Family Series, Part 3 (Wess Stafford)

A few months ago, we were having dinner with three other couples and I asked them who, other than their parents, had influenced them the most during the first 18 years of their life. We talked so long into the night that we joked about ordering breakfast. I have mentioned many times that my second grade teacher, Miss Van Soelen impacted my life in remarkable ways. So did several other key adults. Please think a moment about who God used to impact your life and breathe a prayer of gratitude to God.

This weekend at Willow, Wess Stafford, the president of Compassion International, joined me as we continue our family series. Several months ago I heard him give a talk about how a child’s life can be altered in an instant by the right kind of interaction with an adult. Immediately I asked Wess if he could give a version of that message to the Willow family. I was elated when he changed his schedule to be able to join us. So please come because this weekend may change the way you look at how your life can influence people you care about.

Blessings, Bill Hybels

Download Message here

Wess Stafford knows firsthand what it feels like to be a child trapped in circumstances beyond his control. Years spent in an abusive missionary boarding school marked him with a passion to help the youngest and most vulnerable in our communities: the children.

“At the age of 10, I received my calling, my purpose, and my life’s mission in my darkest and most painful moment, in the span of about 90 seconds,” Wess says. His punishment from an abusive houseparent on that day: being forced to stand on a chair, holding a birthday candle lit on both ends. “I knew in my heart that he was wrong,” Wess recalls. “This time, the houseparent had unwittingly put himself in a place where I could actually win, if I could endure enough pain… Standing there alone on my chair, I had received my calling. In an instant, I had gone from victim to victor. From that day forward, I would protect children. I would forever speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.” Stafford knows that it only takes a moment—whether positive or negative—to change a child’s life.

As president of Compassion International, Wess is fulfilling this calling. Compassion International brings holistic Christian child development to more than 1.2 million children in some of the world’s poorest communities. Compassion International—and its president—understand children and childhood. Releasing a child from poverty is the most strategic way the church can reshape a life, a family, a community—and ultimately a nation.

A Strategic Partnership
Compassion International’s heart beats for the child in challenging circumstances—and for the churches that serve them. Compassion International understands that implementing a great child development program requires powerful, effective churches in each developing country—churches led by visionary, indigenous pastors. The Willow Creek Association equips and encourages these leaders through The Global Leadership Summit, brought to 120,000 such leaders across the globe each year. The WCA is honored to have Compassion International as a Strategic Partner, helping expand the GLS to dozens of new venues—and reaching thousands of churches and the children who turn to them for hope.

How Long Does It Take?
Individual moments in a child’s life can make all the difference, Wess says. He expounds on this concept in his most recent book, Just a Minute: In the Heart of a Child, One Moment … Can Last Forever. This weekend he brings a high challenge message to Willow Creek, which continues our Family Series.

As adults, we must recognize the power a moment has to guide a child toward purpose or calling in life. Sometimes it is words and other times it is consistently living a life of integrity that will impact a child who’s watching you. Join us this weekend to see how you can be a catalyst for shaping a child’s life.


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