The current World Vision flap calls to mind some interesting history.
World Vision was founded in 1950 by a man named Bob Pierce, who after leaving World Vision, founded Samaritan’s Purse. The two organizations were each formed with essentially the same purpose: to help the world’s poor in the name of Jesus Christ. I’m pretty sure World Vision is much larger than Samaritan’s Purse, but I don’t know how much larger.
Bob Pierce famously said, “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.” Pierce wanted to mobilize Christians to care for the poor around the world, and succeeded in creating two organizations – both of which have outlived him – to do just that. Through Him, he continues to achieve a transfer of significant American material wealth into food, water, and other necessities for the needy around the globe. In so doing, he gives practical ways that willing Christians can reach those most in need of help.
Before he died in 1978, Pierce brought in Franklin Graham (Billy Graham’s son) to lead Samaritan’s Purse. As a young adult, Franklin had been rebellious to his father and his father’s faith, and Bob Pierce became a mentor of his redemption. When the news broke earlier this week that World Vision was essentially going along with the cultural drift toward the corruption of marriage, Franklin Graham, along with Al Mohler, was one of the first to speak out against the move. In a statement, Franklin Graham said:
“I was shocked today to hear of World Vision’s decision to hire employees in same-sex marriages. The Bible is clear that marriage is between a man and a woman. 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.”
Although World Vision has reversed its ill-advised decision, its long-time supporters remain shaken and will need time before their confidence in the organization can be restored, if at all. Of these two Pierce-founded organizations that help the truly poor in the name of Christ, one appears to remain wholly steadfast to its original purpose.