“Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.” Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision
Countless people have been inspired by Bob Pierce’s challenging words, and untold millions of lives have been changed and saved by the ministry of World Vision, which he founded 60 years ago. Women of Vision JRS (WOV JRS) had the opportunity to hear about the man, the ministry and more when Bob’s daughter, Marilee Pierce Dunker, spoke at a recent meeting.
Women of Vision Orange County (WOVOC) is a volunteer partnership of World Vision, which is the largest international Christian humanitarian organization serving the poor in 100 countries throughout the world. Almost 4 million children are sponsored through World Vision. WOVOC has raised more than $5.5 million for World Vision projects and sponsors more than 400 children. WOV JRS is a ministry designed for busy women who have limited time for meetings, but have a heart for serving the poor.
“Marilee is a real treasure,” explained Cheryl Young, WOV JRS chair. “I tried for two years to get her here, but she speaks all over the world. She is a dynamo with such passion for Jesus. Her story was riveting, as well as being a great inspiration about how essential prayer is for hearing God’s call.”
“I love that she trusted God’s perfect plans for everything, even how He used the hardships of her life and redeemed them all,” said Kathleen Risser, a member of WOV JRS. “She never imagined how God would bring everything full circle, but He did. She had difficulties, pain and suffering, like we all have, but she trusted God, and so can we. We don’t have to wait for some big opportunity to do something significant; God will use whatever skills we have, and He will multiply them. We just need to be willing.”
“I feel called to motivate women at all stages of their lives to step out and do something extraordinary,” Marilee said. “Every woman has opportunities where she can say ‘Yes’ to God, to step out in faith, even if it’s uncomfortable or something new. I tell women that who they are is valuable to the kingdom of God. I love sharing what God has done in my life, and how all the pieces that didn’t seem to add up to much came together in a new and meaningful way. I wake up amazed that all my experiences led to where I am today.”
Today Marilee is the International Ambassador for Children for World Vision. She was surprised when God opened the door for her to work at World Vision after decades away, especially considering the toll it took on her family.
“I was born the same year as World Vision and my dad was gone 10 months of the year building the ministry so I didn’t really get to know him. The long separations left our family dysfunctional in many ways. My sister Sharon was nine years older and had a close relationship with my dad; she really missed him after he started traveling and she struggled emotionally most of her life. When she was 27, she took her own life, and my parents separated shortly after. Our story is a strong reminder that even when serving God and others, we need a healthy balance between family, ministry and our own health. Dad died young, at just sixty-three, from leukemia. He burned himself out, but before he died, we had a beautiful reconciliation. God was faithful to us; He has done so many miracles.”
“I didn’t have much to do with World Vision for 30 years,” Marilee said. “But when I became an empty nester, I looked for something meaningful to do with the next season of life. I really prayed about it. God brought me to World Vision through Women of Vision, and introduced me to issues of poverty through the hearts of women. I could relate to that. Now I follow in my dad’s footsteps, seeing for myself the things that break the heart of God.”
Marilee travels and speaks around the world on behalf of women and children affected by poverty. She is passionate about encouraging and equipping people to help fulfill God’s call to care for the poor, and gets excited about helping people see that they have the ability to help change the world, one person at a time.
“When we look at poverty, it’s overwhelming until we bring it down to the need of one child,” Marilee said. “We can all do something, we can reach out, and be a blessing. And when we unite with others who share our passion, as we do in Women of Vision, we can change the world!”
For more information, go towww.womenofvisionorangecounty.org
Cindy can be reached at [email protected].