Today’s Illustration: A Tragic Conclusion

 vision   Conflicted: A study in contrast

On This Day: 1950 —  World Vision created under the leadership of Bob Pierce.

World Vision:

One of the largest relief agencies in the world

Approximately 45,000 people  employees and volunteers

Serving in approximately 100 countries

4.2 million children sponsored as of 2012

$93 million raised in 2012 for disaster relief

2014 — 11th largest charity in the United States

2014 — total revenue approximately $981 million

Facts & Information:

Bob Pierce Born:  October 6, 1914 — Fort Dodge, Iowa

His Family moved to California in the 1920’s

From 1937 – 1940 he traveled as an evangelist.

Ordained in 1940

1947 — Joined Youth for Christ, and sent to China to conduct youth rallies and evangelistic meetings.

A compassionate Pierce was hooked. “My father went to China a young man in search of adventure,” his daughter Marilee Pierce Dunker would write. “He came home a man with a mission.”

Expanded the ministry and outreach to Korea.  This is when and where he felt the burden for a ministry like “World Vision” which he would later establish.

1950’s — Founded “World Vision”

Resigned from “World Vision” — 1967

1967 — Founded “Samaritan’s Purse”

Died November 6, 1978 — age 64 — Approximately 1000 people attended his funeral service.


Quotes Of Robert Pierce:

Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.

So many suffer so much while so few sacrifice so little.

You can’t feed a starving man’s spirit if you don’t first feed his stomach.

I’d go to bed at night and say, ‘God, I am not doing anything for anybody! Here are these [missionaries] without any help … I can’t give them anything, and they need everything. What am I supposed to do, Lord?’


The story of White Jade:

The school was run by a group of Dutch Reform missionaries, and the principal, Tena Holkeboer, invited Dad to speak in their morning chapel. As he always did, my father gave the gospel message with simplicity and great passion, and many received the Lord.

Most of the girls lived at the school, but some were local residents. Their parents allowed them to come to the missionary school for the excellent education it offered, but they did not want their children to be led away from the traditional worship of their ancestors. So when my father challenged the new believers to tell their families that they were now Christians, he had no idea what he was asking of them.

The next day when he returned to say goodbye, Tena met him at the door with a little girl in her arms. The child had obviously been beaten.

“Dr. Pierce, I want you to meet White Jade,” Tena said with fire in her eyes. “She did what you told her to do. She went home and told her father that she is now a Christian. When she refused to deny her new faith, he caned her and threw her into the street! She can never go home again. This child has lost everything!”

Shocked and dismayed, my father looked helplessly at the weeping child. She couldn’t be more than 10 or 11. “Well, you’ll take care of her, won’t you?” he finally stammered.

“I am feeding as many children as I can,” Tena answered wearily. “The question isn’t what I am going to do. The question is what are you going to do?” With that, she thrust the sobbing child into my father’s arms.

In an excerpt from Franklin Graham’s book, This One Thing I Do, my father recalled that moment:

I stood there with the child in my arms. Tears were running down her cheeks. She was scared to death, shaking in my arms. She was heavy, and my arms were getting tired. I was shaken to the core. I had never been held accountable for any consequences of my message. Now I was faced with “Is what I say true? Is there any responsibility involved?” Believe me. You do some thinking at a moment like that.

I had never been held accountable for any consequences of my message. Now I was faced with ‘Is what I say true? Is there any responsibility involved?’—Bob Pierce

— shared by Marilee Pierce Dunker


His Biography: Man of Vision — by Marilee Pierce Dunker [“Man of Vision” was originally written under the title, “Man of Vision, Women of Prayer,” and re-published in 1984 under the title “Days of Glory, Seasons of Night.”]

Like David, Bob Pierce was a man with flaws and failings.  He struggled all of his life with depression and emotional problems.  He was estranged from his wife and children for many years and went o extremes in almost everything he did.  And as you will see, the Pierce family paid a great price.  Their service to God did not come without a heavy cost; true faith never does.  But their legacy should inspire all of us “ordinary Christian.”  God is not looking for perfect people to do his work in the world.  He is looking for willing people who will “bet the farm” on him.

— from the Forward by Richard Sterns, present President of World Vision


I wrote this book the only way I knew how, telling the story with the kind of straightforward honest that it deserved.  Consequently, anyone who read this account must be prepared to be emotionally and spiritually challenged, for this is the story of two very human people who were called of God, not to be perfect, but to be used to accomplish His will. — from the Introduction

My parent’s story doesn’t begin with the day they met, or even with their birthdays.

My mother’s father used to preach a sermon entitled “The Scarlet Thread.”  In it he described our spiritual heritage as a scarlet thread winding its way from one generation of believers to the next, starting from the foot of the cross upon which Jesus did.   Both of my paternal grandparents love the Lord and on my mother’s side that scarlet thread can be traced back as far as my great-great-great-grandmother!

— from the Introduction  — written by Marilee Pierce Dunker of World Vision


Christianity Today’s Article was titled, “Imperfect Instrument” — subtitled — World Vision’s founder led a tragic and inspiring life.  BY TIM STAFFORDlink –

In 1959, journalist Richard Gehman wrote that “[Pierce] cannot conceal his true emotions. He seems to me to be one of the few naturally, uncontrollably honest men I have ever met.” When asked by Franklin Graham how to “shake people out of their complacency,” Pierce said he had “become a part of the suffering. I literally felt the child’s blindness, the mother’s grief. … It was all too real to me when I stood before an audience. … It’s not something that can be faked.” . . . .  Bob Pierce functioned from a broken heart.”

The same intensity led to his downfall. He had an ungoverned temper and frequently clashed with the World Vision board, particularly over his insistence on making financial commitments on the fly. He traveled as much as 10 months of the year, and his family suffered. “I’ve made an agreement with God,” he said, “that I’ll take care of his helpless little lambs overseas if he’ll take care of mine at home.”

Key Illustrative Thoughts:

• Compassion
• Passion
• Commitment
• A broken heart
• Practice what you preach
• So few sacrifice so little
• What is an ordinary Christian?
• Where is the balance?
• God first, Family Second
• Does God first really mean family second?
• Does God first conflict with family?
• Praising the un-praisable ???
• Imperfect Instruments
• “Betting the farm.”
• This one thing I do
• Flawed
• Sacrificing for others
• Is Modern Missions even close?
• 1950 versus 2018

Other Information & Links:

Bob was absent from his home and family as much as ten months out of each year. When he did come home, his bags often stayed packed, as he would usually be back on the road in a week or so. His wife and daughters adjusted to the chaotic schedule as best they could, but in time it would take a terrible toll upon all of them.

Knowing that his family was being deprived of those special times with dad that most other families took for granted tore at his heart from time to time, but he was convinced that he could do nothing else. Two particular thoughts reinforced this idea. First was the Scripture which he quoted so frequently to assuage the concerns of his wife: “If any man come to Me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children … he cannot be my disciple.” Understanding this to mean that he was obliged to put his ministry and the needs of the world before his own family, he was able to put away any feelings that he might be neglecting his family by his constant absence.

The second thing that enabled him to live a life of almost total neglect of his family was a “deal” he had made with God when he realized the extent of travel his ministry would involve. This deal seemed to be reasonable: “I’ve made an agreement with God that I’ll take care of His helpless little lambs overseas if He’ll take care of mine at home.” Believing that the Lord would surely honor such a noble arrangement, he was able to justify years of family neglect for “the Lord’s sake.”

In time marital issues led Bob to leave his wife and move into a nearby apartment. He never sought a divorce, and his wife prayed fervently for her husband to return. He never did. While in his sixties Bob Pierce was diagnosed with leukemia. As he became progressively weaker, his wife longed to come and be by his side, to nurse and care for him, but still he refused. — from spirit of grace link below


Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision had advanced leukemia, but he went to visit a colleague in Indonesia before he died. As they were walking through a small village, they came upon a young girl lying on a bamboo mat next to a river. She was dying of cancer and had only a short time to live. When Bob was told of her circumstances, he was very upset. He demanded to know why she wasn’t in a clinic and was told she was from the jungle and wished to spend her last days next to the river where it was cool and familiar. As Bob gazed at her, he felt such compassion that he got down on his knees in the mud, took her hand, and began stroking it. Although she didn’t understand him, he prayed for her. Afterward she looked up and said something. “What did she say?” Bob asked his friend. His friend replied, “She said, ‘If only I could sleep again; if only I could sleep again.’” It seemed that her pain was too great to allow her the relief of rest.

Bob began to weep. Then he reached into his pocket and took out his own sleeping pills, the ones his doctor had given him because the pain from his leukemia didn’t allow him much sleep apart from them. He handed the bottle to his friend. “Make sure this young lady gets a good night’s sleep—as long as these pills last.”

Bob was 10 days away from where he could get his prescription refilled. That meant 10 painful and restless nights. Even in the midst of his suffering, Bob Pierce had been infused with God’s supernatural sense of satisfaction that he had done the right thing. — (from Lee Strobel, citing David Jeremiah — in God’s Outrageous Claims, p. 95).


World Vision Changes Course by endorsing same-sex marriage:

“My dear friend, Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse, would be heartbroken. He was an evangelist who believed in the inspired Word of God. World Vision maintains that their decision is based on unifying the church – which I find offensive – as if supporting sin and sinful behavior can unite the church. From the Old Testament to the New Testament, the Scriptures consistently teach that marriage is between a man and woman and any other marriage relationship is sin,” Graham, who is the president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. —

World Vision Changes Course Again and Reverses previous decision — “World Vision reverses decision to hire Christians in same-sex marriages” —


Note: His daughter – Sharon — attempted suicide twice.


PDF of Christianity Today Article

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