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At a turning point in my life in 2007, I realized that I needed to allow God to redeem the story of my childhood. That story was so painfully confusing that I did not speak of it for 35 years. Where did my prayers go, my cries for mercy and rescue screamed ...

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Displaying 1–57 of 57 comments

Scott Solary

May 20, 2010  12:09pm

It's so important for this issue to remain in the collective conversation. The Mamou Alliance Academy was not the only boarding school where abuse happened, but it was the first to have the results of its investigation to go public. To watch excerpts and to learn more about the documentary "All God's Children" please visit: "All God's Children" tells the story of the children of Mamou - what they experienced at the school and in the aftermath as they tried to find support, help each other and prevent this from happening to others. - Scott Solary (producer, co-director "All God's Children")

Richard Mayhan

May 19, 2010  8:43pm

This is really sad and the effects are really difficult to overcome. My prayers are with you and with the cause.

John Clough Memorial

May 19, 2010  9:54am

Clough Memorial John,It is amazing how God uses the various childhood experiences of different people to get into His ministry to glorify Him and to be a blessing to others in need of which your' is an example.So is mine.I am an orphan,don't know my parent,brought up by missionaries who made my life comfortable though was in boarding home.I praise God for all those missionaries who were instruments in my life.This helped me to go into children ministry to care for the needy kids in a way our Lord wants us to bring them up.I glorify our Lord for our experiences.My last name indicates how I am named in memory of the hospital where I was brought up.


May 16, 2010  10:24am

My heart was broken as I read this article. I am a retired missionary who worked in a European country doing church planting. My original call was to teach missionaries' children and I even had worked out a plan so that the children could get an education and still stay with their parents!!! God seemed to have had another plan, but how I wish I could've been there for that little boy!!! In my childhood I also suffered from abuse. I call my school the ____ Concentration Camp for Children. Those teachers were not missionaries, but how can people who say they love and serve God, stoop to such cruelty to small and helpless children! They remind me of the Nazi death camps of WWll. God does change the suffering into good through the work of Compassion.

Loui se

May 15, 2010  8:42pm

Hello Mr.Stafford. I did not know you went through so much. This is so sad for you and the other children. What happened to your Mom? Did she ever recover?

Ani Kasakyan

May 15, 2010  9:13am

I could not stop reading. It touched my heart. I'm so amazed how God works in a little boys life and ending up using this same little boy later on in his life for other little children. Beautiful and moving story. I really don't know how I got here but I'm glad I did.

Joan Wiuff

May 14, 2010  8:21am

Despite your great disappointment Roy Hodges Light came through Wess loud and clear. If it hurts good MK staff so be it. Let them hurt! The should hurt!! All these finest of teachers and staff in MK should be rejoicing Not needing ANY apology for the truth that will save one little one from these horrors!! PRAISE THE LORD!!! GOD BLESS you Wess KEEP SPEAKING OUT!! May God's blood through the body and suffering of His Son Jesus Christ heal all your deepest wounds

Stan Okoro

May 13, 2010  9:23am

Thanks Wess for sharing your story. I almost couldn't finish reading it for tears in my eyes. I actually had to read it three different days. I am an African and a missionary and thankfully we didn't have to send our kids away for school. I felt the chill of every word because I know first hand what great ill some 'missionaries' have caused along the way. I'm so glad the God we serve is both loving and just. Those who refuse to repent of their sins will be judged accordingly and those who repent will receive forgiveness. My earnest prayer is for many of your friends with deep seated scares, that they would find healing in the bosom of our loving heavenly Father.

Catherine Darnell

May 12, 2010  1:21pm

I am a survivor who shared the same experience at a Christian Bible college in Canada. It was a training ground for Missionaries preparing to go the the field. Our school was home to staff kids and MK's. Over 60 individuals have come forward from this one institution. I lived and breathed every frame of the movie All God's Children

Roy Hodges

May 12, 2010  11:51am

Having sent five children through MK schools, grades 0ne to Twelve, my wife and I felt great shock and distress in reading of Wess's experiences. I was disappointed however to find that Mel Middleton's comments have been deleted, and there is now no word, in any of the "arm chair experts"'s comments, regarding the loving ministry and selfless dedication of the very large majority of staff and teachers in MK schools. I feel that these finest of teachers and staff in MK schools have been seriously maligned and deserve their proper recognition and apology.

shiko monica

May 12, 2010  2:06am

as former child of compassion kenyai came to know and accept jesus Christ through compassion even without understanding the indepth meaning of compassion.thanx wess for shedding the light.Jesus says that he has made us a light of the nations and its through this light that i and others have embraced life.we are earthen vessels with treasures in us.the glory of this treasures cant be dimmed,blurred or put off in any way for even in darkness they will still shine for jesus himself is the source of this light.

RJR fan

May 11, 2010  8:26pm

Maybe missionaries to hard fields should be celebate singles, like Paul. What a blasphemy this practice is against God, the Blessed Trinity, Who is simultaneously One and Three. To sacrifice the corporate entity, the family, in the name of saving disconnected individual souls presents a distorted image of the God of the Bible. No wonder Christian pastors in Rwanda often led the way in genocidal attacks -- Western missionaries had taught them that even nearest and dearest relations were expendable. Let alone subhumans from another tribe.


May 11, 2010  12:28pm

I'd like to know what was wrong with the parents. Leaving their young children alone for 9 months? His mom on the verge of a nervous breakdown and yet doubtlessly telling other people about how one can find peacew/Jesus? I grew up in an evangelical home, had a good church experience as a youth, and still consider myself an orthodox Christian with conservative social values (pro-life, pro-marriage. But I do think the evangelicals have built a subculture based on not looking at/thinking about things on an intellectual level. I believe in evangelism, but there are times when people shouldn't evangelize (for example, when one is having serious psychological difficulties). Evangelicals just wind themselves up and go. Going is the thing. Not thinking. Not questioning. Obviously, the author's mother was the primary victim of her own nervous breakdown. So if I'm being harsh I'm being harsh because evangelicals are hurting themselves and their loved ones. Down with literalism!

Paul Coughlin

May 11, 2010  9:34am

Wesley found his thumotic capacity at a very young age, and in doing so has brought tangible expressions of God's love to countless children. His "gust of strength" is something more Christians need to embrace instead of crucify and leave at the cross, as if this capacity for strength, animated spiritedness, willpower, indignation and courage is itself a sin. This thumotic capacity does far more than produce only angry wrath. When seasoned by the Holy Spirit, it's a gift to the world. Without it, we are the lukewarm that Jesus warns against and rejects.

Zenaide R

May 11, 2010  8:44am

The first time I heard this story, was on Focus on the Family when Dr.Stafford was a guest there. As a victor of abuse, for a long time I didn't know what the purpose was to the pain I endured for years. I use to volunteer at a sexual assualt centre, but quickly found out that it wasn't my ministry. When I heard Dr. Stafford, I knew the voice of God was speaking to me through this man's story. I prayed for months and finally heard HIS voice calling me to HIS ministry of serving children whom the Enemy has stolen the hope from. May God bless every man, woman and child who speak out against all forms of abuse inflicted on any child. Thank you FATHER, for the courage you give people to come out of the darkness and share their story to give other hope of freedom in YOU...

Elizabeth E.

May 11, 2010  12:31am

Seems these "missionaries" needed to read what Jesus said about those who would harm the children should have a millstone around their necks. When I was in college I knew a number of missionary kids. My denomination insisted missionary children be taught at home until their teens or almost teens, even though it would limit the ministry of at least one parent. Then they would go on to a boarding school. I always saw it as recognizing children's emotional needs for their parents, but now I see it was also for the children's protection. When these people got kids at 6, they could bully and abuse them. Teenagers who have been with loving parents are not going to meekly put up with it, they will resist and/or tell. I noticed it was not until this boy had been away from this for a year with his parents on furlough that he told his mother.

Claire J.

May 10, 2010  11:03pm

Your life story was heart-wrenching. I'm always perplexed and appalled when adults treat children with less worth than they regard their selves. They were all children at one time, and they should know how it feels to be so intimidated by cruel hateful punishment. Where is the love of God in that. The children will then always remember the hurt but forget what it was suppose to teach. I believe they take out their own sadness and frustration on the helpless, who can't fight back. The other side of that is the rewards for those who love and promote good in the little ones. The blessings are continual, and new, and forever will amaze. God's rewards are eternal.

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doranna cooper

May 10, 2010  3:55pm

What a moving article! I am a POM and I pray for MK's and their parents. My daughter and son-in-law believe dorm parents should be called of God because it is a very important job. Their mission encourages parents who don't want their high school kids in the dorm, to come out of the tribe temporialy and serve in another capacity during this time. Tribal MK's need to be in a group high school setting to prepare (acclimate) them for college in their passport country. Parenting comes before "the Lord's work" and every parent needs to constantly be told that or don't be a missionary until your kids are grown or don't have kids at all. Background checks may not be reliable but teaching kids to tell the truth and that whatever they tell their parents will be believed is the foundation to protecting our kids.

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JoEllyn Fountain

May 10, 2010  2:55pm

Wess Stafford is an amazing person and I have stood alongside him at Compassion events in Uganda and I know he has a big heart and a passion for children. One side of his story is the abuse but please focus on how God has redeemed it for His purpose.

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May 10, 2010  11:44am

Helps me to understand why some of the MKs at the Bible College I attended 35 years ago seemed so wounded.

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Habtu Assefa

May 10, 2010  10:20am

Some are affected negatively and become themselves an abuser and some are affected positively and use that experience to save others. Thank God, He used our president to save many children that went and that are going through by telling his own wounds boldly and graciously for His glory. I believe this story not only need to be told at Mission camps or Christian schools but at churches and everywhere the defenseless live. It has happened, it is happening & it will happen if we do not design a system that can sift the evil out of our society, out of our church and nation. God bless our president,Dr. Wess Stafford

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Bart Wang

May 10, 2010  8:33am

Vivian, you hit the nail on the head. Christians come up with cliches based on inaccurate reading and misinterpretation of Scripture. God cannot use sin or magically make abuse "good". It is evil, period. Exactly as you said, God is not involved in rape, molestation, assaults, etc., or else he would not be God. As for the suggestion that this story paints all teachers/leaders of MK schools as bad, Bart certainly does not think so. Should we remain silent about abuse? On the contrary, those who are acting appropriately and living right will want these atrocities exposed so they are not grouped together. Silence is never appropriate in the kingdom.

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Jim S

May 10, 2010  4:10am

Perhaps the time has come for either: A) Missionaries to keep their children with them instead of placing them in boarding schools, or, B) Missionaries wait until their children are grown before they go, or, C) Missionaries forgo having children at all.

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Tom Smith

May 10, 2010  4:02am

Vivian, nine years would be hell! I don't know if you are a Christian today, but the story sure brought anger to my soul - righteous anger. These actions were clearly of the devil and not due to God. Would any Christian condone this behavior? If they did, I would truly question their faith! It does show the naivete of some Christians - they trusted an organization that was really corrupt. We must be aware of the evil that exists and protect our families from it. But if God chose to wipe out evil - you and I would not exist today. He would have stopped evil at the beginning and we would never have the chance to hear the message of salvation or even exist. God's tolerance of evil shows His grace for believers! He hates evil much more than we do! I pray for you Vivian that God's grace would shine on you and that He would heal you fully!

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Asiri Fernando

May 10, 2010  2:44am

This was so powerful. Thank you so much Mr Stafford for coming out with your story. May God bless the work of Compassion International.

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Rachel Clark

May 09, 2010  7:10pm

What an amazing and powerful story. Yes, God did see every hurt, hear each scream and wipe each tear from your eye. You took something that Satan meant for harm and did not allow him to prosper. You remained true to God through it all and He was right beside you. The work you do now for His children and His kingdom makes the abuse you endured work for the glory of God. It is eye opening!!

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Vivian Palmer harvey

May 09, 2010  5:20pm

As an alumnus of Mamou academy,with 9 years of life in that place, I am witness that what happened at Mamou Alliance Academy has nothing to do with goodness, Gods will, compassion for children or truth. The statement "What Satan meant for evil, God meant for good" is one brilliant example of the the Christian world's ignorance, callous disregard for children whose spirits, souls and bodies suffered beatings, torture, rape, molestation and much more. Over spiritualization of real life physical abuse perpetrated upon little children, with the resulting life long effects is one more tactic used by willingly ignorant Christians. Neglect, refusal to deal with abuse which today, would land the perp in jail ear marks the Christian missionary world today.

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Rich Phillips

May 09, 2010  2:02pm

Unless and until mission organizations allow fully independent investigations into these situations, you can't be convinced that the complete truth is known about their boarding schools. Unless and until mission organizations credibly and comprehensively reach out to all school alumni and make those independent investigative opportunities known to them, then outreach efforts are incomplete as well. And unless and until mission organizations unstintingly and lovingly provide genuine support and recompense for the current-day impact of their past malfeasance and mismanagement, no claim of a proper, complete response can be accepted.

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Veronika Weiner

May 09, 2010  6:03am

Thanks so much for this article! What a great God we have who not only cares so much about little ones or those others who need ,beside protection, somebody who speaks up for them. For me, they are the severely handicapped people, guestworkers who are not looked at like human beings, but just workers, expatriates who live in, and are challenged by ,a different culture,locals who are imprisoned by thoughts and actions of a false religion or by the hunger for power, esteem etc. Thanks again Wess, may the Lord strengthen, bless and fill you with His unspeakable and incomprehensibble joy and peace!

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Lydia S.

May 08, 2010  8:24pm

One of the best articles I've ever read in CT. What Satan meant for evil....God turned into good....

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Paul Friesen

May 08, 2010  7:07pm

it is good to have publicatins pick up on this. Many Churches think it si only catholics that abouse children. I went to that school at the end of its life. the mission we were with has changed its name rather than admit it ignored the truth of its children. The circle if abuse also includes the churches who sent the missionaries and refused to listen to their pleas. Let us make all parties responsible if we take one, from pastors and chruch leaders to adminsitrators and teachers.

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Robert Brake

May 08, 2010  4:24pm

This article by Wess rings so true in my own life. My Lord has taken something out of my life that I could not shake off for over 50 years. Thank God in 1962 I asked Jesus into my heart. No, the troubles of my mind did not stop there but great weights were lifted off my shoulders and the work of the Holy Spirit begun. I have reached out to Compassion children because I want them taken out of poverty and to know that Jesus died for them, He loves them and He cares. I hope many will read Wess' article and reach out to help the little children who cannot help themselves. YES, MY GOD IS RESTORING WHAT THE LOCUST HAS EATEN. I have two sons who are serving the Lord; one is an evangelist and one is a missionary. God bless you Wess

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Kathryn Smith

May 08, 2010  4:13pm

What a beautifully written story about such a horrendous topic. My heart went out to Wess and now I want to read his book.

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RBarryYoung __

May 08, 2010  2:39pm

Wess: Amen, brother.

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Mel Middleton

May 08, 2010  10:18am

I am a missionary kid who experienced many years in a similar mission boarding school. I was quite disappointed in this story. While I can empathize with the author's pain and agree that there were a few poorly placed people at some of these schools, at the same time there were many remarkable men and women of God who helped us MKs in remarkable ways -- who went out of their way to give us MKs the care and assistance we craved. Unfortunately (as some of the comments here indicate) the good have now been tarred with the same bad brush, and the enemies of God have another "documented" proof that missionaries are nothing but a bunch of criminals and child abusers -- much like the media has done with our image of Catholic priests. But worse, it appears that he has washed the dirty laundry of one mission agency in order to make himself and his own organization look good. I wish he had gone the route that Christ recommended in Matthew 18 to resolve personal hurts.

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C Henry

May 08, 2010  7:41am

Blessings, healing and honor to Wess and all who know his pain! As a current foreign worker, I am grateful for the courage and faith of his generation to challenge the foul notion that, "the abuse/sacrifice of one soul is worth the saving of another"! What an unbiblical, unfaithful attitude! May our Great Jehovah Jireh redeem all that locust intended to destroy!

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Kathy Olson

May 08, 2010  6:53am

It takes a lot of courage to share the story of your abuse. I cried when I first read Wes's story in 2007 and cried again when I read it this morning. There is a lot of abuse that takes place in "Christian" settings. I'm glad that a lot of churches do background checks now on people they allow to be child workers. Its not going to stop all of it but its a place to start. Telling your story, Wes, gives other people courage to tell their story and that is how things get changed. I didn't have the courage to tell when I was younger, and more kids in church were abused because I didn't tell. What comes to mind is when Jesus said "by their fruits, you shall know them". These abusers are not Christian in any sense of the word. It is beautiful how the Lord used something so horrendous to bring about a great deal of good from it. You didn't let Satan win. You didn't let the abusers win. You have my great respect.

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Luci Westphal

May 08, 2010  6:25am

Thank you to Christianity Today and to Wess Stafford for again shedding light on the abuse and recovery from abuse within the missionary community and at the Mamou Alliance Academy in particular. It is horrible to know about the suffering of children. But there is power in knowing, which can lead to healing and prevention. To watch excerpts and to learn more about the documentary "All God's Children" please visit: "All God's Children" tells the story of the children of Mamou - what they experienced at the school and in the aftermath as they tried to find support, help each other and prevent this from happening to others. - Luci Westphal (producer, co-director "All God's Children")

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pongkiew choong

May 08, 2010  12:33am

I meant to click 5 full stars; thanks be to God that Dr Wess shares now his story which ministers to whoever has gone through similar tribulations. Thank you Dr Wess as you obeyed His leading to do so after 35 years. Even after retiring from a secular workplace milieu of a public school for 34 years when i felt God using me to declare and mirror his healing, redeeming love, i used to wonder why the tears still come so easily, if i was still holding on to self-pity or unforgiveness: the devil be damned for such doubts. After reading Dr Wess' testimony, i want to believe that the shedding of tears is part of shedding the pain which then allows Christ's power and strength, healing and redeeming grace to continue to work and flow in and through shall it be, unto God to whom is all the wisdom, might and glory. To the one who q the financial part, please just know that all the gold in the world won't heal - go back to Christ first if you want to discern what's this all about.

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Tom Jenkins

May 07, 2010  10:27pm

So my question is, is Wess Stafford making too much as the president of Compassion? He is an author and a speaker. From those sources he has his own income but in addition, through Compassion he still makes over 200K (+ benefits - putting his compensation from Compassion close to 300K) per year. Salvation Army, which is now largely secular the president salary + benefits is under 100K. For Wess, that is 5,500 children's sponsorships, just to cover his salary. This, however, is STILL much better than other charities, Christian ministry, World Vision president makes 375K per year + benefits making the total near 450K... Wess could support himself handsomely with his speaking engagements. Maybe he does them all for free tho. Don't know. I'm just fed up with people getting so "rich" from leading ministries.

Dr. James Willingham

May 07, 2010  9:33pm

The best of articles. Having counseled and studied the issue of sexual abuse in particular, I can say the writer's response to his situation as a child is the most moving I think I have ever read. Usually, children crumple under such terrible abuses; such evils wreck their development and derail their performance as adults. And yet God is involved. He marks the suffering; He knows the grief of the littlest and most miserable and helpless of the abused. Resistance can be redemptive and healing; a revolution against tyranny can be truly liberating, depending on what it is that moves the rebel in such circumstances. If it is vengeance, the end is forecast. If justice, great benefits will be realized. Justice and redemption belong together. One of the greatest things in recent world history was the Reconciliation Commission of Sout Africa. It was not that much was accomplished; it was the fact that they tried. they left a legacy of witness to the reality of biblical faith.

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Marianne Miller

May 07, 2010  8:50pm

Thank you, Wess. This story was beautiful. As a child abuse survivor, I want to say that I know how difficult it is for most people to get even the slightest sense of what it is like to live under these types of horrific circumstances. We need to have the church become sensitive to the mission field right in out own back yards, the children all around us who may be suffering unfathomable trauma. (Wess, I know all about the 'floating', It was the only way I survived. God's survival mechanism.)

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Alexandra Star

May 07, 2010  7:52pm

Thank you for sharing the story of your painful childhood. So many of us have remained silent about the things that happened to us as little ones, with no hope of redemption. By joining Compassion International and sponsoring a child in Tanzania, I am able to do one small thing to pray for and help a small hurting child. Thank you for making all of this possible, because we can heal ourselves by helping and healing others. Thank you so much for your beautiful heart!

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May 07, 2010  5:07pm

SOUNDS LIKE NEW TRIBES MISSION.... Why dont you investagate them????

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Samantha Nelson

May 07, 2010  4:22pm

Thank you for being willing to tell your story and share the love of Jesus with others. For years, my husband ad I have supported a girl in Rwanda through Compassion, never knowing your story of horrific abuse. We have viewed the film, All God's Children, and were deeply moved by the unspeakable pain and anguish all the children endured. Yes, we know what it is like to be betrayed by a spiritual leader and we empathize with you and other victims. It was never your fault! My husband Steve and I started a nonprofit organization called The Hope of Survivors in 2002 to help victims of sexual abuse by spiritual leaders. Today, it is a global ministry reaching tens of thousands worldwide. If you know of someone who is a victim of clergy sexual abuse, from any denomination, please send them this link ( so they can learn the truth and have HOPE! God bless you!

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Terry Palmer

May 07, 2010  4:22pm

Thank you for your article. You hold a mirror in your hand of an article. It is the mirror that all abused can share, as if an inseperable combined hand of pain is holding the picture in the mirror for all to see. It is also held by the grip of evil, trying mightily to cast a shadow of the lie over the mirror so the world might not see and believe. Oh, that the depth of love in each heart will burn with compassion and sear the message into each heart and tear away the darkness from my eyes so I can also see. Lord, reach deep into each of the hands behind the mirror with the healing only you can bring. Terry

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adrian osborne

May 07, 2010  4:21pm

WOW is all i can say Your story wess is increbile Good for you God can use your story for good i think every person in the world should hear it. It amazing what a awesome God can do

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Andrew Yu

May 07, 2010  4:18pm

What a powerful story. Everyone needs to read this.

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Audrey James

May 07, 2010  3:53pm

I am lost for words...Thank you for sharing your story and thank you for allowing God to use you in the work that you do. Amazing Grace sums it all up! Blessings in everything you do and have!

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Julie Hahn

May 07, 2010  3:50pm

Wess is a member of our congregation and first shared his story with us during a weekend service. There wasn't a dry eye in the room. He is the real deal. Our Lord loves children and we are all called to be His hands and feet to them. Compassion is a wonderful tool for HIS glory.

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Michelle Whiting

May 07, 2010  3:05pm

I have worked at Compassion along side Wess for over 20 years. It is a blessing, joy and priveledge to work with him for the children. I am inspired every time I hear him speak. His parents were gentle amazing people as well. I know this abuse broke their hearts. It is amazing how Satan meant this for evil, but God used it for so much good!

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Gaylee Trepanier

May 07, 2010  2:05pm

Thank you Dr. Stafford. My mom, a missionary kid herself, wrote a book on this topic (The Missionary Myth, Vivian Harvey), and remains an advocate for missionary kids, young and old. Of all people, Christians should be the FIRST to protect the small ones. God takes this so seriously, and I wouldn't want to be the person who would be better off if they thrown into the sea with a millstone around their neck.

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Dale Wolery

May 07, 2010  1:39pm

Wow! I find myself deeply moved and inspired by this incredible story of God giving a child unimaginable courage. I would love to know you Wesley Stafford! I work with pastors and missionaries in personal crises and too often find myself face to face with ignorant, resistant and abusive churches and mission agencies. The "Christian" Institutional capacity to be graceless, ill informed and abusive is enormous. The Church we long to see fully effective is still far too often unthinkably bumbling, cruel and damaging to its leaders and their families—all in the name of Christ. May God help us to burn our candles brightly promoting honesty, wisdom and unending grace toward the “least” and the leaders in Christ’s Body. It should be good news to be part of Gospel Ministry even when it is discovered we are flawed human beings.

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Julie Whitenack

May 07, 2010  1:08pm

I used to work at Compassion and I just have to say that Wess is so authentic, he really does care for every child. He is a champion to the downtrodden and he has inspired many others to be the same!

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Mayling Wong

May 07, 2010  12:42pm

what an amazing testimony. Thank you. Blessings to you, Dr. Stafford, as God continues His good work in you and through you.

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Vicki Small

May 07, 2010  12:33pm

I have personally known fewer than half a dozen people who live totally committed lives to their calling, with the passion and compassion of Dr. Wess Stafford. He is as real as they come, and his story helps me to trust that God is not absent and has not gone stone deaf, no matter how things look. He always has a plan, and it is about redemption. What is hard for me is to imagine forgiveness for people like those who so abused the children who were entrusted to their care with such cruelty, such viciousness. I try to get my mind around the fact that God's love would reach out to them as readily as to me...but that's what I believe. Assuming they asked Him.

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Bart Wang

May 07, 2010  12:24pm

Thank you, Wess. Your openness, courage and hope are inspirational. Jesus is so proud of the person you are and the compassionate manner in which you live. May we all be encouraged to do the same.

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