I met Kay two years ago, at my first Mount Hermon conference. She encouraged me greatly with her heart for the global Body of Christ, and her courage to travel around the world to gather the stories of persecuted women. She’s written an awesome book called Daughters of Hope that I highly recommend. I’m pleased to introduce to you, Kay Strom.
Kay Marshall Strom
Freelancer, married for 8 years, written for 20 years, currently in Santa Barbara, CA
What is your passion in life? Actually, it has come out of my writing. My passion at this time is letting believers in this country know that they are part of the global family of God. They need us as much as we need them. It pains me that we don’t realize we’re part of a bigger family. Being a part of the Body does not just mean that we need to help our brothers and sisters around the world, but to realize that we need them just as much. We think we’re just depriving them, but really we are depriving ourselves, too. And we are depriving the Body of God.
How did this come about? That’s actually an interesting story. I love to read historical biographies. I was reading the story of Marie Antoinette. It’s amazing, she’s not as hard hearted as we think; she was just totally clueless. She had all the royal people over for a banquet, and there was so much food the tables were sagging – all while people in Paris were starving. After everyone left, she turned to the Emperor and said, “Let’s not throw away all this food, let’s spread the leftovers on the sidewalk.” As they stood and watched the people lick the sidewalk so as not to waste anything, she said “We are so good for the poor; they should love us.” The poor people of France heard this, clenched their fist and resolved to have her head. A week later, 9/11 occurred. At church on Sunday, an elder in church stood up and talked about the need to pray for the families of those who had lost their lives. Then he shared that he didn’t know how this could happen. “We are so good to the world, everyone should love us.” And I thought, we’re just like Marie Antoinette, and the world is going to have our heads. That became the inspiration to write Daughters of Hope (Kay’s book sharing stories of women around the world who are persecuted for their faith). I was in India interviewing women for my book, and as I normally closed my interviews, I asked if there was anything else someone would like to say to me. They asked me if I had ever been kicked out of my house for being a Christian, thrown rocks at, persecuted, hated, denied food for being a Christian. I answered, “No, we just don’t face that type of attack in the US.” Then they asked me if we did have to suffer, would we still be Christians? And I thought for a long time, and didn’t know how to answer. They said they would pray for strength for us. They would pray that if we did have to face persecution that we would endure it. And they asked me to tell everyone I spoke to that they were praying for them. When I am asked to speak – even at Rotary meetings – I share their story.
How has your writing affected your walk? It has changed it totally. It has changed my perspective on life and death, on my purpose in being here. The biggest battle is being patient with others. I know other people haven’t been where I’ve been. We complain about things here, but we’re so fixated on the wrong things. It is so hard to be patient with what I see in the American church. When you go and see, you can’t come back and be the same. I will never to my dying day, get out of my mind the pictures of the people in Sudan – the most wonderful people in the world – who bounced back despite the most incredible things. When I talked with them, they asked me, “Does anyone care about us?” No one asked me for money, they asked me to pray for them. They requested we pray for their children that they will stay firm to the faith (aka be willing to die, be persecuted). When we left them, they ran behind our bus as fast as they could for as long as they could keep up, saying “Pray for us” and then they disappeared into a cloud of dust. I still see that image in my mind. If only we would truly partner with our brothers and sisters around the world.
As Palm Sunday approaches, how do you celebrate Christ’s entrance into your life? I remember reading through the Bible as a 13 year old, trying to figure out how to get it all together, when I came to Micah 6:6-7, “With what shall I come to the Lord and bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, With yearling calves? Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams, In ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” And then comes the answer in verse 8. “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” That’s how I celebrate and pray to celebrate – to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with my God.