Reflections from Renewal

with Wess Stafford 4


Last weekend will go down in my personal history book with a dog-eared marker and more memories than 72hrs should be allowed to carry.

I attended and participated in a conference with hundreds of early educators who love and serve children.

Worship leader Peter Neumann watered our parched souls. Inspirational speakers reignited our passion to press forward in doing what we know we’re called to do – serve our littlest with grace and humility. And nothing drove that truth home for me better than our keynote speaker Dr Wess Stafford, from Compassion International.

Wess Stafford understands service. He also understands humility and the upside-down economy of the Kingdom of God.

Children matter to Wess Stafford and people who invest in the lives of children do too.

I was mesmerized by his keynote address Sat morning – but it was observing his life behind the scenes that drove stakes of influence deep into my soul. I watched Dr Stafford attentively listen to each person who approached him. One by one they came up to him to share their personal stories.

His eyes sparkled and narrowed as he listened and tenderly conveyed to them, “I’m honored to be in your presence”.

When a camera surfaced for a photo, he would grab his new friend close like a proud dad – tilt his head into them, and with a gentle smile of familiarity thank them by name for the privilege of the meeting.

He listened. He invested. He expressed value through understanding and authenticity. He became Christ in the moment.


I had the privilege of speaking at the Fri evening service. I was told Dr Stafford might arrive early enough to attend. Of course I knew he wouldn’t – he’s WAY too important to be bothered. And his commitment began the next day.

The service was held in a dimly lit room which was beautifully decorated with dozens of candles. The sea of faces blurred into the overpowering soft glow of candlelight.

Minutes after we started it became apparent there would be no eye contact with the audience which actually aligned nicely with the direction I felt God wanted the service to go. It was also a good solution for my concern about the possibility of speaking in front of a big name celebrity.

God met each of us in the candlelit room – he listened. He valued and affirmed us.


The next day Wess Stafford came up to thank me for the previous evening service. I couldn’t believe it. He came and we both survived.

As I looked into his eyes, I understood. Yes, he’s a brilliant leader, advocate, author, and is known around the world – but he truly gets who he is. He’s just another one of God’s equally valued children – we all are. When he says children matter, he means it. I mattered. I will never forget the minutes he gave me and how it affected me.

I plan to reread my copies of Too Small to Ignore and Just a Minute.

After all, someone from my playground wrote them – and he’s my new hero and friend!!


What I learned:

  • It only takes a minute to make a lasting deposit in someone’s heart
  • God’s presence dispels our false ideas of what makes us grand
  • Affirmation without humility only affirms the person giving it
  • And – God loves us, truly loves us – because we are his




14 replies on “Reflections from Renewal”

    1. Definitely memorable, John. And quite frankly, I did not expect to be so taken by Wess Stafford. It was just easy to see Jesus in him – which of course is a compelling force. Good stuff!

  1. Our family supports two children through Compassion’s ministry and we love everything about what they do and how they handle our sponsorship. I bet Dr. Stafford’s keynote address was very inspiring. I would love to see a video of it. You were certainly lucky to hear him. Thank you for giving us a taste of your experience there.

    1. Dr Stafford was incredible. And by the way, he doesn’t receive one dime from either of the books I mentioned. Every cent goes directly to children. I just love that! Thanks for reading and responding, Diane.

  2. I just ordered one of those books and put the other in my cart! Thank you, Pat, for your ability to put a BIG event in a streamlined package AND introducing (some of) us to a man worth knowing more about….long lasting gifts!

    1. Oh Conni, you will not be disappointed in the books. I only just wish I had ordered it for you instead. It would have been the perfect birthday gift for you today :)) Thank you for friendship and for your consistent prayer support. I can’t imagine my life without you. Blessings!

  3. I love the line, “someone from my playground wrote them…”. Isn’t it always on the playground where we learn our deepest lessons for life? From friendship to defining our strengths – all come out of interactions around the swing sets and slides we call life. Sounds like a fruitful time all the way around!

    1. You’re right – there’s no better way to really get to know someone than by enjoying ‘play’ or relaxed down time together.
      And yes, it was fruitful in lots of ways.

  4. Working with children is a daily joy for me, can’t imagine my life without the touch of a child. Dr. Stafford knows the joy that comes from serving and caring for the littlest of ones. Children are a gift from God, they are his reward. Psalm 127 Love your reflections from this gathering.

    1. You’ve spent a lifetime loving children, Kim. Your quiver is full and your reward plenty. Bless you friend.

    1. ‘Great’ people (in my book) advocate for the weak – like you on your latest blog about the abducted Nigerian girls. I’ve been mulling over the feelings of powerlessness we sometimes fall into, and yet we all have a voice. Wess Stafford has exercised his vocal cords against abuse and poverty. Your vocal cords are just warming up. I LOVE what you have to say and how. Keep at it Lisha – I’m a huge fan!

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