by Wess StaffordOne of my favorite things to do as president of Compassion International is visit the kids at our projects. As long as I live, I will never grow tired of the laughter I hear as I walk through the doors of a project building. Little voices are singing, playing, giggling together. It really is amazing, when you consider how most of these children live. I am thoroughly convinced that there are few things that warm God's heart more than to hear the laughter of children. I love to spend time talking with the kids, individually and as a group. I always make sure I tell them how much I believe in them and how much God believes in them. Sometimes the message means more than you can ever imagine. Recently, I was at a project in Manado, Indonesia. These children live in such abject poverty. It's a wonder they can find any happiness at all in their surroundings. Still, here they were, fidgeting and giggling as I walked into the room. What should I say to them? How could I help bring hope to a group of children who have seen so much devastation in their lives? I've seen their homes. I know they're hungry. Many of them are being raised by grandparents or a sibling. Some have abusive parents. Yet here they were, a classroom full of smiley faces wondering what the tall American would tell them. I decided to talk about the future. It's something those living in poverty rarely have the luxury of thinking about. But I want to change that. I want these children to understand that they are brimming with potential-that God can use them to change their communities. I reached out my hand toward one quiet little girl in the front row. She was so precious. As I held my hand out toward her, I said, "Who knows, maybe one of you could be president of your country someday. Maybe ," I said while looking directly at her, " it could be you!" The little darling grabbed my hand and climbed right up toward me. I scooped her in my arms and held her tightly. I told her, and the rest of the class, how God knows everything about her. He knows the number of hairs on her head. He knows her needs. He knows exactly what He has planned for her life. Maybe, just maybe, she could be the leader of her country someday. Outside in the hallway, I could hear some of the staff members starting to cry. I looked beside me, where Bambang Budijanto, Compassion's Asia area director, was sitting. He was unsuccessfully trying to hold back tears. I thought, "I know it's exciting to think about the potential of these children but why the tears?" I continued talking to the students, all the while holding that little angel in my arms. The staff continued crying. When I finished, I pulled Bambang aside. "Why is everyone crying, Bambang?" "You couldn't possibly have known, Wess," he said, "but Jessica, the six-year-old girl you held in your arms, was brutally raped just three months ago." My eyes began to fill with tears. How could anyone do that to this precious child who snuggled into my arms? She was so perfect, so innocent. How could anyone take such horrible advantage of a child like that? Then it hit me. How amazing that this young girl, who had been the victim of such an ugly and horrible betrayal by a man, was willing to climb into the arms of another man, a total stranger. Where did she find such bravery? How could she trust? Only by the grace of God. There are few times in life when you feel like you know exactly what God is doing. On that day in Manado, Indonesia, God brought me to a little classroom to hold a precious child who needed warmth security unmitigated love. I spoke with Jessica's pastor and found out that the rapist was a local businessman. To avoid going to prison, the man paid the family $300. In exchange, they agreed not to prosecute. Three hundred dollars. It sickens me. I'm not angry at the family, mind you. They are so desperately poor. They were understandably terrified of taking on a big-shot business man in public. And the payoff was more than they bring home in an entire year. No, my anger is directed toward the devil himself. How many young lives have been ruined by abuse at his hands? How many young girls have been taken advantage of? How many boys sold into slavery? How many children have been beaten, raped, starved, and emotionally abused at the hands of men who succumb to being the devil's tool? Then something else hit me. Satan expected that brutal episode to destroy little Jessica's life. After his sick, despicable act, he thought he had won the war for that young soul. Yet three months later, here she was in a Compassion project, learning about Jesus, and resting safely in the arms of a man who wanted to share God's love for her. Oh how Satan must have hated that! Nearly 2,000 years ago, Satan thought he had won another battle. Men, who were playing right into the devil's hands, punished an innocent Lamb. With only their own selfish desires in mind, they brutally tortured Him and nailed Him to a cross of wood. When Jesus died, the devil rejoiced, thinking the battle for the Savior's soul was over. He was so wrong. It was three days later that Jesus proved His power over death by rising again. I guess the devil doesn't ever learn from his mistakes. Because here we were in Indonesia and three months after her tiny body was violated and battered, little Jessica was rising too. She was rising into the arms of a man who was there to do God's work. She may not have realized it at the moment, but she was rising, in front of her class, to show that she had not been conquered. We, the church, are called to take the wounded in this world into our arms and provide safety love and the peace that passes any of our understanding. And by doing so, we give those wounded lambs the opportunity to be bold in the face of their adversary. I firmly believe that there is a follower of Christ called to care for every abused child. He simply would not leave them without His love. He wants us to be His hands. That may mean flying all the way to Indonesia or it may mean walking down the street to a neighbor's house and holding onto a child who suffers at the hands of an abusive father. It may mean going to the Boys and Girls Club and playing with a child who has been told her whole life that she will never amount to anything. Perhaps it's being a foster parent to a rambunctious little boy. We can do this, folks. We can heal hurts. God has given us the power. He will provide the opportunities. In your church, there is a scarred soul that is longing to rise up from the hurt of the past. There's a wounded little lamb looking for a caring shepherd. May I encourage you to become a pastor to the hurting? It's an opportunity to love a hurting person, to steal a battle away from the devil himself-and to bring that sound that warms the heart of God, the laughter of His children, as they find joy in the harshest of situations.