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I have been going through some old boxes in a frantic attempt to "get organized" before the New Year. To my surprise (and horror. I thought I had all my Dad's important photos organized.) I came across a pile of black and white photographs. They are from all over the world and there was even a few with me in them from my only trip with my Dad trip to the Orient in 1965.

But this promotional shot from "The Flame", my father's one attempt to produce a dramatic motion picture with Hollywood actors, caught my eye. Can you name the actor in the picture?

Hint: He would later marry a younger woman who would become far more famous than he was!

Answer: John Derik. HIs wife was Bo Derik. And yes, that is my Dad looking on with a very thoughtful expression.
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2 weeks ago

Marilee Pierce Dunker

I had the joy of sharing about World Vision's Gift Catalog on our local CBS station in San Diego this morning. NOW is the time to buy a goat or sheep or pair of chickens to bless the lives of a family in need, because today, Tuesday Nov. 27, your donation will be DOUBLED by Thirty-one Gifts!
Check out all of the amazing ways you can give from 4 soccer balls for only $16 to helping to dig a $15,000 deep-water well. Check out our World Vision catalog at worldvision gifts.org.
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3 weeks ago

Marilee Pierce Dunker

Thanksgiving At The Dunkers.
We were so blessed to have nearly everyone here. Only our granddaughter, Lexi, was missing. (She had to work :-()

Bob and I worked very hard to finish planting our backyard landscape. It is amazing to know that we planted nearly every plant!! Our wonderful family worked together to construct the wood decking and our 22-year-old grandson, Vinnie, built the pergola! How blessed are we?

The highlights of Thanksgiving Day were:

Little Vinnie brought his drone. (Amazing to see our house from that high up!) Adam's brother, Matthew, joined us. Big Vin taught Emmet (Adam's son) how to play Backgammon and then nearly beat him!

Bob and I smoked a boneless 22 pound turkey and it turned out great! 10-year-old Addie made her first pumpkin pie from scratch. Delicious! And, of course, we feasted on an amazing dinner, praising God for all the blessings in our lives. When it was my time to share I got teary eyed as I realized that all of my greatest blessings were right there, sitting around the table! (Lexi was there in my heart!)
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4 weeks ago

Marilee Pierce Dunker

It has been a busy few weeks!

Time "flies" when you are having a good time...and it positively evaporates when you are flying, too! The pictures give a fun overview of my travels.

On October 1, I flew up to Seattle to be a part of World Vision's Day of Prayer, which was held on the 2nd. Every year World Vision offices around the world spend the first day of the new fiscal year on our knees. We praise God for His many blessings during the previous year and we seek His direction and provision over the year to come. It is always a powerful and significant time, but this year was especially meaningful.

Richard Stearns, who has been president of WVUS for over 20 years, passed the baton on to Edgar Sandoval, our new World Vision US president. I had the honor of praying a blessing over Edgar and his beautiful wife, Leiza. God touched all of our hearts in a special way!

Having launched the new year properly, I found myself traveling non-stop over the next few weeks.

On October 21st, I spoke at the Tacoma First Baptist Church. The pastor's wife, Mrs. Choi, graciously translated for me and over 40 children were sponsored!

On October 24, I flew to Fresno, CA, then drove the short distance to the agricultural city of Hanford. World Vision has a wonderful partnership with the Adventist Health outreaches in the poorest Congressional district in the USA! Together we have opened a number of community warehouses that are filled with merchandise provided by Costco. Some of the poorest of the poor live in this area and they can come and get what they need free of charge. Many non-profits and churches also are blessed. I made some new biker friends who go Cruzin' For Jesus! Look at the pictures. It was quite an experience!

On November 2, Bob and I flew back to Seattle to attend Rich Stearn's retirement dinner. It was wonderful to see so many old friends!

And this past weekend, I participated in 3 wonderful Korean church events in the Los Angeles area. World Vision Korea has many famous celebrity ambassadors. Two of them...Mr. Lee (a movie star) and Mrs. Park, (a well-known stand-up comedian) flew in from Seoul to headline the evenings for the Korean speaking audiences. When it came time for me to say a few words and close in prayer, one of our WV staff, Haley, translated for me. But looking at my facial expressions, (see the pictures) I doubt translation was necessary! Over 200 children were sponsored!

It has been a fulfilling time and this Thanksgiving, as the entire Dunker tribe gathers together, we will have much to be grateful for! I pray your Thanksgiving will be blessed as well!
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3 months ago

Marilee Pierce Dunker

A little-known fact to remember if you see the new movie, UNBROKEN:PATH TO REDEMPTION!

When I heard that a second movie about the life of war-hero Louis Zamparini was being released on September 14, I was very excited. While the first UNBROKEN movie was extraordinary, it ended before we got to the good part! UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION, which will be released in US theaters on Sept. 14, continues the story, telling how Louis and his wife struggled after the war and how he ultimately found redemption, healing and peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The movie goes on to celebrate the great things God did when Louis went back to Japan to share the Gospel with the very people he “couldn’t stand” after the war. So, what exactly changed Zamparini’s heart and made him willing to go back to the country where he had suffered so unspeakably?

While I have not seen the movie and do not know how the movie's scriptwriters handled the next part of the story, those who have read "Devil At My Heels", the autobiography Zamparini wrote with David Rensin in 2003, know that God used my father, Bob Pierce, to challenge Louis to go back to Japan. Here is how Mr. Zamparini described that life-changing experience:

In mid-1950 I attended a huge annual Christian conference at Winona Lake, Indiana. Every night I stood on the dirt floor auditorium and listened enthusiastically to the messages of missionaries in evangelist from around the world.

Only when Bob Pierce, who established World Vision and had just returned from the Orient, spoke did I have reservations. Bob had become a war correspondent and had a radio program that dealt with the problems of Japan and other Asian countries.

“Why”, Pierce asked in his forceful way, “are no missionary team,s going to Japan? You scheduled many teams for Europe” – I was part of one, ready to leave within 24 hours – “yet only one team for the Orient! We need more."

Pierce was very upset, and I couldn't stop feeling that he was speaking directly to me. Whether or not he was, it made sense. If anybody ended up in Japan, I’d be the one. Not that anyone asked – and if anyone did, I already knew I definitely didn’t want to go.

A few years earlier, I made that much clear to TIME Magazine when I’d said, “I’d rather be dead than return to the country.” I couldn’t stand Japan. The war memories – like the times we had to fertilize the potato and carrot crops with our own human dung, and then eat the result – just made thinking about a return trip worse.

In Japan poverty was still a way of life. I wanted to do missionary work where my surroundings were more Americanized, more democratic. I had friends all over Europe and knew I would have a good time there.

Had I not become a Christian, I might have eventually gone back to Japan just to find the Bird, if he was alive, and make him pay for what he had done to me. But since I had forgiven everyone (the Japanese people as a whole), the country no longer held my interest. At least that’s what I told myself.

When Pierce finished, I snuck out before anyone could talk to me. Yet walking back to my hotel room, I could not escape the conviction that until I had actually faced the Japanese again and seen the reflection of my supposedly new self in their eyes, I would never know for sure whether or not I had dispelled the past. So I got the idea that perhaps I should come face-to-face with some of my former captors, now interned at Tokyo’s Sugamo Prison, and forgive them. Only then would I be complete.

In the lobby I met some buddies who wanted to have a prayer meeting. When it was my turn, I said, "Lord, I feel this terrible conviction that I have to go back to Japan, but I'm not sure. It's burning in my heart."

Then I came up with a clever way to shift the responsibility for the decision elsewhere: “Being a new Christian, Lord, I'll need a good swift kick in the pants to understand your will." In other words, show me an unmistakable sign – and quickly – or I'll leave with my team for Europe, as planned.

On the way to my room I walked by a conference room just emptying. A young minister, a complete stranger, stopped me. “My name is Eric Folsom,” he said. “I’m an evangelist from Tucson. I heard you speak. Perhaps you would tell your story at my church?”

”Certainly,” I replied, handing him my card. “Write me when you get back and we will work it out.”

By the way," he said, "did you hear that challenge on Japan?"

"I did. But I've got to get to my room and –"

"It thrilled me to hear Bob Pierce’s message.”

“Me as well,” I said. “Anyway, I’ve got to get to bed…

Fulsom put his hand on my arm. "Just a minute, Louis."

"What's the matter?"

"As we've been talking, God put this burden on my heart to give you $500 to start you on your way back to Japan.”

I didn’t know whether to hug him or hit him, but the truth was inescapable: I had asked God to give me a sign, and he had obliged me.

Folsom explained that he didn’t actually have the money, but he promised to send it to me in California the moment he got home. I found out later that he went back to Arizona and sold his car!

Less than an hour later, a singing group of about six people knocked on my hotel room door and said, "We heard Bob Pierce’s challenge on Japan and you’re the logical person to go back there. We want to give you our tithe money.”

Another sign. (End of quote from book)

Three months later Louis Zamparini returned to Japan. This time he went as a soldier of the cross.

As part of my research for my new book, "The Audacity of Faith", I discovered the transcript of the actual message my father gave that fateful night. It was one of those tell-it-like-it-is messages that everyone hates to hear because it cannot be ignored, and I understood why Louis couldn’t shake the feeling that God was speaking directly to him.

As it turned out, he wasn’t the only one who felt that way! Several others in that gathering of Youth for Christ leaders also felt God calling them to ministry in Asia and they also stepped out in faith with incredible results. But their stories will have to wait for another time and another book. Please pray that I get "The Audacity of Faith" finished soon. It is full of inspiring stories like Louis’s that must not be forgotten!
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