|World Vision is building on its solid foundation of working alongside the Church, engaging in new ways to serve the Body of Christ in the United States and around the globe.|
“Scripture is very clear that the Church has always been God’s instrument for delivering hope in life to the least, the lost, and the lonely,” said Steve Haas, World Vision’s vice president for church relations. “By serving the Church, World Vision taps into God’s strategic plan for the world.”
Working cross-denominationally, World Vision is connecting United States congregations not only with communities around the world, but also with one another. As neighboring U.S. churches join forces to help poor communities, new bonds of Christian unity are emerging at home as well as abroad.
World Vision's commitment to serve the Church recently was
re-emphasized when the international aid agency reviewed the organization’s work with churches around the world. As a result, the World Vision International board of directors adopted a strategy that places churches in the forefront of World Vision’s work. This strategy asserts that God’s work among the poor is more effective when churches and World Vision work together. This includes churches in both wealthy and poor countries.
“The Church and World Vision share our love for Christ and His mandate to serve the poor,” Haas said. “We may be Baptist, Methodist, or Catholic, but we’re all one in Jesus.”
In the United States, churches are responding to growing opportunities to come alongside poor communities where World Vision works. World Vision sees itself as a bridge between U.S. churches and churches and communities in poor countries. These trans-cultural relationships are essential to provide ongoing support to churches in developing communities, because most of these churches struggle with the issues of poverty themselves. Yet these poor churches have strengths no other institution can claim. Their constant presence allows them to reach into communities where governments and aid agencies cannot. Local churches also serve a long-term role in encouraging improvements in many poor communities, remaining long after agencies such as World Vision have moved on to care for others. And all Christian congregations, whether rich or poor, can be transformed through relationships with one another.
Dozens of U.S. churches are shining the light of Christ and subsequently witnessing the reality of this transformation as they enter into partnership with World Vision to help communities and churches in developing countries. Consider these:
- In Pittsburgh, the churches of the Episcopal Diocese have sponsored more than 600 children and plan to add at least 400 more. The Episcopal churches also have helped rebuild a Rwandan hospital destroyed during the country's recent civil war, have constructed an orphanage, and trained lay pastors to assist Anglican bishops. "The hard work is the work you do on your knees," said Bishop Bob Duncan of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. "It is finding out what God wants you to do. In Pittsburgh we have been listening, and we are willing to see what He sees, to do what He asks us to do. Rwanda is what He asks us to do." Also in Pittsburgh, 48 Presbyterian churches are forging relationships between themselves and churches in Malawi. The Pittsburgh Presbytery also has committed to sponsoring 500 children in the next three years.
- In the Portland-Vancouver area, Lake Grove Presbyterian of Lake Oswego, Oregon, and Columbia Presbyterian of Vancouver, Washington, are working together to care for the water-deprived Wolof people group in Senegal. “One of the great blessings to our church in this partnership is in developing adult disciples from among our congregation,” said the Rev. Bob Sanders of Lake Grove Presbyterian. “It has transformed our lives not only in Senegal but within our congregation as well. Lake Grove will never be the same.”
- In Dayton, Ohio, Omega Baptist Church and five other area churches are more than half way to reaching their goal of sponsoring 500 families in Ghana.
- In San Diego, Solana Beach Presbyterian has ventured into the dessert of Ethiopia to care for the Afar people, a desperately poor nomadic tribe that receives little government support. "The friendships we are building have been priceless," said Tom Theriault of Solana Beach.
- In Noroton, Connecticut, Noroton Presbyterian has committed to sponsoring children in the AIDS-ravaged Dominican Republic. Next month some church members will visit this destitute Caribbean country to see how the Noroton congregation can assist a specific community.
- East of Seattle in Bellevue, Washington, three churches — Westminster Chapel, Overlake Christian, and First Presbyterian Church — are walking alongside the budding Cambodian Church and the Cambodian people. Today these congregations sponsor more than 500 children in Cambodia’s Kompong Thom region, and specialist teams from the three congregations work directly with the people and churches. "A partnership that connects a congregation to a specific place and people in the world is probably the most powerful opportunity to move a congregation toward deeper commitment," said the Rev. Mark Carlson of Westminster Chapel. "Involving other churches on the ground floor also is a powerful way to connect churches together across denominational lines."
- Across the western United States, six Calvary Chapels are committed to ChildChange, a program that provides options for congregations to care for poor children who struggle without the basics.
The Catholic Church and World Vision also are working together in Sudan, where the Catholic Ministry of Caring Inc. has provided funds to World Vision and Catholic Relief Services to supply clean water for thousands of Sudanese people. World Vision continues to enhance this relationship with the Catholic Church under the leadership of Tadeusz Mich, World Vision's church relations director who works with the Catholic Church. "As the Body of Christ, we can be more effective as we work together," Mich said. "Fifty-one percent of all Christians worldwide are Catholic, so working together we will be able to leverage the services we provide to poor communities."
World Vision is committed to continuing to strengthen its partnership with churches so World Vision and the Church can serve as more effective ambassadors of God’s love among the poor. For more information on how your congregation can join in the critical work among communities, people, and children in need, please call 1-800-270-5629.
How Can World Vision Serve Your Church?
to see how your church can begin to learn about and engage people living in poverty around the world.