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Compassion International president is a voice for the children

February 16, 2011 : Allison Cundiff/Liberty University News Service

Dr. Wess Stafford, president of Compassion International, speaks at Wednesday convocation.

Missions Emphasis Week continues at Liberty University as Dr. Wess Stafford, president of Compassion International, spoke at Wednesday’s convocation.

“Today I want to talk to you about an unreached people group that’s often overlooked. This is the largest people group, the most strategic people group, the most accessible, the most receptive -- this is the most abused, neglected, the poorest of the poor and yet the most lovable,” said Stafford. “Today I would like to speak up for those who have no voice -- the children.”

Stafford has worked with Compassion International for more than 30 years and has served as president since 1993. The organization is one of the largest child development agencies in the world, now providing services to more than 1 million children in 26 countries through sponsorships. Stafford is the co-author of “Too Small to Ignore: Why the Least of These Matters Most.” His radio show, “Speak Up with Compassion,” is broadcast daily on nearly 600 stations across America.

Raised in a missionary family on the Ivory Coast of West Africa, Stafford witnessed the deaths of many of his African childhood friends due to lack of food and medical supplies. When he was a teenager he came to the United States and saw grocery stores and pharmacies for the first time, realizing that Americans have a great potential to help less fortunate people in other countries if they were only informed about the need.

The Children of the World International Children’s Choir from World Help performed in convocation before Stafford’s message. The choir has become a tradition at Liberty. They will be presenting a concert at 6 p.m. Thursday night in the Schilling Center.

“I went through … years in great rage in the U.S. until I had lived here long enough to realize these [Americans] are amazing people and it’s not that they don’t care, they obviously don’t know,” said Stafford. “When they do know, this is the most generous place on earth. I knew my calling was somehow to be a bridge across these two worlds because I knew both languages, I knew both cultures.”

Stafford said he believes children are too often “the great omission of the Great Commission.” Only 10 percent of missionary efforts in the world are focused on children, he said, and churches rarely make children’s outreach a priority in their budgets, although half of the world’s population is made up of children and 85 percent of people come to know Christ between the ages of 4 and 14.

This was Stafford’s first visit to Liberty. He told students his prayer for them “is the same as the prayer I have for myself, and that is that you will find your passion, your mission, your calling and that you will throw yourself into it with everything that you have.”

Stafford earned degrees from Moody Bible Institute, Biola University, Wheaton College, and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University. He lives near Colorado Springs, Colo., with his wife, Donna. They have two daughters.

  • Missions Emphasis Week is held each semester at Liberty, featuring guest speakers, seminars and more than 100 representatives from 60 missions organizations on hand to speak with students. Dr. David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., will speak at Friday’s convocation. For a complete schedule of events, click here.