Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Rhinestone Jesus by Kristen Welch

Have you ever stumbled across a really great blog? A couple of years ago I started reading the musings of the wise and humble Texan Kristen Welch. In “We are THAT family” she writes about motherhood, about serving, about poverty and about saying ‘Yes’ to God. And I was really excited when she crystallised a lot of her thoughts and her life story into “Rhinestone Jesus” published in 2014.  This book is actually a great follow on from Lauren’s review of The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Tim Keller, because Welch urges us to take a good look at our comfortable, self-focussed lives and realise that “sparkly, safe faith is no longer enough”. Like David Platt in Radical, which I reviewed last year, Welch urges us to take the gospel seriously and to put God’s kingdom before ourselves. But like Michael Horton in Ordinary, Welch also wants us to realise that we don’t need to be focussed on creating an extraordinary life to be proud of, rather we need to be faithful and content with where God has placed us right now. Not complacent, but rather content. And then when we are focussed on Him, we can say yes and rely on God as we take our place in sharing His love and spreading His kingdom. We don’t need to wait until we have it all together, we can say ‘Yes in our mess’.
“I slowly discovered that God didn’t require me to get my act together before 
He would reveal His God-sized dream; He was just waiting for me to say yes in my mess.”

A few key events in her Christian, good-girl, rhinestone Jesus pin wearing life unsettled Welch and forced her to see that God wanted her to put aside her own comfort and security (which was really no security at all), and cling to Him in faith as she stepped out in small and big ways to share the love of Jesus with a dying world. She is now the founder of a maternity home in Kenya that rescues, houses, educates and gives medical attention to pregnant girls who are poor and desperate and who desperately need to hear and see the love of Jesus in their lives. Check out Mercyhouseglobal.org to find out about the amazing work that they do. And in her spare time (while not flying to Kenya, blogging, and parenting three children) she works with refugees. Kristen’s floors may be sticky, but she has helped to save and transform the lives of many girls and their babies.

Kristen Welch grew up in a Christian home and was a strong witness throughout her school years. She actually did wear a sparkly Jesus pin to school. But marriage to her college sweetheart was put to the test when he revealed a struggle with pornography and they had to work through tears and forgiveness to put the shattered pieces of their marriage back together. And then it was when she travelled to Kenya with Compassion that Welch’s world really fell apart. She visited a slum in Mathare Valley and what she saw there caused her to cry out to God:
 “Where are you? These are your people; You created them. How can you allow so much suffering? For a moment, time stood still. I stopped and closed my eyes. I saw God’s finger pointed at my chest as He asked me the same question: ‘Kristen, how could you allow this?’ In that exact moment, I knew my life would never be the same.”

We are not all going to go out and rescue many people from poverty, exploitation and desperation. We might feel called to world mission or full time ministry, and we might not. But Welch challenges Christians not to give up on the dreams of reaching a world for Jesus. Dreams that might have faded and been buried under the weight of mortgages, nappies and washing. God wants to use us in our weakness to bring glory to Him. Maybe we need reminding that we can make a difference. We can serve where we are and use what gifts we have to bring glory to God and not to ourselves. Welch reminds us that striving to be the perfect Mum will only lead to guilt and entitled children. Striving to find contentment in our homes, our jobs, and in our goal of perfect parenting will never really satisfy. Sparkly, safe faith that focuses on what I do and forgets what He has done will never satisfy.
“I thought I was going to Kenya to help . . . But I was the one drowning in all that I had. I was the one who needed help. I was the one who was spiritually poor. . . God used a day in hell to rescue me.”

About this month's contributor, Rachael Collins
Rachael Collins is a Jane Austen fan who often finds it amusing that she is married to Mr Collins who is indeed  a minister. She is an English/ History teacher who has taken a break from teaching in order to devote more time to reading children's literature. Her three children are the happy beneficiaries of this decision. Rachael enjoys gardening, drinking tea, baking and sorting her wardrobe according to colour. She endeavours to read her old books before she buys new ones, but occassionally she loses that battle.

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