Wess Speaks (The Finale)

If you’re new here, our CEO, Wess Stafford, didn’t write this post, but he did answer the question. We recorded his answer and transcribed it for your reading pleasure.

Read all the posts in the Wess Speaks series.

  • I remember you telling us how the idea of LDP came to you as you were taking a walk in your garden. I have always wondered what kind of trees were in the garden and what sounds were there? (Anthony Njoroge)

Wow — you have an amazing memory.

It was on the little ranch that I now own that I first had the thought of the Leadership Development Program (LDP). I didn’t even own the ranch then, I was just kind of walking through it. The trees I was walking through were Ponderosa Pines and the sounds that were all around me were squirrels chattering, cattle grazing and birds chirping. That was 11 years ago.

My great joy is out of that thought (that I’m sure was from God) we now have 1,800 LDP students. These are students who are going through university.

About two weeks ago I was in India for the country’s first LDP graduation down in Chennai, which used to be Madras. We graduated 16 that day, but there are 97 more university students in that program who will graduate in the next three or four years.

I go to the very first LDP graduation of each country. I can’t go to them all, but I’ve promised that I’ll be at the first one.

I met one of the young men in that LDP who is a medical student. Last year 205,000 of India’s sharpest and brightest took the medical entrance exams that the government puts out. That LDP medical student, whose father is a peasant farmer, placed second in the entire nation on the exam. That’s the kind of outstanding people we have in this program.

Yeah, okay some of them are still four and five years old and in the Child Sponsorship Program. Some of them are still in their momma’s womb. But when you think of the potential! What a loss the world would have if we didn’t give these kids the chance to, first of all reach their potential, but then also to reach that potential with a heart to give back. What would the world be like?

Do we still have cancer because the guy that was supposed to cure cancer grew up in a dump in Guatemala and didn’t make it? Or maybe he is running a sugarcane stand somewhere?

Every time I see these young people, especially when they are really, really small, I can’t help asking myself, What are they becoming? What has God knit into them in their momma’s womb? He knit their DNA. And what is His plan? What is His hope and future that He says He has for these little ones?

For the 1,800 that we’ve got in the Leadership Development Program, I’m thrilled to see that not only are they in the top of their classes, but they’re also the leaders on their campuses.

And I have no doubt that the young man I met is going to be a remarkable doctor. So I ask myself Who picked up his little child packet when there was a little four-year-old cute guy on the table? I bet they had no idea that God had orchestrated for this little guy to grow up to be a doctor, or a pastor, or president of the country.

So that’s where the idea of the LDP came from, walking through the Ponderosa Pines on my little ranch, and it was one of my absolute greatest joys.

4 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Vicki Small September 30, 2009

    “So I ask myself ‘Who picked up his little child packet when there was a little four-year-old cute guy on the table? I bet they had no idea that God had orchestrated for this little guy to grow up to be a doctor, or a pastor, or president of the country.'”

    Exactly the line of thought I had when I first saw an LDP brochure with the photo and story of Israel, the young man in Ecuador (I think; memory is going!). The story included a photo of him at about age 2, and I thought, “Whoever picked up this child’s packet probably had no idea he would grow up to be a handsome lawyer, pastor and all-around leader. I wonder what my sponsored children will become, with God’s help?”

  2. Mike Stephens March 28, 2009

    What a victory to be able to be inspired and actually make it happen!!! I think some of the best ways we OVERCOME as Christians is to put into practice ideas the Lord has given us!!! I guess we can water, fertilize, and pray but God makes it grow!!! Great to see LDP growing!!!

  3. Anthony Njoroge June 20, 2008


    I concur with Vicki that this was in deed an idea from God Himself.

    I thank God that He chose to use you and more importantly you were ready to be used of God.

    Thanks for the answer and I will always treasure the time we spent with you and your immeasurable words of encouragement.

    On behalf of all other LDP students in the world, God bless you mightily.


  4. Vicki Small June 10, 2008

    I don’t think there can be any doubt that God planted the idea for LDP in your mind and heart. It is just the sort of thing He would do, isn’t it? By “it,” I mean both the planting of the idea in the mind of someone who would follow it through, and providing for some of the best and brightest to come out of CDSP’s to go on through university and give back in the countless ways in which they do that! But he needed you, and all of the people who worked with you in getting the program started, and who continue to work to open it in more countries. And he needs us, to sponsor children and to find more sponsors, so He can prepare more children to find His hope and future for them! Sort of a chain of mercy that gets longer and longer….

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