By Cody Petersen
I am a World Vision newbie. What I mean by that is that my interaction with World Vision as an organization consisted of looking at a 30 Hour Famine website for around 15 minutes because I had a friend in ministry that mentioned it to me. So when I was given the opportunity to accompany some other ministry leaders on a Vision Trip to Ecuador, I had a variety of feelings and emotions that I encountered at the same time. I was over the top excited because I was being given the opportunity to travel to another country. I was confused because having no interaction or previous partnership with World Vision, I wasn’t sure why I was selected to go. I was also a little bit skeptical because I had no clue what World Vision was all about or what I was getting myself into.
My goal on our Vision Trip to Ecuador was to learn as much as possible about World Vision, how they work, how they partner with different countries and communities, and what my options were as far as partnering with them goes. As we entered Ecuador I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the country and God’s creation. I was overwhelmed with the hospitality of our hosts and the love and kindness that was shown to us by each community that we came in contact with. Most of all, I was overwhelmed with the way that God is using World Vision to make a difference in Ecuador on a national level and individually within each community.
We were able to meet with some of World Vision’s national directors on our first day and they expressed their purpose in everything they did with World Vision. This purpose was broken down into three points: Worship through service, Mutual Transformation, and Hope. Over the course of our week in Ecuador, I was able to see this vision manifested in the communities that we visited. It was evident through each Area Development Project that we visited the real life changes that were happening in each community, but also in many individuals within those communities. The communities had a dream for what they wanted to accomplish to strengthen their communities, and World Vision was able to come alongside them and not only serve them, but also serve side by side with them. Because of the ownership given to each community, the changes that happen in those communities are completely sustained in the long term by the communities themselves. Instead of giving help then leaving the people right where they were when they started, World Vision gives them the tools and resources to sustain the changes and thrive on their own once World Vision ends a project. This process fulfills the purpose of World Vision that I mentioned earlier and helps to change REAL PEOPLE from the inside out.
One person that we met along the way was named Nicolasa. Her story hit me hard because it is a familiar story, as I have friends struggling with the same thing. She is unable to have children but was the resident midwife for her community, delivering all the babies in the community. There was a real problem with losing mothers and babies due to poor nutrition and not having the proper training to deliver these babies. So in partnering with World Vision and also the national government, Nicolasa was able to receive the training she needed to better help the mothers and children of her community. She was able to teach pregnant mothers how to take care of themselves and their babies by eating right and not over working. She was able to receive better training to help with the delivering of the babies. She was also able to receive spiritual healing from the pain of not being able to have children on her own. When she was telling her story, a few things that she said resounded with me. She said that she went from struggling with the pain of not being able to have children to feeling like she had many children because of the relationships she was able to develop with the mothers and babies in her community. She also said that God provided her with a child of her own when a mother abandoned a baby that she in turn raised as her own child. It was absolutely amazing to see how God worked through Nicolasa, World Vision, and even the government to make this all happen and help strengthen this small community.
I came away from the trip inspired and eager to do whatever I can to partner with World Vision and the real people that they are partnering with every day in communities all over the world. It was refreshing to see that all the resources they receive as an organization make it to these communities and are impacting the lives of real people. I wish that I could share more stories of people that we encountered while in Ecuador and the communities that are being changed there, but that would be a book instead of a blog post. Whether you are like me and are a World Vision newbie, or you have been partnering with World Vision for many years, know that through the work of World Vision, the lives of real people are being impacted for the better and real communities of people are growing and thriving. I would encourage anyone to partner with World Vision whether it is through supporting a child, fundraising through a 30 Hour Famine, or simply spending time in prayer each day. I can say from personal experience that you are not only helping to better people physically, socially, and spiritually, but you will walk away from your experience changed as well. Like we learned on our first day, this truly is a partnership where everyone benefits through being able to worship and serve alongside each other, having that mutual transformation of our lives from the inside out, and by sharing the hope that we have all received through Jesus Christ with those around us.