Wess Speaks (Part II)

We recently gave you the opportunity ask our president, Wess Stafford, any questions you like. We’re publishing his transcribed answers one day at a time. Here’s the background skinny.

  • How do you balance your priorities between a “job” that is way more than a job and your family? (Amar Rama)
  • I’d love to hear how Wess navigates the two worlds he inhabits. On one hand, he lives in a world of poverty and need. On the other, he lives in … well, America. (Kelly @ Love Well)
  • I would like to know how you think your daughters were shaped and influenced by growing up in the midst of Compassion’s ministry. How did you balance giving them the joys of a carefree childhood while at the same time exposing them to the needs of the world in order to grow in them a heart for those living in poverty? (Jennie Thengvall)

It has been tough to go back and forth between these two worlds. My wife Donna and I determined we would give our lives in ministry to the poor but we promised each other that it would never come at the expense of our own children. That was a commitment that we made –- we would work very hard on behalf of the children of the world but not at the expense of our own. And so I have worked far harder at my role as father than I have even as Compassion’s president.

God gave me two daughters, Jenny and Katie. When my children were young and I was traveling, they knew that I would always rather be home with them more than with anybody else, no matter where I was in the world. So I sent postcards. (It was before e-mail.) I would call my children the last minute before I climbed on a plane to leave America and the first minute I was back.

In the evenings when I was home, I never missed a chance to put my daughters to bed. I thought bedtime was about the most teachable, precious moment I had. I taught my girls hymns every night. I told them a story every night of growing up in Africa. I was determined not to leave my girls behind. I didn’t want them to resent the poor. I didn’t want them to resent Compassion. I wanted them to know that this was their ministry, too.

I prayed with my daughters. One of the reasons they love Compassion is because it’s been a part of their lives since they were 2 and 3 years old. From the time my little girls could lisp a prayer, they prayed for the children that we sponsored.

I honored their mother. I spoke so well of their mother –- about what a hero she was –- doing so much in the house, which allowed me to travel overseas and not worry about my own home. Every three years I took them somewhere with me to see the work. Haiti, Brazil, Ecuador, Africa … I built it into their lives. The best proof is that they now sponsor kids with their own money.

In my book Too Small To Ignore there is a whole chapter on how we blended those two worlds. (By the way, all of the royalties from the book go straight to Compassion.)

2 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Mike Stephens March 28, 2009

    It was interesting to see how you chose to make your daughters a priority. It can be difficult to spend time even if the work is local.

  2. Amar Rama May 30, 2008

    Hi Wes,
    Thanks for taking the time to answer the question :-). I appreciate the details you offered. It is encouraging and educative for us (my wife and I) as we plan on starting a family and wrestle with how we do make sure the “values” we want to uphold are actually what we live.

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