History of World Vision
From the beginning, World Vision's activities have been focused on giving people – especially children – opportunities to alleviate their suffering and to improve their lives. In 1947, American missionary Dr Robert Pierce travelled to China and Korea and encountered people who regularly had to go without food, clothing, shelter or medicine. During the Korean War in the early fifties, he helped set up orphanages to care for children who’d been abandoned or orphaned.
Upon his return to the US, Pierce began raising funds to continue and expand his work in Asia. The strength of the public response was such that, in September 1950, World Vision was founded, with Pierce as its president.
World Vision was established in Australia in 1966. During that decade, World Vision expanded its operations to meet the needs of refugees in Indochina and of people recovering from disasters in Bangladesh and in several African countries.
In the 1970s, World Vision's focus broadened from assisting the individual child to include community development. Since the 1980s, the “welfare” approach has gradually changed to a more collaborative relationship. Poor, marginalised people and communities work with World Vision to improve their lives and take control of their futures.
Our Christian Identity
Most Australians know something of World Vision’s story. Since we began in Australia nearly 50 years ago, millions have done the 40 Hour Famine, or sponsored a child, or dug deep when an emergency like the Asian Tsunami occurs. As Australians have connected with us, they’ve connected with the stories of children, families and communities struggling with injustice and poverty right around the world.
But not everyone may be familiar with World Vision’s connection to the Christian story. It is this story that motivated our founders and continues to motivate and guide our staff and organisation today. At the heart of this story is the person of Jesus. His life and his teaching shapes the way we work today.
Our story is a story of faith. Jesus was known for spending time with those on the fringes of society, always seeing potential for change and transformation where others could not. His example motivates us to live and love at the edges and to find potential for transformation in the toughest situations.
Our story is a story of hope. Jesus presented a radically different view of how life, relationships and society could be. He said he came so that everyone might have a full life. This gives us a glimpse of how things could be and motivates us to work for justice for all, so that everyone might experience a ‘full life’, with no-one left behind.
And our story is a story of love. We believe that that love has the power to overcome all. The unconditional love Jesus demonstrated for the sick and the hungry, for children and widows, for prostitutes and foreigners, for friend and even for foe, sets the standard we aspire to today. Love drives us to serve all people in need today, regardless of race, gender, age, location, religion or social status.
Today, there are more than half a million Australians who share in World Vision’s work. Some share our Christian story, but many have other stories that motivate them to partner with us. We welcome and celebrate this diversity.
All of us at World Vision are connected in our desire to seek justice and to overcome poverty for all children, everywhere. We invite all Australians to join us.
There are many ways to get involved in our work. You can donate, take action or learn more.
Take a deeper look at how our development work is informed by our Christian faith.