Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wednesday Wonder - My college roomie Kirst

As I write this, my dear friend and college roommate, Kirsten, is packing her bags for India. She's leaving her pastor/film director/writer husband with their two young kiddos for two weeks as she leads a group of 10 people on this Justice 4 India trip. Their focus includes (1) working alongside a human rights agency that rescues victims of violence, sexual exploitation, slavery and oppression, (2) helping a ministry located in the heart of a slum community who run a school, health clinic and training programs for women, and (3) spending time in the Himalayan Mountains with Indian friends who encourage and train pastors of small house churches in various villages throughout the region.
As challenging as this trip will be, Kirsten is absolutely in her element. Missions of any sort are what makes this girl tick. I have seen her cry deeply over the injustices people have endured. Seen her angry over the suffering of others whether in her own backyard or across the world. And I've had the privilege of watching the Lord's transforming power in her life, refining her into the woman she is today.

I remember the first time I ever met Kirsten. Actually, I observed her from afar before we ever met. On stage, in front of thousands of incoming freshmen and returning Baylor students, Kirsten spontaneously acted out a part in a skit that was, well, rather attention-getting. We'll leave it at that.
I had no idea this tall, beautiful, outgoing girl whom everyone on campus seemed to know would become one of my roommates through the remainder of college.

Kirsten came to Baylor from Katy, TX on top of the world. Everyone knew her and everyone loved her. Her contagious laugh and wide grin allowed for flowing friendships. Grades came easily, and sororities fought to gain her loyalty. By our sophomore year, Kirsten's stable, financially secure family began to crumble. Long-distance phone calls increased and tension mounted as Kirsten dealt with emerging family difficulties from a hundred miles away.
By our junior year, Kirst had become the central point of any real communication between her mom, dad, and younger sister. Having lost everything back home in Katy,
both her mom and dad relocated to other parts of the country. Any valuables Kirsten hoped to hang on to - high school yearbooks, treasures from her girlhood - filled one large cardboard box which she stored under the staircase in our apartment.
Over and over again we watched as the Lord stripped our dear friend of material goods and relationships. Not easy. Looking back, it was both a privilege and a burden to go through those years with Kirst.
To give you an idea of her character, Kirsten worked multiple part-time jobs and paid off all the school loans accrued after her parents’ divorce before she even graduated from college. Even with the gravity of those years, she laughed a lot and kept us laughing in the process. The Lord truly provided her great joy in the midst of deep pain.

Kirsten took a year to work alongside a ministry in Tallin, Estonia, and spent some time in Africa before graduating with a degree in education at Baylor. Thus, a life-long love for overseas missions was solidified, and in the past decade Kirsten has made many, many trips across the globe with her best traveling buddy (& husband), Brandon. Their son, Mason, just turned seven, and Mei Li, adopted from China, is nearly four.

I’d love to tell you that the road since college and marriage has been easy for them, but the Lord continues wield his chisel, sculpting them into the people he intended. Brandon (also a BU grad, a fellow English major) is hands-down one of the most creative people you’ll ever meet. He has worked in the film industry since attending film school in New York after college, and now refers to himself as the “reluctant pastor” of a growing church in the heart of Hollywood, Ecclesia Hollywood. In their early years of marriage, my roommates and I would tease Kirsten and Brandon that one day they’d live in LA and work with the homeless by day and walk the red carpet by night.
Somehow they’ve actually made this happen.
Many of their international trips have a combined purpose of working alongside a ministry while filming (amazing!) documentaries. This Justice 4 India trip will be interesting as several of the people going from Ecclesia are involved in the film industry and have been invited to spend some time with believers in the Mumbai film industry.

In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers writes that “the missionary message is the limitless significance of Jesus Christ as the propitiation of our sins, and a missionary is one who is soaked in that revelation.” Kirst drips with the reality and knowledge of Christ’s sacrifice and gift for us, and it influences me deeply. Thank you, Kirst, for your obedience and love for the One who so lovingly created and refines you. You are beautiful!

** Look for my Wednesday Wonder posts week - please forgive the cheesy name - as I highlight friends and people in my life making counter-cultural decisions in light of God's leading... enjoy! **