Mercy Me-Part I

It’s been brewing awhile-this mercy rising.

It actually started before I went to Africa with Compassion International in March. Last year in the fall, I wanted to share my marriage testimony. I was afraid, but I wanted to pull away the mask and see if it helped people. I told my husband that I wanted to use my blog for God.

And so I did, I told the story on my 15th wedding anniversary over at (in)Courage. From that, a deeply private and emotional series was born.  My soul was stirred by the hundreds of private emails we received from hurting wives and husbands.

The Do-It-For-Others projects were born from this idea of helping people. Well, that and the simple fact that I was actually spending a lot of time and money trying to come up with new DIY home decor projects for weekly posts.

It was a quiet epiphany for me: I can spend the same time and money helping others (instead of doing for myself) and ask my blog readers to help me.

And then, I went to Africa. I’ve written so much about this trip. You’ve come along side me, sponsored kids, supported projects, and shared your hearts. Days past and the fog of jet lag and guilt faded, but I couldn’t shake Africa. It was redeeming for me and I knew I would never be the same. And that was okay, because Africa made me better.

During this time, Maureen (you can read about her here and here, in case you’re catching up) and I were emailing and sending each other Facebook messages, getting to know each other better and dreaming of meeting when she came to America for the summer to speak at Student Life camps.

I read this disturbing article from CNN right after my trip about the rampant illegal backstreet abortions happening in the very place we visited. I was so burdened for these young girls, many of whom were trading sex for food. I laid awake, night after night thinking of these girls I’d met, and of the ones who died in a dark alley from terrible infections, I thought of my daughters asleep, fed and safe in their own beds.

I thought of Maureen, my only real connection with Africa and I emailed her the CNN story and asked if it was true and if she knew of anyone helping these girls. She replied a couple of days later: yes, it’s a bad problem in Kenya and no, I don’t know of anyone helping them.

We agreed to pray for these girls and for the unborn babies.

Before my trip, we thought we would adopt. It seemed like a natural decision (one I think every Christian should consider), but experiencing Africa changed my heart. I knew that adoption would change and save the life of one child, but I wanted to help the people of Africa. It was a crazy, irrational thought, really. One I kept to myself.

Until one night, a month or so after my trip, my hubby and I were asking hard questions. Should we pick an agency and start the adoption process? How would we come up with $30,000? My hubby broached the subject first, “It just doesn’t feel right. There’s something that’s stopping me.” I was relieved and said, “Me, too.” And then I said it, “I don’t know what we should do and I don’t know if I’ll ever be the same person, but I do know what feels right: returning to Africa.”

In the foyer of our home, my husband wrapped his arms around me and we cried. We didn’t even know what it meant, but we were on the same page and we knew it meant something big.

We decided to pray and fast and doors began to open. After weeks and months, the same doors closed.

And then, out of nowhere, I got an email from Maureen that changed everything.

Part II continued tomorrow….

[I’m so excited (and crazy nervous) to reveal what God has called us to. But it’s a long story and I won’t be finished telling it until tomorrow. If you can’t wait, you can click here].


    • 1.1


      Thanks so much, sweet girl. Would you pray for us? The burden is so heavy and now the responsibility keeps me awake at night. The dream is too big for this introverted girl, but God is helping grow into it!

  1. 4


    Bless you, bless you, bless you. I peeked too. I can’t wait to see what the Lord will do through you. Thank you for obeying the leading of the Lord. I will join with you in prayer, and in whatever other ways I can.

  2. 7

    Racheal says

    Amazing!! That is so absolutely wonderful! I will keep you and this new adventure in my prayers!! How great is our God. I am so excited to hear more about this and how God is going to use you and your family. I will be sending you a donation as soon as I am able. I have been touched by all the things you have written about your time in Africa more than I can say. It has stirred great compassion in my heart. I would love to help in any way I can.

  3. 9


    Wow. I’m floored and so excited about this project, Kristen! I’m praying for your family & Maureen & Fall 2011…for God’s hedge of protection around you all…for you to continue to hear God’s small voice above the din. And hoping to partner with Mercy House in a big way!

  4. 12


    oh gosh i got lost in the clicking, wanting to know more and more! i’ve been waiting for this! but here i am, back to leave you a note.

    you aer beautiful.
    your hearts… stunning, and so touched by God.
    i’ll keep praying for love mery… and for your family.

  5. 13


    I found The Mercy House before your post even hit, and I am so blessed to hear the back-story. I can’t wait to hear the next installment. It is amazing to watch God bring things together in His perfect timing to further His Kingdom.

  6. 14

    Jasmine says

    Amazing! Just last night my heart was breaking for Africa. I couldn’t stop crying. I want to help. I want to do more. Actually, my family is praying about moving there. Thank you for listening to what God has called you to do. Let me know of any ways I can help, big or small. I can’t wait!

  7. 15


    Kristen, your heart, your family’s heart, is beautiful! I’m praying how I can be a part of this incredible thing God is doing …and so thankful for a crazy thing like blogging that connected me to you.

  8. 16


    I couldn’t wait! So I clicked through….all I can say is GLORY TO GOD! I’m so thankful that we have another way to put our love for the African people into action. (We already sponsor 2 children from Kenya.) It’s so exciting to see the plans of the Lord unfolding!

  9. 17

    Kris Russell says

    Could not wait to check the blog this AM to see what you had up your sleeve. I am so excited! Praying for you, Mercy House and to see what part God will have for me. You are amazing!

  10. 19


    I’ve been following this for a few weeks now and am so excited for you as you journey into your God-sized dream! Praying all goes well, and looking forward to seeing how things turn out…

  11. 21


    I couldn’t wait. I clicked over. And I’m moved, immensely.
    My husband and I also talked of adoption. And then he said the same thing.. there is something bigger. I want to impact more lives and I think we can. (Not that adoption’s impact is not HUGE.)
    I will be praying about our commitment to this incredible, awesome next chapter.

  12. 24


    Kristen, this is amazing! I am so proud of you and your husband and what you will be doing there. Having worked with CareNet for many years, I know that this need is so great and so vast and will reap a bountiful harvest for the kingdom. God bless you.

  13. 25

    AmberK says

    I couldn’t wait. And oh. my. gosh. My throat is burning and I want to HUG you so badly. Kristen, you are being the hands of feet of Jesus and so is your hubby and family and friends and Maureen, such a sweet and precious woman. My prayers and heart is with you and your project…I will be praying about where I fit in with it.

    Congratulations…so many girls’ are going to be rescued. I have no words big enough for what I feel about that.

    In Awe,

  14. 27


    Your family is amazing, your obedience is humbling, and the compassion you are carrying is contagious.

    And I am crying as I think about those Kenyan girls, about God’s love reaching from the United States all the way over there, and how many precious babies will be alive and learn about Jesus, all because you obeyed the Master’s voice.

    Thank you for giving us an opportunity to touch Africa with His love!

  15. 29


    I’m sitting here in McDonalds, and crying big ole tears for you…Tears of joy, tears of discovering God’s path… I am excited to see what God has in store for your family. Thank you for touching my heart. And, not just today, but so so many days. God has used your writing to soften and reconnect to my distanced heart. Thank you.

    I love the sisterhood of Christ.

  16. 32


    I peaked…late last night. I’m at a point where I have nothing to give. But when I do, I will for sure. And in the mean time I’ll pray! I can always pray. My hubby is in Africa right now. I know he’s going to come home with a changed heart. I’m so excited for how God will speak to him while he’s there. And I’m so thankful that your heart was open to hear the words of the Lord.

  17. 33

    Vicky says

    As a young single mother here in the land of opportunity as a result of my own foolishness and knowing how hard it is I can’t imagine what the girls’ lives must be like there. I have been following your blog for a while and I am in awe of your journey and now what you have made as a result. I had my daughter at the age of 17. I am now 26 and my eyes got teary thinking about being in their shoes. I am eager to learn more about Mercy House and look forward to all your updates!

  18. 36

    Jenny says

    What an amazing journey! I am so excited to see how God is going to work there. I don’t blog, but I have already shared this with my prayer group today and others were moved like I was. We will keep you and The Mercy House in our prayers at our meetings.

  19. 37

    Janna says

    Ok… I looked! I’m leaving for Africa on Thursday, and I just couldn’t wait until my return to read the whole story. So I peaked… and I LOVE this God-birthed idea. But again, I leave on Thursday…and there’s so much to finish before then… and rather than ramble, I’m signing off so that I go explore the website!

  20. 38

    Beth Luebke says

    Hi Kristen,
    I am so excited for you and your family. :-) Also, I was thinking you should consider reading Mary Beth Chapman’s book Choosing to SEE or at least check out for adoption resources if that is still an open option for your family.

    I have followed you since the Kenya blogs on Compassion and am a committed Compassion sponsor. Another door to helping children is so great and I will pray for this!


  21. 39


    Tears are streaming down my face. I have been reading your blog for almost a year and have watched and prayed as the Lord transformed you. As He has me. I havent been a commenter until now. I just had to tell you this idea, the Mercy House, is one of the most beautiful, selfless, and Christ-like things I have witnessed as a Christian. I am compelled to tell you that God has done an amazing thing through you and your family. Hold Firm. I will continue to pray for you and yours in this awesome endeavor.

    Your sister from CA,

  22. 41


    I’m not one to mess with surprises, but I HAD to click on that link. It was like an unwrapped piece of Hershey’s extra dark chocolate just sitting on a table. It was BEGGING to be eaten….well….clicked. …and who am I to deny the link pleasure…ya know??

    I am soo proud of you! I’ll be posting about The Mercy House this week in my blog. …and I wanted to let you know that I sent a message to you via the ‘contact me’ on The Mercy House site. If you didn’t get it, PLEASE email me and let me know. I know this is a big dream and I’m sure you are overwhelmed and nervous and excited and about to pop..but know that our God is such a BIG God. He called you to do this and He is going to be walking right by your side…He’ll be carrying you through the hard parts…He’ll be sheltering you from the storms.

    Many prayers for you and Hubs and the kids and Maureen. Please let me know what I can do. I read you’ll need blankets. I can make flannel blankets quick and easy…let me know if you want to hook up for a project that produces those. I may not be able to go to Africa with you (Lord knows I’d LOVE to do that!!!), but I can help you in any way that my gifts allow me.

    Much love to you, Kristen. Again, I’m soo proud of you for listening and then following.

  23. 43

    Cyndy says

    Hi…I went to your “He Said She Said” link (part 1) and then went to your husband’s You Tube video from there…I just wanted to let you know that there is a very inappropriate comment there that you can hopefully delete.

  24. 46

    Valerie says

    Kristen, I found your blog during your compassion trip. I don’t know if I can be of help, but I’d like to try to see what I can do. Let me talk to our pastor, we just had a pastor from Kenya visiting in July. I’m not sure what he could do or what help he could be but if I could get your email, I’ll talk to my pastor and show him The Mercy House website and see what he thinks can help …. You’ll be in our prayers

  25. 48


    Ok, I just had to skip ahead and read more, as I have been so anxious to hear about where God is leading you. You see, God has called us to adoption (two brothers from Haiti) but we have felt all along that it was not just about adoption… that He wants us to love Haiti, and we still don’t know what that means. For now it means we help raise support for the orphanage where our boys still are, and we are considering if the Lord would have us support another new project with a school and housing in the worst hit part of Port-au-Prince. We think, “What does it mean, to love Haiti? We have three kids (Lord willing, soon to be 5!), and it’s a faith-walk just to get this far!” But this is bigger than we are, and so we can’t see the whole picture yet. It is so encouraging to read about other people like us, whose hearts have been stirred, and are willing to dream big with God. Thanks for taking us on the journey with you!

  26. 50

    karen says

    I’ve been reading and crying and wishing I could save the world-all of it. My desire to do more for God has wandered into discontent on occasion. Thanks for the reminder that you can’t do it all, that we aren’t called to do it all-that the only one who has any business saving the world is the One who has it all under control.
    You’ve said no to adoption so you can say yes to the mercy house-God’s best plan for you. We’ve said yes to adoption, 12 times, because that is God’s best plan for us. Raising our difficult, damaged children leaves little time, money, or emotional energy for other things, but it’s where I belong.
    Thanks for listening to God’s best plan for your life-I’ll be praying.

  27. 51


    Kristen, what great things are happening over here on your blog. Loved reading your journey & I peeked over too to see the next steps. What a wonderful project to take on. I may be able to help with support too. I’m supporting Compassion, but am always on the lookout for something else that I can tangibly give to. Bless ya’ll on this journey!

  28. 52


    I knew that adoption would change and save the life of one child, but I wanted to help the people of Africa.

    Amen! Adoption is a wonderful thing, but it is just one child, and not only that but bringing a child into an American lifestyle tends to increase the amount of resources that child uses…leaving less for others…and some resources come from Africa, notably the rare metals for our high-tech devices which often are mined in horribly exploitative ways that really hurt the people.

    I am pro-choice, but I think you have made a fabulous decision in that you will be giving those women a choice to give birth and raise and love their babies vs. having an abortion, whereas what they have now is a choice between terrible suffering for both themselves and their babies vs. having an abortion. You’ll be turning a horrible situation into one that offers real hope and true choice. What a wonderful project!!!

    • 52.1

      sammy Kaunga says

      Hi Kristen,
      The stories you share are true and real. We who live here experience them daily. That God spoke to you to do something about it is really invigorating. I will be visiting Mercy House when it finally sets up so I can see how we could be of some help. Welcome to Kenya. You are so special to us but even more so to God whom you have chosen to obey.

      I am reading your blog avidly!

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