A few years ago I had a bit of a falling out with World Vision. It wasn't over what you think. What happened was I had a sudden loss of income and could no longer send my monthly support. I tried to make it work but eventually I had to decide to give it up. I wrote World Vision. I called them and explained the situation. Yet over and over again each month they would send this bright orange envelope to my house with big, bold writing on the front exclaiming how I owed them money! I felt horrible to begin with but even worse by this embarrassment. Eventually I was able to get the whole thing rectified, but it really hurt my opinion of the organization.
Over the past few weeks I have been reading the book, "Man of vision/Woman of Prayer" by Marilee Pierce Dunker, one of the daughters of Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision. As I read the story of a family torn by humanness and yet the miraculous power of God to work through such flawed people, I was awed and reminded that nothing in life is ever perfect!
I have a tendency to get caught up in the lie of perfection.... or more accurately my own imperfection. Every time I fail or do something wrong, I beat myself up as if there shouldn't be a struggle. I have a tendency to view struggles and pain as God's way of showing me His disapproval; as if it's all His punishment towards me. I know this isn't how God works. I know, even though there are consequences to sin, God loves us and willingly died to cover those sins. Sometimes my mind just forgets what my heart already knows.
Albeit a bit scary, this book was a good reminder that “A commitment to Jesus Christ is no guarantee of immunity to the disease and pain of the world. In fact, those who are most greatly used are often most viciously attacked.” And that "the story of greatness is not the story of a man or a woman or a family who runs and never stumbles or falls; rather, it is the story of those who dare to run and stumble and fall, and who by the grace of God pick themselves up to run again and again and again".
The Pierce's weren't perfect. Bob Pierce in particular was someone who struggled with a temper and avoided his family and even had an emotional breakdown, yet God used Him greatly. Tens of thousands of people came to Christ through his ministry. Thousands orphans received care through his creation of World Vision. And even more needs were met all over the world through his work with Samaritan's Purse. It just goes to show that it's God working through us and that our imperfections don't disqualify us from being used by Him.
The end of the book deal with the suicide of the eldest daughter in the family, with Bob's emotional breakdown and the diagnosis of leukemia and ultimate how the family was able to reconcile before his death (a reconciliation that while certainly brought some closure, wasn't the clean cut wrap up we see in the movies). As I read through it all, I was overwhelmed by the faith of Lorraine Pierce, even in her loneliness and inability to understand why. I was impressed by the forgiveness of Marilee and her ability to see God's faithfulness through all the hardship. And I felt the longing of Robin who just wanted her father's approval.
This isn't a new book. It doesn't look impressive by the cover. Yet what this story has to teach us is so much greater than my words can express. I am sure this book will continue to speak to me as I think back of the lives of this normal family that truly gave all for an extraordinary God.