Today in Africa, over 330 million people live in extreme poverty. The suffering of these vulnerable people is complex—not simply defined by economic poverty, but by malnutrition, illness, broken relationships and gender-based violence.

At World Relief, we see the local church as the essential foundation for sustainable change. When we empower the local church, we believe it can break the vicious cycle of poverty, resulting in:


Thriving Families


Flourishing Communities


Strengthened Churches

Our Work

In most of sub-Saharan Africa, churches have unmatched access to vulnerable communities and are a respected influence in these communities. They have the ability to inspire and call people to service, and the authority to speak out against harmful beliefs, norms and prejudices.

In this context, we adopt a powerful and unique model we call our Church Empowerment Zones (CEZ). Our CEZs are geographically designated areas of focus that bring together churches, community leaders and volunteers to serve their communities in the areas of:


Health Nutrition


Food Security And Livelihoods




Child Development


Family Strengthening



Church Empowerment Zones

In a typical CEZ, World Relief brings together 50-100 local pastors and gives them the opportunity to wrestle with common problems, share resources and join together in vision-casting for their churches, families and communities. We equip and train these leaders in both spiritual development and technical program areas, giving them the means to then equip hundreds of community members as trainers and outreach volunteers.


The evidence of tangible transformation in our CEZs is clear. Evaluations in one Rwandan district prove tremendous improvements in economic and social behaviors, as well as in family strengthening and relationships across our CEZs.*

  • Households visited by church volunteers were 2x more food secure and saved twice as much in community savings groups. 

  • 91% of beneficiaries obtained health insurance.

  • 84% of households made changes in their marriage as a result of volunteer visits.

*Please note: These results are based on comparative data.


Want to learn more? We want to equip 10,000 volunteers over the next 10 years to serve 10 million of the world's most vulnerable. Will you join us?