It's time for Americans to radically change the way they think about children, according to Dr. Wess Stafford, President of Compassion International.
In his new book Too Small to Ignore, Stafford says adults must intervene and take a stand on behalf of those who don't have a voice.
"My personal journey has taken me through both the horrors of poverty and the devastation of child abuse," Stafford said. "I've learned that poverty and abuse speak the same language -- a message that says to children, 'You don't matter. Give up.'
"Both are completely opposed to the biblical message that says, 'You do matter. You are of immeasurable value. You are deeply loved by God Himself.'"
Stafford largely draws on his experiences as a child growing up in Africa. The lessons he learned in his little African village came from people who loved others, despite their own suffering, hunger and sickness.
"I learned from my childhood in Africa that a child may be born in poverty but poverty is never born in a child," Stafford said.
Too Small to Ignore provides practical ways that adults can champion children, including Stafford's "Four Freedoms for Children":
- Freedom from drivenness, time pressure and hurry
- Freedom from materialism
- Freedom from corrosive competition
- Freedom from daily fear
According to Stafford, these are among the most vital gifts we can bestow upon the coming generation. Without them, he says, children will be greatly hindered in attempting to reach their full potential.
Stafford believes churches need to shift their priorities and suggests that:
- Churches earmark at least 40 percent of their budgets to reaching children and teenagers
- Senior pastors send a message to the congregation by spending at least two Sundays a year working in the nursery
- Children in a church be provided with personal champions or sponsors
But, the author says, advocating for children starts with us as individuals who must take immediate action.
"Every child you encounter is a divine appointment," Stafford said. "With each opportunity, you have the power and opportunity to build the child up or tear the child down. It's a huge responsibility for each of us."
To set up an interview with Dr. Wess Stafford, contact Becky Tschamler at (719) 487-6345 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on Too Small to Ignore: Why Children Are the Next Big Thing
, visit www.toosmalltoignore.com.