A tribute to World Vision's 'birth mother'

Editor's note: Lorraine Pierce, widow of World Vision founder Dr. Bob Pierce, died on April 4, 2011, after a brief illness. Mrs. Pierce was 94. It was by the vision and calling of Lorraine's late husband that World Vision was founded in 1950. Today, Dr. and Mrs. Pierce's vision and dream to help those around the world lives on.

It is a time of mourning and also of celebration as the World Vision family honors the life of Lorraine Pierce, the spiritual 'birth mother' of World Vision, as many would say. I echo the words of our president, Rich Stearns, “The choruses in heaven must be especially sweet as this great saint is welcomed home.”

Jane Sutton-Redner with Lorraine Pierce. (Greg Schneider/WV/2004)

As I spent time this morning remembering the life of Lorraine Pierce, I recalled her gift to serve, her elegance, her wisdom and her godliness. These quotes, taken from interviews with Mrs. Pierce from 2000-2006, will forever remind me of her legacy of faithfulness.

On adjusting to a life of ministry with Bob Pierce:

“I never thought I would marry an evangelist. I don’t think that my husband expected to be an evangelist. We were going to have a church, and that seemed all right to me. But it didn’t turn out that way. When I realized that it was going to be evangelism, that we were going to have to be on the road, and it was a life that was absolutely opposed to what I expected for myself, then there had to be a change in me. It was not going to be in my husband. It had to be in me. And I knew it was worthwhile, and I knew it was necessary, but I was very, very fearful that I was in no way ready to do this job and this work along with him. So I knew well enough that it was necessary to die to self.”

On the early years of World Vision:

“God has given us through the years a daring that was there in the beginning. I think he gave to my husband a great portion of daring to trust God when there seemed to be no way, knowing that if he stepped out upon an empty void, he would certainly find a rock beneath his feet—and he did.”

Family portrait- Bob Pierce, Lorraine Pierce and children, December 1965. (Photo courtesy of the Pierce family)

On God’s Word:

“I’ve found that the four most important things are: worship, prayer, the Word, and music, which allows you to worship. I didn’t know the Word of God until the first obstacle in my life, when there wasn’t enough of man’s words to pull me through. It was the Navigators who taught me memorization of Scripture, and I’ve taught this to my children and grandchildren. I feel, when all is said and done, you find yourself in a corner where only what God says counts.”

On giving and serving:

“It’s a very natural thing to want to do more than we can do, but God understands that. Man looks at outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. And he just sees a heart that yearns to help or wants to do, and that’s what matters. When he sees the earnestness of that heart, he’s going to supply the need; he’s going to give that person what they need to have.”

Reflections on her life:

“It hasn’t been particularly easy to grow old. But you know, God knows that, too. And there’s a reason for all this. I have said to my children, and I’ve said to my friends, ‘Why am I still here?’ And the answer has been very simple: ‘Because God still has things for you to do.’ And that’s a wonderful answer for me.”


Read Jane's Mother's day message to Lorraine Pierce on the World Vision Magazine Blog.


    Prayers and love to Marilee and Robin and families. It was such a privilege growing up with you and moving down to Eagle Rock, CA from Portland, OR, and growing up with WV. (Dad Claude Johnson, and Mom Dorothy started with WV in 1950 to 1969 and I worked 1973-1986). I dearly remember your mom and her sweet smile and hugs. She always made me feel so loved and a part of her WV and your family. She shared so much with my mom Dorothy and I remember the many hours of prayers they shared through the years. I hadn't kept up with you or your family or mom for quite awhile as was taking care of my mom until she went Home April 3rd 2007. I'm happy they are rejoicing together in Heaven and have completed their journey on earth. They are cheering us on to finish the race. She will be greatly missed; however, we have so many blessed and fun memories to cherish and enjoy and share.

    I watched that video about the brother and sister who had been abandoned and had an older sister, though a child herself, who was caring for them. She walked a long way to bring water to give them a bath> these poor children had polio and couldn't walk and were starving. Oh Dear Lord I couldn't stand it anymore. i have seen advertisements of these children on t. V. for years but this one rally pulled at my heart and the Holy Spirit said it is time for you to help. So I obeyed and now Ihave a child i will be helping to support> Praise the Lord for so many who are willing but it just isn't enough. we can't save them all an it breaks my heart. Thank you for getting me this vedio through a christian friend on Face Book> God bless this organization.
    A christian sister

    What a joy and encouragement to my heart it is to listen to this dear lady's words. I am not young anymore and many of my models have gone on. I long for the wisdom of the "older woman" to be spoken into this day and age. Mrs.Pierce is one of those godly models of the yielded life lived out in the company of Jesus. We SO need this message! I praise God for what He has done in her and through her husband!! Imagine a world with no saints like these-unthinkable.

    @Phyllis- Mrs. Pierce sure was a godly model. Praying the same words are spoken of us all when we pass one day.

    @Phyllis- Mrs. Pierce sure was a godly model. Praying the same words are spoken of us all when we pass one day.

    I never met you or got to know you as a person, yet some way I feel I know you. Thank you for sharing you vision with the world. A true role modle. R.I.P. The vision will live on!

    Lorraine Pierce, my loving aunt was truly a Woman of Prayer! Her love and care for me was always to put Jesus first in my life! I lived with my Aunt Lorraine and Uncle Bob many summers while I was growing up! Marilee and I were very close cousins!
    My own mother died when I was very young and Auntie Lorraine--as I affectionately called her was always there for me! She encouraged me to follow my dream of becoming a teacher--often helping to pay for my college textbooks! She was at my high school and college graduation from Pepperdine, my wedding and the silver thread reached down to my son, David! I was a teacher for 30 years with Los Angeles City Schools and then went to work at TBN--Trinity Broadcasting Network for 5 years as a prayer partner! Auntie Lorraine, you were truly the perfect role model for me and made me the woman I am today! Someday soon we will see each other again in our heavenly home with our Lord --never to part again! I believe the Scripture that tells us ,"the feverent prayer of a righteous woman avails much" tells us what a powerful prayer warrior you were! I love you , Auntie Lorraine, Your niece Dianne

    Am saddened to hear of the passing of Lorraine Pierce. I've known of World Vision my entire life. Growing up in a single parent home we were very poor. But on our coffee table was a very large World Vision magazine that arrived periodically. I know now that my mother gave sacrificially to World Vision and am honored to say that I began supporting two children last year; one in the Gaza Strip area and one in Mexico. They are precious. Thank you Lorraine for your personal sacrifices that still affect so many children around the world.

    Comecei a trabalhar na Visão Mundial em 01/02/1989. Uma das primeiras coisas que aprendi foi sobre a sua origem. A princípio como um mito, um mito de origem, mas a história de pessoas como Sr. Bob Pierce e Sra. Lorraine Pierce me fazem ver que mais que um mito de origem, a Visão Mundial teve um começo de luta e fé, através de duas pessoas inspiradoras.
    (I started working at World Vision on 01/02/1989. One of the first things I learned was about his origin. At first as a myth, a myth of origin, but the story of people like Mr. Bob and Lorraine Pierce makes me see that more than a myth of origin, World Vision had an early struggle and faith, through two inspiring people.)

    Dr.Bob Pierce statement lives on with me for 31 years serving in World Vision India"Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God" Behind every successful man their is a woman/wife Lorraine Pierce. Your openess to share your life journey and the spirit of self searching will continue to inspire, Marilee I met you in 2003 in Bangkok for Bob Pierce award, I know what it means physically missing mom. We pray the Good Work with faith you parents started continue to touch lives bring hope and eternal life in Jesus

    Lorraine Pierce , you and your devotion towards God will always Great inspirational for all WV staff around the Globe.

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