Your excellency, Senior Secretary to the President for Social Integration, Mr. Injoo Park
Pastor Kim Sam-Hwan from Myungsung Church,
Bishop Sundo Kim, the Chairman of the Board of World Vision Korea,
Doctor Jong Sam Park, the President of World Vision Korea,
The staff, Board members, supporters and friends of World Vision’s work.
It’s an honour for me to be here on this auspicious occasion, the celebration of 60 years of World Vision’s work with the children here in Korea, and around the world. I am struck by the importance of this occasion for all of us. I have completed my first year in office as President of World Vision, so it is a special joy for me to look back on the faithfulness and dedication of those who have gone before us, from Reverend Bob Pierce to my predecessor as president, Mr. Dean Hirsch, who is here with us today.
We now have 40 thousand staff in World Vision serving more than millions of children around the world.
We have remained faithful to our Christian principles, striving to show love to the most vulnerable children in the world by working with their families and communities. Yet much has changed and, here in Korea, you embody the best of those changes.
What began as an outreach from America is now a global Christian partnership of almost 100 nations. Our interdependent offices, guided by voluntary Boards, share equally in the great adventure of reaching out to children, families and communities around the world.
What started here as a small seed has become a mighty tree. A nation that received support has become one of the most generous and effective of our offices in raising support for others.
By the grace and power of God, this great work began with what seemed to be a terrible moment. The martyrdom of Mr Kim Chang Hwa led to Doctor Pierce’s sponsorship of his widow Mrs Baek and her four children. With the support of the Reverend Kyung-chik Han, who was to be Board chair from 1964 to 1986, Doctor Pierce founded World Vision in Korea. That act has grown today into an office which shares the practical love of Jesus to all who have need, without discrimination, in 47 countries.
You are the proof that development works. The generosity of Koreans and the spectacular growth of this office as a partner for others are known far beyond your borders. The Korean Children’s Choir, which first sang in 1960, has helped attract sponsors in many countries for half a century.
You began raising money with the Love Loaf in 1991, when the Board Chair at that time, the late Reverend Jin-kyung Chung, visited Ethiopia and accepted the challenge of raising money for children there. Sponsorship, which you started for Korean children in 1978, was extended to children in Africa. Korean sponsors now serve more than three hundred thousand children around the world.
You were the first national office which moved from being an aid recipient to becoming a donor that serves others. From that tiny seed of 25 dollars a month that Bob Pierce committed here every month, you now raise 124 billion won annually – more than 100 million dollars. You have become one of our leading fund-raising offices in a very short time, and that shows how dedicated and professional your team is. I consider this extraordinary growth as a sign of God’s blessing and a testimony to the faithfulness of your leaders and staff.
I would like to acknowledge some people here today who have witnessed this history. The work of Bishop Sundo Kim, who served on the Board from 1988 and was the Board Chair from 1997, was celebrated in a special service on Sunday. Bishop Kim, who steps down from the Board in December, is a model leader, a man whose beliefs, actions and words all testify to his faith. He has had a global impact on World Vision’s work, having been a very active member of the International Board, too, from 1998 to 2007.
Doctor Jaygun Yoo has served on the Board since 1991, Reverend Jongsoon Park since 1993 and Doctor Ja Song since 1996. Each of you exemplifies the discipline of all those who volunteer their time and resources to keep the spirit of World Vision Korea strong. I thank you for your tireless love for the children, and the consistent devotion you have shown to World Vision by making it part of your life’s ministry.
I hand back to Doctor Park, the seventh president of World Vision Korea. You have ably filled this role since 2003. I bring you and your team the greetings and best wishes of the International Board and your colleagues from around the world: we wish you great joy in this day.