Women of Vision Celebrates 25 Years of Ministry
by Melissa Johnson, WOV Orange County Co-Chair
Women of Vision (WOV) celebrated its 25th Anniversary on May 16th at the Island Hotel in Newport Beach, CA. As WOV’s founding chapter, Orange County was delighted that partners from Albuquerque, Columbia-Willamette and former chapter San Gabriel joined the celebration. We were deeply honored to have so many World Vision team members present and extremely blessed to have Reneé and Rich Stearns as our featured speakers. They both inspired our guests with stories and insights on the event’s theme of Solving the Puzzle of Poverty. Knowing that poverty is a multi-dimensional, multi-factorial challenge, the Stearns’ shared insights from the field, emphasizing that solving poverty IS rocket science. Reneé delivered a heartfelt keynote presentation that touched all the hearts in the room.
A group of 20 WOV founders and WOV national leaders (past and present) paraded into the ballroom to the beat of African music. The Founders Procession was led by WOVOC Co-Chair Jan Day and WOV Founder Ann McKusick. We were thrilled to honor the amazing women who followed God’s call and sparked Women of Vision 25 years ago.
Ann McKusick shared her reflections about the journey of WOV, saying, “On our first vision trip to Guatemala in 1989, God gave 7 women a glimpse of a vision and a name – Women of Vision. He set us on a course – not all mapped out, but with enough clarity to get started. We had a simple mission – to help women and their children like the ones we met in Guatemala and later in 1990 in Kenya – women who had little in material resources but abundant desire and spiritual stamina to make a better life for their children. World Vision provided the platform to carry out this vision with its worldwide network of programs helping the least of these.”
She shared 3 qualities that haven’t changed over the last 25 years: our enduring vision, women called to care, and our steadfast commitment to action. She invited the crowd to imagine that everyone who has felt the love of Christ through WOV since 1989 was celebrating with us: thousands of sponsored children, and women and families in dozens of countries around the world. Truly a grand celebration!
Penny Wood, first national WOV director, blessed us with a beautiful prayer, and the Milele African Vocal Group raised the roof with their performance. They had us all up on our feet singing, dancing, and praising God – – quite a party! Cindy Breilh, past WOV national director, gave the closing benediction, but not before volunteer auctioneer Jim Franklin asked guests to raise their paddles in a “Puzzle of Poverty” opportunity and live auction, raising over $100,000.
May we all reflect on the words of Ann McKusick, “What we have built is far beyond the reaches of Orange County or Africa. We have treasure in heaven; a heavenly legacy that will not change by rust or ruin.”
Thank you to all the faithful founders of Women of Vision who have prayerfully paved the way for WOV to grow and flourish for the last 25 years, making it possible for impoverished women and children around the world to find hope and experience God’s love.