News and Views
One Person Making A Difference
The bare outline of Katie Davis's life reads much like a fairy tale in reverse. Katie was the girl who had it all: high school class president, prom queen, top of her class, sports car to drive, boyfriend she loved dearly, parents eager to pay her way through college, everything that we so often think spells success for a young woman as she graduates from high school. However, in her final year of high school, she spent the three week Christmas break of 2006 on a short term mission volunteering in an orphanage in Uganda and fell in love with the children, the people, and the country. After graduating, she returned to Uganda where she continues to spend herself in serving the orphaned, the poverty stricken, those ill from dirt and hunger and loss of hope. Why? Because, for Katie Davis, following Jesus means living and serving His way, doing what He wants her to do where He wants her to be.
The story of Katie Davis is fleshed out in the book she co-authored with Beth Clark, "Kisses from Katie," which tells about the beginning three or four years of her work in Uganda. In the fall of 2007, she returned to Uganda to teach a kindergarten class, and step by step found herself involved in more and more lives in more and more ways as opportunities came to her and she sensed God's inner urging for her to accept each new challenge. Within the first year, while still in the last years of her teens, she found herself renting a large house with four bedrooms and three bathrooms, and in the process of adopting 14 girls. At the same time, she was providing the school fees, uniforms, and school supplies for more than a hundred children who would not be able to attend school without her help. Back home in Tennessee, her family and friends were raising funds for this work and forming an organization, an NGO, to support her and all she was being called to do, while she took the necessary steps to register it in Uganda. Thus, "Amazima" (meaning "truth" in the local Luganda language) was born.
The book shows many of the encounters that shaped Katie's life and ministry in Uganda, shows her responding to individuals with all the winsome charm and intelligence that made her a winner in high school, shows her lavishing love and appropriate care on the people who cross her path, then often her brief sentence or two recording "Lesson learned." In a very remarkable way, she combines youthful strength and exuberance with wisdom beyond her years, clearly from above, with practical help. Recognizing that she can't fix Uganda, her strategy aims to build the next generation into the educated, caring, Christian people who can bring about meaningful change toward ending the poverty and sickness that now plague the villages. At the same time, she does all she can to meet the urgent needs of each individual person she encounters, whether young or old.
Specifically, Katie lives in a large house with an assistant and her girls, and whoever needs to join the family for a time in order to heal and find hope and a future. As she spots children who need extra care, she lovingly, sensitively, competently meets their most immediate needs, usually starting with a bath, washing their sores and applying antibiotic ointment, removing the jiggers from their feet, feeding them and working with their caregivers to better understand and meet their needs. Katie's daughters are eager and involved in caring for each one.
In one village of displaced tribespeople, she has gathered a group of women who make beads from strips of magazine paper, shellac them and string them into very attractive necklaces, some of which the women employees of the Pipestone Flyer received as gifts this past Christmas. The sale of the necklaces lets the Ugandan women provide for their families. She also arranged for the children from this village to eat lunch at the school on the nearby hill where she provides lunch for the children in her school attendance program.
Indeed, the biggest part of her work with potentially the farthest reaching effects is the provision of schooling for hundreds of the poorest children. Not only does this program cover the direct schooling costs of fees, uniforms, and school supplies, but it also makes sure that these children have better nutrition. Freed from the costs of schooling, many of the children's parents are better able to care for their children in all other ways. Meals at school help some. This program is now providing schooling to over 700 children, and has acquired mentors to keep track of the children, meeting with them, helping with homework, making sure their needs are met and that they have opportunity to meet Jesus.
Most importantly, Katie lives moment by moment in relationship with God, seeking to know and do His will, wanting to follow His every urge, and finding incredible love and joy in doing so. As she seeks to help restore physical health and educate, she seeks to teach as well as show the love of Jesus.
One of the outstanding features of the book "Kisses from Katie" is its honesty. It tells of the love and joy she experiences, but it also expresses the times of tiredness, of feeling overwhelmed, the anguish of giving up her boyfriend and the dreams connected with him. Her honesty about the bad times makes her usual joyful exuberance and love believable.
Katie and her work can be followed on her blog www.kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com and at www.amazima.org. This is the story of how one outstanding young woman is spending her very self in making a difference for God in one poverty stricken corner of the world. The book and the blogs are also great reads.
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