The Question I’ve Been Afraid to Ask

“Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering, and injustice when He could do something about it.”

“Well, why don’t you ask Him?”

“Because I’m afraid He would ask me the same question.”

(Anonymous) -a quote from A Hole in the Gospel, by Richard Stearn, President of World Vision.


God is changing me.

I haven’t arrived at some super spiritual place or been given a blueprint to change the world. Frankly, I’m a mess on the inside.

(As is my house and, oh, the laundry, people. Apparently having your heart wrecked creates more housework).

But I’ve heard God specializes in messy people.

During the past week, I’ve experienced The Ugly Cry more than I’d like to admit. (I was tempted to even live in my garage, naked, like a friend of mine was after returning from one of his first overseas trips, but thought that might be scary for the neighbors and my children).

Instead, I’ve prayed and I’ve let Truth invade me. I can see clearly that I’ve become like my culture, living for myself, my family. Wasting a lot of time and money on things that simply don’t matter to me anymore. Choosing ignorance over truth. Pretending poverty wasn’t my problem or my responsibility.

I’ve asked God to reveal a new normal, to take this personal revelation and my everyday life and mix them together, creating something entirely different. And I’ve given Him the heavy burden that comes with such a revelation. His burden is easy and His yoke is light, so it’s a pretty good exchange for me.

My husband? He was a mess while I was in Kenya, letting God do a good work in him. Turns out we just make a giant mess together!

What does all this look like practically?

Well. Less for us, more for others. We had a family meeting and talked openly with our kids. We asked their opinions, talked about Matthew 25:31 and what that might mean for our family. (It’s also probably not a coincidence that after working diligently to be debt free, as of this week, we don’t have a car payment anymore. We just didn’t know God already had plans for that money.)

Children are amazing. They voiced their own ideas and concerns and thoughts. I think they naturally want to give, they just usually follow the lead of their parents. Ouch.


So. This week, I got up the nerve and asked God, “Why do you allow poverty, suffering, and injustice when You could do something about it.”

And He asked me the same question.

I’m working on the answer.

**The Compassion Blog is such an outstanding resource for sponsors. I wanted to pass it along since I’m learning so much from all the articles!


  1. 1


    Kristen, I've been following your blog since you left for Africa,and I love reading it…you make me think so much about my priorites. I can't wait to hear how the Lord moves you and your family. It has been on my heart for a long time to go on a missions trip to Africa. Praying I will be able to go someday…

  2. 2


    Kristen, thank you for your passion for Africa and sharing your heart- wide open!! I was so touched seeing you in the photo below wearing Simply Love T shirt. I wanted you to know my son came up with the name for our logo before we adopted Zoie. We were trying to come up with something clever to print on our shirts and we were stuck. I kept explaining I wanted to inspire and encourage people to love like Jesus- its His greatest commandment that we take care of each other, love those who are hurting and make a difference. Wellll my 14 yr old looked at me and said- "what you're trying to say is simply love."
    We continue to fundraise for our 2nd adoption with our crazy T shirts- check out our new mens- Man UP!! Protect & Love the Fatherless. I think your hubby needs one:))

  3. 3


    I heard a quote one time (that I will misquote…):

    When I see suffering in the world, I no longer say, "Where is God?" I say, "WHERE ARE GOD'S PEOPLE?!"

    This pierced my heart. I still think of it regularly. Where am I?!

    Thank you for sharing your journey so openly.


  4. 4

    Carrie says

    Your journey has been wonderful to watch. I have to tell what I think the answer to your question is. Love. God gave free will, our souls chose our experience so that we will love. Our souls are neverending. Our souls do not die in poverty. People in poverty will learn love, a love without possessions. You many use your gifts, your time, your talent, your money to share that love. Focus on the love, not the suffering. If you focus on suffering you too will suffer. God is doing something about poverty and suffering. He is opening it up to you and others to love those with and without. You don't have to solve poverty. You need to love. ((Hugs)) as you come back to peace and love within YOU!

  5. 6


    Beautiful post! We all have it in us to be world changers, let's encourage one another on that journey. Bless you in finding out how God has planned for you to do His work in the world. Blessings, CC

  6. 8


    Kristen you are truly inspiring to read. You are not perfect but none of us are and I don't feel like that is what your blog is about.

    So many non-Christians think Christians are just hypocrites, do as I say, not as I do. I am glad God provided you with this experience and I am excited to see the changes he is going to make in your life and all the people you can bless with those changes. Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts with us.

    God bless!

  7. 9


    I have been asking myself a lot of the same questions. We made some changes in our lives like turning our cable off, only buying things we need (I know, what a concept), and eating out less so that we could give more of our income away.

    I think if everyone just took as much money as they needed and shared the rest, poverty would not be the issue it is..

  8. 11


    Can't wait to hear what your family does. My husband and I are trying to take steps too, to living less comfortable and more mindful of the poor as we've been commanded. Getting over 35 years of living in the US isn't easy. My heart longs to do something big. I don't know what so I continue to pray.

  9. 15


    Beautiful. I went to Nicaragua 15 months ago. I came back with the same exact feelings that you are experiencing. Let me tell you, you are in for a wild ride. The person who came back from Nicaragua is not the same person who left. Over the past year, I have looked around and realized how much we have…. that we don't need. Why do we go for bigger and better, when just right will do? I pray that your processing changes your life as it has mine. It is refreshing to see someone who experiences the same feelings as I did, and I hope they are everlasting for you and me. Many people don't get it, they don't get why I am not "over it".

    God Bless you.

  10. 16


    Wow ~ is all I'm able to muster.

    You know, I followed all the bloggers during your Kenya trip and it was difficult to follow once the #cbkenya hashtag stopped being used. I'm glad I bookmarked everyone's blog because the aftershocks you are all experiencing are JUST AS compelling as was your posts during the trip.

    This journey of yours is not over and through you we are all learning. You should feel special, you are a chosen one.

    May you continue to be guided and inspired.

  11. 17


    Dear Kirsten,
    I love you blog and have been following for a while now. I know this latest journey have changed your life a lot, but looking through all of the comments you get every day I hope you realizes how many lifes you have touched and changed amongst your followers.
    I borrowed the quote from your post today. It really ment a lot to me and made me remeber. I'm going to print it and hang it on the wall to never forget my responsibility.


  12. 20

    Gramma Susie says

    As I have followed the Kenya Compassion Bloggers, I have been reading the book you quoted, "The Hole in Our Gospel" by Richard Sterns, CEO of World Vision, and my heart has been breaking. I am so glad to read your blog as you struggle with how to change your life, because that is what I am struggling with too. I hope that we can figure out what God wants from us. We have three sponsored children through WV and today I made envelopes for each with letters, pictures, pencils and stickers. I was inspired by your post on writing to your sponsored children and how much it means to them. Thank you for that, and I will keep praying that God will lead all of us on a clear path to where He wants us to go. I keep telling myself that it's a journey, and I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, one step at a time. God brought me through a brain tumor, so I know He has a plan for my life. I hope He is revealing that plan to me now. Thanks again, keep sharing. Susie

  13. 22


    I am so thankful that you have shared your Africa experience with us. I know it has changed your life and you can never be the same after a trip like that. We sponsor 3 Compassion children and you keep reminding me how important the relationship is. Thank you for shouting it from the rooftops.

  14. 23


    I went on the Compassion site today and was looking at ALL the kids needing sponsors and I have a question for you: How do you choose who to sponsor?

    Do you just close your eyes and pick? Go by a certain country. I am so completely lost!

  15. 25


    I am praying for you and your family tonight. I well remember how difficult it was to reconcile… well… pretty much everything… the first time I came home from a Compassion trip. In fact (and a very bad decision this was!) the first meal I was taken to upon my return was Golden Corral (a buffet restaurant). I was so sickened by both the overabundance of food AND even more so, the overabundance of waste. But you can, and will, process through this and become a more purposed, passionate person. Thanks for letting us have a front row seat to this transformation.

  16. 27


    You have soo eloquently put into words what has been in my mind and heart since following your trip to Africa.

    "God, why do you allow poverty?" "To allow my people to give of themselves"…it's usually how my conversation goes.

  17. 28


    Dear Kristen, I feel like I am reading my own story in advance. I am planning to go to Africa next year, knowing that my heart will be broken. I want it to be broken, and at the same time, I hope that i will not chicken out of going.

    I'm glad I found your blog, and thank you so much for sharing so honestly. I look forward to following your thought process over the next few months.

  18. 29

    Pixie says


    I've been a faithful reader of your blog for some time now, occasionally sharing posts with my husband and older children. But we read your entire Africa series out loud as a family (all 8 of us!) My almost 12-year-old son wondered aloud why I cried with every post I read. My husband told him, "You'll understand someday."

    We felt God calling us, as a family, to sponsor a Compassion child. We all wanted to do more than one, but my husband has been out of work for 5 months now (and I am homeschooling the kids) so we are hardly subsisting as it is.

    However, your posts remind me that "hardly subsisting" in the U.S. is a far cry from what these people live through every day. It is also an act of faith to say, "God will take care of us. If he wants to use us to help someone else in the meantime, we need to do that!"

    It's hard not to hoard every penny, and that reveals to me that deep down in my heart, I'm afraid God *won't* take care of us, in spite of knowing what the "logical" right answer is supposed to be. The Devil whispers that if God really cared he could've had ONE of the many resumes my husband has submitted get at least an interview, etc.

    It takes a "slap in the face" such as your posts (and I mean that in the best possible way!) to open my eyes to all of this. I appreciate your willingness to share so freely the struggles of your own heart. In being transparent, you allow God to work directly on the hearts of your readers.

    Thank you for that. Know that we'll continue to follow your "journey" with interest–and that one more child has a sponsor because of God's tug on our hearts through your words :-)

  19. 31


    WOW…that was so beautifully written…
    what a question to ask god..and frankly i didn't wanna hear the answer. because then you know you have to get off your bum and do something about it.

    thanks for pushing us all.

  20. 32


    Your best post so far. God is birthing something beautiful in you. Ministry. Ministry simply means people. He'll lead. You'll follow, and you will bring others with you.

    Cant you see the beautiful glow?


  21. 33


    Kristen, your post was so moving. It made me recall the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi…Lord make me an instrument of your Peace, where there is hatred, let me sow love. where there is injury, pardon, where there is doubt, faith…
    Your faith and sense of purpose is truly inspirational. Thank you.

  22. 34


    I've come across your blog a couple of times in the last few months. Yesterday I came across your Class Notes snippet in my Southwestern Today magazine, so now I feel like I've got a connection to you!
    I've been ruminating over some of these same concepts for a while now. A short trip to the mall yesterday left me very unhappy with my culture and myself. I have a growing desire to live a Matthew 25 life and to teach my daughter to do the same. I look forward to seeing how God leads you and your family to care for the least of these.

  23. 35


    Your blog is so inspiring.
    My answer to your question is this…
    God loves us so much that he lets us CHOOSE. And he doesn't take away one person's ability to choose unwisely to ease another's suffering. Instead he makes us strong enough to bear the burdens that are placed on our shoulders. He uses OTHERS, US, to help our brothers and sisters who are suffering. WE have a merciful and just God. We need to emulate Him more in our everyday lives.
    Thanks for the inspiration! You are amazing!!

  24. 36


    Even if you don't have it all figured out yet, THANK YOU, for being sensitive to the Lord's voice and for teaching and encouraging the rest of us. What a blessing you are.

  25. 37


    Ugggg…… I thought the ugly cry was over..for me. Then I read your post. I am so glad there a people like you that keep it real for me… thank you Kristen!

  26. 38


    Mission trip wisdom. It's a rude awakening coming back to the states. I've been there. We have gone to Mexico twice. Poverty on one side of street and luxury on the other. Doesn't make sense.

  27. 39


    WOW. Such a great/true quote. We so often look at the world around us and wonder why God does the things He does. We love to point fingers instead of acknowledging that we are put here to do God's work….what are WE doing….what a perfect question. Thank you for writing this – breathtaking.

  28. 40


    You got me again, tears in my eyes. I feel like I should say I am sorry for making you go through all of this, but I also love that you are going through all of this. I thank God for the struggle He has walked me through ever since that first trip to Ecuador. And by the way, it was sackcloth, not naked. :-)

  29. 41


    John 9:3
    "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."

  30. 43


    Hi Kristen,
    I just found your blog via another last week. I read all about your journey to Africa – SO touching! I just wanted to thank you for sharing about Compassion International. As a result, my family decided today to sponsor a child. My 10 year old daughter excitedly chose a 10 year old girl from Uganda. She can not wait to get the packet in the mail so she can begin a relationship with her.
    I look forward to following your stories. Your recent struggle is very similar to what my heart has been feeling. I too am praying for direction for our family and I'm TOTALLY open to whatever and where ever that may lead us.

  31. 45


    Love that pic of you looking at that kid. It says it all – the love, the heartbreak, the compassion. I am almost done reading "Too Small to Ignore" by Wess Stafford (Compassion Pres). So good and convicting. And made me cry the ugly cry.

    Love the quote at the end of this post. And I hate it. So much easier to sit back and let someone else pick up the slack.

    I am currently working on a Bible Study for my church women's ministry. Major logistics to work out, but it will be focused on serving others. Still haven't got an name for it yet. Each week will focus on a different group/individual: the sick, the imprisoned, children, etc. After teaching about what Bible says about those people/things then have testimony of someone (like a former prisoner) who has been touched by God's people. Then in small group time we will actually do something to minister to those people. The least of these. Will give people a taste of different areas to serve, find their calling, passion in that regard. Help people to get out of the paralysis (there so much need, I can't do it all so I do nothing mentality) and into action. Be more like Jesus.
    Okay, there is more to it and this comment is way to long. Email me if you want more info on this as it develops. OR email me if you know of a study out there that is already like this so I don't have to write it!!!!
    Blessings to you. Keep wrestling.

  32. 46


    Praying for you and that others will be touched my your words enough to think and give what they can. May God bless you always xxx

  33. 47

    Shaun says

    Not sure how I wound up not only reading your blog, but posting a comment…I rarely read blogs, and the blogs I read cover flying airplanes, farming, and fixing things…mostly becuase nobody is crying. You have obvious talent…combine that with a refined passion for the poor I hope you will turn some little corner of christianity on it’s head…for it’s own good. Call if you need air support.

    Voted least likely to read your blog 2010.


  34. 48

    Corinna Harnett says

    I too went to Kenya on a missions trip…and Kenya is forever in my heart! What beautiful pictures and descriptions to describe your experience before, during and after your adventure, trusting in God on the physical and internal journey you embarked on. Kudos to you :)

  35. 49


    Whoa, I ran across your blog today through the praying for boys book, and started reading around it a bit. I am humbled and inspired by everything I’ve read so far!! Sitting here in a house surrounded by “things” makes me feel awful about all the people that lack basic nessessities. I took a mission trip to the poorer parts of Jamaica as a teen, and have lost sight of the things I learned there. Now I look foward to reading through your experience and stirring up those lessons again. Your blog is really making a difference!!

  36. 50


    Well, Kristen- I am about 1 1/2 years behind on this post :)
    ….but I am SO with you…. since going to Ethiopia last year to adopt Samuel & Asher, I feel like I am STILL trying to reconcile everything I have seen and experienced with what is “normal” for me….I know you get that. Just haven’t figured it all out yet. But, I can say one thing- I think there is something very beautiful and special about the amazing people of Ethiopia- they have a deep joy and gratitude that is so rare in the US. I can’t “shake” Africa, you know??

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