We believe Jesus seeks a relationship with every child. But in the impoverished communities where World Vision works, few churches have the knowledge or training to create ministry programs that engage children’s curiosity and interest. Local cultural practices may affect parents’ and caregivers’ ability to create a loving environment in which children can experience and understand God’s unconditional love.

A focus on Christian discipleship means World Vision is intentionally expanding and deepening our work with children, youth, and their support structures  — church ministry leaders, parents, and caregivers — to help every last child grow in relationship with Jesus, so he or she can then help others do the same.

As families and communities start to see children as being created in the image of God, they'll learn to more effectively minister to them through children's and youth ministry training, new Sunday schools and Bible clubs, provision of Bibles, and education about caring family relationships.

Join us as we help children and youth experience the transformative love of Christ. 

Why it matters

Children and youth cannot truly experience life in all its fullness unless they have the opportunity to know Jesus by being nurtured in caring churches and loving families guided by biblical principles. Churches around the world simply don’t have the resources to provide opportunities for youth like we do in the United States.

World Vision partners closely with local churches worldwide to strengthen their reach and impact for Jesus. But in many communities, resources are so limited that churches are unable to support children's spiritual growth in ways girls and boys can relate to and understand, such as Vacation Bible Schools or youth-focused activities.

When struggling to make ends meet, buying a Bible is often out of reach, so children and adults rely on teachings from local church leaders to guide their faith. They have no opportunity to study God’s Word for themselves and deepen their understanding of how to live Christ-like lives. Many ministry leaders don’t even have their own Bible to use for study or preaching.

With your help, we can provide Bibles and help churches strengthen their ministry programs. By equipping local churches to better reflect Christ’s light in their communities, children and youth will experience the richness of God’s love and develop hope and resilience in challenging circumstances. 

Our Approach

Nurturing children’s spiritual growth is not a linear process, but rather cyclical, with children progressively deepening their understanding and faith. Our Christian formation program models guide children through the following key steps as they learn about God and incorporate their understanding into their own lives.


Based on this framework, projects incorporate program models that directly help children experience God and that train influential adults in their lives to guide their biblical understanding. We place a special emphasis on program models that focus on parents and caregivers, recognizing their central role in nurturing their children’s development — spiritual, physical, and emotional. 

Transformational Results
When intentional focus and resources are concentrated on encouraging the spiritual growth of children and youth, there are measurable, significant results.

From 2010 to 2015, World Vision U.S. donors made a significant investment toward resources and programs focused on nurturing spiritual growth, reaching more than 2.2 million men, women, and children through training, discipleship, and ministry activities.

In Uganda, one of the seven focus countries, the results were inspiring:


God's equal love for all his children

When children feel valued for who God has created them to be, they are better able to care for others, fully contribute to the kingdom, and envision a brighter future for themselves and their community.

In a focus group discussion facilitated by World Vision, children identified that their faith is expressed primarily in the relationships they have with others. Parents and other influential adults therefore play an integral role in how children perceive and understand God’s character.

When children are nurtured, loved, and treated with equal dignity, justice, and respect regardless of their gender, they experience this as an extension of God’s love. This love becomes the driving force behind their actions, behaviors, and relationships with others.

celebrating_familiesProgram highlight: Celebrating Families
Celebrating Families is an innovative biblical training for parents that helps them to see their children as gifts from God. It emphasizes healing family relationships, forgiveness, and providing a loving and safe home environment. It is now being implemented in 58 countries. 

Walking alongside local churches

Churches are our indispensable partners in God’s mission. World Vision has developed a global network of partnerships with tens of thousands of local churches, giving us the ability to reach deeply into communities and nurture children’s faith in Christ.

We help to strengthen local leadership and equip them with practical programs and tools for ministry, such as much-needed Bibles and training on children’s ministry, to empower them to nurture the faith of their communities and care for the most vulnerable.

Our commitment is that when World Vision leaves communities, there will be thriving, engaged churches for sustained spiritual and physical transformation.

Serving with integrity

We seek to be witnesses for Christ through our deeds of love and mercy, the character and conduct of our staff, and through words of testimony. The vast majority of World Vision’s 42,000 staff are from the region in which they work and can nurture faith in contextually appropriate ways.

Our Christian discipleship programs focus on communities in which churches and parents are anxious for their children to learn about Jesus and grow in their Christian faith. Recognizing that parents and caregivers are primarily responsible for children’s care and development, our program models equip these adults to support their children on their faith journey.

We equip churches to share the gospel in ways that allow for children’s freedom of conscience to express their faith, upholding the fundamental dignity of each individual granted by our Creator.

As children grow in their own faith convictions, they become ambassadors for Christ in their communities.

Where we work

  • Central America (El Salvador and Honduras)
  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya
  • Philippines
  • International Bible Fund – multiple countries
World Vision completely changes the trajectory of people's lives. ... The good deeds lead to good will, which then leads to opportunities to share the good news.

Max Lucado Pastor and author

Max Lucado


2017 Highlights

children and youth directly participated in discipleship activities
pastors and church leaders were trained in theology and children's ministry
churches engaged in Christian discipleship of children and youth

News and Stories

Our team of experts

Torrey Olsen
Torrey Olsen
Senior Director for Christian Witness
Cherry Marcelo
Cherry S. Marcelo
Program Management Officer, Christian Witness
Erica Van Deren
Erica Van Deren
Program Manager
Carolyn Schott
Carolyn Schott
Communications Program Officer, Faith and Development