BRADBURY, Ca, July 17 /Christian Newswire/ -- Dr. Ted W. Engstrom, the former president of World Vision International, died July 14 at his home in southern California. He was 90.
"The evangelical community today has lost one of its most influential leaders of the past 50 years," says Richard E. Stearns, president of the U.S. offices of World Vision.
Dr. Engstrom is recognized for making two fundamental contributions to American evangelical culture in the 20th century. He introduced standard business practices and management principles to churches and other faith-based institutions, which often went awry because they paid too little attention to the bottom line. Second, he combined social outreach with evangelism, contending that service to mankind was as important as preaching salvation in Christ.
"Ted was best known for his uncompromising commitment to serving the poor and for helping others grasp God’s perfect and immeasurable love," Stearns says.
As an author and editor, Dr. Engstrom combined his business acumen with his passion for Christian service. He co-authored the best-selling Managing Your Time and wrote The Making of a Christian Leader and The Fine Art of Mentoring. Averaging a book a year for 50 years, he also wrote hundreds of magazine articles on subjects ranging from the pursuit of excellence to neighborhood evangelism.
Dr. Engstrom was born on March 1, 1916 in Cleveland, Ohio. The son of a machine shop supervisor, he grew up the eldest of four children in a humble Christian home. He worked his way through Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, by operating a print shop. With a journalism degree and publishing experience, Dr. Engstrom joined the then-small Zondervan Publishing House, which would become one of the largest Christian publishers in the world.
While employed at Zondervan in Grand Rapids, Michigan, he also became the local director of Youth for Christ International, an evangelistic ministry to teens. In 1947, the organization’s local chapter invited a then little-known evangelist named Billy Graham to conduct a crusade. Dr.
Engstrom directed the 10-day crusade, which led to a lifelong friendship with Graham.
In 1951, Dr. Engstrom was named executive director of Youth for Christ International. He visited more than 60 nations and preached at rallies in most of the world’s major cities. In 1963, a chance rendezvous with World Vision founder Bob Pierce convinced Dr. Engstrom to join the then-struggling World Vision as executive vice president at its headquarters in Pasadena, California.
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, development and advocacy organizations. He served as vice president for 19 years and president for two, retiring in 1987.
World Vision International President Dean R. Hirsch articulated the essence of Dr. Engstrom’s character: "His ability to integrate the Gospel with everyday life was absolutely inspiring. Dr. Ted made work and faith walk together."
According to Stearns, "That tireless walk will no longer be alongside children on the streets of Nairobi, Mumbai, or Mexico City, but now and forever is an effortless stroll alongside his Saviour."
Dr. Engstrom received many honors. Five colleges, including Taylor University, his alma mater, awarded him honorary doctorates. He chaired or was a member of numerous boards including Youth for Christ International, Focus on the Family, the Asia Centre for Theological Studies, the International School of Theology, Azusa Pacific University, the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, African Enterprise, Taylor University and World Vision International.
He and his late wife, Dorothy, were members of Pasadena’s Lake Avenue Congregational Church, where he also chaired the board, for more than 40 years.
Dr. Engstrom is survived by his three children, Gordon, Don and Jo Ann.
Funeral services are pending.