Open Letter to Rachel Held Evans

Dear Rachel,

I’ll be honest, I kind of acted like I’d read Evolving in Monkeytown when I talked to you in that long line of well-wishers a year ago. I’m pretty sure I murmured something like “important” or “really good” when everyone else was telling you how much it meant to them. I was at the end of the line and we were all tired, so we didn’t get into it too much  (we talked about Battlestar Galactica for a good five minutes, though–priorities).

I came to listen to you talk because I was tired of hearing everyone around me tell me how amazing you were–I was skeptical. You proved me wrong.

I ordered Monkeytown that very night. I wasn’t disappointed. I love the fact that I was won over by you before I discovered your writing. I have been so immensely glad in the last year that I went that day and heard you talk. You’re irreverent and witty and lyrical and smart and genuinely in love with God. These things come through in your writing and in your personal interactions; it is clear to anyone who meets you that you find this crazy road rather amusing and that you’re committed to being yourself along the way. That kind of humility seems rare in a well-known writer.

You have a gift for collaboration. Through you, I was introduced to an entire circle of writers who are questioning, thinking, doing, dreaming Christians. Before I read your blog, I had no idea that these writers existed. They have become lifeblood to me. The connections all stem from my first encounter with you. Through reading you and several other writers that defy classic categories, I’m learning how to write about faith in ways that are authentic–as writers, who just happen to be Christians.

Mostly, I have seen through our relationship what one blogger with a will to help can do in the lives of people. When I met you in September last year, I told you about our non-profit and you were so enthusiastic about the Burmese artisans I love so much. You asked great, intelligent questions. I left thinking it was fun, but nothing much would come of it. Then a couple of weeks later, you posted a picture of yourself, sporting a new haircut celebrating the end of the Biblical Womanhood project, wearing a gorgeous necklace.

It was the beginning of a fantastic collaboration. Again and again, way beyond what we could have asked for, you invited us into your space to share our story. In August, you highlighted our artisans in your Women of Valor series (still one of my very, very favorite things you’ve done). By doing that, you directly impacted my friends.


After our August-September sales came through, Huang took home the biggest paycheck in the history of our organization. Many of the products she sold came from your mentions of her work.

Nang bought her six kids school clothes with the money she made from those same product sales.

And with the increased sales, we finally have enough overhead money to hire Hela to help us with the administrative tasks. We’ve dreamed of doing that for five long years. She’s the first refugee I ever met. We talked about our friendship together at my kitchen table, surrounded by piles of scarves and necklaces while we tagged products for the Christmas season.

When I asked her today what she wanted to do with her life, she shrugged and said, “This.” We both teared up a little. It means everything to her to be able to help her friends. It means everything to us to have the means to make that dream a reality.

This is what you’ve done.  You listened to us. You shared your space. You told our story. You are changing these lives.

And when the dark nights come and the doubts prevail, I hope you’ll remember the faces of the women of valor you have touched, whose lives are forever impacted because you yourself were a woman of valor to them.

Thank you, Rachel, on behalf of Huang, Heh Ler, Nang, Christine, Caren and all of the other women of Hill Country Hill Tribers. Your actions and words have had a direct impact on us. Congratulations on the release of your newest book. We celebrate with you from Austin.


J.R. Goudeau


If you wrote a post about Rachel today, link to it below so we can read them all. It’s like an online cocktail party where we all get to raise a glass and toast Rachel’s new book with a resounding “Eshet chayil!” (except it’s the best cocktail party you’ve ever been to because you can come in your pajamas).

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28 comments on “Open Letter to Rachel Held Evans

  1. Pingback: to my future daughters [in honour of Rachel Held Evans] | A Deeper Story

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  3. Pingback: An Open Letter to Rachel Held Evans « D.L. Mayfield

  4. Gorgeous, Jess. Brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for hosting this, hope to link up if I have time.

  5. Pingback: Rachel Held Evans Is Hiding in Your Church | :: In.a.Mirror.Dimly ::

  6. Diana Trautwein on said:

    LOVE this, Jessica. And I did not put the pieces together and understand that you are the HCHT chick – what a wonderful, beautiful thing you and all of these women have created. I love the beautiful scarf that I won a couple of months back and posted a few pictures at Facebook. I hope you get lots and lots of links – we’re at t0 at 7:00 a.m. PDT – I’d love to see that go up 10 times! Thank you so much for hosting this.

  7. suzannah | the smitten word on said:

    i love this story! thanks for raising a glass and hosting today.

  8. Ryan Robinson on said:

    I’m not done yet, but I’ve been working through the book, blogging as I go at

  9. Simple Girl Blog on said:

    This is so beautiful. I wrote a blog post about the valor chapter in Rachel’s new book ( and I’ve been overwhelmed by the response. We are not called to be cookie cutters of each other. We are called to be us doing what God equipped us to do even if it looks different than what’s being done. It should.

    I’m having a Biblical Womanhood gathering at my home December 6th with a group of women who are reading the book together. I want to show them your wares and see if we can get some more sales! :)


  10. Pingback: For Rachel Held Evans, my friend and a Woman of Valor | Elizabeth Esther

  11. morganrainer on said:

    Encouragement For A Humble Woman of Valor and Influence: A Letter to Rachel Held Evans

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  13. Michelle DeRusha on said:

    What a beautiful story! Thank you for hosting this gathering here today!

  14. Grace Biskie (@gabwithgrace) on said:

    what a way to honor Rachel & celebrate. I didn’t write a post, but here, here! Cheers!

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  16. Pingback: To Rachel Held Evans « Shaney Irene

  17. Shaney Irene on said:

    This is amazing. Here is my letter to Rachel:

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  19. What a beautiful idea and post – high five for starting it! I wrote about discovering Rachel (through her blog) in my review of her book:

    May she be abundatly blessed by letters like these over the days, months, years ahead. Eshet chayil indeed!

  20. Jen (@jdrogers) on said:

    Fantastic words friend.
    Disclaimer: As we stood in line together, I had two copies of the book. One belong to my friend (in Houston) and the other was my copy that I had not ever opened.

  21. Rachel H. Evans on said:

    Oh Jessica! Thank you. I felt like a true woman of valor today, and it’s because of all of these kind, kind words. Overwhelmed with gratitude.

  22. Pingback: Shout out for Rachel! Hurray! | Just a few thoughts

  23. roadkillsrus on said:

    Rachel is one of my heroes. I put her up on two ofmy three blogs today.

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  26. amber@mercyrising on said:

    Can you post a link to these necklaces and products made by your friends? If I missed an obvious link, thanks for grace.

    • J.R. Goudeau on said:

      Hi, Amber. I intentionally left the link out of this post–while I love this story, I wanted it to be about Rachel and not promoting Hill Tribers. But since you asked, of course I’m happy to share it! So proud of these amazing women:

  27. Pingback: To Rachel Held Evans | Shaney Irene