It’s a small world.
I met Maureen while on a Compassion vision trip with my pastor-husband in 2013. She came to our hotel and shared her story of growing up in the slum in Nairobi, and how Compassion had changed her life. She mentioned in her story that God had put her together with a woman from Texas, and they had started a ministry to rescue young women from the slums. That woman was Kristen Welch.
Honestly, when Maureen mentioned her, I pictured Kristen as much older, probably wealthy (some of that old Texas oil money??). I thought she had probably been in full-time Christian ministry for many years herself, maybe married to an established pastor or other well-known leader. Perhaps that’s why her books are so challenging to me…she’s just a regular person like you and me! What makes her extraordinary isn’t anything other than the fact that she was willing to say “yes” when God knocked on her heart and wrecked her worldview.
I have walked those same slum streets in Nairobi that Kristen describes in her book, Raising World Changers in a Changing World; the world she introduced to us in Rhinestone Jesus. I’ve sat in one of those tiny shelters no wider than a couch; homes no bigger than my kitchen. And I must admit, Kristen’s story challenges and convicts me because she said “yes” to what God planted in her heart, and I’m still not sure what to do with what I saw and heard.
At this writing, I believe Kristen and her family have been on their journey with Mercy House for about eight years. She shares honestly about the struggle of living in comparative abundance and knowing how to steward the blessings of the American life – a life where the poorest of our citizens have more resources than most of the world will know in a lifetime. What I appreciate is that Kristen doesn’t make us feel guilty for our blessings, but she challenges us to ask the important questions of “Why do I have them?” and “How does God want me to use them?” She calls us to face this truth: We’re not blessed for ourselves; we’re blessed for others.
The theme of the book is how to teach our children to live generous, world-changing lives. Her children are central to the family ministry and throughout the book, they share from their hearts what they have learned, by answering some simple questions at the end of each chapter. It’s less of a “how to” book and more of a “this is what happened to us” story. Don’t read it unless you’re ready to rethink your American dream.
I love Kristen’s way of writing. She speaks candidly and honestly, even boldly. She has earned the right because she’s walking the walk herself. I suppose that is the most convicting aspect of the book; we aren’t all called to go out and start a non-profit ministry to feed the poor, but if we love Jesus, we are called to live generously and think about our blessings as a way to change others’ lives and not just make ourselves more comfortable. And only as our giving becomes a sacrifice and not just a token sharing of our excess, will we truly know what Jesus meant when He said it’s more blessed to give than to receive.
I was privileged to briefly meet Kristen personally at a fundraiser for Mercy House at a friend’s home several years ago. She’s the real deal. Just an ordinary mom and wife, who serves an extraordinary God, and she is changing the world. This book is a must-read for every parent certainly, but anyone who wants to know what it means to live generously will find it to be a rewarding, thought-provoking and soul-challenging read.