|“Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.” |
—Bob Pierce, World Vision founder
Dr. Bob Pierce, World Vision’s founder, was an American evangelist and war correspondent who traveled to China with Youth for Christ in 1947.
On that trip, Bob’s heart was broken when he was confronted with the need of one little girl. He pledged a monthly amount to a local missionary to ensure her care, planting the seeds of World Vision’s future child sponsorship model.
Dr. Bob Pierce began World Vision to help children orphaned in the Korean War.
World Vision founder Bob Pierce in prayer.
To provide long-term, ongoing care for children in crisis, World Vision developed its first child sponsorship program in Korea in 1953.
As children began to flourish through sponsorship in Korea, the program expanded into other Asian countries and eventually into Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
Today, monthly contributions from sponsors enable World Vision to provide impoverished children and their communities with access to clean water, nutritious food, education, health care and economic opportunities.
World Vision began its global relief efforts in the 1960s, delivering food, clothing and medical supplies to people suffering from disaster.
World Vision began soliciting clothing and other surplus products from corporations to help meet the immediate needs of children and families in emergency situations. These gift-in-kind donations now account for roughly 30 percent of World Vision’s income.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, donations continued to grow, and World Vision was able to reach thousands more children.
Former World Vision president Stan Mooneyham talks with children in Asia.
At this time, World Vision realized the growing need to work with entire communities to help children and families break free from poverty. World Vision began incorporating vocational and agricultural training for families into its sponsorship efforts, and parents began learning to farm and earn money through small enterprises.
These efforts to affect self-sustainable change evolved into World Vision’s current community development work. Long-term development has proven central to bringing lasting hope. After meeting immediate survival needs, World Vision works with communities to help them find lasting solutions and move toward self-reliance.
A major benchmark of our growth occurred in the early 1980s when famine struck Ethiopia. The media coverage of the famine created unprecedented awareness of human need, and people throughout the world offered financial resources to the relief efforts. World Vision provided millions of dollars worth of food and medical assistance, saving thousands of lives from the slow, agonizing death of starvation.
Former World Vision president Ted Engstrom on a 1986 visit to Ethiopia.
Once the immediate crisis subsided, World Vision began long-term efforts to help Ethiopians rebuild their lives. Today, the region that was once parched and full of death thrives with nutritious crops, fresh water and hope for the future.
Also in the 1980s, World Vision began drilling wells in communities, causing infant mortality rates to drop. World Vision often uses clean water as an entry point into communities, following with other activities that create change. Once the pump is installed, World Vision trains community volunteers to become health promoters, who, in turn, teach their neighbors how to use fresh water for better health. World Vision offers classes to villagers in health care, gardening, irrigation and income generation. Villages evolve from poverty-stricken, illness-plagued communities to thriving, self-supporting, healthy ones.
In 1990, World Vision began addressing the urgent needs of children in Uganda who had been orphaned by AIDS. Recognizing the magnitude of the AIDS pandemic and its serious impact on decades of development efforts, World Vision began expanding its AIDS programming into other hard-hit African countries.
Bob Seiple, president of World Vision U.S. until the summer of 1998, holds a child in an Asian refugee camp in 1989.
In Romania, World Vision worked with the long-neglected orphan population and provided training to health care workers. In Somalia, World Vision joined United Nations peacekeepers to help millions affected by the civil war.
World Vision launched the 30 Hour Famine early in the decade to help young people experience the effects of poverty firsthand and raise funds to make a difference for hungry children around the world. In the U.S. alone, 485,000 youth now raise more than $11 million every year through the Famine.
World Vision also began actively promoting justice for children and the poor in the early 1990s, calling for an international ban on land mines, an end to child exploitation and equal opportunities for female children.
The new millennium: 2000 and beyond
In the year 2000, World Vision launched the Hope Initiative to call people to respond to what had become the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time — HIV and AIDS. By 2006, nearly 399,000 orphans and vulnerable children had been sponsored in AIDS-affected communities. World Vision is helping turn the tide against HIV and AIDS worldwide by caring for orphans and vulnerable children, preventing the spread of HIV with education based on biblical principles, and advocating for effective programs that transform communities and save lives.
Rich Stearns, shown at left in Sri Lanka following the devastating 2004 tsunami, became president of World Vision U.S. in 1998.
Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, World Vision assisted New Yorkers not covered by other aid programs. Later, it established emergency food programs for more than 1 million Afghanis.
In 2002, World Vision, along with other NGO partners, received one of the largest emergency relief grants in history to provide food and related assistance to tens of millions of Africans affected by the decade’s worst famine in Southern Africa.
World Vision has continued to be a voice for the poor by helping to stop the flow of conflict diamonds fueling civil wars in Africa, deterring sex tourists who prey on innocent children abroad and calling for an end to the use of child soldiers in northern Uganda.
When massive tsunamis devastated South Asia in December 2004, World Vision’s 3,700 local staff began responding immediately with life-saving aid. Generous donor gifts are enabling World Vision to help families rebuild their lives over the long-term with new homes, schools, clean water, health care and economic opportunities.