Bill describes his past 40 years of evangelism as ‘phenomenal.’ “I can’t tell you about it without weeping,” he said. “It is unbelievable, preaching in churches I couldn’t imagine, and had no reason why I was there except that He said, ‘I will open the door that no man will shut.’ Manley Beasley said, ‘Let Him kick the doors open, and walk through them.’ That’s what I did, and He ‘shocked the daylights’ out of me. If I were to die today, I’ve had one glorious journey.
Called to preach at the age of 19, Bill Stafford surrendered after a time of rebellion in his teenage years. In an interview with The Christian View, he said of his early years, “My Mom and Dad kept me in church. I got saved when I was 12. I was raised in a Christian atmosphere. I went through a time of rebellion, but the whole time I was rebelling, I still knew that God had His hand on me and that He was not going to let me go. But I still put it off until I was 19. I got tired of running, and I surrendered to preach.
As a youngster, from the ages of 11 to 13, he often sang in church with his mother, whom he described as a great singer. A little older, he wanted to be a comedian. “I would study Red Skelton,” he said. “I could do anything he did. I wanted to be cute. I entertained the high school two times a week.” He graduated from elementary school two years ahead, so, in high school, his peers were older than he was. He graduated at age 16. “I got to rambling, running around, just sinning,” he said. “That was a tough time. I wasn’t a very good Christian. Those years wasted really grieve me, but God restored me, and I knew what I was going to have to do, and I surrendered to the ministry.”
As President of International Congress on Revival, Stafford has preached overseas and has brought pastors to countries such as South Africa, Australia, Ireland, Zimbabwe, Austria, and Hungary for the past 24 years.
He advises Christians to remove anything from their lives that is not godly or holy. “When bitterness comes up, deal with it,” he said. “Don’t act like it’s all right. Deal with it. Forgiveness is very necessary. Don’t have grudges or be self-centered or conceited. Give yourself to bless others. God said it would come back to you. God says that’s the whole process of how giving works.”
He advises young preachers to not run from storms, from which they can learn to trust and believe God and resist the devil. “If you run every time you have a storm, you’ll never be anything for God, because He’s never teaching you anything.”
He believes preachers should preach the cross from the viewpoint of God, not man. “God loves you. He does, but look what it cost Him. God was angry at the cross toward His Son, because He became sin for us. Tell me how much He loved me. Let’s get it God-centered. If I get a glimpse of the cross and see how much God did love me, I’ll want to be faithful, I’ll want to be like Him, and there will be a desire for holiness in my life. If we don’t tell people what the cross really is, they’re going to leave bound for judgment.”
He married Sue, his wife of 57 years, when he was 17. “She has been a very faithful, very loving wife,” he said. “She came down with rheumatoid arthritis, and it hurts so bad. She can wake up at 2:00 in the morning and start walking the floor, just crying. I walk the floor with her, and we cry awhile. What God has shown me is a love for her, deeper than any I’ve ever known. And that’s why now we’re closer, because I pray for her every morning and trust God for her.”
The Stafford’s have five grown children, Bill, Steve, Karen, Brenda, and Bobby, and 17 grandchildren. “Three of them are adopted,” he said of his grandchildren. “One daughter couldn’t have children. She took in three brothers, as foster children, and then decided she wanted to keep them. She has had them for five years. Those three boys have become very special. You wouldn’t believe how far they’ve come. They know they’re loved. They’re precious, loving boys. My daughter is doing great with them, and helped us to see the number of kids out there who have never been loved, who have been pushed from house to house, who have never been hugged or appreciated. Probably, the reason why we have so many problems in the world is there are so many kids who have never been loved. I wish there was a ministry I could start to get these kids in a spiritual atmosphere. It burdens my heart.”
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (II Corinthians 5:21) “That’s the truth of the Gospel,” he said. “That’s the whole in the nutshell. And that’s the message that we need to preach.”