Read Our Complete History


Dr. Keith Phillips, Founder and President of World Impact, is the third child of Frank and Velma Phillips. Keith's father, a veterinarian, organized some of Billy Graham's first crusades and was a co-founder of Youth for Christ and World Vision. He was instrumental in bringing Korean War orphans to the United States (this later became the Holt Adoption Agency). As a freshman at UCLA, Keith began directing Youth for Christ clubs in the inner city of Los Angeles. Inception -- 1965, Keith Phillips began a Bible club for children in Jordan Downs Federal Housing Project in Watts (Los Angeles). Before long, neighboring housing projects asked him to expand his ministry into their communities. As a result of speaking at Biola University's Chapel, 300 students signed up to help Keith. Soon, college students from Azusa Pacific University, Life Bible College, Pepperdine, USC and UCLA joined this outreach. Subsequent Growth -- Our initial thrust was to children living in federal housing projects; hundreds accepted Christ. Soon, career missionaries moved into the inner city to make disciples and expanded our outreach to teenagers and adults.


1970s


  • 1971 – World Impact was incorporated.
  • 1972 – By this time ministries opened in Los Angeles, Wichita, Portland, Omaha and San Diego.
  • 1975 – Keith wrote, "They Dare to Love the Ghetto."
  • 1976 – World Impact began ministries in St. Louis and Newark and moved into our National Headquarters in Los Angeles. World Impact of Canada was incorporated.
  • 1977 – Our Fresno ministry began.

1980s


  • 1981 – Morning Star Ranch in Kansas established a two-year discipleship program for young men from the city. Keith wrote, "The Making of a Disciple."
  • 1982 – We opened the Los Angeles Christian Elementary School, which emphasizes academic competence, Christ-like character and self-confidence to prepare our students for a lifetime of discipleship.
  • 1984 – We started Inner City Enterprises, a job-training program which taught young people how to work.
  • 1985 – Keith wrote, "No Quick Fix." World Impact started the Newark Christian School and thrift stores (Sonshine Shops) in several cities . In Newark, we renovated abandoned row-houses and rented them to families involved with our ministry. Later, many of those families bought these homes.
  • 1986 – The former-St. Louis YMCA building was remodeled into a Ministry Center with the help of thousands of volunteers and inner-city workers. An 11-acre, 88-unit apartment complex (The Village) was acquired in Wichita for use as a worship center and the Good Samaritan Clinic. We acquired a 172-acre camp, THE OAKS, 65 miles north of Los Angeles and built a prayer chapel.
  • 1987 – A 10,000-square-foot gymnasium was built for our Los Angeles ministry and Christian School.
  • 1988 – Ministry Centers in Fresno and San Diego were acquired for worship and job training. Our Chester, Pennsylvania ministry opened. We acquired a school building in Chester to start the Frederick Douglass Christian School. We started Saturday-night Celebrations across the country for urban believers.
    Massive immigration took place in our cities during the ‘80s. Millions came in from Latin America and Asia. Our Los Angeles Celebration Church went from English speaking, to English and Spanish, then to all Spanish. Fresno missionaries ministered to many Hmong, Vietnamese and Cambodians.

1990s


  • 1990s – We became a church-planting organization nationally. We trained other ministries to plant urban churches through The Crowns of Beauty Conferences, The School of Urban Church Planting and The Nehemiah Team.
  • 1991 – We added Harmony Heart Camp, a 30-acre camp north of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
  • 1992 – The Los Angeles riot focused national attention on the inner city. We also opened ministries in Oakland and San Jose. 
  • 1993 – We opened ministries in San Francisco and Detroit.
  • 1994 – The Watts Christian School opened.
  • 1995 – We opened the Frederick Douglass Christian School. Churches were planted in Los Angeles, Wichita and Newark. Deer Creek Christian Camp in the Colorado Rockies was acquired and became World Impact's fourth camping ministry.
    We began The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI) in Wichita, Kansas to provide theological education to urban leaders.
  • 1996 – We celebrated our 25th year at Operation Jericho, a national staff conference on church planting. We began our Dallas ministry, published our Missionary Orientation Training Course for new staff orientation, and Keith wrote "Out of Ashes."
  • 1999 – The Crowns of Beauty Conference welcomed 1200 registrants from multiple countries. Second and third Conferences were held with similar results in 2001 and 2004.

2000s


  • 2000 – We conducted our first week-long Church-Plant School for urban church-plant teams. We have since trained 32 teams.
  • 2001 – The initial TUMI satellite campuses were launched in three cities; the John Mark Curriculum was completed.
  • 2002 – The first TUMI Capstone module was released.
  • 2004 – We planted 20 churches in eight World Impact cities, Hayford Hall was dedicated at THE OAKS, and we held our first Candidate Acceptance Program to screen and orient new World Impact missionaries.
  • 2005 – World Impact missionaries convened at THE OAKS for a Wi-Fi (World Impact Focus and Identity) Conference. We expanded TUMI's satellite program, which by 2010 reached 75 sites in 11 countries.
  • 2010 – TUMI's Capstone Spanish translation was completed. Our efforts expanded beyond planting churches to equipping indigenous leaders to plant churches, with the vision of launching church-planting movements in the city.