I just finished my first book of 2012, and it was fantastic! This year, I resolved to read two books a month for 12 months. For some of you that may seem pretty easy and for others it may seem ambitious. For me, it’s achievable but will definitely force me to be intentional with my time and not just flip on the television when I have free time.
The book I just finished is “Kisses from Katie”, the story of a young woman who moved to Uganda to follow the call of God upon her life and along the way ended up becoming the mom to 14 adopted girls. I had come across Katie’s story on her blog over a year ago and was reminded of her story again when I saw that she was one of the featured speakers at Catalyst in Atlanta last year.
This book, a vulnerable account of her struggles and fears and joys, was incredibly challenging and inspiring. I found myself being so convicted. Convicted for my lack of love and my lack of compassion. Convicted for my lack of understanding of our world’s great needs and convicted for the complacency that keeps me from truly learning about those needs. It’s so much easier to just check-out on Pinterest than to read a book on the horrible conditions that people, God’s people, live in all over the world.
I am so ashamed that 99% of the time I am perfectly ok with just shielding my eyes from the hurt and brokenness in this world, and I don’t want to be ok with it anymore. I don’t want to be ok with living the same life that I’ve always lived and doing the same things that I’ve always done just because I like my life and I am blessed enough to have been born in the United States. I don’t want to forget the words that Katie wrote in this book about the extreme disease and poverty that engulf Uganda. I don’t want to erase from my mind the fact that there are 143 million children in this world that have no mother or father. I don’t want to forget the way I felt when I read the last page of her book. The feeling of wanting to make a difference.
I loved this book, and I loved the way that Katie shared her story. Katie, who has done some pretty amazing things in the first 22 years of her life, seems extremely humble and grounded. She takes no credit for what God has accomplished through her life – for all the children fed, clothed, bathed, nursed back to health, and taken in as daughters. She has a deep knowing that God has done all the work and seems honored to be used by God in such a way.
But Katie is also bold. She challenges her readers to take seriously the commands of “loving our neighbors as ourselves” and “caring for widows and orphans”. She writes, “My family, adopting these children, it is not optional. It is not my good deed for the day; it is not what I am doing to ‘help out these poor kids.’ I adopt because God commands me to care for the orphans and the widows in their distress. I adopt because Jesus says that to whom much has been given, much will be demanded (see Luke 12:48) and because whoever finds his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for His sake will find it (see Matthew 10:39).”
She explains that the road to accomplish those things isn’t always easy or expected. She’s vulnerable, as she describes the pain with which she said good-bye to her old life – her family & friends, her prospects of going to college, her big house in an upper-class neighborhood, and her plans to marry her high school sweetheart. But she’s also extremely open about the immense joy that she has gained by being in the center of God’s will for her life. She wakes up knowing that each day will be challenging and full of surprises as she cares for 14 little girls and runs a non-profit organization – Amazima Ministries, but she’s confident that He will carry her through it and continue to use her as she remains faithful.
I can’t imagine how overwhelming the situation in front of Katie must be. To daily see so many needs and know that she can’t meet them all. I’m familiar with that feeling in my own way. The feeling that there is so much hurt and pain in this world, and I’m only one person. Sometimes that overwhelming feeling can be paralyzing to me. It can keep me from doing anything because I wish I could do more.
Katie talks about this feeling in one of my favorite sections of this book.
She says, “I was angry because I believed, and still believe, that the God who created the universe did not create too many children in His image and not enough love to go around. And I wanted to do more. I wanted to help them all. God whispered that one is enough. He assured me that He would hold the others while they wait for someone to come along and give them their milk and their medicine. He doesn’t ask me to take them all but to stop for just one, because, as I do for “the least of these” I do it for Him (see Matthew 25:40).”
She continues, “Today, that anger is gone, though sometimes I still have to sit with the Father in my sadness and brokenness over all the hurt in this world. Sometimes I still have to cry to Him and ask Him why innocent children must suffer and beg Him to move people to action. Still we as a family just love the ones with whom God has entrusted us as best we can. We let Him hold us as we hold the little ones He has given us to look after. We do what we can do, and we trust Him with the rest.”
Katie’s story reminded me of the impact that just one person can make, and she reminded me that God isn’t calling us all to start non-profits and move to Uganda and write books.
But He is calling all of us to love the one right in front of us and to love that one radically – the way that Jesus loves each one.
“We do what we can do, and we trust Him with the rest.” I think I’m up to that challenge. Are you?
Oh, and you should definitely read the book. It’s worth it.