Review of Chapter 9, “Breaking the Silence”
by Liz Perraud
Chapter nine of Wess Stafford’s “Too Small to Ignore” is a disturbing piece of his life story yet one that explains his advocacy for “the hurting children of the world.” He lived as one of those hurting children during his time spent in a boarding school in Africa while his parents were missionaries in another part of the continent. It must have been a difficult chapter to write following on the humiliation described in the previous one. Here we learn about abusive practices at meal time from the adults in charge—backhands across the face for his nervous tic and being forced to eat until vomiting (and then having to return to the table to finish the meal). Those abuses are compounded by the sexual exploitations of all of the children of the school also described in this chapter, fortunately not in great detail.
What is amazing to me is how his faith remained intact through this period in a “Christian” school. There were twisted communion services and “guest speakers” for “special meetings” who told little children that they deserved “the damnation of hell, the hot fires of Hades itself” because they were all sinners. Stafford experienced this as a six year old.
Stafford believes these defining moments at the school were used by God to call him into his life’s work with Compassion International—that he needed to be one of the adults to speak up for “the vulnerable and the weak” so that they know they are “not abandoned; they are loved.” The chapter was a difficult one to read because of its content but did a lot to explain his passion for why he believes “the least of these matters most.”