Tribute to Ted Engstrom | 1916 - 2006
Past World Vision President and Influential Christian Leader
Dr. Ted W. Engstrom, president emeritus of World Vision International, past president of Youth for Christ International and an influential American evangelical leader, died this evening (July 14) at his home in Bradbury, California. He was 90.
A gifted preacher, an astute manager and the author of more than 50 books, Dr. Engstrom was a giant in American evangelical circles for more than half a century. As executive vice president and later president and chief executive officer of World Vision, he helped turn a small Christian agency focused on war orphans into one of the world's largest and most extensive relief and development organizations. He served as vice president for 19 years and president for two [at the time of the famine in Ethiopia], retiring in 1987.
Dr. Engstrom was known for being organized, affirming, and decisive. His Christian faith was immediately evident and unwavering. He said he took his life verse from Psalm 32:8: "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should walk, give you counsel and watch over you."
Former World Vision president Ted Engstrom on a 1986 visit to Ethiopia. A major benchmark of our growth occurred in the early 1980s when famine struck Ethiopia. The media coverage of the famine created unprecedented awareness of human need, and people throughout the world offered financial resources to the relief efforts. World Vision provided millions of dollars worth of food and medical assistance, saving thousands of lives from the slow, agonizing death of starvation.
Once the immediate crisis subsided, World Vision began long-term efforts to help Ethiopians rebuild their lives. Today, the region that was once parched and full of death thrives with nutritious crops, fresh water and hope for the future.
Also in the 1980s, World Vision began drilling wells in communities, causing infant mortality rates to drop. World Vision often uses clean water as an entry point into communities, following with other activities that create change. Once the pump is installed, World Vision trains community volunteers to become health promoters, who, in turn, teach their neighbors how to use fresh water for better health. World Vision offers classes to villagers in health care, gardening, irrigation and income generation. Villages evolve from poverty-stricken, illness-plagued communities to thriving, self-supporting, healthy ones.