On a trip to India, the daughter of World Vision founder Bob Pierce reconnects with a Christian leader dear to her family.

By Marilee Pierce Dunker

Bob Pierce

Rochunga Pudaite and Bob Pierce

“My grandfather was a headhunter. But by God’s grace, today I am a heart-hunter.”

I was 10 years old the first time I heard Rochunga Pudaite make that statement, and I have never forgotten the vivid image it painted.

Rochunga grew up in a village deep in the jungles of Manipur, India. His tribe, the Hmar, was greatly feared because members took the heads of their enemies as trophies. But in 1910 a missionary named Watkin Roberts came to Rochunga’s village to share the gospel. Rochunga’s father, Changwa, was among the first to receive Christ; and when Rochunga was 10, he also gave his heart to Jesus.

Hungry for an education so he could learn more about the Bible and help his people, Ro (as his friends call him) began attending a mission school at age 11. It was a five-day journey from his village to the school, and he made the trip four times each year-alone.

As a child I loved hearing my father tell the story of the little boy who trusted God to keep him safe from the man-eating tigers, bears, and snakes of the jungle. His brave journey was featured in a 1960 issue of