a sponsored child, lives in a community served by World Vision’s Mtelo water project, which opened in 2015. Today, they have a gravity-fed water system that supplies clean water to about 800 households as well as schools, churches, and a health center.
She now walks about 252 yards round-trip to the closest water point, and it takes her less than seven minutes. Because there is clean water nearby, she is seldom sick, she bathes every day, and her mother has the time and water she needs to grow fruits and vegetables.
While Kamama’s village has been transformed, the struggle to find clean water continues for countless children and families elsewhere. Join us in prayer for people around the world who lack this most basic necessity for health and life.
Pray for the thirsty.
An estimated 844 million people around the world don’t have access to clean water. Clean water helps free children from deadly, preventable diseases. It liberates women and children from long hours spent gathering dirty, contaminated water. Clean water restores health and opens the door to education, better livelihoods, a promising future, and the kind of life God intends for His children.
Loving God, 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.
“Come, all you who are thirsty. …” —Isaiah 55:1 (NIV)
Pray for the global will to ensure everyone has safe drinking water.
People in wealthier countries often are unaware of life-threatening issues surrounding water in developing nations. Through the efforts of organizations such as World Vision, more people are realizing that hundreds of millions of people face serious illness because they lack access to clean drinking water. Ask God to create compassion in hearts and connect people in developed nations with organizations that can help them get this life-giving resource.
Heavenly Father, remind us of Your command to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Don’t let us rest until we know we have done everything we can to meet others’ need for water.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” —Mark 12:30-31 (NIV)
Pray for women and girls who daily carry water over long distances.
Women and girls have transported water from distant sources for millennia. In Genesis 24, Abraham’s servant first saw Rebekah, Isaac’s future wife, at a well. Jesus also met the Samaritan woman at a well. In most of the developing world, women and girls disproportionately bear the burden of collecting water for their families.
Transporting water from distant sources is no less difficult now than it was then. The process consumes precious time that could be used for more productive activities, such as farming or going to school. In sub-Saharan Africa, an estimated 40 billion hours are lost every year due to time spent collecting and transporting water.
Dear God, You promise in Psalm 23 to be close beside us and protect us even as we walk through the darkest valley. We claim this promise for women and girls who trek to get water for their families. As You walk alongside, strengthen them, and protect them.
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” —Psalm 23:4 (NIV)
Pray for improved health.
Diarrhea is the second leading cause of death among children younger than 5. About half of childhood malnutrition is related to water, sanitation, or hygiene issues, too. Ask God to protect children from the dangers of unsafe water and poor sanitation and hygiene.
Great Healer, You are good and merciful. Touch precious little ones endangered by poor water, sanitation, and hygiene. Give them Your strength to fight off the illnesses that wrack their bodies. Lead their communities to discover clean water sources close by so they can enjoy better health.
“… The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it.” —Psalm 65:9 (NIV)
Pray for people to discover the Source of living water.
“I was once a person of little faith,” says Memory Handenda, a mother in the Twachiyanda community in southern Zambia. “But after my prayers, and this water came out, then I became a person of a lot of faith. We believed that, indeed, God exists.” World Vision rejoices with Memory, but many people still live without faith and hope.
We are grateful to You, Lord, for being our Source of living water — the One who satisfies our soul’s deepest desire with the joy of salvation. Thank You for strengthening Memory’s faith by answering her prayers. Show all of us that faith doesn’t come from answered prayers, but rather from the “confidence in what we hope for” (Hebrews 11:1). Open people’s eyes to recognize You as the only Source of living water for their parched souls. Let them be refreshed in Your love when they enjoy clean water to drink.
“… My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” —Psalm 63:1 (NASB)
Pray for World Vision’s ongoing work that brings clean, accessible water to millions of people every year.
World Vision is the largest non-governmental provider of clean water in the developing world, reaching one new person every 10 seconds and three new schools every day with clean water.
We believe the global water and sanitation crisis can be solved within our lifetime. That’s why we’re focused on providing clean water and sanitation to every man, woman, and child in every community we work in, including the most vulnerable populations in some of the hardest-to-reach places.
Please pray for our ongoing efforts that are bringing clean, sustainable water — and renewed health — to children, families, and communities around the world.
Faithful God, give wisdom to Your followers at World Vision as they seek to bring clean water and other life-saving interventions to millions more families. Thank You for equipping people who love You as they bring new health and opportunities to the world’s most vulnerable. Like Isaiah’s vision of water in the desert, we hope to see no child die of diarrhea, no mother spend hours transporting water, no school without proper toilets and sanitation, and no one drinking unsafe water.
“… Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.” —Isaiah 35:6 (NIV)
Pray for World Vision’s donors and partners.
World Vision recognizes that the visionary achievements of ending the global water and sanitation crisis by 2030 cannot be accomplished alone. We are privileged to partner with individual donors, foundations, corporations, national and local governments, and other humanitarian organizations to accomplish this life-saving work.
We are grateful to You, God Almighty, for passionate donors who understand and care about the needs of people in developing rural communities worldwide. These gifts enable life-giving water projects that demonstrate Your steadfast love. We ask You to ignite passion in people’s hearts to help bring clean water to people who desperately need it. Remind those of us who have safe water to always give generously and freely to help make this blessing available to others.
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven .” —Matthew 6:10 (NIV)
Chris Huber, Denise C. Koenig, Kathryn Reid, and Laura Reinhardt of World Vision’s staff in the U.S. contributed to this article.
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.
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.
By the time the world realized the extent of the AIDS crisis in sub-Saharan Africa in the late 1990s, nearly an entire generation had succumbed to the disease in some nations. In Malawi, orphaned children were living alone or with overburdened caregivers. Lucia, then 9, and her brother were abandoned by their mother after their father died, likely of AIDS. A kind neighbor, a farmer named Vincent, took the children in. (©2001 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Now, HIV testing and anti-retroviral treatment — bolstered by a lack of stigma — allow adults to live normally with HIV. Communities in sub-Saharan Africa continue to confront the pandemic head-on. AIDS messaging is everywhere, including on the wall of this school in Zambia. Here, clean water is more of a concern to these students than HIV — they know full well how the virus is transmitted. AIDS interventions in Zambia and across sub-Saharan Africa are an integral part of World Vision’s health programming. (©2014 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Alpha and Omega, we express our gratitude for new knowledge and technology. May we continue to learn more to further help Your children.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the heart of New York City at Bryant Park, World Vision is bringing charitable giving to life Nov. 25-27 through the Give-back Gift Shop, an interactive pop-up shop where thousands are learning how one simple gift can light up an entire community.
Visitors to the shop discover meaningful gifts from World Vision’s Gift Catalog and opportunities to shine bright this Christmas season through generosity. The Give-back Gift Shop also showcases many interactive experiences including live animals, assembling hope kits for women in the U.S., a virtual reality experience that takes you to Kenya to meet Cheru, a water walk where you can carry a jerry can filled with more than 40 pounds of water to understand the global water crisis, and a 180-degree photo booth.
Emmy Award-winning actress Patricia Heaton visited the Give-back Gift Shop on Giving Tuesday last year and is returning again this year. She says, “Americans are very generous people, but it is hard sometimes when you look around the world and you think, ‘How could I possibly help?’ But you can, because World Vision is there to do the work that you want to see get done.”
The post Give-back Gift Shop lights up New York City with generosity appeared first on World Vision.
World Vision has helped impact millions of lives through transformational gifts from philanthropists — evidence of God’s faithfulness. Today, more families have access to clean water along with new hope for healthy futures. Parents are better equipped to earn incomes that meet their children’s basic needs. Children are protected and nurtured, while they are growing in their Christian faith. A new day is dawning for a generation of people.
In the last 20 years, the number of children dying from preventable causes — from hunger, poverty, and disease — has nearly halved, going from more than 30,000 a day to under 15,000. The number of people living in extreme poverty, those living on less than $1.90 a day, has dropped by more than 1 billion.
For the first time in modern history, the world is coming to the collective realization that it is possible to end extreme poverty in our lifetimes. And you can be part of it.
Big gifts, exponential impact
Supporting the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, World Vision is dedicated to keeping this momentum going to help end extreme poverty in all its forms, everywhere, by 2030. Driven by a $40 million gift to its water programs by Dana and Dave Dornsife — which Forbes magazine and The Bridgespan Group ranked as one of the top five most promising philanthropic big bets for social change — World Vision announced in September 2015 a commitment to reach everyone, everywhere we work with clean water by 2030.
“I really get excited at phrases like ‘end poverty by 2030’ and ‘clean water everywhere we work,’” says Laura Abernathy, a World Vision donor partner. “Those big goals may sound like publicity, but when you learn about World Vision and the strategies they have in place, you have faith. I’d hate that to be the headline in the news and not have been part of it.”
Audacious ventures are challenging, but history shows we can succeed.
Together, we have impacted the lives of more than 200 million vulnerable children by tackling the root causes of poverty. From 2010 to 2015, World Vision’s first capital campaign raised nearly $538 million and reached nearly 26 million people. That’s more than 500 people every hour for five years.
Now, World Vision is the leading nongovernmental provider of clean water in the developing world. Every 60 seconds, a family gets access to clean water, a hungry child is fed, and a family receives the tools to overcome poverty.
This incredible success took significant transformational gifts from philanthropists, corporations, and foundations; hundreds of millions of dollars in government grants; more than 60 years of experience in sustainable global development; and scale — more than 42,000 staff working with communities worldwide in nearly 100 countries. Learn the stories of some of World Vision’s generous donor partners:
- Betsy King and Debbie Quesada, Golf Fore Africa — $10 million toward water, sanitation, and hygiene in Africa
- Robin and Stu Phillips, retired lawyer and retired chairman of the board and principal owner of a neurological rehabilitation center — $10 million toward economic empowerment
- Laura and Robert Abernathy, retired nurse and retired healthcare CEO — $6 million toward mother and child health
- Dan and Aimee F., financial industry — $1.7 million toward emergency relief and fragile contexts
- Cody Nath, president and CEO of Refined Technologies Inc. — $1.1 million toward water, sanitation, and hygiene in Honduras
- David Grizzle, aviation consultant and retired Chief Operating Officer for the Federal Aviation Administration — “One of the best investments you’ll ever make”
A 2017 Bridgespan study of 15 of the greatest social impact stories of the 20th century reveals the majority of initiatives took at least 20 years to achieve success and involved at least one philanthropic investment of $10 million or more.
“World Vision has the proven methods we know will help end extreme poverty in our lifetime, the community development model that allows these systemic social changes to last after we leave, and the scale to reach millions upon millions of people with this God-honoring work,” says Chris Glynn, senior vice president of Transformational Engagement at World Vision. “Large philanthropic gifts are the catalyst that drives us to achieve maximum impact.”
Betsy King and Debbie Quesada, Golf Fore Africa
- Investment: $10 million toward water, sanitation, and hygiene in Africa
- Results: Water projects from this investment are estimated to bring clean water to 200,000 people.
Check World Vision out, but don’t wait. The time is now. You won’t regret it. Whatever commitment you come up with is worthwhile. It’ll not only change the world but change you.—Betsy King, World Golf and LPGA Hall of Famer
Professional golf is a male-dominated sport, and for World Golf and LPGA Hall of Famer Betsy King, she can point to golf as the source of the only discrimination she has ever experienced. Growing up, she wasn’t allowed to play on the boys’ golf team. Then as a professional golfer, the money she made was only a fraction of what the men made for equal work.
Recognizing that her financial situation is much different from other women around the world, 62-year-old Betsy says, “I can understand the discrimination women experience. So it’s very important to me to help eliminate it.”
Based on this conviction, Betsy’s retirement from the LPGA tour was anything but a retirement. In August 2005 after 28 successful years and 34 tournament wins, including six major championships, she began a journey to create her own nonprofit, a journey culminating with a goal of raising $10 million over the next five years to help World Vision reach everyone, everywhere we work with clean drinking water by 2030.
After her first trip to Africa in 2006 with World Vision to see the impact of poverty and HIV and AIDS on women and girls, Betsy founded Golf Fore Africa in 2007 to link her passion for golf with her compassion for children. Over the next 10 years — with the help of an expanding network of advocates, volunteers, and staff — Golf Fore Africa raised more than $6 million, the majority of which has provided clean water to children and families in Africa. This work is helping to lessen the 200 million hours that women and girls spend daily walking for water for their families.
“The biggest impact I’ve seen is lives changed and livelihoods improved. Healthier children and healthier families,” Betsy says. “I’m pleased with the investment because from back when we first went in 2006 to now 2018, I’ve seen huge improvements. There’s still a lot of work to do, but I’ve seen extreme poverty getting closer to being eliminated. That’s really what we care about — impacting the lives of children.”
Walking alongside Betsy in this journey is Debbie Quesada, president and CEO of Golf Fore Africa, who traveled with Betsy on that first Africa trip to Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia in 2006 and helped Betsy launch Golf Fore Africa.
“We were so impacted by what we saw,” says Debbie, 55. “We came back knowing we could do something.”
Betsy wholeheartedly agrees. She says, “We felt a responsibility. God doesn’t allow you to see something like that and then do nothing.”
Partnering with World Vision was an easy next step. Debbie grew up knowing about World Vision; her grandparents were child sponsors. Betsy had already been partnering with World Vision since 2001, and the pair had already worked together to run an online auction of memorabilia donated by professional golfers, with the proceeds benefiting World Vision.
Betsy and Debbie partnered with World Vision not only because of history, but also because of its scale, scope of work, holistic approach to community development, and emphasis on stewardship.
“World Vision is best at what they do,” Betsy says, “and they have a heart for what they do.”
Since 2001, Betsy and Debbie have each taken close to 20 trips to see World Vision’s work — to see “children given the opportunity to actually be children. To enjoy life in all its fullness. To play. To learn. To not have the burden of fetching water every day,” Debbie says.
They’ve seen the impact not only on children but on families as well.
“There’s dignity when you can provide for your family. It makes you feel good about yourself as a mother or father to be able to care for your children,” Debbie says. “As parents, to be able to give that to your children — it means so much. Then they start caring about their neighbors and their communities. So, it’s not a handout. It’s actually empowering them to care for the work that World Vision does. That holistic approach allows them to care for their families in the way that every parent wants to.”
Throughout their partnership, Betsy appreciates how “World Vision is willing to be critical of themselves and evaluate their work so they can constantly improve.”
In 2015, the University of North Carolina Water Institute announced the results of an independent study examining the key factors affecting the sustainability of water sources in rural Africa. The study found the odds of other organizations’ water sources being functional decreased by an average of 2 percent each year, whereas the functionality of water sources installed by World Vision did not significantly decrease with age.
World Vision is best at what they do, and they have a heart for what they do.—Betsy King, World Golf and LPGA Hall of Famer
“They’re willing to listen to donors and outside consultants about how to really do the work,” Debbie says. “That study done by the University of North Carolina is a great example of caring about going back and continuing to see what we can do to improve on this work.”
An identifiable water committee and evidence of charging a fee for use of the water were the main reasons associated with the continued functionality of the water points. In addition to these best practices, World Vision’s community engagement model also includes training local people as mechanics to repair pumps when they break down, contributing greatly to the longevity of World Vision-installed water points.
“We have been blessed to have committed partners who have made significant transformational investments in our work, allowing us to leverage our unparalleled worldwide reach for its highest and best use,” says Chris Glynn, senior vice president of Transformational Engagement at World Vision. “For example, their support has helped enable us to scale our clean water projects from reaching 200,000 people every year to more than 3 million annually, now reaching one new person every 10 seconds.”
Betsy calls their relationship with World Vision and the progress toward reaching everyone, everywhere we work with clean water as “invigorating.”
“I love the excitement involved with the goal of bringing clean water to everyone in the world,” she says.
Betsy and Debbie realize how World Vision truly expands the reach of Golf Fore Africa.
“What World Vision does that’s really awesome is they invite people to come along with them on a journey,” Debbie says. “So, to be invited on this journey, whether it be on a Vision Trip [to see World Vision’s work] or to partner with them on a water project or an economic opportunity, you’re invited in to do something that you could never do on your own. And to be part of something that’s so big, it’s bigger than yourself. We don’t have a lot of opportunities like that in our lifetime. It’s magical to get to do something like that.”
Robin and Stu Phillips, retired lawyer and retired chairman of the board and principal owner of a neurological rehabilitation center
- Investment: $10 million toward economic empowerment
- Results: After implementing a little more than half of their investment, nearly $5.3 million, in Malawi:
- 7,856 smallholder farmers have improved their agricultural practices using improved seeds, crop storage, and increasing their yield per hectare.
- 13,418 participants have access to financial services through savings groups and/or microfinance.
- 9,461 smallholder farmers have increased their produce sales prices by accessing local and regional markets.
- 39,045 hectares have been planted with new trees and/or regenerated.
- 1,920 smallholder farmers are receiving early warning information to prepare them for natural events (drought or flooding) or market price fluctuations.
- 6,000 participants have received empowered worldview training.
Start with the foundation of prayer. Do your research. Ask God for guidance. And if called to this work, contribute in every way you can: time, talent, and treasure. But when conflict arises between your analysis and the heart God calls you to apply, always go with your heart.—Stu Phillips, retired chairman of the board and principal owner of a neurological rehabilitation center
In 2010, when rereading The Hole in Our Gospel while spending time at Moriah Ranch, his family’s 14,000-acre vacation getaway in Wyoming, Stu Phillips heard God ask him what possession he valued most. Looking at his surroundings, he instantly knew the answer — Moriah Ranch.
Empowering people to care for themselves and advocating on behalf of the vulnerable have been lifelong passions for Robin and Stu Phillips. They describe the blessings God has provided them as numerous, extraordinarily powerful, and, as they have discovered, requiring obedience.
“God had gone out of his way to make it clear from the beginning of our business that he was the one who was enabling us to proceed, grow, and thrive,” says Stu, 65. “So because of his intervention early on and his engagement after that, he had prepared us for the time when he was going to ask for those resources to be used in a different way. He’s an amazing God.”
Now, God was calling them to sell their most prized possession to become more actively involved in what they believe is the greatest systemic social issue of our time — extreme poverty.
“As a businessperson, you tend to approach things analytically, as an intellectual process,” Stu says. “God isn’t impressed with your intellect. He breaks your heart. From there, he uses the strengths you have to fulfill his purposes. And God made it clear he wanted me to use the resources he had provided.”
At first, Stu and Robin questioned the validity of the call. They tried negotiating with God, reasoning — among other things — that the ranch was a legacy for their sons, but none of the excuses offered any comfort.
“We only had [Moriah] because he had provided the resources,” Stu says. “So, if God wanted it for his purposes now, it is our responsibility to provide it.”
Recognizing that the ranch was God’s possession, Robin and Stu sold Moriah, which means chosen by God, to the State of Wyoming in April 2012. They dedicated the total of their proceeds from the ranch, including the original purchase price, to eliminating extreme poverty.
“We’re ordinary people who are being obedient to what God has asked us to do,” says Robin, 64. “People talk about our gift as sacrificial. And in some sense, it was sacrificial because it involved taking something away from our children that we had implied to them would be theirs when we were gone. That part was difficult.”
However, over the following years, they’ve watched God work in mysterious ways to honor their obedience — both in their lives and in the lives of people who have heard their story.
“Recently, we met a Rwandan woman farmer at a project site we had funded,” Robin says. “She told us that in the past, she had not been able to feed her children a meal every day or pay school fees among other challenges. But then she told us about participating in World Vision’s economic empowerment work. She said, ‘I thank God, World Vision, and this project because with what I have been taught, and what I know now, I am not in poverty anymore, … and I will never go back!’ That mother is now an empowered woman who is fulfilling her God-given role as her children’s mother with knowledge, confidence, and joy.”
A deeply personal moment for them occurred while visiting Tanzania to see the impact of their transformational investment. Robin and Stu found places where they looked around and if they didn’t know better, they would have thought they were back at Moriah.
“One of the first times we were in Tanzania,” Robin says, “we’re literally on a different continent, but there are certain places that when we saw them, we just looked at each other and smiled. It’s surprisingly so like Wyoming! It feels to us, that Moriah Ranch is in some strange way here in Tanzania. To us, it was a unique confirmation from God.”
It was another gift from God — from the aromatic vegetation that reminded them of sage to the similarity between elk and kudu. No one but them at the time understood the significance of what they were seeing.
“Those are grace gifts only God can provide,” Stu says, explaining that God’s economy is far different from ours. “Nobody puts that on a spreadsheet.”
Robin says that it doesn’t get any better than seeing the faces of the children Moriah’s proceeds were helping.
“[God] asked me to surrender something great in order to receive something greater,” Stu says. “He wanted to remind me that there is no vista, no place, no possession more beautiful than the face of a child.”
When one of their sons later traveled with them to Rwanda, Robin remembers he said, “I finally get it. I know why you wanted to do this. I thought my legacy was always going to be the ranch. But now I see that the children of Africa and these people, this is the legacy for our family.”
Longtime sponsors of several children, Robin and Stu are also members of World Vision’s National Leadership Council — a core group of passionate and influential donor partners.
[God] asked me to surrender something great in order to receive something greater. He wanted to remind me that there is no vista, no place, no possession more beautiful than the face of a child.—Stu Phillips, retired chairman of the board and principal owner of a neurological rehabilitation center
“For me, World Vision and seeking to eliminate extreme poverty was a calling,” Stu says. “When that happens, you’re confronted with a fundamental decision. Are you going to listen and obey God, try to ignore him, or try to substitute your own plan? Ignoring God is like all our sins; it limits what God can do in us and through us. As to our plans versus God’s plans, God’s plans are always better. Fundamentally, there is no greater purpose, no greater honor, and no greater joy than to know that God is actively using you to fulfill his purposes.”
Their investment of time and treasure toward World Vision’s economic empowerment work has supported the development and expansion of THRIVE — Transforming Household Resilience in Vulnerable Environments — a program that focuses on family-level change and is proven to dramatically increase household incomes, resulting in stronger and more self-sufficient families.
“The potential scale of your impact isn’t regional. It’s not even national. It’s global,” Stu says. “When, as a donor, you’re looking at return on investment and social impact, scalability is one of the things you have to consider. World Vision is the premier Christian organization serving the poor, and it is unique in its willingness to not only use our financial assets but our time and our talent as active partners in the process.”
One aspect of THRIVE that Robin and Stu are particularly excited about is the foundation of a biblically empowered worldview, based on the understanding that each person is created in the image of a loving and redeeming God, is accountable for their actions, and has the power to shape their own future. That is the first and most critical transformational step in eliminating extreme poverty.
“God doesn’t ever ask us to give more than we can give or to give something we don’t have,” Stu says. “Because we’ve been blessed the way we have, we have greater responsibility to demonstrate our appreciation for the blessings he’s shown us.”
Laura and Robert Abernathy, retired nurse and retired healthcare CEO
- Investment: $6 million toward mother and child health (includes a recent $1 million pledge)
- Results: Their $5 million investment (impact of new $1 million pledge is pending based on upcoming programmatic decisions) will help provide healthcare and nutrition services for nearly 500,000 women and children in Somalia, Uganda, and Zambia. It will also contribute to:
- Training and equipping more than 4,700 community health workers and volunteers to provide care and education to children and pregnant women who may otherwise not have access to healthcare
- Equipping 600 faith leaders as advocates and educators for improving mother and child health in their communities
- Supporting 34 clinics in Uganda with nurse and midwife training, delivery kits, hand-washing equipment, and improved conditions for safe delivery
- Launching a new program, BabyWASH, in 10 facilities in Uganda and Zambia; includes renovations of maternity wards, medical equipment and supplies, piped clean water to delivery rooms and postnatal areas, toilets, and other sanitation improvements
It never says in the Bible to care for the least of these only if you get a good return on your investment, but you do want to know that your money is being utilized in the most efficient way possible to help the least of these. And World Vision does that.—Robert Abernathy, retired healthcare CEO
Laura and Robert Abernathy had no idea what God had in store for them when their neighborhood Bible study read The Hole in Our Gospel by World Vision U.S. President Emeritus Rich Stearns. A little more than five years later, as they reflect on that time, Laura, 61, says, “It really touched our hearts. Both Robert and I have been Christians since we were children and been involved in mission projects, mission programs, our churches, and other organizations. But we were convicted that we were not really touching the least of these.”
Within six months of that deep conviction from the Holy Spirit, Laura and Robert joined World Vision’s National Leadership Council and made their first transformational philanthropic gift to World Vision.
“We were all-in,” says Robert, 63, a former senior vice president at Kimberly-Clark Corporation and most recently the retired CEO of Halyard Health Inc.
In their excitement, Laura and Robert told their adult children, Elizabeth and James, about World Vision and its child sponsorship programs. They were surprised to find out that both of them had sponsored children already.
“We now sponsor two little girls. We chose them — it’s so hard to choose — because they have the same birthdays as our two little granddaughters,” Laura says. “We pray for our sponsored children as we pray for our granddaughters. And we celebrate their lives as we do our granddaughters.”
But that transition to becoming all-in came with due diligence.
“We’ve seen a lot of organizations have bold visions,” Robert says. “And then when you dig a little deeper, they’re under-resourced, or they can’t get the job done.”
What were they looking for? A Christian-based organization.
“Our giving is all about faith,” Laura says. “It’s not ours to begin with. Robert’s been blessed. We’ve been blessed.”
Robert says they clearly saw World Vision was Christian-based from the start.
“You don’t have to read much further than the first 10 lines of The Hole in Our Gospel to know,” Robert says. “You see it in the people you meet, the staff members. It’s written into the mission and vision of the organization.”
Next came a closer look at World Vision’s finances to make sure they felt good about how their investment would be utilized.
“I wanted to know how much money actually gets to the poor,” Robert says. “I’ve seen organizations where less than 20 percent gets to where it’s supposed to go. And I’ve seen organizations that say they give 96 percent, and then you dig through it, and it’s really more like 46 percent; they count the money funny.”
In 2017, 85 percent of World Vision’s total operating expenses were used for programs that benefit children, families, and communities in need. Then World Vision multiplies the impact of every $1 donated into $1.30 on average.
“Once you really get into World Vision and understand it at a deeper level, you start to understand the multiplying effect,” Robert says. “World Vision is able to take your gift and then leverage it with corporations, foundations, and government grants. They really can multiply your gift many times, and not many organizations are able to do that. You don’t feel like what you give is just a one-time investment. It feels bigger.”
Laura adds, “We are told not to bury our talents, but to multiply them.”
Financially speaking, World Vision also helps round out their investment portfolio.
“It helps fulfill the rest of the picture for us,” Robert says. “We’re involved in our local community. We’re involved in our church. World Vision is the organization that allows us to connect in a Christ-like way to the world.”
Lastly, they looked for the ability to get results using winning strategies. World Vision’s proven, community-based health approaches aimed at the first 1,000 days of life feature basic health interventions for mothers and babies, including a sharp focus on nutrition (the 7-11 model) and the delivery of timed and targeted counseling and education through local volunteer community health workers who are trained and supported by World Vision.
We are so fortunate that World Vision is an organization that desires to partner with donors. It’s one of the few places where you can give money and be part of what your money’s doing.—Laura Abernathy, retired nurse
Over the last five years, 89 percent of the severely malnourished children World Vision treated made a full recovery — far above the industry standard of 75 percent or greater. In addition, World Vision supports one of the largest community health worker networks in the world, with more than 220,000 in over 48 countries who can reach 66 million people. They are trusted by the community and are able to reach remote villages, delivering frontline care cost-effectively.
“When we decided to give [to World Vision], we knew of terrible, terrible situations that were in desperate need of help,” Laura says. “So, there was no need to wait.”
Over the span of Robert’s corporate career, their family moved 17 times, at one point living overseas in Australia. Robert has traveled to more than 130 countries and with each trip has brought back stories of desperate situations to his family.
“You see the quality of the World Vision staff in country and the number of community volunteers who are supporting that,” Robert says. “You come away saying, ‘I can see change happening — not continent by continent all at once, but community by community over time.’”
They’ve not only seen World Vision’s work in mother and child health, but also clean water, economic empowerment, education, child protection, Christian discipleship, and ultimately, how those sectors work together to form a holistic community development model.
“They’re so interrelated,” Laura says. “I visited several health clinics that were without electricity. And then I was able to go back three years later and see the difference — see a facility with clean water, electricity, and solar power.
“One nurse midwife — instead of being on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week — has a staff and can actually sleep at night on occasion. Then to hear how malaria rates have gone down to almost zero. HIV and AIDS have been greatly reduced. To hear those very distinct measurements, it wasn’t just looking better; it was measurably better.”
Since Robert’s retirement mid-2017, Laura says they “have the time to do more and want to do more.”
And they have — Robert recently joined the World Vision U.S. board of directors. He describes their relationship with World Vision as spiritual, rewarding, and challenging.
“You don’t increase your commitment if you’re dissatisfied,” Robert says.
And they’re thankful for the partnership World Vision has offered to them.
“We are so fortunate that World Vision is an organization that desires to partner with donors,” Laura says. “It’s one of the few places where you can give money and be part of what your money’s doing.”
Dan and Aimee F., financial industry
- Investment: $1.7 million toward emergency relief and fragile contexts
- Results: Over the past three years, their investment has helped 21,926 Syrian refugees and displaced people and 28,232 people affected by the East Africa hunger crisis.
Do your due diligence like we did. Meet the people. Look at the numbers. Do the math. You’ll find that this is a very, very good place to invest your charitable dollars.—Dan F., financial industry
Over the past 15 years, Dan F. has gradually become well acquainted with World Vision’s work and staff by investing in multiple community development sectors, including economic empowerment and water, sanitation, and hygiene. That gradual relationship has coincided with becoming more and more confident in World Vision.
“When you see the numbers line up and then you are impressed by the quality of World Vision’s staff, it’s pretty easy to pull the trigger on some larger investments,” says Dan, now 40. “I am confident that our money is being put to good use and is making a significant difference in people’s lives.”
On a trip to Zambia in 2010, Dan not only visited a well he’d paid for but also met the community members who are benefiting from the water project. He saw how World Vision partners with communities for sustainable change.
“The community members I met in Zambia take tremendous pride in their new well because they are actively engaged in the full process of planning, implementation, and maintenance,” Dan says. “Instead of treating people like helpless victims, World Vision invests in them, trains them, and builds up their capacity to continue driving their lives forward. They are the protagonist of the stories, and we are the supporting cast who helped them achieve their goals. It is amazing to see.”
Halfway through his journey with World Vision, he met his wife, Aimee. She says that being involved with World Vision is so important to Dan, and she has learned more and more about the organization through him.
“I soon became just as impressed with World Vision and the good work they do as Dan is,” says Aimee.
Before 2015, the vast majority of Dan and Aimee’s generous donations were allocated to long-term community development projects in stable countries. That all changed right after their first child’s birth — when they first learned about the Syrian refugee crisis.
“I found myself spending a lot of time glued to the news coverage, cradling our newborn, and crying over the stories and images I was seeing,” Aimee says. “Dan and I agreed to focus as much giving as we could to support World Vision’s aid efforts in the region. It was the first time I’d ever felt that I wasn’t completely powerless to help people so far away who are suffering in such a dire situation.”
World Vision has been working in the Middle East for nearly 40 years and extended a helping hand to Syrian families beginning in 2011 when the Syria civil war began.
“World Vision is equipped to help in ways we never could, and our support, combined with many others, is making this possible,” Aimee says.
Dan and Aimee have continued to serve the most vulnerable in their hour of greatest need. They now allocate a large portion of their family’s charitable investment portfolio to World Vision’s work in emergency relief and fragile contexts — where extreme poverty stubbornly resists solutions, but also where they recognize a dollar can have a “radical impact.”
Dan explains, “It’s riskier giving money to places like Syria or South Sudan, but there is so much suffering and so little help. I think of it as a high-risk, high-reward investment, but a short-term focus. It’s a very different mentality than I started off with WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene).”
You can give to the amateurs, or you can give to the people that have been really perfecting this for the last [nearly] 70 years. World Vision is a very impressive team that takes a scientific approach.—Dan F., financial industry
With his background in the financial industry, Dan equates work in emergency relief and fragile states as credit card debt the world needs to pay off and community development work as the long-term investment portfolio.
“You need to pay off your credit card balance each month while building your long-term investment portfolio,” Dan says. “In the last couple of years, the magnitude of short-term needs has been so startling. Every dollar you can put in — it’s going to alleviate a tremendous amount of suffering today and help prevent a situation that’s already really bad from spiraling into something much, much worse.”
In the past decade, the number of people affected by emergencies has almost doubled, and this number is expected to keep rising. World Vision is uniquely situated to respond to any disaster or humanitarian emergency — anywhere in the world — from immediate life-saving supplies when disaster strikes to long-term recovery work so people can rebuild their lives.
“You can give to the amateurs, or you can give to the people that have been really perfecting this for the last [nearly] 70 years,” Dan says. “World Vision is a very impressive team that takes a scientific approach.”
In 2017 alone, World Vision staff around the world, 95 percent of whom work in their home region, responded to 170 emergencies and assisted approximately 13.8 million people in 56 countries.
“From the crisis relief standpoint,” Dan says, “it makes a really big difference to me that when something goes wrong somewhere in the world, whether it’s a hurricane or war or famine, it seems like a lot of organizations fly in and try to help, but World Vision is usually already there, and they’ve already been there for decades.”
Dan and Aimee see their investment as an opportunity to live out the radical message of Jesus by helping people in the most desperate situations.
“Probably the best way to introduce people to Christ is by living out compassion,” Dan says. “There are a lot of people in the world right now who are very turned off by Christians. They have good reason to be. But when we go out and we really try to minister to the least of these — the people that are on God’s heart — we’re showing people an image of God that’s a lot more accurate than the image they’re seeing in the media.”
Overall, Dan and Aimee are focused on making sure everything they invest in is a cause they really believe in. They say they feel a God-given responsibility to be part of God’s kingdom in terms of alleviating suffering throughout the world and a high accountability for how they do so.
“We’ve come to our current charitable portfolio by really thinking about where our dollars should go first and then thinking about the most trustworthy institution to be tasked with deploying these dollars,” Dan says. “We take stewardship very seriously. World Vision is the largest charity in our philanthropic portfolio because we view it, based on our due diligence, to be a very high-quality organization.”
Cody Nath, president and CEO of Refined Technologies Inc.
- Investment: $1.1 million toward water, sanitation, and hygiene projects in Honduras
- Results: In less than a year, 3,000 people in the Jamastran Valley of Honduras now have clean water. Their gift is expected to support another 34,000 people with clean water.
Our partnership with World Vision is incrementally strategic — growing in strategy, trust, and direct involvement. We’re trying to figure out how can we leverage more and more of what we’re doing as a business to make an impact globally with World Vision.—Cody Nath, president and CEO of Refined Technologies Inc.
Cody Nath, 37, can’t remember a time growing up when his family didn’t have World Vision sponsored children — often two or three at a time. Then at age 14, he traveled with his father, Bill Nath, to Mexico to see World Vision’s work at the time with children living on the streets. Nicaragua came next, then Honduras, and with each trip, the values his parents instilled in him — the importance of missions, prayer, and faithful giving — became ingrained.
In 2001, Bill founded Refined Technologies Inc., a chemical decontamination company providing operational consultancy, chemical cleaning, and mechanical rental services to refineries. Cody succeeded his father as president and CEO in 2016. From the beginning, their mission statement leads with, “Honor God always.” Cody explains that this means everything from operating under biblical principles like honesty, integrity, and respect to reinvesting profits for eternal impact into ministry partners like World Vision.
“We believe our company belongs to God, and we are simply stewards,” Cody says. “We’re responsible to him for how we use the profits from the business. And as Christians, we know we’re called to give.
Beyond the calling, Cody finds the opportunity to give extremely rewarding. “It blesses us,” he says. “We end up benefiting because we’re now giving as a team instead of giving as a family — that’s a very rewarding experience. The Nath family is only a piece of this; we earned these profits as a Refined Technologies team.
“I also want to encourage our team to give and know that they’re part of something much bigger than refinery services. And I know that’s happening because of the stories I hear from our team. When people come to work for us because of what we’re about, then I know it’s making a difference.”
For Cody, it’s not about work-life balance; it’s all about work-life integration, focusing on incorporating your philanthropic values into your job.
Cody’s vision is to engage RTI employees by providing numerous ways for them to participate in the partnership with World Vision and emphasizing how excellent work enables the partnership — employees delivering their daily work translates to dollars for water. Opportunities for employees to get involved include paying a portion of sponsorship for Honduran children, taking brief RTI-sponsored trips to Honduras to see World Vision’s work toward ending the water crisis, distributing co-branded water bottles to clients and partners to share their commitment to help make a difference, and walking in World Vision’s annual Global 6K for Water.
“When people know that what you do matters, it’s not just a job. That changes lives,” Cody says. “Our employees would say they’re different people from having worked and spent time here. And their families are different. World Vision is part of that. It’s an aspect of what we do to try and be our whole selves at work.”
During a trip to Honduras about five years ago, solving the global water crisis became a personal mission for Cody. Confronted with the reality of a community’s water source in western Honduras near Gracias, Cody saw dirty water like he’d never seen before — dirt-ridden suds had left a thick film on the surface. “It was terrible — like all the horrible photos you’ve seen,” Cody says. “If it’s within your power, you’re not going to walk away without doing something to help.”
So Cody integrated his personal mission with his work at RTI. Over the past five years, Cody broadened his investment to water, sanitation, and hygiene projects, culminating in a $1.1 million gift to World Vision made in 2017.
“Like any relationship, the level of investment grows over time,” Cody says. “Trust grows over time, and results are a big piece of it. You can see the results, which gives us confidence in our investment.”
Generous philanthropic gifts like that from Cody and RTI have enabled World Vision to reach 10.4 million people with clean water in the last two and a half years and remain on track to reach everyone, everywhere we work with clean water by 2030 — an estimated 50 million people. World Vision is a proven leader in solving the global water crisis, reaching one new person every 10 seconds.
“What I really like about World Vision, and why we’ve gotten more involved, is the holistic approach,” Cody says. “This is a development model that helps people develop physically, emotionally, and spiritually. World Vision launches an effort and lets the community drive it forward as their own.”
World Vision believes in a big-picture approach to helping communities address critical needs — bringing together all of the pieces — nutritious food, clean water, economic opportunities, healthcare, education, protection, and the love of Jesus — for a full solution to the puzzle of poverty.
“World Vision is a place where you can make a significant financial investment,” Cody says. “No investment is too big. They have the structure and organization to effectively use your gifts as they grow over time.
“World Vision has the organizational capacity to execute investments to scale and always with a spiritual, Christ-centered focus. If you don’t have a spiritual component, it’s helpful, but not life-changing.”
Cody’s life-changing investment truly hit home in January while traveling to the Jamastran Valley of Honduras to celebrate bringing clean water to 3,000 people in two communities — Sartenejas and Zamorano.
“Being part of a visibly transformative project that can happen in under a year to dramatically change the lives of people — it’s not a difficult concept to say we should do more of that,” he says. “So then we ask ourselves, ‘How can we increase our giving as a company and as individuals?’”
World Vision has the organizational capacity to execute investments to scale and always with a spiritual, Christ-centered focus. If you don’t have a spiritual component, it’s helpful, but not life-changing.—Cody Nath, president and CEO of Refined Technologies Inc.
He also recognizes that the project was not without its learnings and challenges.
“World Vision does a good job of managing, ‘This is what we said we were going to do. This is what the challenges were, and this is what we accomplished,’” Cody says. “It’s not like everything goes smoothly. We’re dealing with developing countries and clean water projects that have never existed before. So there’s learnings; there’s challenges.”
But beyond challenges, he has confidence in the sustainability of World Vision’s water projects. “When we spend an investment on a project like Jamastran, I feel very confident the project will still be helping people in 20 years,” Cody says. “They now have clean water for life, not clean water for a year. Our confidence in the local World Vision team is very high due to their capabilities, character, and commitment.”
Now he’s looking forward to additional development work for the families and children he has come to know.
“We know that when we invest in water with World Vision, that’s going to lead to additional community development,” Cody says. “We didn’t leave Jamastran in January thinking, ‘Great, we’re done.’ We know the local communities are committed to continued development and the many challenges that lie ahead. We also realize there are many more communities in need of getting started on their development journey, and we’re eager to be involved. We look forward to an enduring partnership with World Vision and seeing families changed in Jesus’ name.”
‘One of the best investments you’ll ever make’
David is an aviation consultant and the retired Chief Operating Officer for the Federal Aviation Administration. His previous roles include serving as the FAA’s chief counsel and as the senior vice president of customer experience for Continental Airlines. In addition, he also spent a term working for the U.S. Department of State in Kabul, Afghanistan, as attaché, senior advisor, and coordinator for transportation and infrastructure. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. David and his wife, Anne, currently serve as the co-chairs of World Vision’s Every Last One Campaign. They live in Washington, D.C. and have three sons and seven grandchildren.
When it comes to supporting charitable enterprises, I tell people that I’ve never made a single donation, but I’ve made lots of investments. Investors want to see a return. Stories can be moving and put a personal face on need, but data is critical. Good intentions aren’t enough. I want efficacy. It is because of the unique product that World Vision offers that Anne and I overweight our investments in this organization.
World Vision is holistic. They offer a multi-faceted approach to reducing poverty and its brutal effects on children, families, and entire communities. As a result, they’re more effective than most other organizations working in the field, which only work on one or two causes and cannot address the complex puzzle of poverty.
They’re collaborative. Some organizations aren’t interested in partnerships — they tend to dictate to the communities they’ve come to help. In contrast, when World Vision comes into a new place, they work alongside community members to bring about sustainable, long-lasting change. This inclusive approach sets World Vision apart.
Few other organizations have the history, experience, or sheer size of World Vision. They’re big and their roots run deep. All around the world they have access, reliability, and credibility. They’re a trusted partner with local communities, national governments, and global partners. An example of this is World Vision’s work in the most fragile of places, like Syria, where other NGOs have a hard time going. World Vision can be transformative there because they’ve been transforming for nearly 70 years, committed to learning and growing and adapting. I’m living proof that being big and old is not necessarily a good thing, but World Vision uses those two attributes to tremendous advantage throughout the world.
Most importantly, World Vision is Word-of-God–empowered. They’re reliant upon God’s word, employing a biblically empowered worldview. God calls us to be good stewards — to take personal responsibility for our assets, talents, family, and community. If you care about serving the poor in the name of Jesus and you want to see comprehensive work crafted on biblical principles, World Vision may be your only alternative.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.—Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
There are opportunities for all types of investors, no matter your passion or risk tolerance. World Vision offers low-risk “blue chip” programs like drilling wells for more cautious donors, and venture capital investments like THRIVE for the more entrepreneurial. There are also options for return periods — from flash returns like water and emergency relief to long-term projects in economic empowerment and education, where results build over time for powerful and lasting change.
World Vision is also unique because of its significant absorption capacity. They make it easy for major donors to make the larger contributions that stewardship often demands of those of us who have been blessed with great means. Few organizations outside of universities or hospitals are equipped to accept and utilize substantial donations effectively. No other operating organization focused on eliminating poverty has the absorption capacity of World Vision.
What’s holding you back? Fear of Better Options (FOBO)? Some investors may be waiting to give, thinking they might discover a more efficient mechanism out there for the work World Vision is doing. It’s conceivable that you might find one, down the line. But right now, there’s a child dying every five seconds — most often from causes we can help prevent. The good news is that God is not sitting still. He is doing deals right now that you should want to be part of. But keep in mind, once a well has been drilled or a program has been launched, that IPO is closed. Rather than FOBO, you ought to be suffering from FOMO — Fear of Missing Out.
World Vision belongs in every charitable portfolio. We can’t ignore Jesus’ example or the incredible work being done by Bill and Melinda Gates — poverty reduction must be a high priority for all of us and good stewardship demands significant investments. The weighting in different portfolios will depend on each investor’s passions, time frame, and capacity. But the simple truth is this: donors — especially high net worth individuals — need to strongly consider graduating to World Vision. My hope is that right now, when you look at where you are in your lives, and when you look at eternity, you’ll discern the right place for World Vision in your investment portfolio.
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A shrill whistle pierces the warm summer air, signaling to volunteers from Menlo Church that one among them has found the 1 millionth kit. As everyone looks toward where the sound originated, 7-year-old Caroline is smiling from ear to ear and runs over to hug her mother, Nancy, amid the claps and cheers.
Caroline excitedly clutches the orange backpack, a SchoolTools kit, and adds school supplies and a note of encouragement for the recipient — a child in need in her local community, the San Francisco Bay Area.
“It feels good, and it means a lot,” Caroline says after assembling the 1 millionth kit. SchoolTools kits provide the opportunity for children in the U.S. to engage in learning and help ease the burden many parents feel when they cannot provide for their children; they free up family resources for other essentials such as food, medicine, and utilities.
That day, 220 volunteers from Menlo Church assembled 2,000 SchoolTools kits, including the 1 millionth kit assembled by Caroline, and another 4,000 Promise Packs that World Vision will distribute in the Dominican Republic. It is one of many “Serve Your City” opportunities hosted by Menlo Church.
“The ability to connect people with people, serve together, and understand the greater good of why we’re doing this is really what matters,” says Nancy Rosa, a Menlo Church attender for 28 years.
The partnership between Menlo Church and World Vision is rich in history. The church has partnered with World Vision for 13 years, assembling more than 50,000 kits — more than any other World Vision partner — that have impacted 1.7 million people around the world. Not only was Menlo Church the site of the 1 millionth kit event on July 28, it was also the site of the first World Vision kit event in 2005.
“This is just the tipping point,” says Nancy, who was instrumental in the launch of the first kit event. “I think this is just going to explode. I can’t imagine we won’t keep going. I want to keep going until I can’t build them anymore.”
Numerous World Vision staff echoed that sentiment.
“This isn’t the end,” says Karen Sendelback, World Vision’s national director of partner engagement. “We feel this is a chance to say we’ve reached this incredible milestone, and what we want to do now is focus on getting to the 2 millionth kit. There are still children out there that need these school supplies. There are still children who need Promise Packs.”
Easing the back-to-school burden with SchoolTools kits
Two weeks later, the 1 millionth kit is now at Familia Cristiana Verbo, another local church, in the hands of 9-year-old Estefani Alvarado — right in time for her to start fourth grade.
“I feel so happy because she packed it for me,” Estefani says. When Estefani opened the backpack, she found Caroline’s note and was excited to see a pack of paper, which she sometimes runs out of. She expressed feeling overwhelmed by the generosity.
“Not all the kids get what I have right now,” Estefani says.
Her father was also grateful for the school supplies and the honor of his daughter receiving the 1 millionth kit. “I feel happy and privileged,” says Nehemias Alvarado, 31. The Alvarado family has been attending Familia Cristiana Verbo for nearly 12 years.
Pastor Orlando Cardona, 56, explains that their annual backpack distribution not only helps families in need, but it also gives their pastoral staff a way to approach families in their community.
“When I hand them a backpack, it gives me the opportunity to show them the love of God and be able to converse with them,” Orlando says. “Then through that, it allows us to tell them about all the programs we have for youth, for adults. And ultimately, we’ve seen how through the help we give them, they’ve gotten closer to the church in search of God.”
His wife, 57-year-old Patty, adds that the physical provision of school supplies is especially important.
“When children hear about the love of God but also receive something from the love of God, they feel more in their hearts,” Patty says. “This community has much need, and we’re happy to be a small part of their lives.”
The staff at Familia Cristiana Verbo are incredibly thankful for the generosity of Menlo Church and many other churches and organizations who have assembled World Vision kits.
“Thank you for taking the time and going the extra mile for people you don’t even know,” says Associate Pastor Ever Turcious, 41. “Thank you so much. God bless you.”
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Five years ago, Pastor Larry Heenan of Spring Valley Baptist Church in Raytown, Missouri, challenged every Sunday school class in his church to raise $85 for goats from World Vision’s Gift Catalog.
For Sharon Baker and her class of 12 third, fourth, and fifth graders, this seemingly simple request felt daunting. They were doubtful they could raise the money for even one goat.
But now with the 470th goat in the works, Sharon’s husband, Tom, has lovingly dubbed her the “crazy goat lady” — a nickname she has embraced with open arms.
We can’t help everyone, but we certainly can help someone.—Sharon Baker
“Goats are one of the cutest animals ever. They’re so precious, and they provide so much for each family,” Sharon says. “We realize there’s a lot of hurt out there. We can’t help everyone, but we certainly can help someone.”
Fundraising really took off once her class started letting donors name each goat — starting with goat No. 47, named “The Old Goat — Russell” by Jaunita Box in memory of her husband.
All of the goats now receive names, each one unique to the situation or the reason for buying the goat. And the children were insistent on going back and naming all of the previous goats too.
After goat No. 50, Sharon says they were planning to quit, but the children wanted to keep going. And an answer to her prayer came quite obviously the next Sunday morning, with Pastor Danny Dyer pointing directly toward her during his sermon and telling her emphatically to never quit doing this good work.
“We do not have a goal any longer,” Sharon says. “We are just going to keep going.”
With help from her fellow teachers, Ed and Peggy Conway and Joe and Kim Biondo, the children in their class have been donating their allowances, doing extra chores, selling donated items, saving aluminum cans, collecting UPC codes, and using their imaginations to create crafts to sell — all to add another goat to their classroom’s “goat meter,” which keeps track of their progress.
“‘I am a Christ-centered, biblically anchored world-changer.’ I have the children say that every Sunday,” Sharon says. “Their eyes light up when you tell them they are a world-changer. Saying that really broadens your view of who you are. It gives me the confidence to be the ‘crazy goat lady.’”
Both the church and the community, particularly those in Sharon’s line dance classes, have rallied behind them every step of the way. Money periodically arrives in her mailbox with a note to buy another goat, and for Sharon’s birthday and Christmas gifts, her friends give a goat in her name. People also donate money in honor of someone or in their memory.
“I could not possibly do this alone,” Sharon says. “As we’ve asked others to come in and be a part of what we’re doing, they become part of the team.”
Both their team and impact continue to grow, but Sharon gives all the glory back to God.
“Knowledge and prayer bring the passion — the knowledge that there are people out there who are hurting that you can help, and prayer to ask God’s guidance every step of the way,” Sharon says. “There are doors we never dreamed we could open.
“We never dreamed that we could talk to someone about a goat, and they would hand us [$85]. That is purely God working in the hearts of other people. Once you see that happen, your passion becomes like a bonfire. It just grows. You realize that you can do something significant with God’s help.”
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Children are a precious gift from God. As adults, we have the privilege and responsibility to care for them and help them live the full and abundant life God desires for them. Sadly, love and security are not the reality for hundreds of millions of children who suffer from sexual exploitation, labor in hazardous conditions, or struggle to survive on the streets.
In some places, warfare can separate children from their families, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation. Children are also forced to join armed rebel groups to serve as soldiers, porters, sex slaves, and more. Extreme drought and hunger force families to make desperate choices about putting children to work or girls into child marriage.
Despite being outlawed in many countries, girls are still undergoing female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C), and some girls aren’t born at all because of prenatal sex selection. In other places, children are trafficked for sex, sent to work in dangerous factories, or locked into domestic servitude. And in some countries — the U.S. included — gang violence tears families apart and creates a culture of violence that draws youth into harmful activities.
Abuse, neglect, exploitation, child labor, bodily harm and female genital mutilation, child marriage, and other forms of harm against children — even murder and child sacrifice — are among the greatest evils in the world.
I was in prison and you came to visit me.—Matthew 25:36 (NIV)
One warm Wednesday in June 2010, 15-year-old Savoeun Chea went to work in Leuk Daek in southeastern Cambodia. Her hands clutched a small bag containing items she had been instructed to bring: her clothes and her older sister’s birth certificate.
At the factory that morning, Savoeun’s sister, Simean, was the first to notice. “I did not see her working,” says Simean, 21. “I asked where she was. People told me that she’d gone to work in Malaysia. I called my family.”
In making that call, Simean set in motion a Cambodian-style Amber Alert. Savoeun’s family, friends, local officials, coworkers, the police, community members, and the children of two villages joined in a singular task: bringing Savoeun home — alive.
Another girl had been taken before in Leuk Daek. “This case happened before [I started,]” says Louy Samnang, who joined Leuk Daek’s police force in 1999. The girl was raped and killed. Community members admit no action was taken because back then, no one knew what to do.
But this time, when Savoeun disappeared, the community sprang into action because they knew how to respond. And this time, it worked. Mayor Chrin Voeurn provides one reason Savoeun survived: “Our commune has World Vision.”
Now safely back home in Leuk Daek, the community surrounded Savoeun. She was treated at the hospital for what appeared to be drug-induced memory loss. She spent many days in hiding, but eventually became well enough to work again.
Savoeun, now 17, is working as a waitress in a province in northeast Cambodia. She is concerned for her younger sister, Srey Keo, who is 11. “I tell her to study hard. I tell her not to travel to a faraway place or she could be trafficked.
“I will protect my younger sister,” she says. And the people of Leuk Daek are standing by to help.
Join us in prayer for an end to all harm against children, for the children who remain trapped in this nightmare, and for World Vision’s work to protect children.
Pray for supernatural protection for children.
The criminals who exploit children roam the world like the predators they truly are, looking to prey upon the vulnerable. They use lies, threats, coercion, and violence to force children into sexual and other kinds of exploitation. This is an evil business of supply and demand. Ask God to eliminate the demand and blind their eyes from seeing potential “supply” in their paths.
Dear Lord, Your Word is filled with accounts of miraculous protection. We claim that power for vulnerable children. Make Your little ones invisible to people who seek to exploit them. Whisper in the ears of the children to run and hide until the danger passes.
“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” —Psalm 82:3-4 (NIV)
Pray for the safety of children working in hazardous conditions.
Worldwide, 151 million children are involved in child labor. Of these, 72.5 million are involved in the worst forms of child labor, including mining, construction, scavenging, domestic and factory work, and agriculture. Hazardous conditions endanger children’s health, safety, and moral development. Ask God to keep children from harm as they struggle under heavy loads and work with unsafe tools and harsh chemicals.
Lord, we know You love Your children, and we pray that when they must work, that You would protect their growing bodies. Please keep them safe and free of injuries and toxins. Deliver them from oppressive bosses and hazardous conditions. Make it possible from children at risk to stay in school.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” —Psalm 46:1 (NIV)
Pray to eradicate the root causes of child exploitation.
Child exploitation means using a child for profit, labor, sexual gratification, or for some other personal or financial advantage. At the heart of child exploitation are complex issues, including extreme poverty that can lead parents to sell their children. Sometimes moms and dads are tricked into believing that their children will work in a wealthy person’s home and will be treated fairly. But many are held as virtual slaves. Throughout the world, sin leads people to put their evil desires above all else, ignoring how they destroy the lives of innocent children. Ask God to do what only He can — soften people’s hearts and heal their minds.
Dear Lord, Your Word calls us to hunger and thirst for righteousness — a righteousness that leads to compassion for the poor and a renewing of minds. Lead us to this kind of faith that works to make a better world for all Your children.
“You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted … so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror.” —Psalm 10:17-18 (NIV)
Pray for an end to child labor.
Child labor can be fought at many levels — governments can enact or strengthen laws around human trafficking and labor; corporations can ensure that children are not exploited along their supply chains; communities can take greater responsibility for collectively protecting children; families can value their children’s well-being above economics. Pray for the power of God’s love to counter greed and desperation to change the hearts of people who can create better circumstances for children.
Lord, You are our provider, and we know all good things come from Your hand. Help families to find reliable incomes so children don’t have to work. Let laws and cultural practices protect children from a childhood of abuse and suffering.
“‘Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan, I will now arise,’ says the LORD. ‘I will protect them from those who malign them.’” —Psalm 12:5 (NIV)
Human trafficking is modern-day slavery. Nearly 25 million people worldwide are being trafficked for the sex trade, forced labor, and other illegal purposes. And evidence from the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime suggests that more than 20 percent of all people trafficked are children. Many are sold into prostitution to pay off family debts or abducted from the streets and forced to work in brothels. Children who escape or are rescued face a difficult physical and emotional recovery process.
Dear God, there are times when it is right — and righteous — to be angry. It is right to be angry about people who exploit children. Let that righteous anger fuel action, Lord. Don’t let it fade into complacency.
“Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless.” —Psalm 10:12 (NIV)
Pray for an end to female genital mutilation (FGM) and cutting.
Female genital mutilation, also known as cutting or female circumcision, is the removal of part or all the female genitalia for nonmedical reasons. This traditional rite of passage initiates girls into adulthood and, ultimately, readies her for child marriage — despite FGM and cutting being outlawed in many countries worldwide.
Done with a razor blade or knife — often with no anesthesia and no disinfectant — FGM and cutting can cause severe pain, bleeding, and swelling that may prevent passing urine or feces. Though the scars may heal, the horror of the event — including being physically restrained — can affect a young girl for years. And FGM can also cause chronic pain and infections for the rest of her life.
World Vision and other organizations are educating and empowering girls and their communities to end FGM, often substituting positive rites of passage for teen girls and boys.
Lord God, help families that practice FGM see its damaging effects on girls and young women. Motivate these families to turn away from inhumane practices, and protect their female children from all forms of harm, including FGM. Lay a hand of protection over girls at risk of FGM and cutting.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made …” —Psalm 139:14 (NIV)
Pray for an end to child marriage.
In developing countries, one-third of girls are forced to marry before their 18th birthday. Fear of premarital pregnancy, rape, hunger, homelessness, and harmful traditional practices are all drivers of child marriage. Girls will also marry because of threats and coercion. Of the 25 countries with the highest rates of child marriage, the majority are affected by conflict, fragility, or natural disasters.
Girls trapped in child marriage tend to be poor, under-educated, and live in rural areas where birth and death rates are high and conflict is common. They are more likely to experience domestic violence, forced sexual relations, and poor reproductive health.
World Vision helps organize local leaders, parents, educators, law enforcement, and social services to support girls in pursuing education and avoiding child marriage. And World Vision children’s clubs empower girls with information, particularly on child rights and healthy physical development.
Lord, we echo the psalmist’s confidence that You will deliver those who cry out to You for help. See to the needs of precious girls and boys vulnerable to child marriage or already trapped in its grasp. Hear and answer their cries for help. May cultures where child marriage is accepted and encouraged learn of the harm it causes to children and change these societies.
“For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help.” —Psalm 72:12 (NIV)
Pray for an end to child sacrifice.
Child sacrifice is an abomination. In certain districts of Uganda, witchdoctors convince people desperate for money, to bear children, or to rid their bodies of disease that only a child’s body part, such as the head, the fingers, or the private parts — mixed with traditional medicine — will cure the problem. Ritual demands that the parts be removed while the child is still alive and conscious. World Vision’s Amber Alert-style program is taking on child sacrifice in Uganda.
Father, protect Your children from abductors who prey on the most vulnerable. Bless the radical partnership between leaders of all faiths, law enforcement, traditional healers, and communities to stop child sacrifice once and for all. Comfort grieving parents in their time of unimaginable loss.
“Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.” —Proverbs 24:11 (NIV)
Pray for an end to gang violence.
Drug trafficking, gang activity, easy access to guns, and ineffective justice systems have contributed to high levels of crime and violence in Central America and urban areas worldwide. Even people living in small towns fear being robbed, threatened, extorted, or kidnapped. Of the top 50 most violent cities in the world, 42 are in the Latin America/Caribbean region. Pray for World Vision’s work, which helps young people find their identity in Christ — not gangs — and teaches them vocational skills so they can better resist the temptation of easy money from criminal activities.
Lord, chaos and fear cripple communities overrun by gang violence. Thank You so much for the gift of Your Son. Through Him, we truly become a new creation. We claim Jesus’ blessing for peacemakers in Matthew 5:9. Help young people see themselves the way You see them, so they can help bring peace and hope to other people’s lives.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” —Matthew 5:9 (NIV)
Pray for all eyes to be opened about child exploitation.
Child exploitation isn’t only a problem “somewhere else.” It’s an issue everywhere, including the most developed countries and all 50 states in the U.S. Anyone can be exploited or trafficked, regardless of race, class, education, gender, age, or citizenship. Ask God to open the hearts and minds of people everywhere to recognize the signs of child exploitation and give them the courage to take a stand for protection.
Dear Lord, Your Word tells us that it is a sin to do nothing when it’s in our power to help someone in need. Help us to speak out against crimes against children. Prod us to act whenever we suspect that a child is in danger. Don’t stop prompting us until we do the right thing.
“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed …” —Isaiah 1:17 (NIV)
Pray for World Vision’s work to protect children.
Inspired by World Vision founder Bob Pierce’s prayer, “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God,” World Vision works to protect children from all forms of harm. This includes preventing children from being trapped in abusive circumstances; protecting children with shelter and healthcare; and restoring children through life-skills training, education, and reintegration with families. Pray for strength and courage for staff at the forefront of this work and for World Vision’s fundraising efforts to help even more children.
Prince of Peace, You know the challenges our brothers and sisters face in helping people and working for peace. We ask that You give grace to World Vision’s staff to fulfill the responsibilities You’ve placed in their hands. Thank You for empowering them to be Your hands and feet.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” —Galatians 6:9 (NIV)
Kari Costanza, Chris Huber, Denise C. Koenig, and Kathryn Reid of World Vision’s staff in the U.S. contributed to this story.
The excitement was palpable on May 6, 2017, for families in Portage, Indiana. It wasn’t only World Vision’s Global 6K for Water at Real Life Community Church; it was the local high school’s much-anticipated prom night.
Students and parents alike were excited to complete the Global 6K but also excited to get on to hair appointments, picking up corsages, and getting ready for the big dance. So about an hour-and-a-half after the 6K began that morning, pastors and volunteers started to close the course that about 75 people had completed to expedite the clean-up process.
When a family — which volunteers thought were the final participants — came around the corner to cheers and the banging of cowbells, instead of first celebrating, they shouted to the crowd that Judy and Debbie were still on the course behind them. Suddenly everyone was in motion once again to restore the course.
Meanwhile, 71-year-old Judy Carlson was walking the Global 6K at her own pace — slowly and steadily using her cane for support. On her race bib was Bintou, 6, from Mali.
“I’m grateful to be able to walk for her today,” Judy says. “We should appreciate that we can turn on the tap and get clean water anytime we want.”
Judy and her friend, 61-year-old Debbie Torres, were still trudging along, occasionally taking a moment to rest and look at the flowers.
“The birds are cheering us on,” says Debbie, her race bib featuring Ramatou, 6, also from Mali. “I can’t imagine what it’s like to walk all that way and then have to carry water back that’s almost 50 pounds. God bless the little children.”
Meanwhile, pastors and volunteers had quickly put the course markers back up and gathered to cheer Judy and Debbie on at the finish line. Team World Vision Endurance Program Manager Steve Spear doubled back on his bike to join Judy on her last kilometer, calling her “tremendously inspiring.” He says, “If you think you could never do a 6K, I did it today with a 71-year-old lady with a cane. If she can do it, you can totally do it.”
As the wind picked up and they heard the faint sound of clanging cowbells, Judy became even more determined, “I’ll be okay. We’re going to finish. It’s the wind beneath our wings.”
Two hours after they began, still walking at their own pace, Judy and Debbie crossed the finish line together with smiles from ear to ear and plans to visit Dunkin’ Donuts to celebrate.
“They were so great — out there ringing cowbells and cheering us on,” Debbie says. “We knew it would take us awhile to get there. But we knew we could do it, and we did it.” She says Judy had told her before that race that they would finish, no matter how long it took them.
The next morning, on Celebration Sunday, Judy sponsored Bintou — an only child who loves math — with the hope that soon she will no longer have to walk for water.
“The 6K has been instrumental in us getting people to feel what is on God’s heart for the poor,” says Scott Marshall, Real Life Community Church lead pastor. “[We] can actually do something about it and not feel overwhelmed by the need of the world; [we] can actually make a difference.”
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