Established in 1950 to care for orphans in Asia, World Vision International (WVI) is active in nearly 100 countries on six continents, making it one of the largest Christian relief and development organizations in the world. WVI describes itself as “a global partnership conducting child-focused emergency relief, sustainable community development, and advocacy.” Its mission is “to follow our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in working with the poor and oppressed to promote human transformation, seek justice and bear witness to the good news of the Kingdom of God.” Viewing capitalism as an instrument of societal injustice, greed, and exploitation, WVI favors an economic model based on socialism and the redistribution of wealth.
WVI identifies the following set of core values as its own:
We are Christian: “We seek to follow Jesus — in his identification with the poor, the powerless, the afflicted, the oppressed, and the marginalized … in his challenge to unjust attitudes and systems; in his call to share resources with each other …”
We are committed to the poor: “We are called to serve the neediest people of the earth; to relieve their suffering and to promote the transformation of their wellbeing. … We seek to facilitate an engagement between the poor and the affluent that opens both to transformation.”
We value people: “We give priority to people before money, structure, systems, and other institutional machinery.”We are stewards: “The resources at our disposal are not our own. They are a trust from God through donors on behalf of the poor. … We ensure that our development activities are ecologically sound.”We are partners: “We are members of an international World Vision partnership that transcends legal, structural, and cultural boundaries.”
We are responsive: “We are responsive in a different sense where deep seated and often complex economic and social deprivation calls for sustainable, long-term development.”
WVI divides its activities into the following categories:
Transformational Development: “… [H]ealth care, agriculture production, water projects, education, micro-enterprise development, advocacy and other programs are carried out by the community with the support of World Vision.”
Emergency Relief: “People whose lives are endangered by disasters or conflict need immediate, skilled assistance. World Vision is committed to respond to any major emergency around the world, through our own programs or in co-operation with partner agencies. For example, World Vision has responded to famine in Ethiopia and North Korea, hurricanes in Central America, earthquakes in El Salvador and India Taiwan and Turkey, and war refugees in Kosovo, Chechnya, Sierra Leone, Angola, and East Timor.”
Promotion of Justice: “World Vision International has endorsed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as fundamental expressions of the freedoms and responsibilities that should exist in every country. Whenever possible, World Vision seeks opportunities to help reduce the level of conflict and to contribute to peaceful resolution and reconciliation.”
Strategic initiatives: “World Vision invites Christian leaders to participate in conferences, consultations, training programmes and various educational opportunities.”
Public Awareness: “World Vision encourages people to care about the needs of others, to understand the causes of poverty, and to offer a compassionate response. These efforts include collaboration with media and community participation in fundraising.”
Witness to Jesus Christ: “World Vision believes that God, in the person of Jesus Christ, offers hope of renewal, restoration, and reconciliation. … At the same time, World Vision is respectful of other faiths. It does not engage in proselytism or religious coercion of any kind.”
In its treatment of Middle Eastern affairs, WVI is decidedly supportive of the Palestinian cause and condemnatory of Israel. The organization’s political perspective was given voice in its January and May 2004 press releases regarding Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip; these documents made unsubstantiated allegations against Israeli soldiers, and no mention of the Palestinian terror that had necessitated those operations.
In its “country profile” of the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel, WVI engages in major historical distortions and misrepresentations. For example, it states: “In 1948 a war broke our resulting in the establishment of Israel on 77% of historic Palestine. For Palestinians, this event is known as the Nakba (great catastrophe). Over 700,000 Palestinians were made refugees.” This narrative does not mention that the war was started when, on May 15, 1948 (the very day of Israel’s creation), troops from eight Arab dictatorships — Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen — attacked Israel in an effort to destroy the nascent Jewish state. Moreover, Nakba is an Arab term that is invariably used in reference to Israel’s creation – not, as WVI implies, to the war, nor even to the resultant refugee crisis.
WVI’s account of the Six Day War of 1967 is equally misleading: “In 1967 Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.” Absent is any mention of the fact that the war was started when Egypt, Syria, and Jordan massed their troops on Israel’s borders in preparation for yet another war of attempted annihilation.
WVI’s narrative of Arab-Israeli affairs also includes the following: “Israel began its policy of building Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Since 1967 another mass Palestinian refugee problem was created by displacing persons within the West Bank and Gaza Strip and sending refugees to neighboring Arab countries as well as throughout the world. Year[s] under Israel occupation culminated in the first intifada (uprising) that began in December 1987. … As the 1990’s ended, a sense of disillusionment in the Occupied Territories set in due to … Israeli policies, for example, accelerated settlement expansion, house demolitions, land confiscations and human rights abuses. The sense of disillusionment … sparked a new intifada in September 2000, known as the Al Aqsa Intifada. … Israeli security forces have re-entered many Palestinian-controlled areas in the name of security and are practicing a policy of sealing entries and exits to cities, villages, and towns as a form of collective punishment of the Palestinian population. This policy has severely affected the Palestinian infrastructure, economy and general social fabric and has created a humanitarian crisis.”
About 80 percent of WVI’s funding comes from private sources — individuals, corporations and foundations. The rest comes from governments and multilateral agencies, including major grants from the U.S. and Australia for projects in the Palestinian Authority (2000-2003). WVI has been the beneficiary of grants from the Ahmanson Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.