Born October 8, 1914
In the late 1940s, God changed Bob Pierce’s view of his place in the world. It began while he was on a preaching tour of Asia. One morning on an island off the coast of China, a female missionary came to Bob carrying an injured child. The girl’s dress was blood-soaked from the caning her father had given her. Her crime: dishonoring the family religion of ancestor worship. She had told her parents, as Bob suggested, that she was turning to Christianity. The missionary placed the bleeding child in Bob’s arms and asked, “What are you going to do about it?”
The Youth for Christ evangelist responded in two ways. He donated money for the girl, named White Jade, to have a new dress and food for a month. He promised to send money each month to provide for her. Bob wrote a personal mission statement in the flyleaf of his Bible that guided him for the rest of his life: “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.”
YOUTH FOR CHRIST
Bob became a Christian at age 12. He later become his youth group’s president. After preparing for the ministry at Pasadena Nazarene College, Bob married Lorraine and they had three children. Bob became an evangelist in the Youth for Christ movement in and around Los Angeles.
In 1944, Bob and eleven other young evangelists, including Billy Graham, launched Youth for Christ as a national organization. Bob took the message into Asia where God set the future course of Bob’s life.
Bob established World Vision in 1950. The young evangelist made films that showed the need overseas, then presented the films in churches to spread awareness.
The Korean War ended in 1953. That was Bob’s cue to initiate a monthly support program for that country’s orphaned children. In the late 1950s, World Vision reached into other parts of Asia. In their second decade, the ministry expanded to include disaster relief to other nations.
In 1967, poor health caused Bob to resign from World Vision. The ministry he began continued growing. Today, World Vision has a presence in over 100 countries. Its children sponsorship program and its relief services around the world are larger than ever. World Vision has gained America’s favor; it’s one of the top 10 charities in the United States (http://www.forbes.com/top-charities/list/).
Bob’s second idea for a Jesus-minded organization came twenty years after he founded World Vision. Samaritan’s Purse gets its name from Jesus’ parable of the Samaritan who gave generously to help a man in need he saw on the roadside (Luke 10:30-37). Today, when disaster strikes anywhere around the world, Samaritan’s Purse responds with food, clean water, medicine, and shelter.
The organization’s mission statement says: “Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ.”
When Bob died of leukemia in 1978, the baton for President of Samaritan’s Purse passed to Franklin Graham. The two men had spent the previous five years working together.
DARK DAYS BETWEEN TWO BEAMS OF LIGHT
World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse are Bob’s great legacy to a needy world. Bob represented Jesus well by establishing two vital organizations that care for children and adults in need. Sadly, while doing great things for God in other countries, Bob’s family in America fell apart.
Bob spent up to ten months of the year on the road and in the air, away from his family. He defended his hectic schedule in service to God. He once stated, “I’ve made an arrangement with God that I’ll take care of His helpless little lambs if He’ll take care of mine at home.”
Bob’s marriage ended in divorce. Although she and her siblings lacked their father’s presence in the home as they grew up, Bob and Lorraine’s daughter Marilee now works for World Vision.
L4G—————————————————-L4G—————————————————–L4G LET ME KNOW: How has Bob’s story informed, encouraged, or otherwise helped you? I welcome your comments.
- Stafford, Tim. Imperfect Instrument. Christianity Today, February 24, 2005. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/march/19.56.html.
- Temple, Todd and Kim Twitchell. People Who Shaped the Church. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 2000.
- Whitlock, Mark. White Jade: The Story of the First sponsored Child of World Vision from Give Me A Lion’s Heart (blog).
Books about Bob Pierce-
- Graham, Franklin. Bob Pierce: This One Thing I Do. W Publishing Group, 1983.
- Pirece-Dunker, Marilee. Days of Glory, Seasons of Night. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing, 1984.
- Pirece-Dunker, Marilee. Man of Vision. World Vision, 2005.
- Videos about places World Vision has impacted: http://www.youtube.com/results? search_query=world+vision&oq=world+vision&gs_l=youtube.3..0l10.86393.89737.0.89918.104.22.168.22.214.171.1242.1960.2-7j1.8.0…0.0…1ac.1.11.youtube.C97eC4wrepM.
- Videos about places Samaritan’s Purse has made a difference: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=samaritan%27s+purse&oq=Samaritan%27s&gs_l=youtube.1.0.0l10.159267.163276.0.165909.11.8.0.126.96.36.1991.1887.0j2j5j1.8.0…0.0…1ac.1.11.youtube.nBG723Xxz0M.