Archive for September, 2015

I recently re-read a book I absolutely loved. It’s the story of an American girl who moved across the world to love and care for orphans and strangers. What began as taking a year off before college unfolded into many years, more than a dozen adopted children, and the birth of a blossoming ministry. What started as a blog grew into a book that made the New York Times Best Seller list.

Katie’s story is inspirational, vulnerable in its honesty, and downright beautiful. God captured her heart, and she is following after him with incredible trust and abandon. She says in the intro pages, “I have absolutely no desire to write a book about myself. This is a
book about Christ” (p.xxi). And it is.

She left behind her family, friends, boyfriend whom she planned to marry, and all the comforts of a wealthy Nashville home, and moved to Uganda to teach a dozen kindergarten-aged children in an orphanage she’d visited during her senior year in high school. She ended up having not 12 children, but 138 the very first day! What a story of turning our plans over to God, following him, and being amazed at what happens. She compares her journey in Uganda to the childhood tale of The Velveteen Rabbit, which is about a stuffed animal that’s worn to rags but ultimately transformed into a real rabbit.

“The beautiful, dirty people who populated my life had loved all the polish and propriety right off me. I’d been hurt and scarred and banged around a bit in the past year, but God was using all those things to help me become real… I was coming to understand that what it means to be real is to love and be loved until there is nothing left. And when there’s nothing left, and we feel we’re all in pieces, God begins to make us whole. He makes us real. His love sets us free and transforms us.” (p.86)

It’s a transformation both of Katie and the community around her. She just lives and breathes Christ to the people God puts in her path. The organization – birthed out of a heart for the needs of the kids she came to know – was named Amazima (which means “truth” in the Luganda language, p. 84). Partnered with local women, Amazima is caring for people and sharing the truth of God’s love in Uganda. They are feeding nutritious meals to hundreds of kids, providing supplies and clothes so they can attend school, and attending to their basic medical needs. They are building relationships in the village where they live, the nearby city of Jinja, and out in a slum community called Masese. God is answering prayers and opening doors.

“They took me to the abandoned house down the road. In the back room were seven children on the dirt floor. They were completely filthy and starving. The oldest was eleven and the youngest was two years old…They all had severe ringworm, malaria, and scabies (my favorite), among other conditions.” (p.142)

“It is true, hundreds of people in this area [the village] call me Mommy. Even people whom I have not met before recognize me as the woman who cares for the children in this area and call me Mommy before even having made my acquaintance.” (p.178)

From removing burrowing insects (jiggers) from the feet of street kids, to bathing and rubbing ointment on children with scabies, bringing food to strangers and friends in the local hospital, or paying for them to be seen by a doctor. Health care is so different there. Emergency rooms don’t provide free medical care for people who can’t afford it; in some instances they simply aren’t treated.

“Since Agnes had no real caretaker, the nurse assumed her treatment would not be paid for. So the hospital simply didn’t treat her. This is not unusual in Uganda, where the hospital admission process is as easy as walking into a hospital and climbing into an empty bed. Those who can pay for medical attention receive it; those who can’t, simply lie in a bed.” (p.58)

It’s a heart-tugging peak into a corner of the world not often seen in contemporary America. I don’t know what emotions delving into Katie’s story may bring to the surface, but I felt it soften my heart again in the best way.

“We aren’t really called to save the world, not even to save one person; Jesus does that. We are just called to love with abandon. We are called to enter into our neighbors’ sufferings and love them right there.” (p.214)

Don’t worry, this isn’t the story of a white girl with a “Savior” complex, this is a young woman who’s been captivated by the love and truth of Jesus and is pursuing him with her whole heart, mind, and body. Her story is worth reading.

“I’ve had people ask me why I think Africa is so impoverished, but these children are not poor. I, as a person who grew up wealthy, am. I put value in things. These children, having no things, put value in God.” (p.26)

She writes of the beauty of Uganda’s landscape and its people. At the time the book was written, she was in the process of adopting thirteen children – little ones and older ones, siblings and orphans, and a sweet little girl with some special needs. She does lots of cooking and laundry for a very full house, but most of all she does lots and lots of loving the people God’s put in her path. And lots of praying.

“But God continued to show me that adoption is His heart, and it was becoming mine… Adoption is a redemptive response to tragedy that happens in this broken world.” (p.72)

“Here is the thing: I want big things from God. We want big things from God and then think it’s strange when He asks us to build an ark, or feed five thousand or march around a building for seven days with seven priests blowing trumpets made from rams’ horns.” (p.153)

Excerpts from the book Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption by Katie Davis (2011, Howard Books).


Read Full Post »