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Survivor

"Survivor" Continued...

Issue: "Fighting poverty," March 13, 2010

After 31 years in the military, Ziemer took a top think tank job in Washington, usually a prize for high-profile public servants, but he quit after a few months because it didn't suit him. Then came a phone call asking him to become the executive director of World Relief, the quasi-independent relief arm of the National Association of Evangelicals. He accepted the offer at a time when the organization was reeling from the economic impact of 9/11 and the halt of refugee arrivals in the United States, the bulk of its domestic work.

Ziemer consolidated the organization's offices in New York, Atlanta, and Chicago into one headquarters in Baltimore. "We can attribute the fact that we are still here to his skills and abilities," said Dan Kosten, the director of World Relief's domestic refugee program.

World Relief has been at the forefront of efforts to fight AIDS and malaria overseas, so when President Bush named Ziemer the head of his new Malaria Initiative in 2006, Ziemer slipped into the role easily, working in a program that proved successful by relying on the alliance of government and private nonprofit efforts.

"Those of us who are working in the secular community, when it comes to administering programs we have to be neutral, open, and objective," he said. "The faith-based NGOs must not abandon that spiritual component to what they do. Their big challenge is to make sure the world doesn't see their engagement as a means to an end. They don't exist to proselytize, they exist to show the whole reason for faith-that is to reach out, just like Christ did, to love the poor and suffering, and be Christ to them in body, soul, and mind."

Emily Belz
Emily Belz

Emily, who has covered everything from political infighting to pet salons for The Indianapolis Star, The Hill, and the New York Daily News, reports for WORLD from New York City. Follow Emily on Twitter @emzleb.

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