I avoided reading the true account of a single woman in her late teens and early twenties who packed away her American dream life and headed to Uganda to raise 14 girls and run a non-profit ministry that serves thousands of people in her community in and around Jinja. Everything I heard from friends who had read it was that it raised a degree of guilt and prompted people to want to do the same. Being that I am in a similar life stage as Katie (though a little older…), I felt I would have less excuse to not follow her example. I listened to it via library e-book audio book check out anyway and am really glad that I didn’t wait any longer.
Her message isn’t about how awesome she is (though she is pretty awesome…whether or not she would agree with that. I admire her maturity in handling some big life issues that far exceed the stress and difficulty of my own adult life experience thus far). Nor is she striving to rope people in to give money to her organization or drop everything they’re doing to go to Africa and care for orphans.
She does raise a pretty challenging call though. It’s directly from Jesus, so there isn’t any arguing with it. Obedience to Christ. At any cost trusting that His Will is good, better even than what we might hope for or dream of. She related a story of a semester back in the United States to honor her parents’ request that she go to college after Uganda (she went back to her family in Uganda after that semester) and confessed that she was so wrapped up in doing important things for God, whether raising her family in Africa or tending to a terminally ill boy in America while she was a student, that she neglected to do the important things in her everyday life: kindness to her roommate, respect and love for her parents and boyfriend and friends. I was challenged in her message to live more sacrificially in the spheres where I am already present.
I was also struck by this girl’s beautiful relationship with Jesus. She admitted that her time in America was not spent as close to Christ as when she was poor and struggling in Uganda because her needs were very much within her power to attain in the US. I haven’t known depravity like she describes where malnutrition and basic preventable disease are immensely common, but I think I can identify with the dependence on God being strained by the ease at which I can access food, healthcare, clean water, love. I am challenged to lean on God and take my requests to Him before I seek to fill them myself.
Do I aspire to be Katie Davis? No, her story is not mine, but I am encouraged and moved to pursue Christ more by her story and example and to live as one who has been rescued, much like the orphans her life has touched.