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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. [3]

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 [5] (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 [6] 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 [7]. 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.