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L I F E  


January 11, 2016

I’m not sure what age I was when the question first came to me, but I remember asking it as I sat and stared at an image of a little girl with a mud-caked face dressed in rags, holding her little brother, who was equally dirty, Why wasn’t that me born there?” The question hung in the silent space in my head as the speaker went on to describe the diseases and poverty ravaging the people of this 3rd world country.


Fast forward 10 years, and I’m sitting in an open air kitchen in the mountains of rural Costa Rica where I was teaching English for a year. Next to me was my host sister, Patricia, who spent the whole of her entire days lacing baseballs. You know those red strings that hold baseballs together? Well, I know the hands that tie them. At the time, the baseball players in the United States were striking because their millions were not enough. Patricia, on the other hand, was sewing an entire baseball for twenty-five cents per ball, something that would take her hours to complete. Twenty-five cents. And again, an alarm went off in my head. It wasn’t fair, and it wasn’t right. I found myself once again asking, “Why wasn’t that me lacing baseballs for 25 cents an hour?”


To this day, I still wrestle with that question, and now it is even on a grander scale. Why am I not the woman living in a shipping crate, trying to escape the oppression and war of her country? Why am I not the mother who has to make the impossible choice of which children to bring with her on her journey to attempted freedom, and which to leave behind? Why am I not the wife who sees her husband killed, and then becomes a victim of violence and terror herself? Why am I not the woman who cannot pray in public because it would mean her life?


I don’t know.


But that isn’t me. I wasn’t born in any of those circumstances, or those countries, and those are not the heavy burdens I bear. I was born into privilege, abundance, and freedom in the United States.


But it could have been me. Or you.


And if that were me, I would want someone to care enough to act. I would desperately want someone to help. I would beg someone to DO SOMETHING. 


So when Belinda Bauman called and asked me to be a part of One Million Thumbprints and join a team of 16 to climb Mt.Kilimanjaro on International Women’s Day on behalf of women who are victims of brutal violence in the most war torn countries of the world, I knew in my heart that I had to say yes.


But it was a hard yes… really, a WILD YES.


Questions and barriers swirled:


Will my heart be able to handle the altitude? (I have tachycardia)


Will my knees hold up? (I’ve had most of my meniscus removed in both knees)


Will I get altitude sickness at 20,000 ft.?


How safe is it to go to Refugee camps in dangerous areas before the climb?


And what about malaria? And yellow fever? And typhoid?


And that just covers logistics of the trip.


Then there is, who will care for my family when they need to be fed, carpooled, counseled, and helped when my husband is at work?


How much risk is too much when you are a mom caring for your own children?


The questions came one after the other, covering me with their weight. But what really showed up, as big as Mt. Kilimanjaro itself, fueling all of these questions and more was one thing: FEAR.


Growing up, I was not a fearful person. I would go so far to say that I was very brave.   Then I had children, and suddenly my heart was walking around in the world. Motherhood seemed to birth in me a fear that was born out of protection for them.


Through the parenting years, as I’ve struggled with fear to varying degrees, there is something I’ve learned about the true nature and character of fear: it does not control outcome, and it completely robs joy, growth, and life from whatever it touches.


As I worked through my decision to say yes to this opportunity, I had to look fear in the face and declare myself free from it’s grip.


And that is exactly what One Million Thumbprints is striving to do – release women from the bondage of fear, oppression, and shame. These women, who have been victims of unspeakable violence, live in paralyzing fear. And of course they do, so would we.


Someone has to help them look fear in the face. And someone must help them rise from the ashes of their lives and reclaim dignity. And someone must help them gain skills and capital to go and make a living for their families.


And I believe that someone to be me, and I believe that someone to be US.


Would you consider joining me in helping these women? The donations we are collecting will be used to fund on the ground operations that are caring for and empowering women to reclaim their lives.



You will be directed to my climber page and you can

donate to One Million Thumbprints there.

Or Text 71777 and write Krista in the message.

If you want to organize a local climb up a mountain in YOUR area on March 8th in solidarity with One Million Thumbprints, go to and sign up to do that! 

Thank you so much for joining me on this journey.  

I know we can make a difference on a global scale TOGETHER.  

It’s the only way we can!


Sexual violence in conflict zones is a serious, present-day atrocity affecting millions of people, primarily women and girls.  One Million Thumbprints (1MT) is a grassroots campaign seeking to catalyze a groundswell of people focused on overcoming the effects of war against women through storytelling, advocacy, and fundraising. 

1MT’s response is two-fold:  advocating on a global level, urging the UN and other government leaders to follow through on resolutions that protect women in conflict zones, and funding programs on a local level  through our implementing partners in three of the most dangerous places to be a woman – the Democratic Republic Congo, South Sudan and Syria/Iraq.  The best way to help women in conflict is to protect them, promote peace and community, and empower educational and economic drivers.








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  1. Angie Philips says:

    I am so proud of you!! You can do this and will. Put your trust in God and remember He holds you in his hands. I’m thrilled to donate to the cause and you my sweet friend can carry my thumb print. Love you! Xoxo Angie

    • kristagilly says:

      Thank you so much Angie!!!!!! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it – – all of it. Pray me through, sister!

  2. Rychelle Reiling says:

    My friend… Your life… Your listening ear to the whisper of God in the midst of fear (not unwarranted by any means) is arresting. I have been on their website again today and haven’t stopped thinking about it from the time we talked last night. I have been contemplating your story (as I have known it in the flesh) & the stories in your book and am seeing your YES to be congruent with who I know you to be… I see this yes as another huge step (LEAP) of faith that moves you from “reclaiming home” in ID to reclaiming the homes of those shattered. The movement of God always exceeds the boundaries of what we see and know and calls us to go to the far reaches of our limits–& then calls us further still. I am reminded of the parable of the Good Samaritan… Where the religious people are called to move beyond knowing what it means to love God with all their hearts and love neighbor as self, and to ACT and practice this love through neighbor… The practice informs and highlights what true theology is… This movement is God. I see Gods movement in you and fully support you… Praying Gods whisper stills you when fear creeps in. Praying God’s breath ignites you to press in and endure when the journey gets hard & praying Gods peace, joy & abundant life consumes you, validates you & assures you as you say YES every moment, every hour and every day leading up to the trip and during the trip. I feel inspired by you… By Gods movement in you…I love you so.

    • kristagilly says:

      Rychelle…. your words- thank you for that gift! True theology – it’s what I want for my life. No pretending. No games. But to live it out – in action. I so appreciate you walking beside me in life and in prayer!

  3. Maggie Tate says:

    That is awesome!! A co-worker of my husband’s who lost his feet and some of his fingers to an illness a few years ago just returned from a climb with a group called the Cloud Walkers. Here’s a link:

    Your wild yes is an amazing one – As you prepare, I know any weakness will be met with strength and fear utterly overcome by courage, all supplied by our heavenly father. He has you in his hands! Can’t wait to hear more about this journey!

    • kristagilly says:

      Your words give me courage Maggie – and I can’t wait to check out the link! Thanks so much for sending on to be inspired and spurred on. I could not agree with you more – weakness met with God’s strength!

  4. […] to change the world for our sisters who just happen to be born in those parts of the world.  That could have been us.  But it’s not.  Instead we are the ones who can extend hope and […]

  5. Katie Caba says:

    You can expect to find my spirit right up there next to you climbing each step of the way! I literally get chills every time I think about the adventure you have begun. What a privilege to partner with African women to seek justice. Praising God for how he will use you and every other woman involved. Bless you friend!

    • Krista says:

      I know you will be – and I’ll think of you the entire time… wishing you were on my rope team like Trail of the Rockies! I know you get this whole thing – and I love you even more for that – for your heart for others around the world who can’t speak for themselves. Once again, God is paralleling our lives with our trips to Africa within a year of each other. So typical 🙂 Love you so much Kate!

  6. […] And if we had been born into those cultures, in those places, we would beg and plead for someone to SAY YES and do […]


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