One week after tsunamis swamped the shores of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and other South Asian countries—leaving devastated towns and rotting corpses behind them—the Christian international relief organization World Vision hit the ground running. On their website they put out a clarion call for generous donations, and to the press promised to raise $50 million for victims of the tsunamis—an amount that dwarfs the annual budgets of nearly every other Christian relief agency. But considering World Vision raised $1.5 billion last year, the goal may be more attainable than it sounds. If any Christian group has the economic muscle to follow through on such a grand promise, World Vision does.

World Vision has political clout too. Its international director Dean Hirsch collaborates with the United Nations, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization. It's a major player in its field, commanding the respect of secular and Christian agencies alike. World Vision has offices in 100 countries and employs 22,000 workers, most of whom are native to the countries they work in. In fact, World Vision made a point of "indigenizing" its staff back in the 1970s in the effort to distribute decision-making among its many branches. I discovered this several years ago during a missions trip to Tokyo when I met with the director and staff of World Vision there, all of whom are Japanese.

The success of World Vision hasn't come without its growing pains, however—and a good deal of conflict. The dynamic and exhilarating days of the agency's early history looked quite different from what is has become. We can't really understand what World Vision is today unless we become acquainted with the man who envisioned the organization ...

Subscriber Access OnlyYou have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Already a CT subscriber? for full digital access.