LWF World Service is the humanitarian and development arm of the LWF

God’s liberating grace empowers and calls us to active and constructive engagement with the world. We relate to people in need as our neighbors whom we love and serve and whose dignity we strongly affirm. Our faith affirms the dignity of every human being, and this forms the basis of human rights. A commitment to the human rights of every individual, regardless of their status, guides our work, actions, and operations.

From LWF’s beginning in 1947, its member churches have mandated World Service as their key actor in international diakonia (service to others) to assist all those in need without discrimination of any kind. Today, World Service is a widely recognized, international, faith-based organization present in 25 countries. We seek to bring people of all backgrounds together in the common quest for justice, peace, and reconciliation in an increasingly complex and fragmented world.

We are particularly known for our timely, compassionate, and professional humanitarian work, and for our field presence in hard-to-reach areas. Our work is people-centered and community-based. Above all, we work with the most vulnerable, and in order to claim and uphold their rights, we engage proactively with local government and community structures.

A defining feature of World Service is its local rootedness and global connectivity, linking local community voices with international dialogue, advocacy, and peace work.

Our emphasis on linking relief with recovery and development enables a flexible approach to meeting human needs and upholding human rights in multiple, demanding environments, as tasked by the member churches of LWF. We are committed to longer term solutions, consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), that address root causes of poverty so that all can enjoy their rights and a life with dignity.

World Service actively engages with churches, related organizations, interfaith partners, and secular actors, including the United Nations (UN). As part of LWF, we have relationships with our member churches and their development and humanitarian organizations. We are the largest implementing member of the Action by Churches Together (ACT) Alliance, an international network of Protestant and Orthodox churches and organizations engaged in development, humanitarian response, and advocacy.

Working together with others enables us to prepare for and respond to emerging challenges in a variety of fragile contexts all over the world.

Our values and principles

Dignity, Human Rights, and Justice
We believe that every person has the right to a dignified life, free of abuse, discrimination, and oppression.

We believe that upholding human rights is fundamental to people being able to move out of poverty, to bring about justice and peace, and for development to be sustainable. Each person’s Godgiven dignity has formed the basis of international human rights principles and conventions1 , which guide our work, actions, and operations.

Compassion and Commitment

We are dedicated to working with those who are suffering, those who are unable to speak up for themselves, and those who live in areas where others do not go. We go that extra mile to reach out to those who may have been forgotten or are considered out of reach.

Inclusion and Diversity

We believe in the value and power of diversity and inclusion within the communities where we work as well as within our own workforce.

Meaningful participation

We believe that sustainable development is based on the meaningful participation of all people in our programs, regardless of gender, age, and ability. Participation means people are part of decisionmaking and can hold local duty-bearers to account.

Transparency and Accountability

We are strongly committed to transparency and accountability to the people we work with and communities, partners, and donors. We set high quality standards and regularly monitor our efforts for continuous improvement. We are aligned with international standards, such as the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) and the Sphere Project (Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response), and have developed our own complaints-handling mechanism.

Humanitarian Principles

We provide support to people irrespective of race, religion, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, or political conviction, without discrimination or favoritism. We subscribe to the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence.

Gender justice

We believe that women and men, both created in the image of God, are co-responsible stewards of creation.

Gender justice is expressed through equality and balanced power relations between women and men. We are committed to eliminating institutional, cultural, and interpersonal systems of privilege and oppression that sustain discrimination against women.

Climate justice

We recognize that the impact of climate change is often felt first and most acutely by those who suffer from extreme poverty.

We are committed to ensuring that our programs minimize the immediate and long-term risks of climate change to those communities we serve.


People of the world, living in just societies in peace and dignity, united in diversity, are able to meet their basic needs, achieve their full potential, and claim their universal rights in order to improve their quality of life individually and collectively.


Inspired by God’s love for humanity, World Service is dedicated to challenging and addressing the causes and effects of human suffering and poverty, linking local responses to national and international advocacy.

Our programmatic areas:

How we work

A focus on the most vulnerable

World Service supports refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) who, for a shorter or longer period, are unable to return to their homes.

We work with returnees, helping them to settle back into their original contexts, and also with host communities and local governments who are receiving displaced people or returnees.

We work with communities at risk, specifically those vulnerable to natural disasters or who lose large numbers of community members due to migration.

We seek to prevent the effects of poverty and injustice by building long-term resilience.

Flexible ways of operating

Depending on the context, we adopt different ways of operating, ranging from direct implementation to local partnerships, to joint programming with other national or international partners, always focusing on working in a way that will best address the needs and rights of the people with whom we work.

In humanitarian situations, we bring expertise as a direct implementer, well-known for our impartiality and commitment to ensuring meaningful participation.

We reinforce community-based organizations and empower local leadership structures, both governmental and traditional, to fulfill their duties.

This gives us credibility in the long-term when it comes to advocacy and connecting the grassroots to the international level. In contexts with a vibrant civil society and strong community-based structures, we work through credible local partners, including churches and NGOs. These partners bring additional expertise relevant to the context we are working in to ensure that solutions are durable.

As LWF, we take a keen interest in working with churches, related organizations, other faith communities, and faith-based organizations, in ecumenical and interfaith collaboration.

Gender Analysis and Action at the Center

Across all our programs, we mobilize men, women, boys, and girls, communities, and local and national governments to jointly address inequities in power relations between men and women.

We seek to eliminate systems of privilege and oppression that sustain discrimination, and change attitudes and practices in families, communities, and institutions.

We follow the LWF Gender Justice Policy in building gender awareness and competencies, and using data and tools to assess local understandings and practices related to gender.

Rights-based and Local to Global in all we do

In everything we do, we seek to apply a rights-based approach, combining fundamental rights with practical ways of addressing vulnerabilities in partnership with local populations and duty-bearers.

We support the people we work with to claim their rights, and find that the denial of rights and freedom is often at the center of vulnerability and poverty.

As part of the rights-based approach, LWF regularly engages in advocacy work to bring attention to important issues wherever we work.

We base our rights-based and advocacy work at the local level, in the communities where we work, enabling local populations to claim their rights and engage with local duty-bearers to look together for solutions and interventions. Based on that local engagement, LWF works with partners through advocacy at national and international levels to secure changes in policy and practice. Such higher-level transformations reinforce positive outcomes for local people while securing change more widely on specific rights issues.

We call this our “local to global” approach, using our years of local experiences and unique contact with small communities to create international awareness and collective action. Country programs are also able to leverage our global weight intentionally to secure local and national effect. We aim to use this approach in all of our programmatic areas, with interventions at local, national, and global levels.

Committed to Sustainability and a Low Carbon Footprint

We strive to implement, step by step, the resolution that was adopted during the 2017 LWF Assembly to respond to the climate crisis.

Accordingly, we aim to strengthen our efforts to achieve climate justice and to work toward carbon neutrality, including through enhanced energy efficiency and the replacement of fossil fuels by renewable energies in our operations, through saving water, and by raising awareness for environmental care and protection, wherever possible.

High Expectations of Staff Conduct

Moral and ethical behavior is expected at all levels within World Service.

No matter where our operations are, we hold our staff accountable to treating all people with the utmost dignity. We recognize that especially in humanitarian crises and in fast-growing operations with many new recruits, we need to work harder and more intensively to ensure that all staff are aware of and adhere to the LWF Staff Code of Conduct.

We are committed to ensuring that our complaints and feedback mechanisms are robust and are set up from the onset of project planning and implementation to prevent and address misconduct appropriately

World Service related stories

26 September 2022
KISMAJU, Somalia
21 September 2022
BOGOTA, Colombia
20 September 2022
JERUSALEM, Palestine 
15 September 2022
MEKELLE, Ethiopia