The Truth about World Vision

via COURTESY- and Hindu Voice published on December 28, 2008

by V. K. Sashikumar

The author is a noted investigative journalist for Tehelka.
This article was prepared by him for (the online arm of CNN-IBN, owned and funded by
the Southern Baptist Church in the US)
 under the title “Preparing
for the Harvest”, which IBNLive so
far has not published  it as it exposes
World Vision’s Christian missionary activities in India. Donars to
World Vision India – Rs 256 crores collected in 2008 – believe it to be
the premier NGO
working in India for the upliftment of the poor and downtrodden. In
fact it is
the premier Christian  missionary organisation working in India for the
harvesting souls for Jesus. Since the killing of Swami Lakshmanananda
and the
resultant communal violence in Orissa in August  2008, World Vision’s
and missionary activities have come under the scanner of the Home
Ministry in New Delhi.

orld Vision, the world’s largest Christian church
mission agency, has traditionally been closely linked with successive American
governments. The former US Ambassador for International Religious Freedoms, Dr
Robert Seiple, was World Vision chief for 11 years till 1998 when he was picked
by former president, Bill Clinton, to head the office of International
Religious Freedoms. Around the period when Seiple was the president of World
Vision, its vice-president from 1993 to 1998 was Andrew S. Natsios. He is now
the administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID). For
more than 40 years, USAID has been the leading government agency providing
economic and humanitarian assistance to developing countries.

orld Vision’s focus is children and community
development. It is involved in more than 162 projects in 25 states. It projects
its community development programmes as “holistic development”. This is
implemented through Area Development Programmes (ADP). Each ADP works in an
area that is contiguous geographically, economically or ethnically. These programmes
provide access to clean drinking water, healthcare, education and setting up of
income generating projects. But infused with such development works is the
spiritual component – Bible classes.

In India, World Vision projects itself as a “Christian
relief and development agency with more than 40 years experience in working
with the poorest of the poor in India without respect to race, region,
religion, gender or caste.” However, Tehelka has in its possession US-based World
Vision Inc.’s financial statement filed before the Internal Revenue Service,
wherein, it is classified as a Christian church ministry. In any case, its
mission statement is self-explanatory: “World Vision is an international
partnership of Christians whose 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.”

Though World Vision has consultative status with
UNESCO and partnerships with UN agencies like UNICEF, WHO, UNHCR and ILO, the
fact is that its financial records reveal that it has funded evangelical
activities all over the world including India. World Vision uses its
international clout and its close links with the US government through USAID to
network with governments and corporate entities in the developing world.

World Vision has an ongoing channel of interaction
with the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII); in its 2003 financial report
it states that “the Rural Development Department of the Government of Assam recognized
World Vision India as a leading development agency in the state and has
recommended that World Vision be the choice for receiving bilateral funds. The
government has also sought World Vision’s assistance in creating a proposal for
US$ 80 million for development work in the state.”

The income and expenditure account for the year ended September 30,
2002 shows that its total income was Rs 95.5 crores, which included
contribution of Rs 87.8 crores. For an organisation that claims to be
involved in development and relief work, it is quite secretive about
positioning and exact nature of activities. When approached by Tehelka
as part
of its undercover operation for an interview, World Vision India’s
national director, Dr Jayakumar Christian, after having agreed to the
backed out because he wanted copies of the fictitious Christian
magazine that
Tehelka claimed to be representing.

However, what goes unnoticed by the governments and
the corporate world is World Vision India’s evangelical missions as
part of its
development agenda. Proselytisation (conversion of faith) is an
integral part
of its provision of development services under its much-touted ADP
Though none of the literature published by World Vision India even
mentions its evangelisation missions, foreign publications of World
Vision India proudly proclaim its “spiritual” component.

Take, for instance, World Vision New Zealand’s report
(4 September 2002) on the funding of ADP in Dahod, Gujarat. Under the head, “spiritual
development” the report states:

“Held a vacation Bible school for 150 children from different villages. The children
participated in games, Bible quizzes, drama and other activities. Organised a
one-day spiritual retreat for 40 young people and a children’s Christmas party.
Each of Dahod’s 45 villages chose five needy children to attend the party.” In
Dumaria, Banka district, eastern Bihar, “the ADP supports local churches by
running leadership-training courses for pastors and church leaders.”

What has an Area Development Programme (ADP) got to do
with running leadership training courses for pastors and church leaders?
Incidentally, World Vision New Zealand funds ADP programmes in the tribal
pockets of India. The New Zealand Government’s Voluntary Agencies Support
Scheme (VASS) jointly fund the two-year project, the NZ government matching World
Vision contributions on a 2:1 basis. There are many other instances of
evangelical programmes run by World Vision India.

In the Gajapati ADP, situated in Gumma Block of Orissa’s
Gajapati district, a World Vision report admits that “Canadian missionaries
have worked in the area for just over 50 years and today 85-90 percent of the
community is Christian. However, local church leaders had little understanding
of the importance of their role in community development. ADP staff build
relationships with these leaders to improve church co-operation and
participation in development initiatives.” Here World Vision organised two
training camps for local church leaders in holistic development.

In Mayurbhanj, again in Orissa, World Vision regularly
organises spiritual development programmes as part of its ADP package. The World
Vision report says: “Opposition to Christian workers and organisations flares
up occasionally in this area, generally from those with vested interests in
tribal people remaining illiterate and powerless. World Vision supports local
churches by organising leadership courses for pastors and church leaders.”

World Vision India is active in Bhil tribal areas and
openly admits its evangelical intentions: “The Bhil people worship ancestral
spirits but also celebrate all the Hindu festivals. Their superstitions about
evil spirits make them suspicious of change, which hinders community
development. ADP staff live among the Bhil people they work with, gaining the
villagers’ trust and showing their Christian love for the people by their
actions and commitment.”

This being the case it is not
surprising that World Vision India was honoured with the 2003 Mahatma
Award for Social Justice. This award is hosted by the All India
Council. Incidentally, Joseph D’Souza who was AICC’s President during
that year
also heads an evangelical network, Operation Mobilisation, in India.
Operation Mobilisation, again, is an American missionary organisation.
It was
founded by Georg Verwer and today is a global ministry “committed to
working in
partnership with churches and other Christian organisations for the
purpose of
World mission.”

Courtesy: Hindu Voice, December 2008

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