Risky, Costly, Reckless
“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith” (Hebrews 13:7).
As World Vision’s founder demonstrated more than 60 years ago, when Christians step out in faith the world can be transformed.
I sometimes wish that Bob Pierce had chosen a name other than World Vision when he founded our organization more than 60 years ago, in September 1950. If he had chosen a name beginning with an A, we would always be the first charity listed by the media after a natural disaster, instead of the last.
But what a name—WORLD VISION. Ironically, Bob Pierce was denied his dream to be an Army chaplain in the 1940s because he had poor vision.
I have often mused over Bob Pierce’s sheer audacity. When he made his first trip to Asia in 1947, he barely had enough money to get to Hawaii, much less all the way to China. And he had to borrow an office from Youth for Christ in Portland, Ore., just to get the ministry started. So you have to love the recklessness of a guy who names his little charity “World Vision.” I think it made God smile.
There were others who made God smile with their audacity. When Goliath taunted the armies of King Saul, demanding they send a champion to face him, Saul’s seasoned warriors trembled in fear—but David, a young shepherd boy, challenged Goliath for mocking the God of Israel and predicted that God would give him the victory. He then picked up a stone, put it in his sling, and slew the giant. David’s faith was risky and reckless.
Caleb and Joshua believed God’s promise that against all odds, Israel could conquer the Promised Land. Elijah boldly challenged the 400 prophets of Baal to a public duel, believing God would deliver him. Esther intervened with the king to save her people, despite the risk, declaring, “If I perish, I perish.” Christ’s disciples would later challenge the entire Roman Empire rather than deny Christ. All but one of them died as martyrs, but the church grew and spread.
For more than 60 years, World Vision has lived by this risky, costly, and even reckless faith, believing that if we dared to follow Christ by going to the darkest and most dangerous places on earth, God would go before us and “be a lamp unto our feet” as we served the poorest of the poor in his name.
That unwavering conviction has led successive generations at World Vision into the pain of the world. Our courageous staff has faced earthquakes, famines, riots, cyclones, military coups, floods, pandemic diseases, and wars. They have lived among the broken, walked among the homeless, and given comfort to the widow, the orphan, the least, and the lost. And they have done these things knowing the risk and paying the price but believing that God had called them for the great privilege of serving. Rarely does a year go by that doesn’t cost one or two of our staff their lives—seven have died this year alone.
That audacious faith of Bob Pierce has always characterized World Vision, and I dare to say it has changed the world for millions of children over the past six decades. That tiny seed planted in Asia in 1950 by one man has now grown into an organization of more than 40,000 men and women on six continents in 97 countries. More than 3 million children are now assisted by sponsors worldwide, and 100 million people receive help of one kind or another—all because one man had the audacity to believe God and because millions more just like you were willing to join him.
World Vision... I think it still makes God smile.
Photo Credit: World Vision Archive