When World War II left countless orphans in its wake, a Swiss businessman rose to the challenge. Jean André brought the first group of 120 German children to Switzerland. Half of them were accommodated at Jura-Rosaly, one of the original homes, the other half with families in the nearby village. There they were fed, cared for and taught about God’s love. Then they returned to their homelands refreshed and better equipped to grow up and become all God wanted them to be. Jean André devoted much of his energy to this work alongside his great responsibilities at the head of the leading grain shipping company in his country. Later on, children from other European countries, France, Greece, Austria, the UK or Spain, were also invited to spend times of restoration in camps in Switzerland.

In 1972 Jean André purchased a park, an hour from the centre of Buenos Aires, Argentina, in order to enable local churches to organize youth and children’s activities there. Over the years, it has grown into a major centre where thousands of people continue to gather for sports competitions, music festivals, and other events.

In the eighties, children from war-torn Lebanon were also invited to Switzerland. Soon after the Iron Curtain fell in 1991, groups of Russian children also started to come to camps in Switzerland.

Connections were established with people in Russia and Lebanon who, like Jean André, had a passion to help disadvantaged children. However, Grain of Wheat then changed its approach and started to organise locally in each country, following training of local Christians. Offices were opened in Beirut and Moscow, furthering the work of Grain of Wheat in the whole Eastern European and Middle-Eastern regions.

The founder appointed his son-of-law, André Richir, director of Grain of Wheat at the beginning of the nineties. In his turn, André Richir handed over the leadership responsibilities for the international organisation to the founder’s daughter, Anne-Christine André Bataillard. After 15 years at the head of Grain of Wheat International she appointed Jean-Pascal Richir, one of the grandson of the founder as International President.

In 2018, Grain of Wheat will celebrate seventy years of ministry. Nowadays, it is actively nurturing and reaching out to children in 25 nations around the world, about half of them Muslim. From humble beginnings, Grain of Wheat has become a worldwide network and powerful advocate of children’s ministry but one thing has remained constant: from Albania to Argentina, 
from Syria to Kazakhstan, 
from Russia to South-East Asia, 
every child counts. Working through long-established relationships with local churches to provide a continuum of ministry as the children grow, the work provides long-term stability to those who are served.