Review

Just a Minute: In the Heart of a Child, One Moment...Can Last Forever

Wess Stafford with Dean Merrill

Wess Stafford, President and CEO of Compassion International, has spent most of his adult life developing ways that would encourage people to understand their impact on children. He believes that just one minute in the life of a child can affect that child for a lifetime. This is true whether the minute gives a positive message or a negative one. Unfortunately, adults are often unaware of how great either message can be.

"JUST A MINUTE is full of wonderful short stories about lives that were given a gentle nudge in the right direction by an adult who cared enough to share a few kind words of encouragement."

Stafford immediately engages his readers by asking: So who was it? What did they say to you? What did they do? Who believed in you before you believed in yourself? We are forced to stop reading and are carried back in time to one of our own "divine appointments." It may be uncomfortable, reliving a critical word or a harsh rebuke that we experienced as a child. Or it may be a heartwarming memory of a grandmother who was always there with a smile and a word of encouragement no matter how much trouble you were in.

Today, there seems to be a greater awareness of children's needs than there was 30 or 40 years ago when "children should be seen and not heard" was the norm. Yet the focus is mostly on physical needs: clothes, shelter, hot lunches and freedom from abuse. Stafford draws more attention to the emotional and spiritual needs that are often neglected. He also includes examples of how negative comments can wound a child's spirit and cause serious problems later in life.

Everyone needs affirmation in order to have a healthy self-image and a relatively positive outlook on life. JUST A MINUTE is full of wonderful short stories about lives that were given a gentle nudge in the right direction by an adult who cared enough to share a few kind words of encouragement. One such story is about Michelle, who was able to move from the squalid streets of Manila to graduating summa cum laude from seminary, through the love and caring of her sponsors. On the flip side are parents like those of the girl whose father bluntly told her, "Oh, well, we certainly wanted to have children. But we'd rather have had a boy." Fortunately, this young lady grew up to be fierce advocate for children and now sponsors 11 boys and girls through Compassion International.

Whether you rescue a child from a dangerous or abusive situation, or simply wave at a kid who looks sad, your action is sure to impact his or her life. According to the author, these acts of kindness offer the one thing that no one can be fulfilled without: hope. Hope is often unknown to those living in dire conditions, whether physical, emotional or spiritual. Offering hope can make the difference between a life of joy or misery, faith or fear, love or hate.

Compassion International has sponsored more than two million children, many of whom are now "paying it forward" by sponsoring a child of their own and encouraging others to do the same. JUST A MINUTE is a truly inspiring book that will make you want to run out and find a kid to talk to.

Reviewed by Maggie Harding on April 22, 2012

Just a Minute: In the Heart of a Child, One Moment...Can Last Forever
Wess Stafford with Dean Merrill