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'Crisis': A good word for a time like this

By Marilee Pierce Dunker
Oct 22, 2014
©World Vision
World Vision founder Bob Pierce prays fervently during one of his ABC radio broadcasts in the late 1950s.

As research for the book I am writing, I have spent hours reading through hundreds of my dad’s personal files, radio transcripts, and reflections. It would take three books to share all of the amazing stories and interesting thoughts I have uncovered. But when I read this timely 1959 commentary, taken from one of my father’s weekly ABC radio broadcasts, it spoke to my heart and encouraged me. So I thought I should share it with you. 

It is easy to look at all the violence and chaos in our world and think there has never been a time like this. But my parent’s generation lived through two world wars and the Korean War. World Vision was born largely to help meet the needs of refugees and orphans who had to flee from aggressive communist armies in China, Korea, and other parts of the world.

The USSR and the United States lived on the edge of a third world war, and I grew up watching public service announcements on television about what to do if an atomic bomb was dropped. In 1959 I was in the third grade, and my class would regularly dive under our desks and cover our heads when the bomb drill alarm went off.

It was to an anxious, tension-filled audience that my father spoke on August 6, 1959. As was his style, he talked as though he had just run into someone by the backyard fence. 

Hello neighbor. The word “crisis” is hard worked during these dark days in history. It seems that we go from one crisis to another. An interesting little note that I read this week made this observation: The Chinese language has no single word for “crisis.” The mainland of China has known crisis after crisis over the past 25 years. Crisis is a big part of their lives. But they don’t have a single word for that meaning.

Instead, they have an expression made of two words, and I think that the two words they have chosen are significant for us today. In their language, “crisis” is “danger” plus “opportunity.” 

Danger plus opportunity.

This is what I want to say to the church today. We are in crisis, and how we view this time makes all the difference. There is an old statement that says, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” Often in the past their danger and suffering brought the opportunity for the work of God in a particular situation, and it is true at this moment in history as well.

Throughout the troubled portions of the earth where men are thrashing about in their desperate needs, I say again — crisis is “danger plus opportunity.” Yes, many of our missionaries do die, and the church oftentimes suffers the slaughter of its people. Yet in it all, the overall eyes of God look from time past to the future beyond time. These sacrifices are not without reason. There is opportunity. And these are days when we must buy up our opportunities, not only for the sake of building the kingdom of God, but because men are in such desperate need! 

If you care about men and women and children — if you care about the spiritually lost and the things that Christ died for — this hour of history is one of the most thrilling times of all in which to live and to work and to pray and to give and to go all out for God! 

Yes, our world is in crisis, America is in crisis, our homes are full of crisis. But the next time the things of this world threaten to overwhelm you with fear, remember: Crisis is danger plus God’s opportunity.

Marilee serves World Vision, the organization her father, Bob Pierce, founded in 1950. Like him, she travels the world, witnessing and fulfilling God’s mandate to care for the poor. Request Marilee to speak.
We are in crisis, and how we view this time makes all the difference.
Bob Pierce, 1959