Katie Davis - A Young Woman Who Said 'Yes' to God
By Sylvia Barnhart
Volume 29 Summer 2014 Issue 3
As Christians, we often look back in history at the lives of well known heroes of faith that we might be inspired and challenged. Many of us have read about great theologians and amazing missionaries. Their life stories spur us on “to love and good works.” God has moved mightily through many courageous men and women throughout the ages, both to preach the good news of Jesus Christ and to expand His kingdom. Sometimes, though, we need modern day heroes—those who are living out the gospel in today’s world—to challenge us and provoke us to follow Jesus into His harvest field in our own generation. I’d like to tell you about one of my own modern-day heroes. Her name is Katie Davis. She is a 24 year old woman who lives in Uganda, Africa.
One reason I was drawn to Katie Davis is that her story and my own share a number of similarities. While my own story is not as amazing as Katie’s, it is interesting to see how God worked in both of our lives.
When I was 17, I started reading my Bible. I didn’t understand it very well, but I was determined to find out what being a Christian was all about. I grew up in a family of faithful churchgoers, so I spent my childhood attending church every Sunday, going to Sunday School, and later as a teen, attending Youth Group. As a child, I loved church! The wonderful people in our church were our dearest friends and in many ways, our family. But something was happening inside of me as I stood on the brink of adulthood and peered into what was about to be the rest of my life. I was freaking out! My fears pressed me to read my Bible and pray, hoping for God’s comfort and direction. It was in the midst of my fears about growing up and leaving home that the “words of Christ in red” began to speak to me. I started to understand not just WHAT I believed, but WHOM I believed. For the first time in my life, I began to read the words of Jesus and hear Him calling my name. As much as I had always loved church, suddenly I wanted to love my Savior. I wanted to love Him with my whole heart and do what His Word said. I heard Him calling me to Himself. He was calling me to trust Him with the rest of my life. But my biggest fear of surrendering my heart to Him was that He would send me to Africa! It may sound a bit silly, but it was the scariest place on the planet to me. Being a missionary in Africa was the most extreme thing I could think of that Jesus might ask me to do, if I actually gave my whole life to Him.
Katie Davis is a young woman who also read her Bible. Her “yes” to God also included Africa. I guess that is why her story is so compelling to me. She grew up going to church. She always loved helping people. Along with volunteering at the homeless shelter, she would often recruit her friends to come and help as well. The life of Mother Teresa inspired her.
When she was about 12 or 13, she started to read her Bible. As she read the words of Jesus, she realized that her life did not line up with what the Bible said to do. She longed to obey God’s word and follow Jesus wherever He would lead her. She prayed, “Lord, send me.” Her simple prayer changed the course of her life in a dramatic way. At the age of 16, she announced to her parents that she wanted to do a year of mission work before attending college.
Her parents, who loved her dearly, longed to give her all the privilege and comfort of a college education and a career. They wanted only the best for her, so they struggled with her plan to follow Jesus to the mission field. During her senior year of high school, Katie researched various mission organizations in India and Africa until she located an orphanage in Uganda that welcomed her to visit. It took a while to convince her parents that she was serious and to get them to agree to let her go, but go she did. Over her Christmas break, she took her first trip to Africa.
What was supposed to be just a short mission trip over Christmas break became the doorway to a job as a Kindergarten teacher to 138 Ugandan children the following summer. Katie was hooked. Although she struggled with the language barrier and had no idea what she was doing, she felt like she was home. Her heart was captured, and she fell more in love with Jesus and with the people of Uganda. She found joy in the simplicity of village life and fulfillment in serving and loving the African people in the name of Jesus. What was meant to be a one year stint blossomed into a life laid down for the sake of the gospel. For Katie, who was senior-class president and homecoming queen at her high school in Brentwood, Tennessee, laying everything down at the feet of Jesus has produced more than she ever imagined.
Katie, now 24 years old, is the founder of a non-profit organization with a yearly budget of over $700,000. She is the adoptive mother of 13 Ugandan girls, homeschooling and raising them while serving the needs of her community and doing the administrative tasks of her ministry in the evenings. Amazima Ministries (Amazima means “truth”), founded by Katie, includes a child sponsorship program for over 600 children, a program that feeds over 1600 children each week, as well as a vocational program to empower Ugandan women to create enough income to care for their families.
In Katie’s own words, "I quit my life... I quit college; I quit cute designer clothes and my little yellow convertible; I quit my boyfriend. I no longer have all the things the world says are important." Katie’s words speak to everyone who desires to follow Jesus: “Slowly but surely I began to realize the truth, I had loved and admired and worshiped Jesus without doing what He said ... I wanted to actually do what Jesus said to do.” When Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” it was His promise to us that He would be all those things in our lives if we would give Him our “yes” and lay down our lives at His feet. God has taken Katie’s “yes” and blessed it beyond measure.
Katie says her life is by no means glamorous. Her fruitfulness has not been without cost. She deals with the daily struggles that come from being a single mom to 13 children. She runs a large ministry that depends on funds received from generous donors and her oversight of those funds. Every day, she chooses to not turn away from the suffering that poverty and AIDS have produced in her community. Katie daily tries to meet the needs of the sick and needy. Many children in Uganda die of starvation, or are orphaned because of AIDS or the LRA (the Lord’s Resistance Army). It is not an easy life but a beautiful life that Katie dearly loves.
God’s word says to us, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Cor.2:9 NKJV) God has great things planned for all of us who desire to follow Him and do His will! He is simply looking for that simple prayer, “Lord, send me.” He may just send us across the street to our neighbor’s house, or like Katie, He may send us across the ocean to Africa. He is asking for our “yes” to the plans He has for our lives. “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV). Katie’s advice to those who dream about what God might have in store for their own lives is not to imitate her, but rather to get on their knees and ask God what it is He would have them do in their life. Her encouragement is to ask the Lord how we can love like Jesus loves and what He would have us do in order to live our lives in a way that brings Him the greatest glory.
“It may take place in a foreign land or it may take place in your backyard, but I believe that we were each created to change the world for someone. To serve someone. To love someone the way Christ first loved us, to spread His light. This is the dream, and it is possible.”
“People from my first home say I'm brave. They tell me I'm strong. They pat me on the back and say, 'Way to go. Good job.' But the truth is, I am not really very brave; I am not really very strong; and I am not doing anything spectacular. I am simply doing what God has called me to do as a person who follows Him. He said to feed His sheep and He said to care for 'the least of these,' so that's what I'm doing, with the help of a lot people who make it possible and in the company of those who make my life worth living.”