I recently read Man of Vision, by Marilee Pierce Dunker. It’s the story of her parents, specifically Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse. Ultimately, it’s a tragic story of a man so focused and driven by the mission that he ends up losing his wife and family along the way.
The book description reads,
Rarely is anything accomplished for the Kingdom of God without a very real spiritual battle proportionate to the magnitude of the work being done. God honored the faith of Bob and Lorraine Pierce by enabling them to give birth to two ministries – World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse – that have reached around the world and literally transformed the lives of millions in the name of Jesus. Consequently the personal warfare they faced was unusually intense and vicious. To talk about the thrilling, positive things God did in their lives without showing the satanic attacks and wilderness experiences they went through would present a distorted picture of how God works. For nothing of any real value or lasting significance comes without a price.
As a pastor’s kid, I appreciated the challenge it must have been for Marilee, Bob Pierce’s daughter, to write such a candid book. While celebrating the amazing accomplishments for God’s kingdom, she also gave the reader intimate looks into the troubled and painful experience that was their family life. Ultimately, what it boiled down to was an incredibly unhealthy balance between ministry and family. On the one hand, he accomplished so much good, but at the same time his own drive for control and his singular vision tarnished that legacy. If I’m honest, there was a lot in the story I identified with, which had me reacting to his bad decisions more strongly than most readers probably would.
I did have one disagreement with the author; it almost seemed as though she attributed the great family cost to the reality of the great ministry achievement. In other words, because Bob Pierce did so much, it was inevitable that he would fall prey to great spiritual attack. While I agree there must have been tremendous spiritual struggle, it was his fallen, sinful nature that brought about the destruction. It was NOT an unavoidable price that had to be paid to accomplish such good. Either way, it was a story that started with such hope and vision that ended tragically. Definitely a story all ministry leaders could learn and benefit from.