wess stafford This month’s Christianity Today cover story is Wess telling his story of childhood abuse and deliverance in a West Africa boarding school.

The houseparent had marched me to the school’s dining hall, dragged a metal chair across the concrete floor, and slammed it down in front of my schoolmates. He threw me up on the chair and jammed the candle in my hand.

“Children,” he said, “you cannot serve both God and Satan. Wesley has tried. You cannot burn a candle at both ends without getting burned. Watch what happens when you try.”

Read the entire article at Christianity Today.

After you read the article, come back and let us know what you think. Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Wess’ book, Too Small to Ignore.

We’ll randomly pick a winner on Monday.

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  1. Kristina Johnson-Short
    May 7, 2010
    at 10:15 am

    God works in wondrous ways. Life experiences that are so devastating that they can leave deep wounds unseen by others yet are just as painful as the black and blue reminders of unwanted and undeserved beatings. Sharing these experiences brings awareness of the problems that take place to millions of individuals around the world.

  2. Lydia
    May 7, 2010
    at 10:25 am

    Wow. I guess I had never really heard Wess’ story before. It’s powerful!

  3. May 7, 2010
    at 10:27 am

    Thank you. That is what is on my heart for a million different reasons. Thank you for holding onto Christ and for letting Him hold onto you. For allowing Christ to use what was meant to harm you and extinguish the flame that is within you, but instead is burning brightly. For having the courage then to stand up, as well as now for sharing your story. I was recently asked to share my story as the beginning of a new program in our state called “profiles in courage” and I haven’t been able to do it. Thanks for being that example I needed.

    Our Church is praying for 500 children through Compassion International and doing an 8 week series called WIDE SOUL – each week with a Compassion Int’l speaker. So glad that we made the decision last week to sponsor our child that we have been praying for. We have also developed a huge heart for Uganda and just took the first steps to see about traveling their with Compassion Int’l.

    You have just confirmed everything we knew in our Spirits! Thank you again!

  4. Amy
    May 7, 2010
    at 10:33 am

    Great article! Thanks for posting it.

  5. LeeAnn
    May 7, 2010
    at 10:34 am

    Such a powerful story… Thank you Wess for sharing- you’re not only inspiring Christians everywhere to care for ‘the least of these’ but giving hope to those who have also experienced abuse as well…

  6. Andrew Hsieh
    May 7, 2010
    at 10:35 am

    I have never heard Wess Stafford’s testimony until now.
    Heartbreaking to read. But the end is glory. Looking forward to reading Wess’ book.

  7. Jennifer Farrell
    May 7, 2010
    at 10:41 am

    I don’t even know what to say…it breaks my heart how cruel “Christians” can be. How beautiful that God can work even the worst situations into something that draws others to Him.

  8. Katie Fronk
    May 7, 2010
    at 10:55 am

    What a powerful story. To endure that is amazing!

  9. Cheryl
    May 7, 2010
    at 11:03 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your story with the world on top of all of the work you do to help the children of our world. It gives me hope that God can redeem anything and anyone and use the horrible things we’ve gone through for his purposes and his glory. Thank you.

  10. Julie
    May 7, 2010
    at 11:10 am

    This story breaks my heart. It leaves me pondering just what it is within each of us that motivates our choices about whether or not we will be defeated by our circumstances. Believers and nonbelievers struggle with it.

  11. Nina
    May 7, 2010
    at 11:18 am

    Thank you for sharing your incredible story. Clearly God has used the horrible events of your life to rescue many millions of children, thru you and your work with Compassion. For this, we praise Him.

  12. Elizabeth Dueck
    May 7, 2010
    at 11:26 am

    A wonderful book. We’ve been missionaries for years and also have friends who have grown up as MKs. Wess’ story is a powerful one and speaks clearly to both adult MKs who’ve had similar experiences and missionary parents who face many decisions regarding family and ministry. Thank you for sharing, Wess.

  13. Maggie
    May 7, 2010
    at 11:27 am

    Thanks for sharing this. Powerful stuff!

  14. HeatherS
    May 7, 2010
    at 11:29 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. God has redeemed your story for good and is using you and Compassion in a mighty way!

  15. Ann
    May 7, 2010
    at 11:30 am

    Powerful story. God know all our hurts and will use them for good and His glory.

  16. Suzanne
    May 7, 2010
    at 11:30 am

    I’m writing with tears in my eyes after reading Wess’ story. What a powerful testimony. The world needs more men and women like him who are willing to stand up for children.

  17. Jen C.
    May 7, 2010
    at 11:36 am

    Wow. Amazing story, clearly the power of God working through one person in that one moment. I am thankful that God wins and can redeem something as dark as that and turn it into a bright light.

  18. Jacqui Graham
    May 7, 2010
    at 11:43 am

    Thank you, Wess, for sharing your story. I pray it will inspire many to become involved in the life-saving work of Compassion International, and will help others to understand God’s place in their lives. It has certainly given me a different perspective on the black moments from my own childhood.

  19. Mayling Wong
    May 7, 2010
    at 11:48 am

    Amazing story! Such a powerful testimony in how God works in mysterious ways to bring glory.

  20. Chris Harwood
    May 7, 2010
    at 11:56 am

    Thanks for your ministry – God uses all our experiences.

  21. Beth
    May 7, 2010
    at 12:00 pm

    Over and over, God uses the worst things imaginable to make us into the tools He designed to do His work. Thank you for your honesty, and for giving us this insight into why you do what you do. May God continue to bless Compassion even more!

  22. Jenny Schapekahm
    May 7, 2010
    at 12:31 pm

    Amazing. I feel sick that things like this go on, but praise God that Wes heard the call of the Lord in the midst of such abuse. It is a testimony that God can and will redeem anything if we will let him. Our God reigns!

  23. Kees Abbring
    May 7, 2010
    at 12:32 pm

    Thanks so much for this powerful tetimony! I love, appreciate, and support the work of Compassion a lot. The testimony of Wess Stafford makes it even stronger!
    God is good… all the time!
    Never give up, Keep the faith!

  24. Glen
    May 7, 2010
    at 12:37 pm

    Wow. What an incredibly sad story that has fueled a passion for children. His passion is what has inspired me to become an advocate, along with the message of ministering to the “least of these”. I had no idea of the source of that passion.

  25. May 7, 2010
    at 12:44 pm

    Thank you God for using Wess and his life as he ministers to children and serves Compassion. I am amazed every day at the stories within Compassion and how God is using them to inspire me.

  26. Andre Harris
    May 7, 2010
    at 12:44 pm

    The work compassion does is amazing. I love the heart Wess has for children!!

  27. Wendy
    May 7, 2010
    at 1:13 pm

    What an inspiration Wess is to all. Its amazing how God has a hand in every situation and uses it for His good. May God continue to Bless this ministry and the children whose lives will forever be changed because of Compassion.

  28. Jam
    May 7, 2010
    at 2:00 pm

    It was a powerful thing to read. I’m so glad Wes was able to allow God to redeem the horror of it. It’s an almost impossible thing to do, but as we see, with God all things are possible.

  29. Heather
    May 7, 2010
    at 2:24 pm

    I had not heard Wess’ story before. It is amazing. To use all of those experiences from childhood to help change the lives of so many others, amazing. Overflowing Jesus to the world.

  30. Jennifer Delavan
    May 7, 2010
    at 2:29 pm

    Gripping, heart-wrenching story. Amazing testimony of strength and passion. Thanks for sharing.

  31. Mary Choi
    May 7, 2010
    at 4:06 pm

    A powerful story that everyone should read. Thank you Wess for sharing yours story.

  32. Jodi Chattin
    May 7, 2010
    at 5:16 pm

    I actually read the whole article the other day in a Doctor’s office, and felt such enormous admiration and respect for Wess Stafford by the end of it. I had no idea that he suffered what he did. I have often felt confused and troubled by all of the evil that God allows, especially towards children. It was healing, in some ways, to read this story and see a real-life example of how God can redeem and use such horror. I’m thankful that Wess both told and used his story for such good.

  33. ron fox
    May 7, 2010
    at 5:53 pm

    I have a freind that go with me on mission trip to Ecuador what was a mk in Africa to. what did tha same thing as you did . may God bless you thank youfor tha you do for chid

  34. Ashley
    May 7, 2010
    at 6:38 pm

    Thank you, Wes for your commitment to Jesus and to the needy and oppressed children all over the world that He loves.

  35. Justine Huntington
    May 7, 2010
    at 7:25 pm

    I’d love to recieve the book for free :)

  36. David Pascoe
    May 7, 2010
    at 8:54 pm

    Really grateful to be able to read your story Wess, thanks for sharing it. So awesome to think that out of such pain and suffering God can grow a huge ministry like Compassion.

    I had some quite sad moments as a kid too. Makes me want to hug my kids just a bit more.

    I love that this blog challenges me to keep me focusing on the calling we have as believers to look after the orphans and widows and to pursue justice.

    Blessing to you all at Compassion.

    davidp.

  37. May 7, 2010
    at 10:00 pm

    Don’t enter me in the drawing for the book. I already own it. I think everyone should read it.

    What happened at the Mamou Alliance Academy is so awful. It’s hard to comprehend that much cruelty in one place. Of all the stories I’ve read about Mamou, what really got to me is reading about one dorm parent from the ’40′s and ’50′s who forced children to eat their own vomit as punishment.

    Missionaries working for the Christian Missionary & Alliance church were required to send their children ages 6 and up to these boarding schools for nine months out of the year. I find that setup abusive in and of itself. What a horrible thing to ask of a family.

  38. Lindy
    May 8, 2010
    at 6:08 am

    I have Wess’s book, and I’ve always meant to write and thank him for writing it! His story broke my heart, but also is a powerful reminder of God’s amazing ability to use even our past hurts to lead us into reaching out in love to hurting people! So, thank you, Wess, for having the grace and the courage to share your story. You have blessed many lives, and we thank God for you!

  39. Marlene Hurshman
    May 8, 2010
    at 1:48 pm

    I am so sorry for what Wes Stafford and other MKs had to experience at their boarding school. It is so very sad.

  40. Jenni
    May 8, 2010
    at 3:59 pm

    Wow. What an amazing powerful story. God takes what is intended for evil and turns into good. I praise God for Wes stafford and for using him in a mighty way. I also thank Mr Stafford for allowing God to use him and for being such a transparant man. I am in awe of God and Have the highest respect for Mr Stafford.

  41. Paul Clutterbuck
    May 9, 2010
    at 4:22 am

    So heartbreaking, so devastating, and for me, so close to home too. I could have told much the same story about my experiences at a Christian school in New Zealand, in the early 1980s. Thank God that He gives more grace…

  42. Jeannette Peterson
    May 9, 2010
    at 6:15 am

    I finally worked out how to leave a comment!
    Thankyou Wes, for having the courage to share your painful experience.
    It is a choice to either be bitter and twisted, full of unforgiveness or to allow forgiveness to enter your heart, to let an experience empower you to move in the Holy Spirit to be able to use the pain to turn you into a better person.
    I thank God for the inspiring journey of faith which reflects in this testimony.
    Bad things sometimes happen to Good people and how they move through them in faith and forgiveness helps us all.

  43. Pam Jones
    May 9, 2010
    at 12:37 pm

    What a powerful story. This was the first time I had heard his story. There are many organizations that try to help and that is wonderful, but I thank God for bringing me to Compassion International because it is the one place that I know in my deepest heart that is dedicated from the bottom to the very top to the welfare and spiritual wellbeing of the children they care for. Thank you Wes and thank you Compassion for all that you do!

  44. May 9, 2010
    at 6:35 pm

    Yes, satan tried to destroy your faith in God and turn something so ugly into a life of pain and sorrow. However, God had another plan and your love for His children and the love to further His kingdom, is proof that there is good that can come from pain.

  45. jennifer
    May 10, 2010
    at 8:02 am

    I had never heard Wess’ testimony before. It really helped me to understand how passionate he really is about this program. It’s not a job to him. I really respect that and thank God for bringing him past those experiences to who he is today. If he had taken on the victim mentality that would have been so natural, Compassion wouldn’t be what it is today.

  46. Sarah Mac
    May 10, 2010
    at 10:49 am

    I can’t even put into words how I feel after reading that article. Thank you so muc for sharing your story. Absolutely incredible.

  47. May 10, 2010
    at 10:58 am

    Wess,
    Your story is similar to one in the scripture and your overcoming is also the same. GOD brought you through the pain of what the enemy meant for evil. GOD made it good, but it is never without consequence. I grieve for your friends unable to feel the love of the Father because of these childhood experiences. We must be vigilant in our care of those unable to protect themselves. Thank you Wess for your obedient and sensitive heart! You are a great example of GOD working where few see.

  48. James
    May 10, 2010
    at 8:57 pm

    Thank you for sharing this powerful story. Please keep working for the children. Together, one child at a time one less child will grow up wondering where is God. Blessings to you and all at Compassion. Throughout the world.

  49. May 13, 2010
    at 10:36 am

    thanks for all you do Wess, you and Compassion have done so much for my ministry and my life in challenging me to Christlikeness.

  50. Amy Wallace
    May 13, 2010
    at 12:31 pm

    I love Too Small to Ignore. Such a powerful testimony from Wess!

  51. May 28, 2010
    at 12:47 pm

    So glad to know about this article, and how well written, as always! Wess, you really have bared your heart before us, and for that we are eternally grateful. I come out of extremely painful (verbal) abuse in my childhood, too, and I know it is part of the reason I advocate for children so strongly today. Your words always inspire me to speak up for children in need.

  52. Ndamyumugabe Jean Claude
    Aug 16, 2012
    at 9:25 am

    Thank you Wess, you are talented God’s servant. God bless you!

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