I can't recommend this book enough... I'm thinking of ordering it as a gift for any and all special young ladies I know graduating this year...
It may become mandatory "home school" reading for my own kids...
What could motivate an 18 year old talented, popular American-essentially-still-a-kid to give up comfort, college, a boyfriend, an expected future, and treasured dreams to forsake all and move to Africa, Uganda in particular?
He did. She obeyed and the rest is, as the book jacket claims, a pretty amazing "story of relentless love and redemption."
There's much I could say about the book, but I'd rather let Katie speak for herself:
As I sat up late that night trying to keep her alive one minute, one breath at at time, I had to ask myself, Why do I have so much? And why have I always had so much? Why do my family and friends have so much? And do they even know that far, far away from the luxuries of the western world, a little songbird of a girl is fighting for her life? The roles could have so easily been reversed. I wondered how God had chosen me to be born into such luxury when this little girl had been born into such hopelessness. I thought, She is a girl with as many hopes and dreams as those who rest peacefully in air-conditioned houses protected by alarm systems. Yet her body is on fire with raging fever; my sheets are soaked. And right now, she has no one to care for her but me. My heart began to break over and over for the other children around the world who had no one to protect them, no one to speak up for them, no one to sit up with them at night and control their fevers. Who would hold them? Who would sing to them? (p. 69-70)
I have a young friend named Maria. The truth is that Maria had never had a bath before I took her home and gave her one. The truth is that Maria has no one who cares for her. No one who tells her she is loved. The truth is that Maria is sent from her home in the slum outside of Jinja to beg on the streets for food, and no on in Uganda wants to touch her or help her or cares that she is sick. The truth is that maria is just like you or me. A person. Real. A child of the king.Meet Rosa and Brenda. The truth is that they are orphans. Abandoned and living in an orphanage. Now two of 143 million. The truth is that when they go to bed at night no one tucks their blankets in around them and kisses their foreheads. The truth is that when they wake up, frightened, in the dark, no one runs to comfort them. The truth is that due to someone else's carelessness, Brendan will die of AIDS.
Meet David and Bashir. The truth is that these precious little boys were child soldiers, abducted, sold as property, and forced to kill. Now that the war is winding down, they are not permitted back in their villages because they are seen as traitors, so they beg on the streets.And the truth is that these are only the children I know, in a very small fraction of a very small country. The truth is that there are children like this all over the world, sick, starving, dying, unloved, and uncared for.The truth is that the 143 million orphaned children and the 11 million who starve to death or die from preventable diseases and the 8.5 million who work as child slaves, prostitutes, or under other horrific conditions and the 2.3 million who live with HIV add up to 164.8 million needy children. And though at first glance that looks like a big number, 2.1 billion people on this earth proclaim to be Christians.The truth is that if only 8 percent of the Christians would care for one more child, there would not be any statistics left. (p. 90-92)
If you pick up this book to read it, you probably will not agree with all of Katie's practices or doctrinal beliefs. You may consider her naive and ripe for early burnout. You may be able to point out so many mistakes and areas where she doesn't follow best practices in regards to development work. Yet, I don't know how you can pick up this book and not be challenged and changed leading you to change how you live your day to day life.
If you can and do? Then examine yourself. Ask if you are only proclaiming to be Christian...
God probably is not asking you to go to Uganda.
Who is He asking you to love without reserve right where you are?
Are you willing to participate
in this sort of radical evangelism, relentless love and practical service?