A Facebook friend asked for advice on a good read to end out her summer, so I thought I’d comment on my latest read, Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis:Because I have been on two mission trips to Uganda, the opening tag on the inside cover grabbed my attention:
“With reckless abandon, Katie Davis followed her heart to care for orphans living in extreme poverty in Uganda.”
Katie was 18. Katie is now 22, living in Uganda, where she is in the process of adopting thirteen little girls and is the founder and director of Amazima, a ministry that reaches hundreds of other children in Uganda. It’s an amazing story, well-written and inspiring!
Uganda is a country that has been ravaged with AIDS. 49.9 % of the population is 15 and under. The average life expectancy is 53. [www.cia.gov] Seems hopeless, yet these are a people with bright smiles and generous hearts. After two visits to Uganda, I know first hand what it feels like to travel to a place far from home into a world filled with poverty, disease, and uncertainty. The children are beautiful and are anxious to meet us even though we come empty-handed. Our last trip was not a medical mission trip or an effort to ease the poverty. Our mission was to bring them knowledge and truth, with only a Bible and love– they brought us joy and purpose. Our 17-year-old son taught in their school while we led Bible conferences out on remote islands on Lake Victoria, in an effort to help and encourage missionaries serving there full-time. Our church has been making these trips to Uganda for many years now supporting current missionaries working on the islands. I can honestly say that being involved in international mission work on a more personal level changed me forever. I had taught about missions, given to missions, and participated locally, but my first overseas experience (Poland, 1995) changed my heart. For me to stand in a mud hut in Uganda, or a village church in Poland, singing with believers of other languages was an experience no words could describe… except maybe this passage from the book of Revelation:
I know what you’re thinking–just what so many think when they are challenged to be missions minded: “If I say ‘yes’ to God, He’ll make me move to Africa!” For me, this book wasn’t about being challenged to pack up my life and live in a foreign country–it’s about being obedient to what I know God has called me to today, then trusting Him with tomorrow–wherever He leads. I want to be “on mission” for Him where ever I am and be willing to experience His best for me even if it’s hard or challenging, or even a little scary! My testimony is one that of all the places He has taken me, I have found nothing but the fruit of walking in the Spirit…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. It doesn’t mean I haven’t had difficulties or trials. It just means that when I’m pursuing Him, He provides just what I need to get through.
Even when I am unsure of myself, if I’m obedient, God shows up. On a 2010 Uganda trip I was asked to lead a women’s conference in a hut more than an hour’s boat ride away from the island village we were staying in. One particular day I was praying and asking God why I had to be leading women when it was the children that had captured my heart. I have to admit the boat ride that day seemed extra long and extra crowded (our boat was often over-loaded!), my discomfort probably because my feet were obedient, but my heart was not. We arrived at our normal time, but in Africa, time is much more relaxed, and none of the women had arrived yet. As frustrating as it was, God had a plan. When the nearby schoolmarm heard that we had arrived, she asked for permission for the children to come sing to us! Do you know what that did to my heart?! GOD MET ME IN MY “MOMENT”! He knew just what I needed!
Through my tears I was able to tell them why I had come all the way from America to Uganda–to share with them how much God loved them, and how He loved me so much that He let me come to Uganda to tell them about Jesus! I can’t explain it, but my heart wanted to burst with joy! Every time I see those pictures or watch the videos, I am reminded of HOW MUCH HE LOVES US!
1 John 3:1
“Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children. And we are!”