There are some books that hit you squarely between the eyes, revealing things you never knew and cannot imagine that you didn’t think of. What Dr. Wess Stafford lays out in his book, Too Small to Ignore, is a revolutionary approach to poverty and Christian missions that brought my attention to matters I had never considered before, and encouraged me in my own work as an advocate for children in poverty.
As the leader of Compassion International, Dr. Stafford has seen his share of poverty, but it all began when he was still a child growing up in an African village as the son of two missionaries. This is where he first learned about the ugliness of poverty and the beauty of the poor, and he has dedicated his life to saving the lives of others who might otherwise find their potential wrecked upon the hopelessness of poverty. Part memoir, part call to action, Too Small is a book meant to change your mind about children.
In mainstream America—and in many other places of the world—children are overlooked and undervalued. This is especially true in the Christian church, where children are usually relegated to special Sunday school classes away from serious Biblical teaching, and are entertained by stories and craft projects until they grow up enough to be of some use. Dr. Stafford challenges us to see children for what they are: a vital part of the Kingdom of God. The precious little ones who will one day decide the fate of our world are not only valuable for what they will one day be, but for what they are now. In Matthew 18:2 Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Why, then does the church insist that children grow up before they can be fully appreciated? The opposite should be true: the rest of us should be learning from the children and trying to be more like them!
In one eye-opening chapter, the author describes a number of children through the millennia who were especially equipped to accomplish some of God’s most vital purposes. Miriam saved her brother from pharaoh with her courage and creativity; the boy Samuel was a pure channel in a corrupt era and brought a message from the Lord to the high priest of Israel; young David showed great faith in striking down the imposing giant, Goliath; Naaman’s servant girl showed a compassionate and forgiving heart toward her master and helped him be miraculously cured of his leprosy. The list goes on and on.
The final consensus is that we have vastly undervalued children, and our world will pay the price for it. With each generation of children that we ignore we are letting another generation grow up believing itself unloved and unworthy, and there will be disastrous consequences. It is our duty to pay greater attention to the smallest of these, and change the world one child at a time.