I've referenced her before on this blog. She is, in one word, breathtaking. She does happen to be beautiful physically, but that's not what I'm talking about. It is just incredibly breathtaking all that she is doing for others, the sacrifices she has made in order to follow God's plan for her life, the example of running after God and His Will for your life that she is for us. Breathtaking.
Here in November, National Adoption Month, I wanted to share with you her story. God called her very specifically and clearly. The thing is though, He does that with all of us. She just happened to be listening. And willing to obey at all costs.
Here is Katie's story, in her own words (pictures added my me):
It is my 16th Birthday and I am eating sushi at my favorite restaurant with my parents when I tell them that I would like to explore the possibility of taking a year in between high school and college to do mission work. This is unheard of in my family and they say they are not sure and will think about it. I am nervous, but somehow I know it is right. He changes their hearts.
I have just turned 18 and find an orphanage online. I beg my parents to let me visit over break, just three weeks. A month later I am on a plane. I am so excited. I am so scared of being, but I know He is going with me. I fall in love.
I graduate high school having made the commitment to teach Kindergarten for a year at a school in The Middle of Nowhere, Uganda. In August I get on the plane. I’m apprehensive and I cry most of the way because I miss my Mommy and my boyfriend. I am eager, but so uncertain. I trust Him. I teach 138 children how to speak English and to love Jesus.
It is October and I am just not sure I can do it anymore. I live in the smallest room I have ever seen in the back of a pastor’s house. I am more uncomfortable than I had bargained for. No one understands, not people here, not people at home. I am tired. But I am prideful and I am not going to quit. I don’t like this. But I know He has a plan. I learn, I grow, He is there.
It is December and God has spoken very clearly about opening a ministry that sponsors 40 of the orphaned children in the village where I am working. This involves moving into a different house, ALONE. It is big and I cannot imagine how God will fill it up. I am lonely and I am anxious. But I am still trusting. He fills the house, and we now have 400 children sponsored.
It is January and I am looking at a little girl, crushed under a brick wall with no one to care for her or her younger siblings. I offer to take the three home with me until we find them a better placement. I am not really sure what to do with them, but I know they are God’s children. They stay.
It is three days later and the littlest looks at me and calls me mommy. My heart might break in two. Something clicks. I am even more scared than I was the day I stepped on that plane, but I KNOW. Today I have 13.
I have to deliver a baby, give a boy stitches, pull a tooth, give and injection. I am petrified. But no one will do it if I do not. He is present, He holds my hand, they are all fine.
It is August and I must get on a plane back to America to go to college, as I have promised my father. I do not remember how to be a teenager or what it is to be normal Brentwood, Tennessee. I will have to leave my babies. I will have to make new friends. I am sad and I am terrified. He wraps His arms around me. He puts just the right people in just the right places, and they help me and they make me feel at home.
First semester is over and He speaks clearly to me that I cannot serve two masters. “Go HOME,” He says, “and stay.” I am uncertain, but I want to be obedient. He squeezes tighter. I am thankful.
I have to look at my loving parents who have given me everything and tell them that I will not go to college right now, because I feel God wants me to be in Uganda. I know how disappointed and how angry they will be. I am more scared than I was when I got on the plane and more scared than I was when I took my first children. But I know that this IS the Plan. They love me anyway.
It is February and my daughter’s biological father comes to take her away. My heart breaks in half, and I am not sure I will ever be able to get out of my bed again, let alone foster another child. I am more than devastated, but I want what is best for her, what He wants for her. She comes back and her biological father learns about Jesus.
It is March and a lame little girl is brought to my gate. She is undoubtedly mine, but I am still anxious. What if I can’t do it? I don’t know what to do with a special needs child, especially as my 13th child. I am criticized and ridiculed. I wonder. I trust and praise God for her sweet little life. She starts to walk.
I find myself in a village full of starving people that for some reason seem to want to kill me. God says to serve them anyway. I am not sure how it is going to work, or if it is safe. I can’t figure it out, but I know He can. 1,200 Karamajongs, the poorest of Uganda’s poor, are now served hot meals daily.
We keep taking in more children until there are 400 in our program. There is no way we will raise enough funds, but by now I have stopped worrying. He has always provided. Blessings rain from the sky, and all 400 children go to school.
I am 20 years old and have 13 children and 400 more who all depend on me for their care. Who are all learning to love Jesus and be responsible adults and looking up to me. The reality of it all can be a bit overwhelming at times. However, it is always pure joy. There is a common misconception that I am courageous. I will be the first to tell you that this is not actually true. Most of the time, I am not brave. I just believe in a God who will use me even though I am not. Most mornings, before I even get out of bed I am overwhelmed with His goodness, with His plan for my life; I stand in awe of the fact that He could entrust me with so much. Most days, I don’t have much of a plan. I don’t always know where this is going. I can’t see the end of the road, but here is the great part: Courage is not about knowing the path. It is about taking the first step. It is about Peter, getting out of the boat. I do not know my five year plan; even tomorrow will probably not go as I have planned. I am thrilled and I am terrified, in a good way. So some call it courage, some call it foolish, I call it Faith. I choose to get out of the boat. To take the next step. Sometimes I walk straight into His arms. More often, I get scared and look down and stumble. Sometimes I almost completely drown. And through it all, He never lets go of my hand.
The picture at the very top is of Katie and her 13 children.
The faith of a child. Katie has it. She listens to hear instructions from her Father and then she obeys them. Period.
Maybe she doesn't have any real ties to a life back in the states anyway...makes it easier for her. Guess again. She talked about that very thing today on her blog (search for her Nov. 16th post). She very definitely still has real ties and very good 'reasons' for telling God no, that it's too much that He's asking of her, that she just can't do it anymore. But, she doesn't.
Oh, but God has called Katie to something extreme...it's not the norm.
That is a lie of the enemy that we Americans love to buy into. Why? Because we want to believe what is comfortable. Why does satan love that we believe that lie? Because if we believe that a call like Katie's call is not the norm, we will be so very unlikely to really pay attention when God speaks to us asking us to do something uncomfortable...something, that is in fact, extreme.
What if we all lived like a call like that was the norm. What if we all lived sitting on the edge of our seats for a call like that? What if we lived in such a way that if we didn't get an 'extreme' call like that, we'd think something was wrong? You know, if we all lived like that, then it wouldn't seem like such a sacrifice when we were called to extreme things, now would it? Everybody would be doing it!
Are you seeking an extreme call on your life? Lots of times, if we aren't seeking, then we aren't expectantly and actively listening. And if we aren't expectantly and actively listening, then maybe we just aren't hearing our Father's voice. How can we follow what we do not hear?
Katie is such a 20-year old challenge to us, isn't she? And in her 'extreme' call (which again, let's renew our minds and start thinking of it as a 'normal' call from now on, why don't we), she has been asked to 'extremely' care for orphans.
Your extreme, normal call might primarily center around some other cause. But even so, ask God what your role is in caring for the children that nobody else is caring for. Maybe you aren't called to a remote village to adopt 13 children...but then again, maybe you are. You won't know the answer until you ask.
Ask expectantly and actively. Then listen. Then obey.
Get that extreme call on your life! Then be extreme in living it out!