Wess Stafford

Dr. Wess Stafford, author of Too Small to Ignore and Just a Minute, is the former President of Compassion International. Compassion is one of the world’s largest Christian child sponsorship organizations, partnering with more than 60 denominations and over 6,200 local churches to serve nearly 1.5 million children in 26 countries. Wess joined the staff of Compassion in 1977 and served for 20 years as president and CEO. As President Emeritus, he continues to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.”  

As a boy, the son of missionaries to the Ivory Coast, Wess was one of the village children watched over by a wise and loving African “extended family.” But his young heart was often broken when African friends died from the cruel effects of poverty. While Wess’ childhood sparked a passion for serving the poor, later adventures continued to fan the flames. While in college, Wess spearheaded literacy programs for disadvantaged teens in inner-city Chicago. His upbringing in Africa, his volunteer and work experiences in non-formal education, and his affinity for languages and working cross-culturally were important threads that all prepared Wess for his life’s mission of speaking up globally for the poor. 

As a young man, Wess represented a consortium of relief and development agencies in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. During his four years in Haiti, Wess experienced the most devastating message that poverty speaks to a child: “You don’t matter.” He also learned through his early exposure to Compassion’s work in Haiti that the most strategic way to break the cycle of poverty is by investing holistically in children — meeting their physical, spiritual, socioeconomic and vocational needs — to give them a hope and a future. He has seen first-hand that Compassion’s approach works. Now, after more than 60 years of ministry, hundreds of thousands of its program graduates are giving back in their own countries as Christian spouses and parents, health care workers, educators, lawyers, entrepreneurs, pastors and church workers. 

Wess has earned undergraduate degrees from Moody Bible Institute and Biola University, a Master’s degree from Wheaton College, as well as a Ph.D. from Michigan State University. He is also a veteran, having served four years in the U.S. Army as a linguist in military intelligence, and is an avid outdoorsman and dedicated husband and father. Wess lives on a small ranch near Colorado Springs, Colorado with his wife Donna of 36 years. They have two daughters, Jenny and Katie — the two children in the world for whom Wess is the greatest advocate of all.

Here are some links to Wess talks.

At Moody Bible Institutes Founders Week

AT Liberty University.

© Charles Eklund 2013