Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Too Small to Ignore, by Dr. Wess Stafford

This book is part memoir and part an awareness raising effort about children and our need to value them. Dr. Wess Stafford is the President of Compassion International which is a Christian child sponsorship nonprofit, and a recognized child advocate. He is the son of missionaries. His degrees come from Moody Bible Institute, Biola University, Wheaton College, and he earned a Doctorate from Michigan State University. Much of his childhood was spent in a small village on the continent of Africa. All royalties from this book, at his request, are being donated to Compassion International. The Christian rock singer, Michael W. Smith, wrote the forward to this book. After writing a forward, Stafford writes an introduction to his book. This book is arranged in two parts. Part One traces Stafford's growing up-years. Part Two leads into his later teen years all the way till present, with later chapters his call to action on behalf of children. This book is written with Dean Merrill, an award-winning author and ordained minister.

This book has exactly the impact that the author says he wants it to have. From start to finish, he champions children, their needs, their interests, their fears, their hurts and the wrongs and injustices done to them. I found myself reading about his upbringing in the African village, and feeling strongly, that we have much to learn from these people whom many consider primitive, backward, even savages. Yes, he does not sugarcoat the hardships and the poverty they faced, and yet he lauds them for the community that he and his family knew, the lack of materialism and consumerism and competition and how this drew the people closer to each other and caused them to rejoice in the face of their hardships. I have long been painfully aware that we Westerners, especially in the United States, pay a hidden price in our alienation from each other and loneliness, even in the Christian community--especially, I will say, in the Christian community. The author describes how African culture values community while our individualism alienates us from each other. I kept mentally assenting "Amen" to all of his opinions. I was sickened as he described his periods of abuse at his boarding school, and despite that, I felt a tinge of envy for him that he has been able to rise to such success and be so used by God as the leader of a Christian humanitarian nonprofit. Yet I felt compassion for those at his boarding school, who suffered the same abuse but who did not overcome their pasts, as he did. I felt that he may romanticize children and their good qualities, which we know come from ignorance rather than active, deliberate holiness. In many ways, the younger they are, children's good qualities come from the need to survive rather than from virtue. I got a major sense that he has a dim view of us adults, but I cannot say that I blame him for that. I did not agree with him that children are instant good judges of character, for if they are, then how can so many of them be lured by their abusers and how can they be abused? This is no criticism of children, as we were all children once. But I found it interesting that he pointed out how often God used children in the Bible when He could not trust adults with certain jobs. This book can be too hard-hitting for comfort and was hard, emotionally, to read parts of it. This is not light, entertaining reading. While the author mentioned the need to sponsor children in need, he brought up the topic of child sponsorship only several times in this book and admits that it is only one way to combat global poverty.

What about my recommendations for this book? This author has included a short address to Christian leaders, so this book is obviously addressed to Pastors and to all those who hold positions of influence in the Christian community and in local congregations. So I recommend this book to every Pastor, Board Members, other church leaders, and to all Christian leaders in the public eye. I also recommend this book for all child advocates so they can see their passion from a Christ-centered perspective, and know that Jesus is the biggest Champion of children. I recommend this book for all people who are interested in careers with children or who desire to enter any position of leadership in the Christian community. I recommend this book for every Christian, but be forewarned: This is not light, fun reading. But you will be challenged to action on behalf of children.

Interested In Being A Part of the Solution to Child Poverty? Visit Here.

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