Too Small to Ignore
Assist News Service
ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO (ANS) -- It’s a book whose
time has come and one that is too important to ignore.
In his new book Too Small to Ignore, Dr. Wess Stafford,
president of Compassion International, the respected evangelical
child development ministry, says that Americans need to dramatically
change the way they think about children.
Stafford argues that adults need to intervene and take a stand
for those who don’t have a voice. He says we fail to do
so at our peril.
This important, well-written but easy-to-read book, which revolves
around Stafford’s own dramatic and compelling story, provides
a number of important and practical ways that adults can champion
children, including Stafford’s “Four Freedoms for
Those freedoms are: freedom from drivenness, time pressure and
hurry, freedom from materialism, freedom from corrosive competition,
and freedom from daily fear.
Stafford says that those are the most important gifts we can
provide the next generation of children. Without them, he says,
children will have a very difficult time trying to reach their
Stafford also says that churches also need to shift their priorities,
and suggests that among other things churches designate at least
40 percent of their budget to reaching children and teenagers.
However, Stafford emphasizes that being an advocate for children
starts with taking immediate action.
“Every child you encounter is a divine appointment,”
Stafford said in a news release. “It’s a huge responsibility
for each of us.”
Why Stafford Wrote Too Small to Ignore
In a recent interview, I asked Stafford about both the book and
its unusual title. He said he chose the title, Too Small to
Ignore, because that’s what the book is about.
“Usually we talk about stuff too big to ignore,”
Stafford said. “There are things very important to God and
too important to ignore. Children don’t have the voice or
the vocabulary to speak on their own behalf. They don’t
vote and get in the normal political arena, and they don’t
tithe. They are pretty much out of the limelight, but they are
too small to ignore, because they have our world in their hands.
They are marginalized, but they will not always be so.”
Stafford explained. “If we miss the opportunity to shape
their soul, we will (end up) being marginalized and then they
will be making decisions about our souls. Children hold our future
in their hands.”
Stafford said that children end up paying the greatest price
for what goes on in the world. Everything that occurs they end
up shouldering as a weighty burden. For example. Diseases kill
far more children than adults, Stafford said.
Then, he added, there are other horrifying issues such as child
soldiers and child prostitution, “Sins that children pay
the greatest price for.”
In so saying, Stafford said, “Children have become a second
rate mandate all over. I am arguing that although we are responsible
they pay the price for (what we do).”
Stafford reflected on his own story.
“I can see that what has happened in my life is no mistake,”
he said. “God was shaping me for the responsibilities I
Writing the book was not just an academic exercise for Stafford.
He knows of what he speaks, having been abused many years ago.
It was evident that the abuse suffered by Stafford still weighs
heavily upon his mind. During our interview, he asked me to read
chapters eight and nine of the book before writing a review. Those
chapters document Stafford’s experiences of being abused
while he was at a missionary boarding school, and show firsthand
the terrible things that can happen when children are considered
Referring to his horrifying and traumatic school experience,
Stafford said, “A handful of adults had absolute right over
us. (Along with others), I was (terribly) abused. There was no
one to speak on our behalf. We loved our parents, and we silently
tolerated our abuse through our childhood. I look at my life,
and think I understand poverty because the boarding school was
(then) too painful to speak (about).”
Stafford said, “I didn’t talk about it for so many
years, because I was looking at it from the wrong side. I thought
it was a big mistake what God did to me down there, but I understand
abuse and poverty because I have been down that road. Abuse and
poverty speak the same language, because they both tell a little
child to give up.”
Stafford describes the horrifying abuse in compelling terms,
writing in the book that the abused youngsters were told by their
tormenters, “‘If you tell your parents that you are
unhappy here, you will be Satan’s tool to destroy their
ministry in Africa. They will become discouraged and may have
to leave the field. If that happens, there will be Africans in
hell because of you!’ What a diabolical trap we were in.
Our love for our parents and our love for God were used to conceal
the horrors that were heaped upon us. Believe it or not, this
rationale was even strong enough to keep our lips sealed when
we went home for the three-month vacation.”
Another portion of the tragically descriptive narrative reads,
“What an amazing irony that, after a day of hitting us,
screaming at us, and humiliating us, our tormentors would sit
down at bedtime and read us Bible stories. Like little lambs,
we sat at their very feet. We were so quick to forgive them ...
(But) many of us were nearly destroyed. Many of my childhood friends
fell to the ground and have never gotten up. Their adult lives
continue down a sad trail of dysfunction, multiple marriages,
addictions, and depression. I emerged with heavy damage, but not
beyond the reach of my heavenly Father's arms. To this day, I
am merely a product of God’s grace.”
It's no wonder that Stafford told me, “We need to step
up and champion the little ones. I am pleading for a world change
Changing the World
Stafford called Too Small to Ignore, “a book that
everyone who has a child in their life needs to read.”
“There are 440,000 Americans who are sponsoring children
through Compassion (www.compassion.com),”
Stafford said. “Our sponsors are unique people. These 400,000
people across the United States have separated themselves from
(all the other) people who are ... good ... but have done nothing.
I wrote this with them in mind to make them feel good about what
they have done.”
Stafford called Compassion sponsors, “Unsung heroes in
our community who rarely get the limelight. They pour themselves
into the children. I want to put this book in the hands of these
unsung heroes, (and have them pass it on to) those who have the
destiny of children in their heart. The book is a pebble in the
pond. I want to mobilize a grassroots tsunami of love.”
Stafford said that anyone who reads the book no longer has the
option of continuing on unknowing about the importance of children.
He added, “When a child is small it takes very little effort
to make an impact for good, or (one) that can destroy them. A
child's life can be launched or derailed, and the effects will
last a lifetime.
“This book in the hands of the right person can absolutely
begin to change the world,” Stafford said. “Although
it is a book about children, it is written in a light hearted
way and has a lot of poking fun at myself. It is a very readable
book and not a hard read.”
What Readers are Saying About Too Small to Ignore
Stafford said that initial reaction to the book has been “wildly
enthusiastic.” People have been calling the book a must
read, saying that it changed everything for them.
For example, commenting about Too Small to Ignore, disability
advocate Joni Eareckson Tada said, “As I travel around the
world, I see so many children in desperate straits–especially
children with disabilities who are relegated to the lowest rung
of the social ladder. My heart goes out to them! It’s my
prayer that through Wess Stafford’s new book, a passion
will ignite in the hearts of Christians around the globe to reach
these little ones with his tender mercies and hands-on help.”
Singer and songwriter Michael W. Smith wrote that the book is
“a wake-up call for all of us. It speaks to our responsibility
to ‘the least of these.’ The truths in this book speak
directly to the heart. If you want to understand children and
why they matter to God, you have to read this book!”
Jim Groen, president of Global Connection International commented,
“Nearly a half- century ago in an African village, God was
beginning to shape the destiny of one who would appear on the
stage of life as a powerful voice and advocate for children of
the world. Later his leadership skills would be sharpened in the
soil of Haiti. Now, as president of Compassion International,
Dr. Wess Stafford has written a compelling book of his own pilgrimage
interwoven with the reminder of the importance Jesus placed upon
children. It is a must-read that will inspire all hearts to join
with Wess to champion the cause of children all over the world.”
Compassion at Work
All proceeds from the book go to Compassion’s ministry
to children, which I completely endorse. I have seen firsthand
the wonderful work done by the ministry. Just over two years ago,
I was privileged along with some other media representatives to
visit Guatemala -- where the ministry’s 500,000th child
was being sponsored – and observe first hand Compassion’s
More information about the book, which also has an audio version
and a study guide, is available at www.toosmalltoignore.com.
I suggest you go there and pick up a copy. As I said earlier,
both the book and its subject matter are really too important
Jeremy Reynalds is a freelance writer and the founder and
director of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless
shelter. He is married with five children and lives in Albuquerque,
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