Indiana Jones traveled the world and faced treacherous situations to accomplish his purpose. So did Bob Pierce, only he’s not fictitious. Pierce’s purpose was simple: to tell people who Jesus is. His method was practical compassion – meeting people at their point of need, hoping to earn their permission to talk about Jesus.
Pierce was a contemporary of Billy Graham. They were both involved in Youth for Christ as young men. Pierce went on to found Samaritan’s Purse. He was a mentor to Franklin Graham who succeeded Pierce at that organization. “I never dreamed of the impact Bob would have on my son,” Billy Graham said, “imparting to him the same vision that he had.”
Pierce lived as a broken man who prayed. A lot. You’ll understand what I mean by broken with this favorite prayer of his: “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.” When God answered that prayer, Pierce acted. “He firmly believed that when God burdened his heart with a deep need,” Franklin Graham said, “he was not to rest until he had done something about it – regardless the cost.”
During the Lebanese civil war in the 1970’s, Pierce traveled to support pastor Sami Dagher. Pierce was within a month of losing his battle with leukemia. After the church service, the shelling began again. Travel being too risky, Dagher stayed with Pierce in his hotel room. “That was the most unusual, inspiring night I have ever known,” Dagher said. “Bob prayed all night long! Hour after hour, as he prayed for people I didn’t know as well as people under fire that night, the presence of God was so real I didn’t dare close my eyes. I just lay at the feet of this man who was dying…and knew how to die.”
Richard Halverson, the former Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, also knew Pierce well. “Bob Pierce functioned from a broken heart,” Halverson wrote. “It was absolutely uncanny how he would manage to be at a place of crisis when it occurred.” That was probably due to another of Pierce’s favorite prayers. “Lord, I give you license to interfere in my life and plans at any time, in any way, at any cost to me.”
I feel safe in saying Pierce would not want you to consider him some kind of super-Christian. He believed all Christians really have only one thing to do. How you fulfill that one thing is unique to you. Pierce closed one of his last letters with these final words. “This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14, KJV).