Alumnus Wess Stafford Tells Story of Childhood Abuse and Deliverance

President of Compassion International shares story in “Christianity Today”

Jun. 3, 2010 By Jenna Bartlo

President of Compassion International, Biola University alumnus Wess Stafford (’75), shared his heart shattering, but hopeful story on the cover of the May edition of “Christianity Today.”

A Candle in the Darkness

The president of Compassion International tells his story of childhood abuse and deliverance in a West Africa boarding school. (As published in the May edition of “Christianity Today.”)

At a turning point in my life in 2007, I realized that I needed to allow God to redeem the story of my childhood. That story was so painfully confusing that I did not speak of it for 35 years. Where did my prayers go, my cries for mercy and rescue screamed into my pillow? Did I have the laziest guardian angel in all of heaven?

I received my calling, my purpose, and my life's mission in my darkest and most painful moment, in about 90 seconds at age 10. The moment involved a pink birthday candle, one that had been trimmed with a pocketknife at the blunt end so that it could burn from both directions. The wicks were lit by the man who had authority over me, the houseparent of a boarding school for the children of missionaries in West Africa. The school had been my home for nine months of each year since I was 6 years old. My whole life can be divided into two parts: B.C. (before the candle) and A.D. (after the damage).

Read the entire story at “Christianity Today” here.

Written by Wess Stafford as published in “Christianity Today.”

For more information, contact Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator. Jenna can be reached at (562) 777-4061 or through email at

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