Through her tearful prayer one evening Kristen Welch asked God the same question so many have asked Him before. “Why do you allow so much pain and suffering in the world?” But Kristen’s heart that evening was different. She waited and allowed Him to answer. It was an answer she wasn’t expecting. “Kristen, why do you allow it?”
So what prompted Kristen’s prayer to begin with? Being a popular mom-blogger (We Are That Family) she was invited by Compassion International to join them on a 10 day trip to Nairobi in 2010. The bloggers on the trip were asked to write every day about the poverty and plight of the area. Raising awareness of the needs and the work that Compassion does to help.
The group traveled to Mathare Valley; an area with more than 1 million people living in poverty and desperation. As they arrived they began to realize the impoverished lives of these individuals but as they reached the center they saw scenes that will never escape their memories. Their senses were bombarded by smells of sewage running through the streets. They were consumed with sights of the sick and dying laying along the roads. It was something they certainly were not prepared for. We all know there is devastation in the world, but when you share the path and air you become enveloped in their world. It was a world that changed Kristen forever.
Upon returning home she was not able to escape from the sights and memories of the people she had met. She became angry with God prompting her question. She felt His answer by the weight of a burden she couldn’t shake. She shared her heart with her husband, Terrell, and he was instantly supportive and together they began to pray; seeking the answers to how God wanted them to help. Unable to busy herself in her comfortable life and forget the faces of those she had met; Kristen began to look deeply at her own life and those around her. The American Way. More, more, more. Bigger homes, nicer cars; never satisfied in pursuit of the next thing. The two made a huge decision to sell their home in an affluent neighborhood and move into a smaller home allowing funds for whatever God was about to do through their lives. The two prayerfully pursued God for the way He wanted them to serve.
Then one night Kristen saw a story on CNN about Kenya’s young girls being pushed by their own families into the prostitution ring; leading some as young as 12 into backstreet abortions that many don’t survive.
She remembered an individual she had met in Kenya. Maureen Owino, a Kenyan Leadership Development Program student and young woman who herself had been sponsored by Compassion from the time she was seven years old; a child of the slums. They had become facebook friends so she was easily able to contact Maureen and ask her if the horrible news she was reading was true. Maureen assured her it was; giving her details of the circumstances these young girls were finding themselves in with no housing and little hope. This is when Kristen’s heart broke open with a crystal clear idea of what God was calling her to do!
A few months later Maureen was asked to travel to the U.S. with other Leadership Development Program Students. Kristen and Terrell drove out to meet with Maureen and the three of them brainstormed their ideas; armed with the knowledge that God can and wants to do the impossible through our very limited resources. Together they decided they would start a home for pregnant girls in Kenya and Mercy House was born.
As the on-site director supported by funds earned through Kristen’s blog, Maureen was able to secure a rental property in March of 2011. Mercy House currently houses 8 girls between the ages of 15 and 17; along with the eight babies that have now been born to these young girls. The girls that have been accepted into Mercy House have endured horrors no child should ever witness; they come as victims of rape, incest, burned and beaten. The new mommies are able to stay for about two years. They are provided nutritious meals and education. They also receive prenatal and postnatal care along with much needed counseling.
A willing, compassionate heart to serve the Lord from one individual has led to an ongoing ministry that will forever change the lives and hearts of the young girls it’s reaching. As well as the impact on a future generation that is springing up within the walls of Mercy House.
If you would like to learn more about Kristen, her family, Maureen, personal stories of the young girls, and the work at Mercy House jump over to her blog and website. They also have created “Shop Mercy House” with unique items made in Kenya you can purchase with the proceeds going to fund the ongoing ministry of Mercy House.
This post is part of the Nester’s 31 Day Challenge; Writing on the same topic each day of the month of October. Click on over to the Challenge to find a number of topics and authors ranging from Simplicity & Organizing to Personal Endeavors. You can head back here and scroll to the bottom of this post for a listing of all 31 days of Good News & Good People Doing Good Things.