Change Makers

Becoming all in with a new purpose

Laura and Robert Abernathy teach Sunday school in Uganda during a 2016 visit.

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.

Laura 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 philanthropic gift to World Vision.  “We were all in,” says Robert, a former senior vice president at Kimberly-Clark and retired CEO of Halyard Health Inc.

They also began sponsoring two girls who shared birthdays with their 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’.”

Excited, Laura and Robert told their two adult children about World Vision and its child sponsorship programs. They were surprised to find out that both already had sponsored children. But their transition to being “all in” also came with due diligence. They first wanted a Christian organization. Next came a closer look at World Vision’s finances to make sure their investment would be used responsibly.

“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.”

Lastly, they looked for the ability to get results. World Vision has proven, community-based health approaches aimed at the first 1,000 days of life. We feature basic health interventions for mothers and babies and the delivery of timed and targeted counseling and education through local volunteer community health workers. World Vision supports one of the largest community health worker networks in the world, with more than 184,000 in 46 countries.

We’re trusted by the community and can reach even 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.”

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