Q&A with Rhinestone Jesus author Kristen Welch

We’re excited to bring you another author interview this month. Read on as Kristen Welch talks about writing, ministry, and saying yes to God…


I think the beauty of my yes to God to start a maternity home in Kenya is that I am just a mom. It’s obvious to everyone who has witnessed this story that God is the author. It’s proof that He can use anyone to do anything. When I initially said yes in the small daily stuff, I didn’t know it would lead to Mercy House. But I was called to obedience and that’s really what Rhinestone Jesus is about: saying yes to God right where you are and not waiting to have all the answers or a perfect life before you obey.


Rhinestone Jesus might seem an unusual book title. Can you talk about how it relates to your childhood and family background?


Rhinestone Jesus is a very personal title. As a teenager, I wore a rhinestone pin that spelled J-e-s-u-s. I was introverted, so this was a way for me to “wear” my faith without having to say much about it. I was involved in theatre arts and each year they gave made-up awards. I won “The Rhinestone Jesus” award from my peers.


How would you characterize your faith before you traveled to Africa? How did it change after your trip? (Kristen, I’d like to make the point that you had an authentic faith before you went to Kenya, but it was at a different stage)


I can’t remember not being a Christian. I was raised in church, went to Bible college, and married a youth pastor. Faith has always been a huge part of my life. I guess I would characterize my life before Africa as full of faith but lacking in obedience. I believed everything Jesus said; I just didn’t always do what He told me.


Looking back on your faith journey, can you give us any insights into how God prepared you for the ministry you now have in Kenya?


It’s crazy how I can look back on my first thirty-seven years and realize that most of the hardships and challenges I faced were preparing me for the ministry in Kenya. From ministry experience, to brokenness, to a deep passion to encourage mothers, I draw daily from all of these chapters in my life.


What are some of the things you think are essential for the average Christian to be able to live out his or her own authentic Christian faith?


Sometimes people call me brave. If they only knew . . . Not only am I not courageous, I live with the same fear and inadequacies as other God-sized dreamers. Without a doubt, I think the Church (with a capital C) lacks obedience. I did, for so much of my Christian life. I think if we have faith to believe in Jesus, we also have to believe that when we do what He tells us, He won’t leave us alone. It’s been the hardest journey of my life, stretched me further than I thought possible, but I’ve never been alone, not for a second.


How has your blog, We Are That Family , helped you to do your ministry? Are there ways in which it has helped you to be authentic? Are there helpful principles that might be applied to the Christian desiring to live out his or her unique God-calling?


I’ve been blogging for nearly seven years now. I would have never gone to Kenya as a blogger for Compassion International without it. And then when I returned in 2010 and began processing my “wrecking” online, my community journeyed with me. So it made sense when we birthed this God-sized dream, to ask readers to dream with us. In 2013, this community raised more than half a million dollars to help girls in Kenya. I’ve always tried to write authentically. They have been with me in the highs and lows because I’ve invited them in and God has used that to change all of us.


Do you have a favorite quote or verse?


God seared Micah 6:8  on my heart several years ago. It reads, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good, And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” I had these words from that verse—Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly—tattooed on my foot.


Kristen Welch is author of Rhinestone Jesus . You can find her over at her blog, WeAreThatFamily.com or on Facebook and Twitter to hear more of her story.