We’re kicking off the new year by introducing you to Cindy Breilh. She’s led quite the career, working in a wide variety of industries from education to marketing to small business. She now works as National Director for World Vision’s Women of Vision, a volunteer ministry connecting like-minded Christian women to pray, learn, advocate, serve and support World Vision’s work as a response to global injustice.
4word: You’ve said that “compassion and service are family issues. How we live our lives affects how our children will live their lives.” Can you explain what you mean by that?
Cindy: Most of us will agree that our actions speak louder than words and that learning is often caught, not taught. It is important that we show by our actions what we value and not just talk about compassion, justice or global issues. Family is a key place for the development of these values.
My husband and I provided experiences for our children outside of our comfort zones. We all benefited from seeing the deep hurt of the world through global and local experiences. I have observed in other families too, that it is often purposeful action that helps grow compassionate, serving children. Not everyone can travel, but we can all serve and learn in our own community.
4word: World Vision recently launched the Strong Women, Strong World initiative. Can you tell us about it?
Cindy: Strong Women, Strong World is a collection of World Vision programs and projects which particularly impact and strengthen women and girls, with the intention that doing so will be cost effective and improve the lives of everyone in a family.
In many countries, we are dealing with underlying religious and cultural beliefs that undermine gender equity. Even in the church, in many of these countries, hitting a wife or another woman is condoned and viewed as “discipline” and not as the violation we know it is.
It is exciting to partner with local churches to help them rethink the way women and girls are treated, from a Biblical perspective. Women who were once viewed as property are now being valued as equal partners. Families flourish in this environment, and men become effective fathers as well.
4word: Why the focus on women? What is it that makes women such powerful change agents?
Cindy: One of the best measurements of the health and well being of developing communities is measuring the well being of their women and girls. Communities where women and girls are oppressed are some of the poorest.
If 50% of a community’s population is disenfranchised, is there any wonder it cannot thrive? The UN states that when women and girls are given opportunity, they reinvest 90% of it back into their families and communities. What a great investment!
And what are the stats for men? Their return is 30-40% as they are more likely to spend resources on themselves. Some will even sell relief food, which is meant to feed their children. Repeatedly, when women are empowered, have a voice in decisions and are economic contributors to families, relationships improve and families experience a greater sense of well being.
4word: How can our readers, young professional women in America, apply these same principals and be agents of change in their own communities?
Cindy: First of all, learn! If you haven’t previously studied what the Bible has to say about the poor, then study it. Did you know that the Bible talks more frequently about poverty and justice than about money? Jesus spoke about caring “for the least of these” repeatedly. Begin by learning who the “least” are, then ask what God is calling you to do.
If you discern that God is calling you in this area, then find a place to serve and walk alongside those in need. Don’t try to be the answer – learn and just be.
If you’re at all interested in serving with us, I encourage you to explore our website, strongwomenstrongworld.org, to see how you can sponsor a project or get involved with a local Women of Vision chapter.
It’s pretty obvious that Cindy’s passionate about the welfare of women around the globe. What about you, reader? What cause(s) are you passionate about?