For Linda Hallberg, compassion began at a young age. “I've always had a heart for the poor, even before I actually began doing any sort of volunteering,” she says. “I'd see someone [in] downtown Portland, someone who was homeless; it just kind of broke my heart. But I didn't know what to do.”
Linda was in her 40s when she realized just how much she needed God in her life. “My walk with the Lord really began in earnest in 1997,” she says. She joined a church then and soon learned about World Vision. For someone who cared so deeply for people experiencing poverty, Linda thought it would be a perfect fit for her.
In 1998 she attended a meeting to discuss the possibility of starting a Women of Vision chapter in Portland and was so impressed with what she heard that she became a founding member, right then and there.
“When I met with these ladies and heard about what World Vision did, I just said, ‘Okay, this is for me.’” She was most impressed that World Vision’s work was not limited to emergency response, but focused on equipping communities to create lasting change and be self-sufficient. “I think that was the major thing, that they would stay for 10 years or more,” Linda says. “That really touched my heart. It was an answer to prayer for me.”
An Oregonian for most of her life, Linda supported herself as a mortgage broker for many years, eventually starting her own company in Portland in 1986. She met her husband, Dick, later in life and they married in 2003. Dick was in the same industry as Linda, working as a home inspector. They worked together for several years and then retired, together, in 2010.
That same year, Linda accepted the role of Chair for the Columbia-Willamette chapter of Women of Vision. Over the years, she has served in nearly every way imaginable and enjoyed the experience.
“It's been really fun to be able to serve in many of the different roles of the chapter,” she says. “And working with all of the incredible women that are in our chapter has been a real blessing.” Linda had the opportunity to see the fruits of their efforts in person early on.
The Columbia-Willamette chapter’s first project focused on helping children experiencing homelessness in Mongolia who sought protection from the extreme cold by living and sleeping underground in tunnels. World Vision was working to reunite these children with their families or place them in foster care. “Once we heard that story, it was just so on our hearts,” Linda says.
But for Linda, the biggest impact came from seeing the situation in person. She was able to participate in a Vision Trip to Mongolia in 1999, and the experience was unforgettable. “That was such an eye-opener for me — to be able to see the work of World Vision and all that they did, it was just incredible.”
I’ve also grown in my walk by being a part of the chapter and being alongside these amazing women.
Linda also traveled to Cambodia in 2006 where she saw how their support was helping combat child sex trafficking. While it was difficult to meet girls who had endured being trafficked and exploited, Linda found comfort in knowing “that World Vision would help them to get back on track and would help them know that they have value in God's eyes. It was good to see the restoration and hope in World Vision’s work.”
Today, one of the three projects the Columbia-Willamette chapter is focused on is supporting emergency response for Syrian refugees. To educate themselves on the crisis, the women have watched documentaries, reviewed statistics, and listened to personal stories.
Linda says what strikes her the most is how much we all have in common with these displaced families. “It touches all of us, because these were people living normal lives just like you and me and then, all of a sudden, they had to flee their homes with nothing. It's just so hard to wrap your mind around that and to know that they want to go home, but there is no home to return to,” she says.
While the situation is difficult, Linda is thankful for the opportunity to come alongside children and families in their time of trouble. “Being able to raise money for these projects is wonderful,” Linda says.
In addition to investing in global work, the Columbia–Willamette Women of Vision chapter also gives back to their community by taking on a different local project each month. Linda currently oversees this ministry for the chapter.
“If we can stay in touch with poverty here in our local area, I think it helps us to stay inspired, so that’s why we started doing it this way,” she explains. Together the women reach out in their own community by serving meals at local shelters, making welcome baskets for foster children, delivering sandwiches to people experiencing homelessness, and more. “It’s a real myriad of things that we do,” she says.
For Linda, being involved in Women of Vision has been a good reminder of the vastness of God’s reach. “We get pretty enclosed in our own little worlds here,” she says. “But just to be able to see that He’s working everywhere, and to be able to join Him in His work, is a real privilege for me.”
It’s helped her faith flourish, too. “I’ve also grown in my walk by being a part of the chapter and being alongside these amazing women,” Linda says. “They’ve been great examples to me.” She says she’s reminded of the phrase iron sharpens iron. “They have just been a real influence on my life, and they’ve helped me grow in the Lord. And the whole walk has been incredible, all these years with them.”
Linda believes Women of Vision would be a blessing for any woman who wants to follow God’s call to serve others in need.
“I feel that with World Vision, God is leading. We are following and joining Him in His work,” she says. “You will be able to see that your talents, your money, and your time are really having an effect somewhere in the world, wherever that may be. Some little child, mom, or family is having their life changed because of what World Vision does. They're happier, they're healthier, they're more educated, and whole communities are changed because of the work that World Vision does, and you can see it.”
I feel that with World Vision, God is leading. We are following and joining Him in His work.